Sunday, 6 July 2008

Great Central Railway lives on

We are stilled moored at Millers bridge no34.

Great Central Railways Loughborough station.

When we moored up yesterday afternoon there were no boats in view as we tied up to the bollards. By nightfall there were 7 and this afternoon this has increased to 9, so a very popular mooring spot. Of course we had an ulterior motive as it was nice and handy to Loughborough station. Today's forecast was for rain most of the day but as it turned out the rain stopped by about 10am and stayed fine until 5pm when we had a hail storm and strong winds. This worked out perfectly with our visit to the Great Central Railway. There was one down side to the day when we received a text message from an undisclosed source saying that her brother was a driver for the GCR and her husband always managed to wangle a ride on the footplate. Had she known sooner she may have been able to arrange something for me, ah well, cie la vie.

Great Western Prairie tank loco No 4141

We are only a twenty minute walk from the Loughborough GCR station so we were soon right in amongst the action, we had just missed one train that left as we arrived but with a visit to the engine shed and storage sidings the time soon flew until the next train was due. There were 2 trains in use pulled by a 1954 BR class 2 (Mickey) 2-6-0 tender loco no 78019 which was relieved of its duty by a class 25 diesel and a GWR 2-6-2 Prairie tank loco no 4141. The class 2 went on to do driver experiences for people prepared to pay £250 to drive the loco under supervision from Loughborough to Leicester and return. At the last count they did 4 such trips earning the railway a tidy little sum. With all the other activities, like the dining train which had 3 dining cars which appeared to be pretty full and the regular passengers it is easy to see why this preserved line is so successful. Mind you, its also very much down to the hundreds of volunteers that donate hours or even days of their time to the railway

Rothley station is a typical Great Central railways design of central platform with stair access from road level.

Their latest project of immense proportions is a new engine shed. They have been given a building by Network rail which has been painstakingly dismantled and moved to the GCR's site. The next job is to repair the bridge behind the existing shed over the Grand Union canal (Leicester Line) and then lay new track out to an old dis-used refuse dump which has been acquired or donated for the purpose. A very long term project unless they can get some serious benefactors onboard for the job.

This Fairburn/BR class 4 tank loco is operational but is sidelined awaiting new water tanks.

For our £16 we travelled to Rothley on one train, this station has been done up in Victorian style including working gas lighting. We stopped there for lunch and visited the miniature garden railway operated by a local club, then caught a later train to Leicester and back to Loughborough. Our tickets gave us free range over the whole set up including the engine shed, museum and all stations for the day.

BR Class 2 (Mickey) 2-6-0 tender loco relinquishing it's train after a mornings work.

At Quorn and Woodhouse station a motorhome club were holding a week-end rally in the old goods yard adjacent to the station. We thought that this was a brilliant idea and it might be something to suggest to our old caravan club back in NZ as there are a few preserved railways in the clubs area.

This 1899 sign is a rare find assuming its genuine.
Would there have been bicycles around in those days?

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