The Leicester Line

Historical Profiles: NarrowBoat, Summer 2010

Mike Beech

Mike Beech looks at the four canals that linked the Trent to the Grand Junction, and eventually became part of the Grand Union Canal system

The Leicester Line tends to be thought of as the poor relation on the canal system. People extol the virtues of the Grand Union, Oxford and Llangollen canals, but not the Leicester Line. Some think it merely a branch of the GU to Leicester. Although Foxton is a ‘honeypot’ site in the summer, the combined waterway is one of the country’s best-kept secrets and one of the finest waterways to cruise. It also provides a vital north–south link. The line is made up of four waterways, which took over 36 years to build.The River Soar The River Soar, from its confluence with the Trent through to Leicester, is a substantial waterway, usually not suffering from lack of water, but sometimes suffering from too much. It is believed that the river was navigated from Roman times with relatively small boats. Over the years, several works were undertaken to improve navigation, although the mills along the line would not have assisted much in this. The county businessmen and pol…

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