Why does landlocked Melton Mowbray have a Boat Inn? An article by Eric Swift on "The Inns and Inn Signs of Leicestershire and Rutland" written for the Leicestershire Archaelogical and Historical Society (it is not dated but appears to have been published in 1964 or shortly afterwards) gives the explanation:
A most remarkable relic is The Boat Inn at Melton Mowbray where the canal basin and the wharves that the inn was built to serve have been filled in and the road crossing the railway has taken their place.
The Melton Online site describes its history:
By 1797 the Melton canal was opened, though costing considerably more than anticipated, in part due the inflation caused by the Napoleonic Wars. the extension to Oakham seems to have been in operation in 1803.
In addition to coal, cargoes included wool, lime, granite, wheat, oats, barley and manure.
During dry summers, however - particularly 1844 - parts of the canal had to close for lack of water. By that time the Midland Railways were planning to come to Melton ... and the shareholders agreed to sell the Oakham section to the Railway.
In 1847 the Canal carried its greatest tonnage - 68896. In that year the Oakham canal was closed, reducing the tonnage carried along the Melton section. With the advent of the railways the tonnage declined still further. After attempts to save the Company finally, in August 1877, an Act of Abandonment was passed by Parliament and the Company wound up.