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Things to do in Corby, Northamptonshire

Corby © Mark Baldwyn
Corby © Mark Baldwyn

The modern industrial town of Corby is in north east Northamptonshire in the East Midlands. It is between Leicester, Peterborough and Northampton in what was once the royal hunting ground of Rockingham Forest.

Human remains in the form of a skeleton with a dagger dating back to the Bronze Age have been found in the area. Danish invaders had a settlement known as "Kori's By" in the 8th century. In 1086 the Domesday Book recorded the settlement as "Corbei".

In 1226 Corby was granted a charter to hold a market and two annual fairs. It later received a generous charter from Elizabeth I exempting landowners from having to pay road tolls and taxes and exempting local men from being drafted into the army.

Legend says the queen was riding in Rockingham Forest when she fell from her horse, or got trapped in the bog. Villagers came to her rescue and her charter was a gift of thanks. Others say it was granted as a favour to her suitor, Sir Christopher Hatton.

The charter is celebrated every 20 years with the Corby Pole Fair and the next one is due in 2022. It incoporates a fair, carnival, barbecue and plenty of entertainment, along with the reading of the royal charter.

Corby has been famous for its ironworks since Roman times. It led to its development as an industrial town with huge steelworks. Corby drew so many workers from the depressed area of Scotland that it was nicknamed "Little Scotland".

Although the steel works were a likely target for bombs during world War II the town was successfully hidden by clouds created artificially by the burning of oil and latex to hide the glowing furnaces.

Bullet holes on the fascia of the old post office in Corby Village are said to have been a lucky strike from a lone bomber returning to Germany who decided to fire off his remaining bullets.

In 1950 Corby was designated a new town with investment and redevelopment as a car-friendly town with plenty of green space.

By 1979 iron and steelmaking in Corby was phased out by the nationalised industry and new investment made Corby an Enterprise Zone to counter the huge unemployment. This included the building of a huge power station and the Rockingham Motor Speedway.


Present Day Corby

Corby has an excellent infrastructure with good schools and a new shopping centre called Willow Place. Most of the housing was built in the last 50 years.

Parkland Gateway is a large leisure complex with an Olympic sized swimming pool.

Corby has a population of just under 50,000 and in 2010 was the fastest growing town in England. Danesholme is the housing estate in the south of the town, in recognition of the former Danes who lived there.


Things to Do Around Corby

Sulgrave Manor, the home of George Washington's ancestors, is a modest manor house with delightful English gardens.

Take a narrowboat holiday on the Grand Union Canal in self-drive narrowboats. You can drive through the 2 mile long Blisworth Tunnel or visit the interesting Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne.

The Imperial War Museum Duxford has historic aircrafts, tanks and recreated battlefield scenes.

Rockingham Forest has a Red Kite Visitor Centre with 40 breeding pairs. It offers guided walks through the forest to see the nesting sites.

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