The History of Oakley Vale

It’s no secret that Oakley Vale is as quintessentially British as the oak tree and a fantastic place to live – offering residents an abundance of green space to relax and unwind, with a lovely lake, highly rated and highly successful schools, and heaps of activities right on your doorstep. But have you ever wondered about the history of Oakley Vale? And what was here before the thriving community we know and love today? Well, read on to find out more!

A town born of steel

Oakley Vale is situated less than 10 minutes’ drive away from the lively centre of Corby. The town, originally called Corbei, has a long history dating back to the 8th century when a group of Danish invaders settled there. These early settlements found Corby to be rich in iron ore and the town even features in the Doomsday Book as the ‘Manor of Corbei’ – a great iron-producing centre.

But it wasn’t until the arrival of railways when Corby really flourished. In 1903, Glasgow based steel company, A. and J. Stewart and Menzies merged with its English counterparts Lloyd and Lloyd to form Stewarts and Lloyds Steelworks. The company, which attracted large numbers of Scottish workers who came to live and work in Corby, took advantage of the local iron ore available and became one of the largest iron producers in the world – putting Corby firmly on the map. The influx of Scottish workers at the time helped give Corby it’s nickname that’s still sometimes used today, “Little Scotland”!

More recently, TATA Steel moved to Corby – who create approximately 250,000 tonnes of steel tubes per year for use in all kinds of industries, including construction, engineering, energy. The company also recently announced its plans to spend £25m upgrading the facility to ensure it’s fit for years to come.

A place to enjoy, grow, live and learn 

Fast forward to the 21st century, and nobody had heard of Oakley Vale. That was until planning consent was granted in July 2001 for circa 3,000 new dwellings, new schools and large areas of open space on the southern boundary of Corby, or as we know it today, Oakley Vale!

Prior to planning consent, the site was feeling the full effects of the previous century. It was largely located on brownfield land (an area that has been used before) which was worked for iron ore by British Steel some 30 years before.

One major challenge left by the iron-ore extraction was a 76-acre steep sided ‘valley’ cutting the Oakley Vale site in two, which was, to all intents and purposes, undevelopable. Thankfully, the development team at the time (the two Landowners Corby Borough Council and Great Oakley Farms and their development teams) came up with an innovative solution and shifted approximately two million cubic metres of earth – giving the area a number of benefits:

  • Restoration of 75-acres to be used for housing
  • Removal of the loosely filled rock and soil layer covering parts of the site and replacement with engineered fill material
  • Surcharging of large areas of the site to provide a firm 5m thick strata capable of accepting homes on raft foundations
  • The site could be then remodelled to reflect future use

The work was designed and supervised by civil engineers, Wormald Burrows Partnership who acted for the landowners. Thanks to their hard work, Oakley Vale was able to go ahead as planned and undergo major development. So far, we’ve seen more than 3,000 new homes from modern, small apartments to large family houses (check them out here), successfully built and occupied. The development also included brand-new road infrastructure, landscaped green spaces, schools, a neighbourhood retail centre, and a community building.

Nearby Great Oakley

You may also have heard of Great Oakley when finding out about Oakley Vale. The village of Great Oakley is settled close to Oakley Vale and the two are connected by a public footpath – perfect for a Sunday stroll! The industrial revolution saw Great Oakley become part of Corby as it grew, and later provide a beautiful natural space for local families to enjoy.

On top of this, the village is home to the Great Oakley Estate – which has and will continue to play a crucial part in the development of Oakley Vale.

The Great Oakley Estate has been under the ownership of the Brooke and de Capell Brooke family since the late 1400’s – but with previous Lords and Stewards going as far back as the late 11th century.

So what’s next for Oakley Vale? Well, the whole region is expecting continued growth and there’s two final two phases of development beginning to take shape. Find out what they’ll bring on our Future Developments page.