Please note that the dates for these tours may vary from the guide below. No tours will be offered until international borders are open.
Our day did not start too well as due to 3 coaches trying to leave between 0800 and 0830, breakfast was a waiting game but in the end the staff were able to provide the cooked breakfasts for those who had ordered and despite the queue to get a seat in the breakfast room all were fed and watered!
Today we had 2 visits programmed, Great Central Railway and the Battlefield Line. We made our way to Loughborough where the headquarters of the Great Central Railway was located and made our way onto the platform to see the Locomotive back onto and be attached to the train. We were booked on the first train out, the 1015.
While waiting for the start a few met and spoke to the driver and his fireman and the driver asked Graham Gillman to come up onto the footplate and then to shovel some coal into the firebox. This he did, it was many years since he worked as a fireman on Steam Trains and the last time was in the 50s. A great moment for him.
The fireman on the Locomotive is Dan Bowler and Dan told us about the time that particular Locomotive became caught in a snowdrift and the sister Locomotive went out to pull her out.
There are 4 stations on the Great Central Railway and each is presented in a period of time. Loughborough has you crossing back to the age of steam with its original wooden staircase and its superb glass canopies that exudes an Edwardian atmosphere. But Rothley is the Edwardian gem and is immaculately restored to the gas lit Edwardian era.
Quorn & Woodhouse, a charming station has links to WW2 and has been beautifully restored to reflect the 1940s, the wartime theme is truly evocative. Last station is Leicester North, which opened in 1991 and has been built from scratch after the original was demolished. The new buildings are set in the 1960s style.
There are plans to merge the Great Central Railway with the Great Central Railway Nottingham and they are working on the bridge over the Midland main line. This will be a very good heritage railway when the lines are fully merged. This railway was voted number 12 of the greatest 50 railways of the world
We left the GCR after completing our visit and headed towards the Battlefield Line. This line runs on part of the former Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway that ran from Nuneaton to Moira and Coalville to Leicestershire. Nearby is the site of the Battle of Bosworth when Richard III locked horns with Henry VII in 1485. Richard was killed and therefore was the last English King to be killed in Battle.
One platform is a little higher than the other as it was done so for the visit of Edward the VII to the home of Lord Howe and his beautiful Countess wife. We boarded the diesel and spent the next hour travelling between the 4 stations and the viewing the work sheds. A big day tomorrow as we head north to York.