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Blisworth Tunnel, North Entrance from inside tunnel - - 272567.jpg
Blisworth Tunnel on the Grand Union Canal -
north entrance from inside the tunnel
Northamptonshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Northamptonshire
Population1,786 (2001 Census)
2,867 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference SP727534
  London 66 mi (106 km)
Civil parish
  • Blisworth
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district NN7
Dialling code 01604
Police Northamptonshire
Fire Northamptonshire
Ambulance East Midlands
UK Parliament
List of places
52°10′30″N0°56′13″W / 52.175°N 0.937°W / 52.175; -0.937 Coordinates: 52°10′30″N0°56′13″W / 52.175°N 0.937°W / 52.175; -0.937

Blisworth is a village and civil parish in the West Northamptonshire, England. The West Coast Main Line, from London Euston to Manchester and Scotland, runs alongside the village partly hidden and partly on an embankment. The Grand Union Canal passes through the village and the north portal of the Blisworth tunnel is near Stoke Road.


Robert Stephenson's railway arch built 1837-8 Stephenson Bridge Blisworth England.JPG
Robert Stephenson's railway arch built 1837-8

The village's name means 'Blith's enclosure'. [2]


It is about 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Northampton, 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Towcester and 10 miles (16 km) north of Milton Keynes. The M1 motorway junction 15 is about 2 miles (3.2 km) north east.


The 1961 census showed a population of 1,192. By the 2001 census [3] there were 1,786 people in the parish (the 2010 estimated population is 1,870 [4] ), 880 male and 906 female, and 792 dwellings. There are also a few small businesses in and around the village. Just to the north of the village on Northampton Road there is a large derelict site, the location of a former abattoir, a garage and small industrial estate.


The local council is currently governed by West Northamptonshire council. Prior to local government reform in 2021 the local district council was South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) [5] where Blisworth was in Blisworth and Roade ward together with the small hamlet of Courteenhall. The ward elected two members, the last ones being from the Conservative Party. From the 2013 election until its abolition, the parish was in the division of Bugbrook of Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) with one member, who was also Conservative. There is also a local Parish Council with eleven elected members.

The parliamentary constituency was Daventry prior to the 2010 general election the Boundary Commission put the village in the new parliamentary constituency of South Northamptonshire.


The village has its own primary school, Blisworth Community Primary School, [6] with around 200 children. The school takes in a number of children from surrounding areas including the southern outskirts of Northampton. The local secondary school is Elizabeth Woodville School with sites in Roade and Deanshanger. Apart from Blisworth, the catchment area includes Collingtree, Hardingstone, Hackleton, Stoke Bruerne and several other villages.

There is a small supermarket/post-office/newsagent, being the only shop. There is a modern well-equipped doctor's surgery in Stoke Road serving several surrounding villages as well as Blisworth itself.

The village has a pub, The Royal Oak. A second pub, The Sun, Moon and Stars, near the canal closed at least 50 years ago. A third pub, the Grafton Arms, is now a private dwelling. After several years of neglect the listed building was the subject of a compulsory purchase order by South Northants Council in 2007 and may now be restored partly for accommodation and perhaps some community use. [7] There is also a hotel – The Walnut Tree Inn – which was the original Blisworth Station Hotel. It is opposite the site of the former station.

The village has two churches, one Church of England, where the church parish includes Stoke Bruerne and the other a Baptist Chapel. The Baptist Chapel was enlarged in 1871. [8]

Blisworth also has a football club, Blisworth F.C.

There is an annual Canal Festival held in the village every August, held to help celebrate the part that the canal has played in Blisworth's history. This festival is organised by the Blisworth Canal Partnership whose aims are to promote, maintain and improve Blisworth's Canal environment.



The village is the site of the Blisworth Tunnel of the Grand Union Canal and one of the longest on the English canal system. The tunnel runs south to the nearby village of Stoke Bruerne. The canal runs to the south-west side of the village and there is a bridge over it in the village which carries the main road . The bridge is partly original, partly widened, as the main road carried the A43 trunk road until a by-pass was constructed.


