Great Central Railway (preserved)

Great Central Railway (preserved)
Great Central Railway

Great Central Railway D123 Kinchley Lane
Locale Loughborough, Leicestershire, England
Terminus Leicester North
Commercial operations
Built by Edward Watkin
Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Preserved operations
Operated by Great Central Railway Plc
Stations 6 (in operation), 3 others
Length 8.25 miles (13.28 km) (Leicester)
10 miles (16 km) (Nottingham)
Preserved gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Commercial history
Opened 1897
Closed 17 March 1969
Preservation history
1970 Reopened
1976 GCR Plc formed
2000 Double track opened

The Great Central Railway (GCR) is a heritage railway split into two adjacent sections, one in Leicestershire and the other Nottinghamshire.

The Leicestershire section is currently Britain's only double track mainline heritage railway, with 5.25 miles (8.45 km) of working double track, period signalling, locomotives and rolling stock and, with the completion of the Mountsorrel Railway Project, will be the only double track heritage line in Britain with an industrial branchline spur. It runs for 7.75 miles (12.47 km) in total from the large market town of Loughborough to a new terminus just north of Leicester. Four stations are in daily operation, each restored to a period in the railway's commercial history, the 1950s (Loughborough Central), World War II and the remainder of the 1940s (Quorn & Woodhouse), the Edwardian Era (Rothley) and the 1960s (Leicester North).

The Nottinghamshire section is based around a rail and road vehicle preservation site at Ruddington called the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre, which runs occasional steam and diesel passenger services south to Rushcliffe Halt. On other days the service covers 10 miles (16.1 km) from Ruddington to the Midland Main Line at Loughborough. The bridges over the national network were demolished before they could be purchased and preserved, so both companies have stated their intentions of rejoining the two railways to create a single running double-track line of 18 miles (29 km). Other medium and long-term projects have been considered, such as the reinstatement of an ex-BR steam shed and further extensions to Leicester Abbey in the south and Nottingham Greenwood in the north.


Commercial history

[v · d · e]Great Central Railway
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Great Central Main Line northward
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Limit of current operations
Straight track
Ruddington North Junction
Junction to left Transverse terminus from right
Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre
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Gotham Sidings
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Gotham Branchline
Stop on track
Rushcliffe Halt
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East Leake
Enter and exit tunnel
Barnstone Tunnel
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Stanford and Barnstone (proposed)
Bridge over water
River Soar/Stanford Viaduct
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Brush Traction
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Midland High-Level
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Loughborough /Midland Main Line
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Loughborough Gap
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Loughborough TMD (Future)
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Grand Union Canal
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Loughborough TMD (Present)
Station on track
Loughborough Central
Stop on track
Quorn and Woodhouse
Bridge over water
Swithland Viaduct/Swithland Reservoir
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Mountsorrel Railway
Non-passenger station/depot on track
Swithland Sidings
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Belgrave and Birstall
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Leicester North
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Leicester Central (proposed extension)
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Great Central Main Line southward

In 1897 the Great Central Railway itself was formed, becoming the last steam mainline in the United Kingdom. Two years later in 1899 "The London Extension" was officially opened to passenger and freight traffic, allowing more direct journeys from the capital to Nottingham, Leicester, Sheffield and Manchester. The entire line was built to accommodate a European standard loading gauge and all but a few stations were single island platforms. This construction scheme was devised by chairman Sir Edward Watkin, who had envisioning his railway one day running under a Channel Tunnel to France, linking Britain with the continent.

This never came to fruition however as the Beeching report to begin cutback and closure was published in 1963, some 31 years before the tunnel was fully constructed. In the report, the line was listed as a duplicate of the Midland Main Line. Apart from the most Southern section into London, the line was closed as a through route in 1966 as part of the Beeching Axe, although a section of the line between Nottingham and Rugby remained open until 1969. The closure became one of Doctor Beeching's largest cutbacks. It was also famous for being one of the most controversial.


