Powerflush nearby to Market Harborough
Market Harborough is a market town in Leicestershire, England, located in the far southeast of the county, near the border with Northamptonshire.
In 2019, the population of Market Harborough was 24,818 people. It serves as the administrative centre for the larger Harborough District. Previously, the town was at a crossroads for both road and rail; however, the A6 now bypasses the town to the east, and the A14, which carries east-west traffic, is 6 miles (9.7 km) to the south. East Midlands Railway services on the Midland Main Line serve Market Harborough railway station, with direct services north to Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, and Sheffield and south to London St Pancras. Rail service to Rugby and Peterborough was discontinued in 1966.
Market Harborough was formerly a part of Rockingham Forest, a royal hunting forest used by mediaeval monarchs beginning with William I, with original boundaries extending from Market Harborough to Stamford and including Corby, Kettering, Desborough, Rothwell, Thrapston, and Oundle.
Because there is no churchyard, the steeple of St Dionysius’ Church rises directly from the street. It was built in grey stone in 1300, with the church itself added around 1470. The Old Grammar School, a small timber building dating from 1614, is located next to the church. The ground floor is open, creating a covered market area, and the first floor has a single room. It has become a local landmark. The nearby square is largely pedestrianised and surrounded by a variety of architectural styles. The upper end of High Street is wide and mostly unaltered Georgian architecture.
Market Harborough contains two villages: Great Bowden, which is about a mile from the town centre, and Little Bowden, which is less than half a mile from the town centre. The three centres have largely merged through ribbon development and infill, though Great Bowden retains a distinct village identity.
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Market Harborough was founded between 410 and 1066 by the Saxons. Originally a small village known as haefera-beorg (harborough), which means “oat hill.”
Bowden is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a Royal Manor divided into seventy-three manors. Great Bowden, Arden, and Little Bowden were the villages where the people lived. Harborough Manor is first mentioned in 1199 and 1227, when it was known as “Haverberg.” When a new highway between Oxendon and Kibworth was established to help link Northampton and Leicester, it is likely that Harborough was formed out of the Royal Manor with the intention of making it a place for tradesmen and a market. On the route, a chapel dedicated to St Dionysius was built, while St Mary in Arden retained Parish Church status.
By 1204, a market had been established, and it has been held on Tuesdays since 1221. This market eventually gave rise to the modern name of Market Harborough. Harborough’s tradespeople had large tofts or farm yards at the back of their properties where goods were made and stored. Many of these yards still exist, but they have been subdivided along their length over the years to provide frontage on High Street.
Harborough Church’s steeple was begun in 1300 and completed in 1320. It is a broach spire, which rests on the tower walls and is older than recessed spires, which rise from behind a square tower, as at Great Bowden. Arden had been abandoned by 1382, though the church was still in use for a few years. The main part of Harborough Church was finished in 1470. A free-flowing stream ran down High Street. The Town Estate was established and managed by a body of Feoffees elected by the townspeople to help manage, among other things, the open fields surrounding the town, with the proceeds used for a variety of purposes. The town made headlines in 1569 when the Privy Council debated whether a local girl, Agnes Bowker, had given birth to a cat. Since 1570, the Town Estate has owned several properties in the town.
Harborough made national headlines during the English Civil War in June 1645, when it was designated as the headquarters of the King’s Army. The King decided to confront Parliamentary forces camped near Naseby in Harborough, but the Battle of Naseby proved a decisive victory for Parliament led by Oliver Cromwell. The captured forces were held in Harborough Chapel as a temporary prison. Cromwell announced the victory in a letter from “Haverbrowe, June 14, 1645” to the Speaker of the House of Commons, William Lenthall.
Following the Act of Uniformity in 1662, an independent church was established in the Harborough area, and a meeting house was built in Bowden Lane in 1694.
The town’s timber mud and thatch buildings were largely replaced by brick buildings during the 18th century. Harborough became a staging point for coach travel on the road to London from the North West and the Midlands after roads were turnpiked and repaired on a regular basis (making wheeled traffic easier all year round). The Open Fields of Great Bowden were allotted to individual owners in 1776 and fenced with hedges planted in 1780, followed by those of Little Bowden.