The A43 (Northampton-Oxford M1 to M40 link road) Milton Malsor and Blisworth by-pass was opened on 21 May 1991. The by-pass runs to the west of the two villages, now following a newly created route from Tiffield. The road joins the M1 London to Yorkshire motorway at a new junction created at that time, 15A, at West Hunsbury, Northampton. From Northampton to Blisworth the by-pass closely follows the trackbed of the Blisworth to Northampton railway, long since closed. The new road makes a slight detour near the Northampton arm of the canal at the 'staircase' of locks near Rothersthorpe. The road's construction followed many years of long campaigns in the two villages.


The London and Birmingham Railway, under the surveying and construction control of Robert Stephenson, bypassed Northampton and opened a station in Blisworth in 1839. In 1842, after much discussion, Lord Grafton agreed to fund a new station as long as it was a "first class" station - i.e., all trains stopped at it. Ford Lane became Station Road, the location of Blisworth station. In 1845 a branch line on to Peterborough was completed via Northampton, and in 1866 a single-track line was built to Banbury. Blisworth station closed in January 1960 and both branch lines have also long since gone. The main railway line remains. It was electrified in the 1960s and is now part of the West Coast Main Line running 125 mph trains from London Euston to Glasgow. The Northampton Loop of the line leaves the main line at Roade, north of Roade cutting [9] and just south of Blisworth, taking trains on into Northampton and further north to re-join the main line at Rugby. The Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway [10] ran from Blisworth station south to Towcester, Banbury and Stratford upon Avon but closed in the 1960s. Much of the infrastructure such as cuttings and bridges remain along the route.

Notable buildings


During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, iron ore and limestone were quarried at Blisworth. A limestone quarry began in 1821 north east of the canal tunnel and was connected to a canal wharf at the west end of the tunnel by horse-drawn tramway. The tramway ran from the quarry, across the Stoke Bruerne Road and above the west end of the tunnel. Trains of loaded wagons descended by gravity and empty ones were pulled up by a horse. There was a chute for filling the canal boats from the stone wagons. The quarry was closed in 1912 or 1913.

A trial iron ore quarry operated in 1852, probably close to the east side of the Towcester road. The ore was sent to an ironworks in Staffordshire. The ore was probably taken by horse and cart to the canal for despatch to the ironworks. Quarrying began seriously in 1853 or 1855 to the north of the road to Stoke Bruerne near the west end of the canal tunnel. The quarry was connected to the canal wharf by a tramway worked probably by hand and with a cable worked incline running through a bridge beneath the road and over a wooden bridge over the canal. At the canal, the ore was loaded by hand into canal boats for transport to Staffordshire. This quarry closed in 1855 but was reopened in 1859 closed again in 1861 and reopened in 1863. At this time the ore was taken by horse and cart through the village to be loaded into railway wagons at Blisworth Station. In 1863 however, the tramway was reopened and canal boats took the ore to Blisworth Station for transshipment to railway wagons. Steam cranes were installed at the canal wharf and at the station. The ore was now taken to South Wales. In 1903 the ore was taken by canal to furnaces at Hunsbury, near Northampton later by canal and railway. The iron ore workings were extended northwards and a further quarry opened north of the Courteenhall Road. the tramway was extended to cater for these quarry extensions and was worked by horses upwards and gravity downwards above the incline. These quarries closed in 1921. Part is still visible in some allotments. Part has been filled in and built on. Part has been smoothed over for agriculture. On Courteenhall Road the level of the fields is lower than the road. Traces of the tramway route remain.

Further iron ore quarries were opened to the west of the village in about 1873, operating to the north of the Gayton Road until 1895 and south of the road from 1895 to about 1913. Horse Tramways connected these quarries eastwards to the canal and westwards to the railway. A new quarry operated to the south of these in 1942 and 1943 and between 1954 and 1967. This was the only iron quarry at Blisworth to use mechanical diggers. They were electric and diesel-powered. The quarry was connected by standard gauge steam-operated tramway to sidings on the railway at Gayton south of Blisworth Junction on the line to Towcester. The ore was taken to Scunthorpe and South Wales for smelting. A few traces of all of these quarries remain mainly in the form of depressed field levels and some buildings connected with the later quarry.