In 1969 local groups who opposed the closure gathered together for a meeting in a Leicester Central waiting room. The Mainline Preservation Group (MLPG) was formed to restore a section of the railway to run Britain's largest steam and diesel locomotives on double track in a heritage capacity, and recreate scenes from the past using these features. Work began on salvaging as much reusable material from the recent demolitions and start work on the project. The original plan was to restore the entire closed line from Nottingham Arkwright Street to Rugby Central, but this was soon cut back to a smaller Loughborough to Leicester section due to time and financial realities. British Rail retained a single track between the Loughborough and Ruddington for British Gypsum freight and access to the now-closed Ministry of Defence base.

The early years (1969-1976)

The MLPG received a lease on the station, buildings and most of the trackbed at Loughborough Central in 1970; this would become their base of operations. By the following year negotiations into purchasing the rest of the remaining railway had proven successful and the group were able to buy it for a mere £75,000 (£790,254 as of 2011),[1]. The rest of the Loughborough yard complex was secured in 1972. In the same year, the first coaching stock arrived on site. The first open day occurred in 1973, shortly after the arrival of working motive power. Passengers were offered simple wagon or coach rides run by small industrial locomotives. On 30 September 1973 LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 No. 5231 hauled the first passenger train since the railway's commercial closure to Quorn and back, but at the same time the Down line was being uplifted between Birstall and Quorn because of BR's increasing demands.

To purchase what was left of the track the MLPG was re-merged into a supporting charity, the Main line Steam Trust (MLST). The entire value of the eight miles of Up line were re-assessed by BR and swelled up to £279,000 (£2,512,554 as of 2011),[1] and the MLST was now paying £3,300 a month (£27,017 as of 2011),[1] just to keep it. A deal was set on 1 April 1976 that would see the remainder of the Down line ripped up if BR's cash demand was not raised. At this time passenger trains were still running as far as Rothley, but without an ample supply of working mainline classes the line had to resort to industrial tank engines working single track, ironic considering the original vision made by the MLPG seven years previously.

Great Central Railway Plc

To purchase the land and track, Great Central Railway (1976) PLC issued shares, and the MLPG transformed into the MLST, a charitable body to support the company.

Charnwood Borough Council agreed to purchase the land from BR and lease it to the railway for 99 years. However this still left GCR (1976) PLC the task of raising over £150,000 (£804,870 as of 2011),[1] to purchase the track. Ultimately, the target was not met and only a single track between Loughborough and Quorn could be afforded (BR allowed more time to raise funds to purchase Quorn to Rothley). The double track from Rothley to Belgrave & Birstall was lifted along with the 'down' line from Loughborough to Rothley.

In the late 1980s the intention was announced to extend the line back to Belgrave & Birstall. The former station had been vandalised and the railway had no choice but to demolish the buildings. In 1990, a station called Leicester North was opened a hundred metres to the south of Belgrave & Birstall. This shift in location placed the new station inside Leicester's city boundary, allowing the 'Leicester' tag to be included in the name along with unlocking extra funds to assist in the construction.

North of Loughborough

Rushcliffe Halt looking north towards Ruddington

At the same time as the Leicester extension, the Ministry of Defence depot at Ruddington closed, and the four miles of track from East Leake to Ruddington were no longer needed by BR. It was also clear that British Gypsum were unlikely to bring in any more materials by rail. The GCR Northern Development Association was formed. Work initially concentrated on restoring Rushcliffe Halt, however when Rushcliffe Borough Council agreed to lease part of the former MOD site to the association, the grand scheme of the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre was devised to encompass not only railway preservation, but any transport heritage relevant to the area.

In the 1990s, work on what had become the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) Ltd was concentrated mainly at Ruddington. The transfer of BR into Railtrack and then Network Rail hindered attempts to purchase the line. Ironically, it was British Gypsum's intentions to renew rail freight traffic that formed the catalyst that allowed the GCR(N) to buy the line and restore it initially for freight use.

