Whetstone is a large village with a population of approximately 6500 some 5 miles to the south of Leicester, close to M1/M69, within the Blaby District of Leicestershire. It is essentially a commuter village although there are a large number of business premises both in and on the outskirts of the village,the largest being ALSTOM/ALSTEC (originally GEC, home of Frank Whittle and the Jet Engine). There are three churches, Whetstone Baptist, St. Peter’s Church of England and Whetstone United Reformed. Two Primary Schools, St. Peter’s Church of England (Aided) and Badgerbrook.
Whetstone Parish runs in a north-south direction from the centre of the Blaby District to the boundary with Harborough District. The northern part of the Parish contains the village of Whetstone whilst to the south lies open countryside. Whetstone Brook flows the length of the Parish to its confluence with the River Soar on the northern Parish boundary. The western boundary is formed by the M1 motorway. The area of the parish is 1980 acres (800 hectares).
The Parish is recorded in the Doomsday Book and lived quietly throughout the following eight centuries. Agriculture was a prime source of employment and in the 18th century framework knitting came to the village in a small way. Prior to the last war new technology drastically changed Whetstone’s industry and, eventually, international travel , for it was in Whetstone that the first jet aero engines were developed at what is now the Alstom complex. There are few listed buildings in the Parish but the Church of St. Peter’s is over 650 years old.
Extracts from a book by John Nichols – 1807, covering the Guthlaxton Hundred:-
Pictorial Map of Whetstone
The name Whetstone is probably a corruption of West-Town (abbreviated Weston). “Within the Deanery of Guthlaxton, in the ecclesiastical division of the county”, described as situated “but a little distance west from the turnpike road leading from Leicester to Northampton”.
In 1254, a Gilbert de Segrave held “over 560 acres of land, 20 acres of meadow, the toll of 6 Marks per annum, the Mill worth 20s per annum, the Pasture worth 25s per annum and Perquisites of Court worth 8s per annum”
Records show that a Roger Wigston was owner of one of the manors and that his son William sold it to Ralph Rowlett together with land at Blaby and Countesthorpe. The Rowletts were goldsmiths in London – one of them, a Knight, became Master of the Mint in 1541.
In 1555, Sir Ralph Rowlett sold the manor to a Thomas Allen, Rector of Stevenage, son of Sir John Allen, Lord Mayor of London, who in his Will of 1558 left all his estate to the Master, Fellows and Scholars of Trinity College, Cambridge for ever – who appear to be trustees only for the purpose set forth in the Will. In the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, several tenant farmers were named Allen, even up to 1805.
In 1642, an Order of Sessions held at Leicester said that “Due to the plague and fayler to pay taxes, arrears shall be levied by the High and Petty Constables, to the sum of £8 weekly”.
An act of 1764 was made for “dividing and enclosing the Open and Common Field in the Lordship, Township or Liberty of Whetstone”. Harry, Earl of Stamford, is described as Lord of the Manor of Whetstone. Charles Lorraine Smith was entitled to the tithes of corn and grain; the Rev. John Simmond, clerk, as vicar of Enderby with Whetstone was entitled to the tithe of wool and lamb. Masters, Fellows and Scholars of Trinity College, the Mayor, Bailiffs and Burgesses of Leicester all had an exclusive right to turn and depasture their beasts, sheep and cattle upon the common lands at certain times in the year.
Records of 1801 show that there were 128 inhabited houses with 295 males and 303 females (70 employed in agriculture and 223 in trade, manufacture and handicrafts).
Throughout the 1960’s the village grew in size from a population of 1400 to 2400 and this growth continued throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The present population is almost 7000.
The older core of Whetstone lies along Victoria Road and the High Street with newer housing behind. The most recent developments are to the south of the village where extensive new housing occupies the area from Alstom to the Blaby Bypass, and south of Dog & Gun Lane, and three separate small housing developments on land off Enderby Road; the latest completed during 2005.
The separate identity of the village is to be protected to prevent Whetstone from merging with adjoining settlements. Land between the Blaby Bypass and Blaby itself, and land lying to the west of Whetstone is designated as Green Wedge land to be safeguarded against inappropriate development. Only where it is essential for the effective operation of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, sport, recreation, tourism, transport or public utilities or for the boarding of animals will development be permitted. To the north of the parish the Sence Valley Green Wedge will provide similar protection for the area between Whetstone and Glen Parva.
Although no further sites are proposed for major development in the new Local Plan, further modest scale housing is not entirely ruled out. It is part of the council’s strategy for meeting its overall housing requirements for the district that some new housing developments will be allowed on infill and redevelopment sites within built up areas.