Lastly, another limestone quarry was opened near Rectory Farm west of the Towcester Road to provide stone for use in connection with construction of the M1 motorway. This remains and is now a nature reserve. [11]

Related Research Articles

The Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway (SMJR) was a railway company in the southern Midlands of England, formed at the beginning of 1909 by the merger of three earlier companies:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">South Northamptonshire</span> District in England

South Northamptonshire was, from 1974 to 2021, a district in Northamptonshire, England. Its council was based in the town of Towcester, first established as a settlement in Roman Britain. The population of the Local Authority District Council in 2011 was 85,189.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stoke Bruerne</span> Human settlement in England

Stoke Bruerne is a small village and civil parish in West Northamptonshire, England about 10 miles (16 km) north of Milton Keynes and 7 miles (11 km) south of Northampton.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blisworth Tunnel</span> Canal tunnel on the Grand Union Canal

Blisworth Tunnel is a canal tunnel on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, England, between the villages of Stoke Bruerne at the southern end and Blisworth at the northern end.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grafton Regis</span> Human settlement in England

Grafton Regis is a village and civil parish in the south of the English county of Northamptonshire. The population of the civil parish at the 2001 census was 152. This increased to 253 at the 2011 census. The village is east of the A508 road, on which it has a short frontage and two bus stops. It is ca. 8 miles (13 km) south of Northampton and 9 miles (14 km) north of Milton Keynes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Milton Malsor</span> Human settlement in England

Milton Malsor is a village and civil parish in West Northamptonshire, England. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 761. It is 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Northampton town centre, 45 miles (72 km) south-east of Birmingham, and 66 miles (106 km) north of central London; junction 15 of the M1 motorway is 2 miles (3.2 km) east by road. The area of the Milton Malsor civil parish is about 1,650 acres (670 ha), stretching from north of the M1 motorway between junctions 15 and 15A, south to the West Coast Main Line, east to the A508 and A45 roads, and west to the A43 road.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Piddington, Northamptonshire</span> Human settlement in England

Piddington is a village in the south of the English shire county of Northamptonshire and just north of Buckinghamshire. It is 6 miles (10 km) south of Northampton town centre, in a cul-de-sac off the main road at the War Memorial in the village of Hackleton, and about 1 mile (2 km) south-west of there. It has a geographic size of 1,693 acres (6.85 km2) and an average height of 300 ft (91 m), rising steadily to 400 ft (120 m) in Salcey Forest.

West Hunsbury is a large housing estate in the south of the town of Northampton, 2 miles (3 km) from the town centre, 0 miles (0 km) from the M1 motorway, junction 15A and 2 miles (3 km) from junction 15. The motorway can be seen and heard as most of the area is elevated and the wind's prevailing direction is westerly. It is part of the Hunsbury residential area, which also constitutes East Hunsbury east of Towcester Road. Shelfleys is an earlier name for the area and still appears on signs, maps and bus destination indicators. However Hunsbury is an old name. Iron ore was formerly quarried in the area. This had begun by 1873 and an ironworks called Hunsbury Ironworks was in the course of being built in that year. The quarries were worked by several companies and individual owners, two of which companies used the name "Hunsbury" in their titles. The area is part of the Borough of Northampton. The area was developed in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as part of the expansion of Northampton.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roade</span> Village in West Northamptonshire, England

Roade is a village in Northamptonshire, England. Currently in West Northamptonshire, before local government changes in 2021 it was represented by South Northamptonshire District Council, falling within the two-member Blisworth and Roade ward.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gayton, Northamptonshire</span> Human settlement in England

Gayton is a rural village and civil parish in West Northamptonshire, England, 5 miles (8 km) south-west of Northampton town centre. The village is situated on a hill close to the larger villages of Bugbrooke, Milton Malsor and Blisworth, with a linked public footpath network. At the 2011 Census, the population of the parish was 544.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Courteenhall</span> Human settlement in England

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">West Northamptonshire</span> Unitary authority area in England

West Northamptonshire is a unitary authority area covering part of the ceremonial county of Northamptonshire, England, created in 2021. By far the largest settlement in West Northamptonshire is the county town of Northampton. Its other significant towns are Daventry, Brackley and Towcester; the rest of the area is predominantly agricultural villages though it has many lakes and small woodlands and is passed through by the West Coast Main Line and the M1 and M40 motorways, thus hosting a relatively high number of hospitality attractions as well as distribution centres as these are key English transport routes. Close to these is the leisure-use Grand Union Canal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Far Cotton</span> Human settlement in England

Far Cotton is a district in the civil parish of Far Cotton and Delapre, in the town of Northampton, in the county of Northamptonshire, England and many years ago a village in its own right. The population is included in the Delapre and Briar Hill Ward of Northampton Borough Council.