At East Leake station, houses were built on the former goods yard in the 1980s, and some were built only yards from the remaining track. The disused nature of the line combined with a solicitor's error led the new occupants to believe that the line was closed (BR never listed the line as closed and could have resumed operations at any time). However, when the GCR(N) applied for a Transport and Works Act 1992 Order to purchase and operate the line, objections from local residents resulted in a permanent speed restriction of 5 mph through East Leake and the station remaining closed.

For Network Rail to route freight trains onto the line during the week and GCR(N) to operate heritage trains at the weekend, a length of rail north of East Leake was removed to create two separate railways. With this 'rail break' the GCR(N) were unable to access Rushcliffe Halt. A more convenient solution was found in the form of a clip on double-sided wheel scotch padlocked to the line at the site of the rail break. At weekends, the GCR(N) phone Network Rail to take possession of the line. Network Rail then lock the line out of use from their end and allow the GCR(N) to unlock the rail break and access the track to Loughborough.

In 2003 regular services to Rushcliffe Halt resumed. Passenger trains further south are limited to the second Sunday of each month as there is no station at Loughborough and the station at East Leake is closed.

The double track project (1991-present day)

With the exception of the short section between Bewdley North and Bewdley South signal boxes on the Severn Valley Railway, the GCR is currently the only standard gauge heritage railway in the UK with double track outside of stations. However, there are other preserved lines that were previously double track.

In the 1990s, David Clarke approached the railway about the possibility of double tracking the line. As a signalling enthusiast, David dreamed of operating a signal box on a double track main line, and so the campaign to raise funds to double the section between Quorn and Rothley was launched, with David himself providing a large amount of the capital.

Until signalling was complete the second track was operated separately from the main track. This provided a unique opportunity for trains to 'chase' each other between Quorn and Swithland.

After reaching Quorn, work moved ahead to extend the second track to Loughborough. The double track between Loughborough and Rothley opened on 1 June 2000, and for the first time on a preserved railway steam trains could pass each other at speed. This is especially useful at steam and diesel galas, where up to six trains may be in operation at any one time, and it avoids engines having to stop at passing loops in or between stations, like on other railways.

Her Majesty's Rail Inspectorate has granted powers to run private test trains at up to 60 mph. Other special trains at public events run at up to 45 miles per hour (72.4 km/h). Typically UK heritage railways are limited to a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour (40.2 km/h).[2]

In 2004 a new signal box at Quorn opened, the only preserved box in the UK with a double track on either side. With this new signal box a train can, in theory, be dispatched from Loughborough every 10 minutes. A further signal box at Swithland Sidings is being fitted with Great Western Railway style signals.

Work continues on commissioning the signal box at Ruddington North Junction and development of the Heritage Centre (including a brand new station).

Major engineering projects

There are currently four engineering projects underway. These include extensions south and north and also a half mile length of line joining together the Loughborough to Leicester line, and Loughborough to Ruddington line as the Leicester to Ruddington line.

The gap and Loughborough Midland (High Level)

Abutment for the missing bridge over Railway Terrace. This bridge needs to be replaced if the gap is to be bridged.

Between the A60 and Loughborough locomotive shed is "The Gap", a section of embankment and bridges (including a large single span over the Midland Main Line) that need to be reinstated to join the two concerns together. That is a long term, expensive project and in the mean time there are plans to construct a new "Loughborough Midland High Level" station on the embankment near the A60 road bridge. This would allow easy interchange with Midland Main Line trains with trains from the GCR(N) and if the Gap is bridged, the Greater Great Central Railway (GGCR) as it is know almost universally by Great Central staff. As of 12 February 2009 it was announced that the project would receive £350,000 for a feasibility study. Charnwood Borough Council has won the grant from the East Midlands Development Agency. The GCR is to contribute £100,000 to the study (combined cost of £450,000). When completed the GCRN will merge with the GCR to create a single 18-mile route which will also be rebuilt as a double track line for most, if not the whole length.

