2021 Travels – Bottesford, Leicestershire

The weather is getting colder, seeing as it’s nearly winter. It’s still sunny at times, though, and it was on Wednesday 17th November 2021 when I travelled through four counties to Bottesford, in the north east corner of Leicestershire.

As usual, because I live there, the trip started in Burton on Trent. I changed trains in Nottingham for Bottesford, a station on the Nottingham to Skegness line, and station number 59 of 76 on the East Midlands Ranger Area list.

Bottesford railway station was opened in July 1850 by the Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston and Eastern Junction Railway, later taken over by the Great Northern Railway. It is the least-used station in the county of Leicestershire, registering just under 62,500 passengers in the 2019-20 statistics. The regular service is two-hourly during the day. The station buildings were designed by Thomas Chambers Hine, who designed many other stations in the area. The buildings are no longer in use and are privately-owned.

In spite of its small size, the station boasts four entrances and exits; one near to the car park, one between the station building and waiting shelter, and one each either side of a foot crossing at the end of the platform. The foot crossing is manually operated – people wishing to cross need to open the gate, look for trains crossing and then cross over the track. For those (like me) who don’t want to dice with death, a footbridge was added in recent years.

After leaving the station, I headed down a footpath towards St Mary the Virgin’s Church, a medieval church with the tallest spire in Leicestershire, measuring 210 feet. During World War II, a red warning light was installed on top of the spire to stop Lancaster Bombers from nearby RAF Bottesford from hitting the spire.

After a wander around the vast graveyard, I exited the church yard at the south end, over Dr. Fleming’s Bridge, built by the rector Dr. Samuel Fleming after he fell into the River Devon (pronounced Dee-Von) while riding his horse.

Bottesford is an ancient village with many old buildings, and cottages everywhere. In the centre of the village is an old market cross and a set of stocks and a whipping post. At the time of visiting, the market cross was decorated with poppies for the recent remembrance commemorations.

Also in the centre of the village is the Old School House, a former school which is now a community centre with a library. I would have had a look around, but it only opens on certain days of the week. Across the road from the Old School House is the Bull Inn, an old public house where legendary entertainers Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy stayed over Christmas 1952. Laurel’s sister Olga was the pub landlady at the time.

The Bull Inn, Bottesford

Laurel & Hardy’s stay wasn’t the village’s only brush with showbusiness. In 1985, a scene for the comedy/drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was shot at the old police station on Queen Street in the village. In it, Oz (Jimmy Nail) and Barry (Timothy Spall) were arrested by local police for poaching fish. Neville (Kevin Whately) helped them to stay out of trouble as he was working for the local landowner whose fish were poached. Further scenes from that series were filmed at Redmile, just a couple of miles south of Bottesford. I may visit that place on a future trip.

Former police station, now converted to housing.

The River Devon flows through Bottesford, past the church. There is a narrow footbridge next to part of Devon Lane, enabling pedestrians to avoid getting their feet wet in the road.

Bottesford has many open spaces, although most of them are currently being built on. One of the largest is the village green at the east of the village. It was created in 2002 and opened by the then-MP for Rutland and Melton Alan Duncan to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Next to the village green is a recently-created sensory garden, which also houses the village’s war memorial stone.

Across the road from the village green is a park with a skate park for the youngsters to show off their skills. Unfortunately, I left my board on the train, so I wasn’t able to show off mine. I just had a walk around the park before heading back to the railway station to await the train back to Nottingham.

Nobody famous that I have heard of is from Bottesford, mostly famous cricketers, and that isn’t my sport. The former Scottish footballer Willie Young (Aberdeen, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal) runs a dog kennels in the village. A final fascinating fact about Bottesford is that it was the last place to be hit by a bomb in the Second World War. Nobody was killed, thankfully.

That’s it for this blog post. Thanks very much for reading. There might be one more train trip before the end of the month, it depends on whether the rumoured snowfall happens or not. Whatever happens, you can find out about the latest posts as soon as they arrive by following Martyn’s blog on social media. All the links you need are at linktr.ee/martynsblog.

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