The Northampton and Peterborough Railway was an early railway promoted by the London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) to run from a junction at Blisworth on the L&BR main line to Northampton and Peterborough, in England. The construction of the line was authorised by Parliament in 1843 and the 47 mile line opened in 1845. The line largely followed the river Nene, and for economy of construction, it had many level crossings with intersecting roads, rather than bridges. In 1846 the L&BR joined with other companies, together forming the London and North Western Railway (LNWR).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Piddington railway station</span> Former railway station in Northamptonshire, England

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Roade was a railway station serving the Northamptonshire village of the same name on the West Coast Main Line. Roade Station opened in 1838 as the principal station for Northampton, but its importance diminished upon the opening of the Northampton and Peterborough Railway in 1845. The construction of the Northampton Loop Line in 1875 made Roade a junction station, and it survived until 1964.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Salcey Forest railway station</span> Former railway station in England

Salcey Forest railway station was a short-lived railway station in England, on the Stratford-upon-Avon, Towcester and Midland Junction Railway which opened on 1 December 1892 near the Northamptonshire forest of the same name. The station was not situated near any settlement and only saw passenger services for four months, it being most likely an error of judgement by the railway company which had provided substantial station facilities in expectation of traffic which never came. Salcey Forest station eventually closed on 31 March 1893 and has an arguable claim, along with Stoke Bruerne, of having had the shortest passenger service ever provided at any British railway station. Goods facilities were withdrawn in 1952.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stoke Bruern railway station</span> Former railway station in Northamptonshire, England

Stoke Bruern railway station was on the Stratford-upon-Avon, Towcester and Midland Junction Railway which opened on 1 December 1892 near the Northamptonshire village of Stoke Bruerne after which it was misnamed. Passenger services were withdrawn on 31 March 1893. It is arguable that Stoke Bruern along with Salcey Forest have a claim to have had the shortest passenger service of any British railway station. On the first service, it was reported that one person alighted at Salcey Forest, but no-one joined, whilst at Stoke Bruern, seven joined and one alighted. The service attracted no more than twenty passengers a week and the SMJ incurred a loss of £40. The station was situated in a sparsely populated area and only saw passenger services for four months, despite the railway company's optimism which saw substantial station facilities provided in the expectation of traffic which never came. The station remained open for goods until 1952.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Easton Neston</span> Human settlement in England

Easton Neston is situated in south Northamptonshire, England. Though the village of Easton Neston which was inhabited until around 1500 is now gone, the parish retains the name. At the 2011 Census the population of the civil parish remained less than 100 and was included in the town of Towcester.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pevsner, Nikolaus (1961). The Buildings of England – Northamptonshire. London and New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 108–9. ISBN   978-0-300-09632-3.
  2. "Key to English Place-names".
  3. "UK census 2001 - data" . Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  4. SNC (2010). South Northamptonshire Council Year Book 2010-2011. Towcester: SNC. p. 39.
  5. "South Northants Council website" . Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  6. "Blisworth Community Primary School website" . Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  7. "Sun Moon and Stars Community website". Archived from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
  8. "Pictures in and Around the Baptist Chapel". Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  9. "Roade cutting, also referred to as Blisworth cutting". Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2009.
  10. "Stratford and Midland Junction Railway". The Stratford Upon Avon & Midland Junction Railway. Archived from the original on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2009.
  11. Tonks, Eric (1989). The Ironstone Quarries of the Midlands Part 3 The Northampton Area. Cheltenham: Runpast. pp. 12–30 and 40–59. ISBN   1-870754-03-4.

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