Southern extension to Leicester Abbey

Recently discussion has looked at a possible extension south of Leicester North station, to a new station one mile away, at Beaumont Leys Lane, close to the Abbey Pumping Station, National Space Centre, Abbey Park, and ultimately Leicester city centre. The extension would be single track from Leicester North, and would be for passenger use only. A run-around loop would be located at Beaumont Leys Lane, along with a single platform and station facilities.

Crossing the busy Red Hill Way to reach the embankment at the far side is a major challenge in extending south.

Extending to the Abbey Lane area would require the demolition of part of the platform at Leicester North, and bridging the Leicester Outer Ring Road and Thurcaston Road. Extending to Leicester Central was once an option considered by the railway, but pulled out of talks with the Council, stating that the restoration and rebuilding works would be too expensive and would not fit in with the council's timetable for the area.

This project may yet come into fruition (and given greenlight) as soon as the Loughborough Gap is bridged to join the two sections of the Heritage GCHR together, respectively.

Loughborough Locomotive Shed project

The current locomotive shed at Loughborough stands in the way of the double track main line which will eventually run through to the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre. A solution was found by Tom Tighe, the GCR PLC’s Locomotive Superintendent. Whilst on holiday in The Lake District, he stumbled across Workington Locomotive Shed, which was shortly to be demolished. The shed was saved and funding sought from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources. The shed was in a relatively complete state, though much of the structure will be rebuilt with new materials, which may require being moved to the site by rail, as road access is limited.

The shed was dismantled and moved piece by piece to Swithland Yard for eventual rebuilding on the site of the old Loughborough Tip, where a spur running off of the future double track stretch between the station and the "gap", will create a functioning rail yard, neighbouring a refuse centre. The yard is to comprise the shed itself, adjacent to an education centre, sidings for stored rolling stock and a new carriage workshop to the north of the structure and car parking facilities for peak days. Plans are being made for a diesel depot and/or a goods shed.

When the locomotive shed is built, it will feature an eight road shed split into two separate sections, with five roads for running locomotives, and three roads for locomotives under restoration or overhaul. Originally it was a ten road shed, but the arrangement of the workshop side changes allowing more working space between the locomotives. The other two roads will feature a mess room, offices and amenities for the Locomotive Department.

It is hoped that in time a small platform will be added adjacent to the shed for a shuttle service to operate between Loughborough Central, the locomotive shed, and the proposed Loughborough Midland (High Level) station. The connection may also allow the sheds to be used as storage depots for Network Rail at some point.

Northern extension to Wilford and Nottingham (Greenwood)

In a 10 year business plan published in 2004, a feasibility study was proposed into extending the line northwards from Ruddington to head towards the River Trent as it passes by Wilford village. This would be a further extension of almost two miles and would take the line within yards of the boundary of Nottingham City itself. Extension further north would be extremely difficult since the viaduct over the River Trent was dismantled in the 1990s and the land beyond has been redeveloped as a new housing estate.

However, Nottingham Express Transit, who own and promote the Nottingham tramway have plans to convert the section of the line from the River Trent to Clifton Boulevard into an extension to their existing tram line (which also re-uses existing GCR structures at Station Street tram stop).

There are plans to rebuild the old viaduct across the River Trent for the Nottingham tramway to cross over and construct a new railway station called Nottingham Greenwood railway station which would be both the new northern terminus of the Heritage Great Central railway line and the new southern terminus of the Nottingham tramway. There is even a proposed Wilford railway station between Ruddington and the proposed Nottingham (Greenwood).[citation needed]

The Mountsorrel Railway Project

The Line and Wagons at Swithland Junction in November 2010

This is a project devised and financed by Railway Vehicle Preservations Limited.[3] The projects aim is the rebuilding of the Mountsorrel branch off the Great Central railway at Swithland sidings to the working Mountsorrel quarry.

