Monday, May 14, 2018

Oakham School's theatre is an old canal warehouse

North of Leicester the River Soar is joined by the River Wreake. The Wreake used to be navigable as far as Melton Mowbray, where there was a basin beside the railway station. From there a canal ran to another basin close to the centre of Oakham.

The Queen Elizabeth Theatre of Oakham School is housed in an old warehouse that stood beside that basin. I managed to get a couple of photographs of it on Saturday, though the theatre is now surrounded by other school buildings.

There has been talk of restoring navigation to Melton, which certainly looks possible. Getting all the way back to Oakham would be more of a challenge.

The conventional wisdom has it that the Leicester to Peterborough railway was built along the bed of the Oakham Canal. But a well-informed thread on Canal World suggests this is not the case.

When a railway company bought up a canal in the 19th century it usually had more to do with removing competition and avoiding law suits arising from the interruption of water supplies than with taking over the exact route of the canal. So much of the route of the Oakham Canal survives.

Read more about the prospects for restoration on the website of the Melton and Oakham Waterways Society.

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