The heat is still here in the Midlands and with no change in sight the countryside is certainly struggling. 28C expected tomorrow. Because of the dryness of the country, most Steam Trains are being replaced by Diesel trains and today we were on a Diesel train when we visited the Great Central Railway. A pity as there are some beautiful Locomotives there at the GCR and in particular a big loco, Oliver Cromwell, Britannia Class-Pacific. But we did see him and others as we were able to visit the sheds where they were resting waiting to be called when the weather changes.
On this line there are 4 stations and each representing a different period in the history of the line. Loughborough Central is a magnificent “island” station with its superb glass canopies exudes an Edwardian atmosphere and has the original wooden staircase to the platforms. Rothley is their Edwardian Gem and the oldest period station that was immaculately restored to the gas Edwardian era. Quorn & Woodhouse is the 1940’s station and its links to World War 2 have been restored to reflect the 1940s. It has a wartime theme and in the Bomb Shelter you hear Churchill’s famous speak from Parliament when he said that they “would never surrender”. Leicester North was reopened in 1991 and has been completely rebuilt from scratch following British Rail demolishing it. The new buildings are in the style of the 1960s original GCR style.
Finally we gathered for our next move as we had an afternoon tea appointment at the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway. We had a leisurely 30 minutes to get to our 1415 appointment and made our way to Duffield Station. I left the coach to announce our arrival but when I reached the ticket office and said I was there for the 1415 Afternoon Tea train, the booking officer looked at me with a blank face, then looked past me to the railway clock on the wall and then said in a non excitable voice “ if you leave now you may make the train before it leaves as it is at Wicksworth, I will phone them and warn them that you are on you way”. With that I bolted back to the coach and luckily, all were still aboard so we commenced our frantic 8 mile dash to Wicksworth. We arrived with 10 minutes to spare and they were relieved to see us and they were going to hold the train if we hadn’t arrived, a wonderful gesture that was not required. We settled into our reserved location amid cakes, sandwiches, clotted cream and scones and a big pot of tea.
While we were eating Squadron Leader Eric (retd) who as the Railway senior historian took us through the history of the line and much more and it was an excellent insight into the issues associated with establishing the line and keeping it running. The Catering Manager Helen, then appeared to check if all was OK which we relayed to her that it was. Helen and Eric are married and they posed for a photo for us. A lovely couple and with people like them involved with the running of this Heritage Railway, the future is assured. Our Afternoon Tea ride concluded and we said goodbye to Helen and Eric, boarded our coach and “full as bulls” made our way back to our hotel in Nottingham. Tomorrow something different and then on to York.