The branch is essentially intact but the track was lifted in the mid 1960s. The original purpose of the reinstatement was to provide a carriage shed to house the restored carriages of Railway Vehicle preservations Ltd and shelter them from the elements. In 2006 they applied for planning permission for the shed; this was rejected due to badger setts discovered on site. The reinstatement of the line is going ahead with ballast being donated from the quarry it served. The total length being reinstated is 1.25 miles (2 km). It is intended a halt will be built at the quarry end, offering train rides up the line to add an extra attraction to the Great Central railway, with services either run by a DMU or else a push-pull fitted steam/diesel locomotive. The plans for the shed are being re-evaluated and the line is now fully ballasted awaiting track.


  • Nottingham Greenwood

Proposed new terminus of both the Heritage GCHR and the Nottingham Tramway network, whom both would interchange with one another in the future.

  • Wilford

Proposed new-built station and stopping point for local people nearby, (and previously never been a station here).

Ruddington is the main station on the line, and home of the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre, however the original station has been disused for several years. The NTHC plans to purchase and restore the old station to its former glory as finances allow.

  • East Leake
    • Currently not available to commercial traffic, the station is unlikely to be reopened due to lack of car parking facilities and with the station entrance being directly onto the road under the bridge safety concerns are also a factor.
  • Stanford & Barnstone

Stanford and Barnstone is a proposed railway station between Barnstone Tunnel and Stanford Viaduct, The station will serve the local villages of Stanford and Barnstone and will also be a stopping point for passengers to use and walk to and look at the scenes below Stanford Viaduct, even admire the "one day soon to be reinstated Barnstone Sidings close by".

  • Loughborough Midland High Level
    • This new station will be built as finances allow for the Bridging the Gap project to reunite Great Central north and south. It will allow commuters from Loughborough railway station to interchange with the preserved railway and vice-versa.
  • Loughborough Central
    • Loughborough Central is the largest of the working stations on the line, with a long overhead canopy, museum, gift shop, café and 1950s period detail. This has helped the station feature in numerous movies and TV shows.
    • The signal box and traction maintenance depot north of the platform are both open for public viewing, allowing for an insight into the physical labour that is required to run a steam railway. The shed will be replaced in the near-future by a larger, more historically significant building on the site of an abandoned rubbish dump.
  • Quorn & Woodhouse
    • Serving the local villages of Quorn and Woodhouse, this station is built to the standards of Great Central, with an island platform and an overbridge. The station details were intended to make it reflect World War II and the remainder of the 1940s. This has allowed for several World War reenactments to be played out in recent years.
    • South of the platform is a small set of goods sidings which currently store the TPOs, mineral wagons and other stock when they are not in use.
    • A turntable has been installed at Quorn & Woodhouse Station and offically opened in the latter part of October 2011.
  • Rothley
    • Similar in appearance to Quorn & Woodhouse, Rothley was rebuilt by the volunteers of the Great Central to look like the Edwardian era, when it is believed the GCR company was at its high-point. Today the Ellis tea room serves refreshments year-round and a garden railway run by a small group of enthusiasts runs various types of stock.
    • A large 4-road carriage shed of corrugated metal owned by RVP Ltd is the major restoration facility for their historic collection of Gresley Teaks and Mk1s.
  • Leicester North
    • Just south of Belgrave and Birstall station is the new Leicester North terminus, built because the original station was heavily vandalised. Currently little more than a small waiting room and canopy in 60s style, though more details are being added when they become feasible.
    • These features may include doubling the 3 mile stretch between Rothley and the terminus, a project which may be greenlit shortly. As well as this, the original plan was to have a large opposing terminus with a further platform added, along with a garden and trainshed
  • Leicester Abbey
    • Though the embankment of land beyond Leicester North is still intact, there are still talks on extending to a proposed Leicester Abbey. Extending would involve reinstating the old bridges along the way and would be double track half way with the rest being single track, passing between buildings along the way as much land has since been re-developed in recent years. This would mark the new southern terminus of the heritage GCSR. Such a project may become possible as finances allow.

