Meadow Lane Veterinary Centre was founded in the 1870s, making it one of the oldest veterinary practices in Leicestershire, if not England. In common with veterinary practices of that era, MLVC (although not known by that name at the time) was exclusively a large animal and equine practice serving the local farming and horse community.
The practice buildings were originally used for horse stabling and one surmises that travellers staying at the nearby Manor House (now a restaurant) or local hostelries would probably have rested their horses there. There may also have been a farrier on site who would perhaps have offered additional equine remedies – the word would have spread and the nucleus of a veterinary practice created.
Features of the original stable block can still be seen in the current building structure. The large ground floor windows are where the stable doors once stood (and remained well into the 1980s) and the central window on the first floor was the door to the upper hay loft where, by means of a pulley, straw and hay were hoisted through and stored.
As farm visits up to the end of the First World War were still made by pony and trap, the practice had its own ponies and it is rumoured that they were trained to find their own way home allowing the vets of the time to ‘enjoy the hospitality’ of the local farmers.
Veterinary work evolved over the next century as did MLVC. An extension was added to the existing buildings in the 1960’s to accommodate a waiting room for the growing number of cats and dogs that were now being seen, a large telecommunication mast was erected for the CB radio that ‘revolutionised’ practice to vet communication (finally taken down in 2012) but it was not until the late 1980s that the running of the practice and the practice office moved out of the senior partner’s house alongside the practice buildings, James Herriot style, and into the practice itself.
Computerisation followed along with more building modernisation and in 1990 the practice adopted its current name, leaving behind the names of its eminent veterinary forefathers, Mr Phillips FRCVS who was senior partner from 1919-1952 and Mr Bryson MRCVS who came as a new graduate in 1947 and stayed up to his retirement in 1985.
A major and difficult decision was taken by the partners in 2006 – to give up the large animal side of the practice. As one historic chapter of the practice was closed another was unfolding. The dynamics of veterinary life were changing. Small animal and exotic medicine was expanding, and expectations of both vets and owners had never been higher, and MLVC was also evolving to meet the needs of the modern veterinary world. Investment in staff, education and equipment and continued modernisation brings us to where we are today – one of the oldest practices in England with one of the freshest outlooks on providing veterinary care for the modern age.