Complaints arose in the nineteenth century as the volume of heavy goods traffic on turnpike roads increased. A canal from Leicester to join the London-Birmingham canal was proposed, but it was eventually abandoned, and a branch canal from Foxton to Harborough with wharves at Gallow Hill and Great Bowden was built instead. Harborough wharf, to the north of town, became a coal and corn distribution centre. In 1833, a gas company was formed to produce and distribute gas. John Clarke and Sons of London established a factory for spinning worsted and, later, carpet production. A brickworks, brewery, wheelwright/coachworks, and the British Glues and Chemicals works by the Canal at Gallow Hill were also established. A union of parishes around Market Harborough was formed in the 1830s to care for the poor, and a workhouse was built on the site of St Luke’s Hospital in 1836. In 1841, Thomas Cook, a local wood turner and cabinet maker, organised the first group rail journey from Leicester to Loughborough, and went on to found the travel agency that bears his name.
When Mr Tailby of Skeffington Hall established a hunt in South East Leicestershire in 1856, Market Harborough became a centre for fox hunting with hounds during the nineteenth century. The country between Billesdon and Harborough was considered difficult, as it required jumping specially designed ox fences. His hunting diary is regarded as an important document in hunting history. After a subsequent Master, the Hunt was renamed the Fernie.
In 1860, 1861, and 1863, the Grand National Hunt Steeple Chase was held to the south-west of town. This race and meeting evolved into the Cheltenham Festival, and the organisers were instrumental in the establishment of organised steeplechasing through the Grand National Hunt Committee.
The construction of the Leicester–Rugby railway in 1840 had a disastrous effect on the town’s coaching traffic. The town did not have a railway until 1850, when it connected to Rugby, but this was quickly followed by connections to Leicester and London in 1857, and to Northampton in 1859.
In 1850, William Symington, a local grocer, established a factory to produce pea flour. His brother James established a haberdashery and stay-making business, and his sons purchased the old carpet factory in 1876 to manufacture corsets. In 1881, it was expanded by three floors, and in 1884, a new factory opposite Church Square was built, which still stands today as the Council offices, library, and museum. The Harborough Rubber Company and Looms Wooden Heels Works were founded in the 1890s. On land adjacent to the Commons, a tannery was constructed.
Walter Haddon established the Caxton Works type foundry on Lathkill Street in 1898. Tungstone Products was formed after the company’s diversification into the manufacture of lead acid batteries. In 2002, the factory was closed down.
The town’s population grew rapidly, from 4,400 in 1861 to 7,700 in 1901. This had come at the expense of living conditions in the old town, where there was severe overcrowding. Rows of cottages had been built in the yards of older houses, with access to water and waste disposal shared by all. The Public Health Act of 1875 required local governments to enact building regulations, or bye-laws, requiring that each house be self-contained, with its own sanitation and water. In 1883, a new sewerage system was installed, and water was piped from wells at Husbands Bosworth. The New Harborough estate off Coventry Road and the Northampton Road estate between Nithsdale Avenue and Caxton Street were both built.
Little Bowden parish was transferred from Northamptonshire to Leicestershire in 1888, and an Urban District Council was formed for Market Harborough in 1894, covering the town and the parishes of Little and Great Bowden. Several schemes were put in place to improve the town. It purchased the gas company and constructed public baths. In 1901, it purchased land for the construction of Abbey Street, which removed the multi-occupied yard of the Coach and Horses Inn and allowed for the construction of a fire station on the new street in 1903. The same year, a new livestock market was built on 12 acres (4.9 ha) of land between Springfield Street and the river, allowing the cattle and sheep markets to be relocated from the streets. The council purchased land for recreation grounds in Great Bowden and Little Bowden in 1905.
