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Rearsby's history: traffic links


Until the 18th century Rearsby had virtually no communication links with the outside world. The roads around the village were poor, often impassable in wet weather and the people had little need to venture beyond its boundaries.

In the 18th century, the enclosure commissioners set about improving the roads through and round the village by establishing public rights of way and bridle paths through the fields. The Leicester-Melton market link road became a turnpike (which meant those using it had to pay for it) and made suitable for mail and stage coaches. At that time the road entered the village on the Leicester side where the A607 does now, turned down Brook Street and followed Brookside. The Rose and Crown, now No.27 Brookside was the coaching inn where the horses were changed and passengers could buy refreshments.

In May 1791 an Act of Parliament was passed to make the River Wreake navigable from Syston to Melton Mowbray. The first stretch, from Syston to Rearsby, was opened in 1794 and the second leg through to Melton three years later. The canal was 14 miles long and had 12 locks. In its heyday the Wreake carried boats up to 71 feet long and 14 feet wide capable of carrying 47 tons.

Traffic on the Melton Road continued to increase during the 19th century, and accidents were common, particularly at the sharp bends of Brook Street and Brookside. The solution was to build a 'bypass' for this section, and in 1831 the new stretch of road (which cut through at the top of Brook Street forming the present line of the A607) was opened.

By the 1840s coaches and mail carts went daily between Melton, Syston and Leicester, but the opening of the Syston Peterborough railway line in 1846 took much of the traffic off the roads and onto the railway. (Rearsby station was completed and opened in 1847.) Within 20 years of the road being re-routed, the traffic had dwindled to little more than a trickle of local users and farm wagons.

The same cannot be said of the traffic today. In recent times, and particularly since the completion of the Syston Bypass, the weight of traffic through the village has been steadily increasing. Accidents in or near Rearsby (which has some dangerous turnings into the Melton Road) are now common and a village bypass (campaigned for by the villagers) is now being built; it is due for completion in March 2005.

history of the village