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Great Central Reunification.

Canal Bridge parapets return!
Posted on 6th July 2020

This isn't strictly Factory Flyover news but we know you'll be pleased to hear it anyway. In a two day operation at the start of July, the two elegant side panels of the canal bridge were first lifted and then bolted into place.

The two side panels with their distinctive criss cross metal work were the first pieces of the bridge to be removed when repairs to the bridge began in December 2018.

They were taken off site to the Welsh workshop of our contractors Centregreat Engineering. They have been shot blasted, repaired and repainted. The actual criss cross elements themselves required relatively little work, the main repairs being carried out to the bottom flange where the panels attach to the bridge beams themselves.

Each panel was brought back to site in two halves and then bolted together into a single piece weighing six tons. Once lifted upright and moved into place the crane then held them while they were bolted onto the east and west side beams. A team worked from the top - and from underneath using a pontoon and scaffold tower on the canal.

The coping stones were put into place on the restored brickwork and a temporary scaffold brace installed on each side panel. This will be removed in due course.

While the bridge appears all but complete, there are some finishing off works including adding the waterproof layer to the top side of both decks. There is also a small amount of painting to do, plus the small matter of all the paperwork, so it can be signed off for use.

Overall though, the impression is of a wonderful GCR bridge restored to ‘as built' appearance. Constructed in the late 1890s, it last carried a train above the water in 1972. One day it will carry heritage trains again and is sure to be a much photographed location. Want to help us keep building? Every donation you give us helps on the way. We need to raise three million pounds to build the factory flyover section. Thank you for your support. Together we'll reunify the two railways.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE REUNIFICATION PROJECT, JOIN OUR NEXT ONLINE TALK, DELIVERED VIA ZOOM. IT TAKES PLACE ON JULY 26TH AT 7PM - PLEASE DONATE A MINIMUM OF TEN POUNDS TO JOIN THE TALK.

The first picture shows the east side panel in place and being bolted down. The west side panel lies in the down formation waiting for its turn.

The second picture shows the new ballast retention plates installed on the west (down) side of the bridge to keep the formation in place and stop debris falling onto the beams or into the canal.

The third picture shows the moment the east side panel was offered up. The scaffold team on the pontoon will help install the bolts which secure the panel.


New update video published....
Posted on 6th July 2020

Great news and a major step forward for Reunification. The work to the canal bridge is almost complete.

The original GCR structure hasn't seen a train since 1972 but has now been fully overhauled ready to play its part in relinking the two halves of the Great Central Railway.

In early July the elegant metal lattice sides were lifted into place, 20 months after they were removed at the very start of works.



Fundraising is continuing for the Reunification programme which will create an eighteen mile heritage railway. Two bits are now finished and hundreds of thousands of pounds have been raised for the next section. Join the adventure. Just by watching our films you're helping to raise money. If you want to donate, please consider a small monthly standing order.

If you'd like to donate, please see the details below. You may be interested in an online talk later in July which gives more details on the project. Please see the details below.

Thank you for your support.


Our exciting project appeal...
Posted on 24th June 2020

Welcome to readers of Steam Railway, Heritage Railway and Railway magazine. Whether this is your first visit to the Reunification mini-site, or if we're a regular stopping off point for you, we hope you'll find plenty of interest as the biggest project in railway preservation moves 'Forward!''.

Our latest total is one hundred and seventy thousand pounds, towards a latest target of three million pounds to build the factory flyover section. Bringing the two halves of the GCR back together will guarantee a home for large locomotives, operating heritage trains with heritage infrastructure right in the heart of the country.

Thank you for all your support. Every donation helps. You can make a single donation by downloading and completing this form. You can give online here. What we'd really like is a commitment to a small monthly standing order gift. Give as little as twelve pounds a month and it adds up to a significant donation over a year. To set up a regular donation, please fill in this standing order form, send it to us and we'll do the rest.

If everyone who read the magazines each month joined the campaign, we could fund Reunification in a year! Thank you for all of your support.

You are making this happen!


Reunification with Rail Riders.
Posted on 4th June 2020

Remember Rail Riders, the British Railways loyalty club for kids back in the 1980s?

Well it's been reformed with hundreds of former members rejoining the 'happiest club in the land'.

The first edition of the new club magazine carries a full colour feature about our Reunification project, so we'd like to say a huge thank you to the new team at the club for helping to spread the word.


Factory Flyover - Latest news
12th May 2020

Appeal reaches £150,000.

The latest phase of the Great Central Railway's Reunification appeal has reached one hundred and fifty thousand pounds. The award winning Leicestershire heritage line is raising millions of pounds to re-connect with its sister railway in Nottinghamshire and create an eighteen mile route across the East Midlands.

