This section shows trains on the ex-Great Central Railway around Leicester in the late 1960s, just before closure to passenger trains, and activity in the goods yard until its final closure in the early 1990s.
The first set of photographs was taken shortly after Christmas 1964 when I was given my first 35mm camera. This was the second film through it and I was still
getting used to the viewfinder and photographing moving trains.
The Great Central London Extension had only another couple of years of life. The few photographs taken on this occasion are my only ones of steam on the GC before closure:
Ex-LMS “Black Five” 4-6-0 no. 44847 taking water. The turntable is behind the locomotive.
A private path led from Great Central Street, through an archway next to the building behind the water tower, to a small hosiery company. This path was a favourite with train spotters since, although the view of the northbound platform of the station was not too good, with no fence or wall it gave a grandstand view of trains heading south and locomotives being turned on the turntable. The popular time here was mid-afternoon when a Western Region ‘Hall’ locomotive had arrived on a train from Bournemouth, being attached at Oxford, and was turned and watered before returning south. Summer Saturdays had the bonus that this could happen twice.
I was very pleased to obtain the negative, with copyright, of the above photograph by an unknown photographer taken on Saturday 28th April 1962. As outlined for the previous photograph, this shows ex-GWR no. 6906 ‘Chicheley Hall’ having arrived on a train which had originated in Bournemouth and been turned and watered ready to take another train back south. The special feature of this photograph is the crowd of young train spotters on the right who have come along the path leading to the hosiery factory. I do not recall spotters standing on the track like this since you could see well from the path a few feet behind them, but perhaps the locomotive was blocking the view a bit. They may have been fed up in that this Banbury-based locomotive was a very common sight here on these trains so it was unlikely to have been a ‘cop’. Usually we were not bothered by anyone when viewing from there, though I remember on one occasion a very official looking railway employee sternly telling us not to walk on the metals or we would be in great trouble. I had never heard the track being called ‘metals’ before. Happy days!
British Railways Standard 9F, 2-10-0, 92030 heading southbound with a freight train.
After stopping in the platform, 92030 departed south with its train with steam escaping from the safety valves.
The following set of photographs were taken in 1967 and 1969. By then through trains to London had ceased and only a Rugby Central to
Nottingham shuttle passenger service, and local freights were being run.
Redundant track was being lifted at this time.
On 4th August 1967 passengers alight from a train from Rugby before it departs northwards, away from the camera, to Nottingham. M56212 & M50626.
Class 27 Bo-Bo D5378 traveling south with 4 oil tank wagons on 4th August 1967.
A batch of these locomotives was allocated to local Midland Region depots at this time and were common on the local freight trains on the GC to Leicester before all were transferred to Scotland.
A Rugby to Nottingham diesel multiple unit on the north viaduct, crossing over the Grand Union Canal, just north of Leicester Central station, around 1967.
A Rugby to Nottingham train, with dmu vehicle M50798 leading, heading northwards out of Leicester, on the north viaduct crossing the River Soar. 10th August 1967.
A Rugby to Nottingham train in the southern suburbs of Leicester taken from Marlow road, on 9th. April 1969. After arriving at Leicester Central this train was then due to depart for Nottingham at 7-30pm. The cutting is now filled in and the Great Central Way footpath passes along here.
Shortly after the northbound train shown in the previous photograph a southbound train went by. This is the 7-28pm departure from Leicester to Rugby, and has just passed under the bridge carrying the ex-Midland Railway Leicester to Burton line.
Although a few miles north of Leicester the next two photographs are included for interest.
On 12th July 1967 a diesel multiple unit comprising M50392 and M56146 travels northwards away from Birstall with the 11:02 departure from Leicester, heading to Nottingham.
This is now the single track section of the preserved Great Central Railway between Leicester North and Rothley. Notice how the undergrowth was growing rampant even then.
Later the same day as the previous photograph, M50797, M59323, and M50532 head north past Thurcaston with the 15:37 departure from Leicester, heading to Nottingham.
