The Oxford Canal was built around Rugby in 1773 following the 300ft contour. This saved having to build large earthworks but produced long loops up the Avon and Swift Valleys, almost doubling the length. Between 1829 and 1834 the canal was almost rebuilt, replacing the loops with new aqueducts. Some of the old line of the canal became 'Arms' continuing to serve wharfs along them - e.g. Rugby Wharf, other lengths remained as water supply feeders - such as the east side of the Swift Valley. Other lengths were abandoned totally and the only trace of them is curved hedges in areas of square fields. The main canal in Rugby has remained in use although the settlements serving it at Newbold and Hillmorton have changed in character since freight traffic ceased.
At its height rails converged on Rugby from 9 directions operated by 3 different companies. In the last 30 years 5 of the lines have been closed and most of the railway buildings have been demolished. What is left is a fine collection of bridges and some examples of railway company housing.
Railway Locomotive Testing Station
The Locomotive Testing Station was the idea of Sir Nigel Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNER. Building started in 1936 as a joint project with the LMS railway, but was stopped during the war. It finally opened in 1948 under British Railways. Testing of Steam and Diesel locomotives continued until 1965 but the station did not officially close until 1970. The building was demolished in 1984.
The plant consisted of a main testing area containing the rolling road and measuring equipment with a locomotive preparation area / workshop in a lean-to extension on the north side.