The chairman of The Friends of The Great Central Main Line Andy Fillingham explained, "Our Reunification project is one of the biggest schemes on any heritage railway in the UK. We've already raised millions of pounds towards it which delivered one brand new bridge and paid for another to be fully overhauled. In early March we set out to fundraise for the next stage which will see another two new bridges built. It's going to cost around three million pounds. We began with one hundred thousand pounds and thanks to the incredible generosity of supporters around the country we've reached one hundred and fifty thousand pounds."

The project - particularly the construction of the brand new bridge - has captured the imagination the world over and drawn plenty of support from local stakeholders.

Andy continued, "We're living in difficult and extraordinary times. Even though we can't meet our supporters face to face we're doing our best to keep in touch on social media, including premiering a brand new film all about the Reunification project on YouTube. We're deeply humbled that our friends are still supporting the appeal even when priorities are changing on a daily basis. We're determined to remain on the front foot and look to the future. As soon as we have the majority of funds for the next phase of the project to hand, we'll resume construction."

How can I help?
If you'd like to help we would ask you to consider donating by standing order. A small gift every week (say £3 - the price of a coffee) adds up to £12 a month. Over a year that's a very special contribution.

You can download a standing order form here. Fill it in and post it back and the David Clarke Railway Trust will do the rest. (The trust are managing the finances for Reunification).

You can also give online using a credit card or debit card here, or you can make a one off donation cheque through the post, using this form.



Factory Flyover - New promotional film.
30th March

Fresh out of the works is our new Reunification promotional film.

To be honest we'd hoped to share this with you in person at our programme of talks and events - we had planned a UK tour in 2020!


At some point it will get shown on the wonderful Friends of the Great Central Main Line stand which is often seen at GCR galas. We'll also reschedule all our talks. One day we'll be back in person - but until then you can watch the film now!



We'd like to thank everyone who has donated so far. Even if difficult times you are clearly thinking about the future. One plea from the appeal team; we can't easily get to the post box or the bank at the moment. If you have donated by cheque in the post please bear with us while we process your donation and write a thank you letter. For the same reasons it might take a little while to get standing orders running too. We appreciate your generosity, patience and understanding.

If you're considering donating, (or if you'd like to pass some time!) now is a good time to read the new booklet that went out with Main Line and fill in the forms. We can also accept donations online if you're staying inside.

Once again thank you. You're thinking of us and we're thinking of you.

Until we can meet again face to face, enjoy the new film and stay safe.



Changing times...
19th March

We'd like to thank everyone who has contributed so far to the next phase of the Reunification appeal. These are very difficult and uncertain times. It's heartening to know we're in your minds even as ordinary life is turned upside down as we've had new standing order commitments and one off donations both through the post and online.

When we planned the appeal launch many months ago we were also preparing to deliver a number of talks for societies across the country - and of course we were hoping to see you in person at the GCR gala events. Naturally, we've stood down all activity for now and we look forward to getting back on the road again when we can.

In the meantime, a special thank you to the Burton Railway Society. We had hoped to be there in person at their recent AGM to collect a donation of £650, which they had raised during this year for Reunification. While the event was postponed, they've still been able to make the very generous donation. We're very grateful.

For now, stay safe and again, thank you for your support.


Factory Flyover.

1st March 2020.

We've now finished two sections of the Reunification project, creating an eighteen mile heritage railway across the East Midlands. If you're new to the idea, find out more about the ambitious scheme here.

The next piece of the jigsaw is the section across a factory car park. It's right next to the new bridge over the Midland Main Line bridge we've already built.

Factory Flyover - the next phase of Reunification If our fundraising goes well, we'll build the bridge over Railway Terrace road at the same time - it will save on construction costs to do both together. It's about fifty metres of new railway in total but a vital part of connecting the two halves of the Great Central Railway. We hope to incorporate the two bridge decks recovered from Reading into this phase.

Far from being impossible, Reunification is a developing reality.

Make a donation online...This section will cost approximately three million pounds; roughly the amount we have already raised and spent on Reunification. The good news is, as we begin fundraising for this Factory Flyover section (as we're calling it) we already have one hundred thousand pounds in the kitty! That's because many generous people like you are still contributing every month towards Reunification. If you are giving to the Bridge to the Future or Crossing the Canal campaign your standing order will now go towards the Factory Flyover.

If you'd like to help you can give online using a credit card or debit card here, or you can make a one off donation cheque through the post, using this form.

However we'd really urge you to consider donating by standing order. A small gift every week (say £3 - the price of a coffee) adds up to £12 a month. Over a year that's a very special contribution.

You can download a standing order form here. Fill it in and post it back and the David Clarke Railway Trust will do the rest. (The trust are managing the finances for Reunification).

Any donation you give takes us closer to the day the first train runs along the full length of the railway. We can't start building the next section until we have the vast majority of the finance in place. If you want to see this happen, now is a great time to get on board. Thank you.

Don't forget to bookmark this page for updates to fundraising and to subscribe to our YouTube channel GCROfficial where we post videos of our progress.



Donate to the Reunification appeal


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