This section features photographs of a trip along the remaining stretch of the former Great Central Railway between Rugby and Nottingham a couple of weeks before closure.
Although covering much that is outside the original intention of showing the Great Central Railway around Leicester, these photographs taken on a journey on 17th April 1969 along the full extent of the line then open have been included since they will be of interest to those who know the stations today.
The journey starts at Leicester in the middle and heads to the northern terminus in Nottingham, before heading back southwards, traveling through Leicester and on to the southern terminus at Rugby.
Leicester to Nottingham.
On departing north from Leicester Central station our train immediately travelled along the north viaduct. Here we were about to cross the River Soar, looking west, with the area known as Frog Island on the left.
The first stop was at Loughborough Central station, now the home of the preserved Great Central Railway, here photographed as the train departed.
Crossing the Midland Railway main line on the northern outskirts of Loughborough with the platforms of Loughborough Midland station. Luck was in since a Brush type 4 (class 47), Co-Co, D1823 was
passing heading northwards away from the camera. It was appropriate to see this locomotive here since the Brush works, where many of this class were built, is in the background on the right.
Replacement of the bridge here on which my train was traveling is a major goal of the preserved Great Central Railway.
The first stop north of Loughborough was at East Leake, which the train is just approaching. There is another, more detailed, photograph further down taken on the return journey.
Passing through the then closed platforms of Ruscliffe Halt. This is the destination for current deliveries of gypsum, via the Midland main line, to the Hotchley Hill Gypsum works, part of which can just be made out in the background through the footbridge.
The train having arrived at Nottingham Arkwright Street. This suburban station had been reopened since the centrally located Victoria station was being demolished and redeveloped as a shopping
Arkwright Street station was on a viaduct (notice the chimneys all around), and appears to have required strengthening by girders along the platform. Only the southbound platform was being used and the train had crossed over to reach this platform from the northbound line opposite.
After all the passengers had got off, the train departed empty southwards, away from the camera. The vehicles are M50626 & M56211.
Arkwright Street station, looking south, with more reinforcing girders along the platform on the left.
“Nearest station to Trent Bridge cricket and football grounds”. This interesting sign was lying on the northbound platform.
The train shortly returned on the correct, northbound, line and headed towards Weekday Cross Junction to gain access to the rest of the railway system.
Nottingham to Leicester.
East Leake station, on the return journey south, with the guard/conductor checking the doors after the passengers have got on, before departure.
Passing through the then closed Belgrave and Birstall station, which has now been replaced by the newly built Leicester North station on the preserved Great Central Railway.
Entering Leicester Central station, crossing the Northgate Street bridge.
Leicester Central showing the north bay with track removed.
Departing southwards from Leicester Central with the south signal box and the south bay.
Leicester to Rugby.
The south goods yard, with coal wagons predominating.
Bo-Bo D5399 (later class 27) with a train of scrap metal at Leicester goods yard. Looking north with Upperton Road bridge in the distance.
The derelict Leicester Central locomotive shed on the left and the chord line in the foreground, which had been put in a few years before, up to the ex-Midland Railway, Leicester to Burton line.
A temporary chord in a similar location was actually used during the construction of the GCR. A photograph of it from the Newton Collection can be seen at http://www.transportarchive.org.uk/getsingleobject.php?rnum=L1720 when the surroundings were much more rural. “The Midland Railway: A Chronology” gives the opening date of the new chord as April 1965.
Looking back while passing through the closed Whetstone station.
Crossing the M1 motorway, looking north. The lack of a central safety barrier on the motorway at this time is very evident.
The M1 motorway was built right next to the Great Central line for several miles to the north of Lutterworth, as can be seen here through the driver’s cab.
Passengers leaving the train at Ashby Magna station.
About to enter the very short Ashby Magna tunnel.
Entering Lutterworth station.
Crossing the “bird cage” viaduct at Rugby over the ex-LNWR main line, looking north towards Rugby ex-LMS station..
After alighting at Rugby Central Station the train traveled south for a few hundred yards before returning into the northbound platform
At Rugby Central, the train is now ready in the northbound platform for the next service back to Nottingham, while a unit composed of M50763, M59310, and M50798 is in the siding.
Rugby Central Station entrance at road level.
Rugby to Leicester.
Before taking the train to Leicester, passengers had to wait while the train which had arrived from Leicester ran round from the southbound platform to the northbound. Here the train is just entering the northbound platform.
Approaching Leicester Central station from the south, the train is about to cross Braunstone Gate bridge (the “Bowstring bridge”). On the right are lorries of BRS (British Road Services), which had taken over the GCR goods depot, behind which is the Kirby & West milk bottling plant, and in the distance the Pex hosiery factory.
Back at Leicester Central Station, after alighting, the train heads off towards Nottingham again across the north viaduct. The out-of-use colour light signals have all been turned sideways.
© 2001-2018 Text and photographs copyright Nigel Tout, unless otherwise indicated.