Plans to extend the line further south to Leicester Central where viewed as more problematic, owing to development on the formation over recent years, and the demolition of the bowstring bridge over the River Soar in November 2009 ("Abruptly ending all hopes of a possible future extension within leicester central").

The planned station at Leicester Abbey could be a few yards away from the old Leicester Central and would also be a few yards from the River Soar.

Film and television

Many filmmakers have taken advantage of the atmosphere of the Great Central and it has had many notable appearances in film and television.



  • She's Out (1994)
  • Woof! (1995)
  • Goodnight Mr. Tom (1998)
  • Take a Girl Like You (2000)
  • The Cazalet Chronicles (2001)
  • Casualty (2001)
  • Hawking (2004)
  • The 4:50 from Paddington (2004)
  • E=MC2 (2004)
  • The 39 Steps (2008)
  • Central Steam (TV Series) (2010)
  • South Riding (TV miniseries) (2011)
  • Top Gear (2011)[4]

Top Gear

On 14 June 2011 BBC's Top Gear filmed a segment/challenge for the show where Clarkson, Hammond and May try to find a cheaper alternative to expensive carriage trains. To begin, Clarkson buys a classic 1980's Jaguar convertible, and takes it to Rothley Train Station sheds, where they fit it with special train-track wheels. The Trio were overwhelmed by the success of the train as they "drove" it towards Leicester North train station via the track running through the back fields of Thurcaston, only to find it doesn't reverse very fast. They also build carriages out of caravans, with each one represent a different carriage of a regular train - First Class, The Buffet Car, Second Class, and "Scum Class". They test the train, only to find that the Jaguar does not generate enough traction to pull the carriages. While arguing over the solution, Clarkson suggests that they instead build a "Sports Train", with only one carriage, May and Hammond argue with him that it wouldn't be a "train". The team split, and May and Hammond return with a new "Locomotive" a 4WD Audi S8, and secure the already built caravan carriages to the car. Meanwhile, Clarkson has instead built a new four-man carriage to fit to the back of the Jaguar. With both trains ready, the trio decide to race each other's trains, starting at Rothley, through Quorn and Woodhouse station, and finish at Loughborough train station. Both teams encounter problems, however, when Clarkson finds himself stuck behind Hammond & May, and after a faux pas with the Buffet Car, Hammond & May find their train burning down. Clarkson makes it to Loughborough and awaits Hammond and Mays arrival, however the two have given up and extinguish the flames on the burning buffet cart, while talking about how their "Train" was a success the "Scum Class" cart gets destroyed by an oncoming British Rail Class 45 (No.D123)

Locomotives and rolling stock

Main article: List of Great Central Railway locomotives and rolling stock

The Great Central Railway has a reasonable running length with the added bonus of a mainline setup, and so some of Britain's largest locomotives have been there in recent years. The steam fleet currently comprises over a dozen mainline classes, many of them either heavy freight, express passenger or shunting tank engines. Some are of types that were preserved in abundance elsewhere, but others have been leased from the National Collection. On most days a green-liveried, two-car British Rail Class 101 DMU runs from Loughborough to Leicester as a shuttle train service; this allows more time to light the steam locomotive(s) that would be running that day. The same railcar also sees service throughout the day during most gala events. Locomotives generally face south as that is the better way round for photography of them travelling smokebox-first.

