Lunch on the Great Central Railway
11 February 2007
For Stephen's birthday, Lucy bought a pair of tickets for a first class lunch on
the Great Central Railway
- "Britain's only main line steam railway".
Loughborough Central station on the Great Central Railway. The station currently
forms the northern end of the preserved main line railway; there are long-term
plans to extend the route across the Midland Mainline railway to the northern
remains of the line, on towards Nottingham.
The route was opened to goods in 1898 and passengers in 1899 as the Great
Central's London Extension, connecting Manchester to London via Sheffield,
Nottingham, Leicester, and Rugby. It was the last domestic main line to be built
in the UK, and was built to a continental loading gauge. In 1923 the GCR came
under the control of the London & North Eastern Railway. At Nationalisation in
1948, it became part of British Rail Eastern Region. In 1958 a BR reorganisation
moved it into the London Midland Region. Historically, the Midland and Great
Central had been bitter rivals and the 'Midland' soon reduced services, ending
all expresses on the line in 1960. The line was closed as a through route in
Locomotive 48188 was at the head of our train when we arrived at Loughborough
Central. The actual number of this Locomotive is 48305, but to commemorate the
bravery of John
Axon in 1957 the number has been changed to 48188, that being the number of
the locomotive that John Axon was driving. The LMS Class 8 was built in 1943 at
Crewe by the London Midland and Scottish Railway as part of a programme to
provide locomotives for the war effort. After construction she was based at
Wellingborough, Northampton and Crewe South. Her BR career took her all the way
through to January 1968, just months before the end of steam. She was withdrawn
from Speke Junction (Liverpool) arriving at Woodham's Scrapyard in Barry in
September 1968. She was rescued in 1985 and restoration was completed a decade
We had thought that this was the locomotive pulling our train until it rather
startled us by whizzing past, light engine, while we were on Swithland Viaduct.
Lucy on the platform at Loughborough Central station
With time to spare before boarding of our train, we took a walk along the line
to the engine shed
Lucy crossing the line having looked both up and down before doing so
Locomotives outside the engine shed
Safely inside and seated ready for lunch, Lucy looks cheerfully out of the
window at the platform
Stephen also looking cheerful as he waits for his birthday lunch
The train stopped on Swithland viaduct which crosses Swithland Reservoir, to
give us time to absorb the magnificent views across the reservoir to the woods.
Rather blinded by the sunlight behind, a photo of us on Swithland Viaduct on the
And at Loughborough Central, sadly the journey all over, and about to disembark
Another walk along the platform found number 4141, which had been our locomotive
today. After filling up with water, she is completing her run around ready to
pull the 3.15 departure to Leicester North.
Currently on loan from the Llangollen Railway, 4141 was built by the Great
Western Railway at Swindon in 1946 and was based at Cheltenham and Gloucester
depots for the whole of its GW and BR working life. It was withdrawn in 1963 and
sent to Woodham's scrapyard at Barry where it remained until January 1973. It
was purchased by a Severn Valley Railway restoration group and then spent
several years at Hampton Loade undergoing restoration until purchased privately
and moved to West London for full restoration to main line standards. It arrived
at Llangollen in 1997 and entered service on the Llangollen Railway in March
4141 is an example of a group known as 'large Prairies', over
300 of them being built between 1903 and 1949. They were very effective on
semi-fast and suburban passenger trains working to tight schedules, and also saw
duty on freight traffic.
Having completed the run around, 4141 is now coupled to the carriages once more
ready for the 3.15 departure.
4141 pulls away from Loughborough Central
and makes her way towards Leicester North, while it is time for us to head back
towards London. A great day out.