In the 1960s the scrap yard of Frank Berry took over the corner of Leicester Central goods yard between Western Boulevard and Upperton Road. Here locally collected scrap was cut up and sent off to steelworks by rail, latterly via the reinstated chord from the nearby ex-Midland Railway Leicester-Burton line.
Class 27 Bo-Bo D5399 with a train of scrap metal at Leicester goods yard. Looking north with Upperton Road bridge in the distance.
17th April 1969, just before withdrawal of the final passenger service.
The coal yard and scrap yards were being shunted by 0-6-0 shunter number 3400, seen from Upperton Road bridge on a very murky day in December 1973.
A telephoto view of 3400 shunting the coal yard. Shunting wagons in a coal yard is a scene that has long disappeared nationally as well as here.
0-6-0 shunter 3057 at the end of the coal and scrap sidings at Leicester goods yard, 1973.
Surprisingly, given the sharp curves and the state of the sidings, main line locomotives were allowed to shunt the yards. Here is Class 25 Bo-Bo number 25124 shunting the scrap yards in 1974. Behind the locomotive are the original coal sidings still in use, and in the centre distance is the ex-Great Central goods warehouse.
Bo-Bo 25316 shunting in Piggot’s scrap yard, 1974.
25316 preparing the wagons of scrap for departure, looking south from Upperton Road bridge, 1974. The chord to the ex-Midland Railway Leicester to Burton line curves off to the left while the trackbed of the ex-Great Central main line heads off into the distance on the right.
25316 propelling the train of scrap up the chord from the ex-Great Central to the ex-Midland Railway, Leicester to Burton line, 1974. In the foreground are stacks of wood in the wood yard which took over the engine shed site.
In 1973 a third scrap yard opened on the site of Leicester goods yard, run by Vic Berry. Initially taking railway wagons and coaches for cutting, it became famous in
the late 1980s and early 1990s when redundant locomotives arrived in large numbers for scrapping.
Since there was a good view from the Great Central Way footpath which ran alongside it was always interesting to walk along and see what the latest arrivals were.
The view of Vic Berry’s scrap yard looking north from Upperton Road bridge.
At one time the rate of arrival of vehicles at Berry’s scrapyard was much greater than the rate of disposal resulting in this well known landmark of a stack of classes 25 and 27 waiting their fate.
Not all arrivals left in little pieces. Since the scrap yard had a sealed asbestos removal shed, some old stock for refurbishment came here to have the asbestos removed before being repainted. Here the scrapyard shunter, 0-6-0 03 069, together with its match wagon shunt three freshly painted diesel units on the chord line leading to the ex-Midland Railway Leicester to Burton line. In the centre is a single car unit (“bubble car”) sandwiched between two motorised parcels vehicles. The roof of the wagon repair shop can be seen above the units and Upperton Road bridge in the background on the left.
In the latter days the stacks of locomotives were replaced by stacks of carriages, here with a London Underground vehicle on top. The end of the scrap yard was triggered in 1991 when there was a serious fire in these stacks (it was reported that people had been sleeping in coaches) and fears that asbestos dust was being released. The scrap yard was subsequently closed and cleared.
Vic Berry’s scrapyard cleared.
While Vic Berry’s scrap yard and its railway vehicles had the limelight, the smaller and older scrap yards of A.E. Piggott & Sons and of Frank Berry continued to operate in the corner between Upperton Road and Western Boulevard. In the early 1990s trains of cut-up scrap were apparently sent from Piggott’s yard to steelworks in South Wales. Here two Co-Co class 37 locomotives shunt wagons for loading in the scrapyard.
Here, in 1991, Co-Co 37 701 “Tremorfa Steelworks” is making up its train of wagons of scrap. The last of these trains departed in December 1995.
There are more photographs of the scrap yards in this area on the associated website at http://www.nigeltout.com/html/three-leicester-railway-scrapyards.html.
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