As well as running stock the railway also has a large collection of heritage rolling stock. Passenger stock is made up of three uniform rakes of British Rail Mark 1 coaches originally built in the 1950s and 60s. The first of these is in BR lined maroon livery with a brake coach which doubles as wheelchair users' accommodation and a refurbished restaurant buffet car, which with its griddle facilities and kitchen staff can handle anything from full breakfasts to Sunday roasts. This rake is used every operating day. The second most-commonly used is the Carmine and Cream (sometimes known as Blood and Custard) dining train with Restaurant Kitchen Buffet (RKB). It is also used on high season days as it has ample seats for second class ticket holders. The final rake is in Southern Region BR Green livery which is not often seen at anything other than major galas. The Restaurant Miniature Buffet (RMB) which runs with this set is sometimes mixed into the Carmine and Cream rake for second class dining. With a collection of more than 120 ex-British Railways goods wagons, the railway can recreate convincing period slow goods trains. Among the highlights of the collection is a set of 16 ton grey mineral wagons purchased using money raised by readers of Steam Railway Magazine.

GCR Rolling Stock Trust

A group called the GCR Rolling Stock Trust based at the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre owns the largest single collection of pre-grouping rolling stock known to exist in the UK, including the famous 'Barnum' carriages (so named as these were the type hired by P.T. Barnum's travelling circus) and some items that even herald from the days of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway—the GCR's title before completing the London extension. The details of the stock are below.

  • Six Wheeler GCR No 946. The group's current restoration project, bodywork restoration is nearly complete and the body has lifted to replace some timber on the chassis, replace a leaf spring and test and work on the brakes. All of the old timber has been removed and some of the fittings that were removed for attention are being fitted and then the new timber will be fitted, the leaf springs have been refurbished and are ready for fitting, the bolts are being worked on and five out of ten doors have been finished.
  • Barnum Bar coach No 228 built in 1910. The framework, chassis, floor and roof are in good condition. It is planned to fit a bar in once finished. Restoration planned to start once the new Barnum building is built.
  • Barnum Brake Coach No 695 built in 1910. Currently in No 5 shed (intended to store running locomotives) undercover but a building is being made up which will hold all four Barnums. Restoration is planned to start once 228 is completed. A kitchen will be fitted to this during restoration. No work ongoing.
  • Barnum Dining Car No 666 built in 1910. Outside No 5 building but to be moved into the planned Barnum building, work due on it once 695 is completed, should go inside No 5 building to have its body, roof and windows repaired once 664 has had similar work done on it. No work ongoing.
  • Barnum Dining Car No 664 built in 1910. Undercover in No 5 shed but will be moved into the planned Barnum building. Work is planned to start once 666 is completed. It is currently being made weatherproof and fit for display by having its body, roof and windows repaired so 666 can take its place inside for a short while to have some work done on it. The current work is that the body is being sanded and preparations are being made to fit some wood on the roof to make it watertight.
  • Clerestory 1st and 3rd class No 1663. Body stored on a flat wagon but frames are nearly ready to hold the body to take the weight of the body, shortly to be moved onto its own frames. Final frame work and bodywork restoration will begin once Barnum No 664 is complete. Undercover in No 5 building.
  • Suburban No 799. Outside with good framework and the roof has recently been tarpaulined. Work due to start once 1663 is complete.
  • Suburban GCR Coach No 555. Parted from its frames at the moment. Work due to start once 799 is complete.
  • Six Wheeler No 373 GCR. Stored with poor body and major work needed on the frames. It will be the last carriage to be restored.

Supporting bodies

Both the Great Central Railway PLC and the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) have a number of supporting bodies which are based at each individual line. The majority of these are locomotive or rolling stock groups, however there are a number of private owners who have based their stock or locomotives at the lines.

Main Line Steam Trust

Main Line Steam Trust was established in 1969 as the Main Line Preservation Group, with the intention of preserving one of two potential sections of the line, one based at Lutterworth, running from Leicester to Rugby Central, and one based at Loughborough, running between Leicester and Nottingham. The Loughborough base was chosen and work began on restoring the station, an office was rented at street level at Loughborough Central station, and in 1971 Charitable Status was granted to MLPG, who changed their name to Main Line Steam Trust Limited.

