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  • Markfield Local History Group

Streets of days gone by - Ashby Road and Leicester Road

Ashby Road runs long the 'top' of the village, from the Hill Lane and Altar Stones Lane junction to Main Street. It then becomes Leicester Road, leading to the Field Head roundabout and beyond.

Ashby Road and Leicester Road was the old turnpike road from Leicester to Ashby and was then the A50 before the current A50 bypass was built. Near to the junction with Hill Lane, it boasts reputedly the first Council houses built in Leicestershire (1914). It hosted the house and first garage of Laurence Brown who founded Brown's Blue haulage and coaches (which can still be seen at number xx). Widdowson's haulage also had a site, the pair of houses in the centre are at 45/47 Ashby Road. There was a fuel filling station between the houses and the first Council house. It was a Jet station in the 1960s and 1970s.

The village cemetery is located on Leicester Road, see the Cemetery page for more details.

In 1753 the turnpike from Leicester to Ashby came into being and toll gates were erected to collect charges.  The tollgate was firstly on Ashby Road near the blacksmith's (at the Hill Lane junction) and later moved to Field Head. In 1924, the road was tarred from Field Head to Bardon Station by the County Council, which had become responsible for maintaining principal roads. This made it much more suitable for the new motor vehicles and more usable in the winter.  The newly tarred road would have seen steam engines carrying beer from Burton upon Trent to the village pubs, steam lorries laden with stone from the quarries, and which in turn were replaced by diesel and petrol engined vehicles. Such vehicles changed the way of village life, as goods could be delivered from further afield and villagers could travel further, so villages became less self-sufficient.

The postcard below dates from around the 1940s or 1950s. Ashby Road is in the foreground, with Leicester Road stretching into the distance. The Queen's Head public house is the last building visible on the right, ahead of the junction with the top of Main Street. The taking of the photograph was a special occasion, judging by the adults and children who have turned out!

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