In 1919, there were still around 150 dwellings identified as unfit for human habitation, mostly in Harborough’s yards and courts, and a need for 300 new houses was identified. The Bowden Fields Estate was created by selecting land to the north of town and developing a scheme for 98 rental homes. Following the implementation of mortgage subsidies, over 100 private homes were constructed, as well as 72 rented homes. Since 1918, approximately 400 houses had been built, 164 of which had been built by the Council. The acquisition of land between Northampton Road and Farndon Road in 1930 resulted in a significant improvement. This allowed for the construction of Welland Park Road (which allowed east-west traffic to bypass the town centre), the provision of 100 rental homes along Welland Park Road and 52 in Walcot Road to rehouse occupants of the old yard houses, plots for private housing, the layout of Welland Park, and the construction of Welland Park School.
The Jarrow Crusade members and entourage visited the town on October 23, 1936.
On Tuesdays and Saturdays, a covered market hall was built at the western end of the Cattlemarket, replacing the market stalls on the Square.
During the postwar period, there was another housing shortage, with 600 people on the waiting list for council housing. To address the issue, the council built a 100-home extension to the Bowden Fields Estate by 1949 and purchased 140 acres (0.57 km2) of land to the south west of town. A new Southern Estate with 700 dwellings, a shopping centre, a school, and a recreation ground was planned. Since these fields were crossed by both armies on 14 June 1645, the Council named the initial access roads after personalities from the Battle of Naseby. A plaque now records the events and was unveiled by Mrs H.B. Lenthall on 1 February 1951 to mark the opening of the estate development. Around 150 dwellings were built for rent with the remaining plots available for private building. The final stage of development took place in the 1980s.
In 1950 the canal basin was the venue for a week long National Festival of Boats, the first such festival organised by the Inland Waterways Association and marking the beginning of the revival of the canal network for leisure use. The old brewery site was acquired for a bus station in 1951 and in 1958 a main car park was opened at the Commons and further car parks established in the 1960s to deal with the increasing demand. Proposals for development of an industrial estate at Riverside and Rockingham Road were approved in 1962 and the area developed during the 1960s.
Following serious flooding in the town centre on 2 July 1958, a flood relief scheme was begun and the river bed was straightened and deepened.
In 1968 the centre of Market Harborough was declared a conservation area. Major developments included the development of headquarters for Golden Wonder crisp makers, and the demolition of the old Symington factory in Adam and Eve Street for redevelopment as Eden Court shops and flats.
During the 1970s, draft proposals were made for an inner relief road to avoid traffic congestion in the town centre. However, it was rejected in favour of a bypass outside the town.
In 1980 the Symington’s factory at Church Square was redeveloped as the District Council offices, library and museum. Plans for an A6 by-pass were approved by the Department for Transport during the 1980s and the 5 miles (8.0 km) road costing £9.5m was opened in June 1992. In addition, proposals were made for a new east-west link road (A14) between the A1 and M1 and a route was identified 10 miles (16 km) south. It was opened in summer 1991. The opening of these roads has reduced considerably the volume of heavy goods vehicles passing through the town centre.
Associated improvements to the town centre took place as part of a “By-pass Demonstration Project” completed in 1994. This involved comprehensive re-paving and new street furniture to make the centre more pedestrian friendly whilst through-traffic with a 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limit.
In 1993 the former cattle market, bus station, indoor market and several properties next to the old post office and the former Peacock Hotel were re-developed to form a new pedestrianised shopping centre called St Mary’s Place. This included a Sainsbury’s supermarket.
Market Harborough is in a rural part of southeast Leicestershire, on the River Welland and close to the Northamptonshire border. The town is about 15 miles (24.1 km) south of Leicester via the A6, 17 miles (27.4 km) north of Northampton via the A508 and 10 miles (16.1 km) north west of Kettering. The town is near the A14 road running from the M1/M6 motorway Catthorpe Interchange to Felixstowe. The M1 is about 11 miles (17.7 km) west via the A4304 road.
The Midland Main Line railway connects to London St Pancras. A branch of the Grand Union Canal terminates in the north part of the town and connects to the main canal near Foxton and the Foxton Locks.