Andrew Morley

Daily image gallery

Several new images each day, from the beginning of the global crisis...

We'll be regularly updating our website with a selection of photographs taken on the railway in previous years. Special thanks to the photographers who have kindly provided images for use here.

We hope you enjoy the selection each day.

Passenger trains every weekend in August!

Pre-booking is essential...

Coronavirus – Regular updates

We will be updating a news page regularly during the crisis.

Ellis Tea Room (Rothley) – Now reopen

We're delighted to welcome you back to Ellis Tea Room at Rothley.

Reunification – Canal Bridge progress

Canal bridge is second stage of massive Great Central Railway project to be completed. 

Two day operation ‘all but’ finishes overhaul of elegant Victorian structure and marks another step forward for eighteen mile heritage line vision.

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

A bridge over the Grand Union canal built in the late 1890s has been overhauled and fully restored to carry trains again as part of an ambitious expansion of the Great Central Railway in Loughborough. During the first week of July two days of work saw the completion of an eighteen month programme of works to refurbish the bridge which last carried a train in 1972. 

The bridge is part of a chain of infrastructure which will help the award winning heritage railway in Leicestershire connect with its counterpart in Nottinghamshire creating an eighteen mile line for steam and vintage diesel trains. Already a brand new bridge has been built over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough. The refurbishment of the canal bridge is the second of seven phases of work. The two halves of the Great Central were once connected but the link was removed by British Railways after the line first closed in 1969.

The Chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line, Andy Fillingham said, “Once again we have to say a very big thank you to everyone who has supported the appeal to reunify the railways, particularly the crossing the canal campaign. It’s an amazing what have all achieved together and shows how people power is getting the two railways reconnected.”

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.

Work on the canal bridge was expected to be completed early in the year but was delayed first by winter storms and then the pandemic lockdown. Some minor work remains to be carried out on the Loughborough landmark and a final inspection to ensure it is fit for use. The contractors developed an innovative approach to the repairs which meant work could be carried out with only one closure of the canal which took place in November and December 2019 to avoid disruption to pleasure boats.

Andy continued, “We’re now raising money for the next stage of the Great Central Railway Reunification project. Installing two more bridges that are needed is expected to cost three million pounds. Despite the lockdown and uncertain times supporters from across the East Midlands and further afield have been very generous and we have now raised one hundred and seventy thousand pounds and the total is climbing all the time. We’re delighted to have some good news to share about the canal bridge in these difficult days. We can’t continue to build until we have raised the majority of the money but hope that everything that has happened so far will inspire people to find out more, get involved and donate.”

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

The railway has been hosting online talks about Reunification showcasing the work so far. The next is due to take place via Zoom on Sunday July 26th at 7pm.  For a minimum donation of ten pounds, donors will be treated to a fully illustrated seventy five minute presentation which will now be updated with videos of the dramatic canal bridge repairs.

You can find out more about the project and how to donate at

Butler Henderson Café (Quorn) – Now reopen

Daily image gallery

Several new images each day while the railway is temporarily sleeping...

We'll be regularly updating our website with a selection of photographs taken on the railway in previous years. Special thanks to the photographers who have kindly provided images for use here.

We hope you enjoy the selection each day.

Reunification Press Release – The next phase




Plans to reconnect the two halves of the Great Central creating a heritage railway spanning the East Midlands are taking a major step forward with the announcement of a new fundraising drive. The Friends of the Great Central Main Line, (the members club which supports the award winning visitor attraction) has set a target of three million pounds to build two more major pieces of infrastructure.

The Great Central Railway running between Loughborough and Leicester is separated from another section of the line (which runs northwards towards Nottingham) by just 500 metres of missing rails, bridges and embankments. These were lost following the closure of the line in the 1960s. The project to rebuild the line is called ‘Reunification’ and will create an eighteen mile heritage railway.

Two pieces of the project have now been completed; a brand new bridge to carry heritage trains over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough and the refurbishment of an existing bridge over the Grand Union canal.

“We’ve already achieved so much to reunify the two halves of the Great Central Railway,” said Andy Fillingham, the Chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line. “Millions of pounds have been raised and spent already on delivering this exciting project. Now we want to build not one, but two further sections which include crossing a factory car park and a road called Railway Terrace.”

