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Burton Latimer Bypass Campaign

After campaigning for many years for the building of a bypass for the town, in 1984 a committee was formed to lead efforts for the long-awaited bypass. Alternative routes for the scheme were put on public display in April 1986.

Mr Robert Mercer, the headmaster of Meadowside Junior School, Burton Latimer, won £5 for the winning slogan "Save Burton's Heart - Bypass It!" (shown above) which was used as publicity material. Mr Mercer also designed a poster illustrating his slogan. A pupil at the school, Isabel Abela, 11, used her artistic skills to draw up a poster. The winning entry was adjudged to the 'amusing, apt and concise.'

Poster produced by Isabel Abela with left to right: Mrs Joan Griffiths, Mrs June Smith, Mr Robert Mercer, Mr Taylor and Mrs Janet Peck
Mr Robert Mercer displaying the poster produced by Isabel Abela. Also in the picture left to right: Mrs Joan Griffiths, Mrs June Smith, Mr Taylor and Mrs Janet Peck.

On Saturday, 16 May 1987, the Bypass Committee organised a Parade with banners depicting the Bypass cause. Cash prizes were offered to the winners of the banners and fancy dress was welcomed.

Poster for the Protest Parade Mrs Roma Thorne with grandson, Matthew Thorne, taking part in the parade
Poster for the Protest Parade
Mrs Roma Thorne and her grandson
Matthew Thorne taking part in the parade

In December 1987 at Transport House in London, a special Christmas card was
presented to the Transport Minister, Mr Peter Bottomley, by Mr Christopher Groome, councillor and chairman of the Bypass Coimmittee, together with Mr Jim Aveliing, Town Council Chairman and Committee Publicity Officer. The Kettering MP, Mr Roger Freeman, was also present.
Mr Christopher Grroome handing a Christmas card to Mr Peter Bottomley with Mr Roger Freeman and Mr Jim Aveling
The Christmas card handed to Mr Peter Bottomley by Mr Christopher Groome with Mr Roger Freeman (2nd left) and Mr Jim Aveling (2nd right).

Diagram of the planned bypass

Plans were going ahead to build a bypass in 1990 but the committee pressed for the date to be brought forward a year to relieve the traffic problems. In September 1989 jubilant residents welcomed the news from the Transport Minister Robert Atkins that work on the £3 million bypass to carry traffic around the eastern side of the town would, in fact, commence at the end of 1990.

Nearly 1,300 residents signed a petition, handed to the inspector at a public inquiry in June urging for the bypass to be built. The inquiry was held after two local residents - one of whom was Harold Fry, of Wold Road - wrote objecting to the scheme. Mr Fry maintained that the decision to give the road the go ahead would open the flood gates to new homes in the town. In a quote from the Evening Telegraph on 28 September, Mr Jack Addis of Nene Road said, "Everyone will be very relieved as the road has been desperately needed for many years. It has taken more than 50 years to get this bypass." A bypass committee member, Cllr Jim Aveling told the Evening Telegraph: "This is great news. We have been struggling for quite a few years and we have had lots of disappointments but now they have vanished. It really does give us great satisfaction." A further quote was given by Mrs Eileen Waddington, headteacher at East Lea Primary School, right next to the busy A6. She said, "It will be much safer for the children."

On 12 October 1991, Kettering MP, Mr Roger Freeman, formally opened the bypass after just eight months of work. The work was completed four months ahead of schedule including road improvements to the A6 south of Burton Latimer and delighted the residents in the town.

Mr Roger Freeman touring the bypass following the opening Members of the bypass committee.  Left to Right: John Cutmore, Christopher Groome, June Smith, Steve Thomas, Chairman of the town Council Ray Bryce, Janet Peck, Albert Morby, Joan Griffiths and Marion York.
MP Roger Freeman, standing, toured the bypass in a 1929 Morris Oxford after the opening
Members of the town's bypass committee with councillors and officials. Left to Right: John Cutmore, Christopher Groome, June Smith, Steve Thomas, chairman of the town council Ray Bryce, Janet Peck, Albert Morby, Joan Griffiths and Marion York

Mr Freeman announced that 20,000 trees and shrubs and six kilometres of hedgerows were to be planted to make the road blend into its surroundings. Mr Freeman told the Evening Telegraph, "This is a great day for Burton Latimer. It will take away more than 60 per cent of the town's traffic and will make it a pleasanter and safer environment in which to live." Mr Herbert Wagstaff, a resident of the A6 Kettering Road, said that the bypass was a wlcome relief. He said: "They should have done it years ago. It's been terrible, especially early in the morning. It was very dangerous." Another resident of the town, Mrs Jean Thompson of Park Road, said: "If it keeps the traffic away it will be good for the children. It's surprising how much dirt there is on the A6".

An article from the Evening Telegraph dated 2 May 1992 stated:

Town flourishes in its new peace and quiet

An endless stream of traffic used to divide Burton Latimer and stand in the way of prosperity.

But now the historic small town is no longer threatened by speeding cars and lorries.

Today, Burton Latimer is set to flourish further after the traffic problems of the past decades have all but disappeared.

Thousands of pounds are being invested in an environmental improvement scheme to clean the grime from the town's buildings.

The climate for a pleasant shopping experience has never been better. . .

On the outskirts of the town a new business park is planned.

In Polwell Lane, industry is flourishing and Gazely Properties have formed a partnership to provide high quality offices and warehouses.

Leisure is important to the growing population of Burton Latimer with plans for a swimming pool in hand and the opening of a community centre.

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