A brief history of the GCRN
A brief history of the line
The line was opened as the Manchester-Sheffield-London (Marylebone) main line of the GCR on 15th March 1899. The route was built in a southwards direction, through the Nottinghamshire coalfields to the city itself. The GC built the impressive "Nottingham Victoria" station in the heart of the city, carving out a huge cutting to accommodate the station (with both north and south approaches in tunnel). Surprisingly, traces of the station still exist today, but are often unrecognised: The Victoria Shopping Centre has been built on the site of the old Victoria station itself, but for those that care to look, the clocktower looks a lot older - and that is because it is the old station clocktower. Also, the north tunnel portal can still be seen from the north carpark, accessible off Mansfield Road.
South of Nottingham Victoria, the line emerged at "Weekday Cross Junction" and proceeded south on a huge brick arch viaduct which also included a large girder bridge over the centre of the "Midland" railway station (the present main line station within the city). The NET Tram system actually uses some of that old GC viaduct and formation north of Midland station. The GC route emerged from the city over the Trent, through Wilford and towards Ruddington. Much of the formation is still extant south of the Trent and is earmarked for extensions to the NET Tram system.
At Ruddington, the GCR built a station on the Clifton-Ruddington road, and this is the northern limit of the railway land owned by today's GCRN. The station originally had sidings on land that is now new housing. South of Ruddington, the present link to our facilities within the Country Park existed, but the whole area was a huge MOD depot, primarily used for disposal of assets after WW2. Rail traffic to this depot ceased in the late 1980s.
South of Ruddington the railway crosses Gotham Moor and begins the climb to East Leake. The rock here includes Gypsum, used for the manufacture of plaster and plasterboard used in today's building industry. There were and are gypsum mines here too. The plant at East Leake is served by incoming Gypsum freight trains (which come primarily from Drax Power Station - Gypsum is a by-product of the process which cleans-up flue gas in coal-fired power stations), these trains arriving off the Midland Main Line at Loughborough where GCRN is reached. GCRN is the only Heritage Railway in the UK to support a regular freight flow, and we therefore significantly contribute to reduction of HGVs on local roads.
East Leake is a pretty, thriving village. The old station platform still exists here, and we would like to re-open the station (for passengers on-foot only). See also websites for East Leake: Village Website; Parish Council Website
Travelling further south, we reach Loughborough. Here the line originally crossed the Midland Main Line and proceeded southwards, but the bridge was removed in the 1970s and the present GCRN line now curves south-eastwards to join the present national railway network towards Leicester. Our line here passes by the BRUSH works. Some of our collection of diesel locomotives were designed here, and many include BRUSH equipment. We hope to create a station here to enable easy access to East Midlands Trains services.
Services that used the railway when it was open and part of the national network included: London-Manchester and Liverpool, York-South Coast and Yorkshire to Bristol expresses, as well as a host of local connections centred on Nottingham Victoria.
The GCR route finally closed as a through route on 6th September 1966. While it remained serving the former ordnance depot at Ruddington until the early 1980's, no passenger services traversed the line. Once the ordnance depot closed, the railway became disused until bought by enthusiasts who volunteer their time and re-opened almost exactly 100 years after it's first opening. It now serves as a key attraction in South Nottinghamshire.
For photographers, there is a guide to locations along our line HERE. The guide shows example views as well as links to the Streetmap website for OS Landranger map excerpts to help reach desired locations. Also check-out our view of the seasons to see how your images can be exiting each and every month through the year.