Substantial monthly payments were required to keep the formation intact between Loughborough and Belgrave & Birstall, with steam hauled services operating from Loughborough Central to Quorn & Woodhouse Station, and eventually Rothley station. The money required to purchase the line south of Rothley was not available and only the Loughborough to Rothley section of line was preserved, with the aid of Charnwood Borough Council.

The operation and the assets were transferred to the Great Central Railway (1976) Ltd. and MLST took on the role of the charitable volunteer run support body for the railway. MLST has continued to support the Great Central Railway PLC (the 1976 was eventually dropped from the title), and the various organisations around the railway. It also supports the Great Central Railway (Nottingham).

MLST have funded a great deal at the Great Central Railway, including assistance in funding the double track, Leicester Station, Quorn & Woodhouse Signalling, Swithland Signalling, Loughborough South Remodelling, and has assisted in bringing in visiting locomotives for gala events on numerous occasions.

Great Central Railway PLC

The company made a profit during trading year ending 2007 of £62,000, the first genuine profit in 30 years as a visitor attraction.

The Gresley Society

A small group based at Loughborough who are devoted to LNER Chief Mechanical Engineer, Sir Nigel Gresley. They also own large suburban tank locomotive GNR Class N2 No. 1744.

Renaissance Railcars

Renaissance Railcars own the five Class 101 vehicles at the Great Central Railway PLC, at present only one set, known as “Set A” (affectionately also known as “The Green Goddess”), is in regular passenger use, however progress is being made on the other vehicles based at the line. A third 101 driving trailer unit is in storage for use as a source of spare parts.

They also own 59575 a 111 centre coach, and it is currently being restored, to be eventually worked with the "Green Goddess" or "Daisy".

Boscastle Locomotive Syndicate

Owners and carers of Bullied Pacific locomotive 34039 Boscastle, which is undergoing a protracted overhaul due to take 3 years and £200,000+ of donated money.

73156 Standard 5 Support Group

Formed in 1985, the group owns BR standard class 5 No. 73156 which has been undergoing extensive restoration since arrival and numerous storage vans.

Loughborough Standard Locomotive Group

Loughborough Standard Locomotive Group, or LSLG, look after and part-own a number of locomotives. These are BR Standard 2MT No.78019, BR Standard 5MT No.73156, BR Standard 7P6F No.70013 “Oliver Cromwell” and LMS 2MT No.46521

At present only No.78019 is in running condition and can regularly be found operating passenger trains, although the other locomotives are making progress. No.70013 “Oliver Cromwell” is part of the national collection, owned by the National Railway Museum, and is being restored by both LSLG and the 5305 Locomotive Association. LSLG also have in their care a Directors Saloon, coach no. M999504, which is on loan from EWS.

5305 Locomotive Association

The 5305 Locomotive Association have a number of locomotives in their care, these are LMS “Black 5” No.45305 “Alderman A.E. Draper”, SR King Arthur No.777 “Sir Lamiel”, BR Class 33 D6535 “Hertfordshire Railtours”, BR Standard 7P6F No.70013 “Oliver Cromwell”, and BR Class 45 "Leicestershire And Derbyshire Yeomanry" Peak D123.

Nos.777, D6535 and 70013 are all part of the National Collection and are owned by the National Railway Museum. Recently No.777 emerged from a lengthy overhaul in British Railways Brunswick green livery, under the BR number 30777.

Type One Locomotive Company

A diesel group who own and care for Class 20 D8098, Class 31 D5380 and Class 47 D1705.

Railway Vehicle Preservations LTD

Railway Vehicle Preservations LTD, and their members, own the second largest collection of LNER coaches in preservation today. These include the famous LNER Travelling Post Office set, two LNER Beavertail observation saloon (including one in its rebuilt condition), and a number of “Gresley” teak-panel passenger coaches.

Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre Ltd

Nottingham Society of Model and Experimental Engineers

NSMEE operate a mile-long circuit of mixed-gauge miniature railway at the Heritage Centre.


External links

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