The next phase of the fundraising campaign has been dubbed the ‘Factory Flyover’. Two bridge decks which Network Rail had no further use for and were able to generously donate to the Great Central, will be incorporated into the work. Building two pieces of the jigsaw at the same time - rather than separately - is expected to be cheaper overall.

“We have an ambitious target for our new appeal of three million pounds. We’ve already raised that amount of money for previous elements of the project so we know it can be done with everyone’s support,” continued Andy.

The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership have previously supported reunification with a substantial grant from their Local Growth Fund. Meanwhile hundreds of people from across the country are donating money every month. One hundred thousand pounds is already ‘in the pot’ towards the three million pound target.

While Friends role is to raise the money and promote the scheme, the donations go to the David Clarke Railway Trust which supports the Great Central. Money raised for reunification goes into a ‘ringfenced’ fund meaning it can only be used for that purpose. They have recently announced the 400th donor has signed up to give money every month. This is on top of donors who make a ‘one off’ gift.

“We know so many people from around the world are interested in seeing reunification succeed,” added Andy. “We’re humbled and delighted by the financial support we’re receiving. We truly believe we can succeed and deliver not only a heritage railway for the nation to be proud of but also an economic asset which supports the East Midlands service sector. With momentum building we are not daunted by our new fundraising challenge. Work can only proceed when we have the vast majority of funds available so if you want to see this happen, now is the time to get on board and support the Factory Flyover appeal.” To find out more about the project, see progress updates and to donate on line head to

ADB975397 – Test Car 2

An interesting project is currently taking place at GCR, where an important vehicle used in railway testing is being restored...

Test Car 2 was originally built at Wolverton in 1962 as Mk 1 Brake Second Corridor (BSK) number 35386 as part of Lot 30699 and fitted with Commonwealth bogies.

Class 47 47221 with Test Car 2 during slip/brake testing on the East Coast Main Line north of York on 30th June 1985. Image (c) Dave Bower.

The coach was temporarily adapted for use by the Department of Mechanical & Electrical Engineers (DM&EE) as a test car in 1974, and renumbered ADB975397. This was after the previous Test Car 2, DE320041 was irreparably damaged after a failed slip/brake test. The new Test Car 2 received further modifications in 1976 including changes to the interior layout and installation of a generator.

Between 1974 and 2006 Test Car 2, based at the Railway Technical Centre in Derby was mostly used for Slip/Brake testing of vehicles on the WCML between Crewe & Winsford. On occasions, Slip/Brake testing was also carried out on the ECML north of York, most notably a Mk 3 coach in 1985. Testing was required to verify the braking characteristics of new vehicles and the best way to do this was to slip them and allow them to brake on their own without influence from any other vehicle.

Test Car 2 in Serco livery prior to restoration at Quorn & Woodhouse. Image (c) Dave Bower.

When not in use for Slip/Brake tests, the coach was often seen coupled with Test Car 1 to provide additional braking effort when carrying out vehicle ride testing at higher speeds.

In 1994 an unusually large amount of instrumentation was installed when Test Car 2 was used as the main test coach for the pantograph and traction performance testing of Class 92 locomotives. The Class 92 tests included four days of operations between the Dollands Moor freight yard, through the Channel Tunnel to the Fréthun freight yard near Calais.

When British Rail was privatised, Serco Railtest took over the role of testing vehicles until slip testing paths became difficult to arrange and Test Car 2 was retired to the Old Dalby Test Track in 2011.

In 2016 Test Car 2 was lined up for disposal and saved by a GCR volunteer. It was moved to the GCR and now falls under the care of the Quorn Wagon Group who are currently in the process of restoring the vehicle to its BR testing glory.

Test Car 2 at Quorn with newly applied livery in late June 2019. Image (c) Dave Bower.

With thanks to Matt Baker and Dave Bower for providing the information and images for this article.










Canal Bridge Latest News – 18th January 2019

With the canal bridge parapet repairs underway off site, it won’t be too much longer before work begins on the rest of the structure.

Before it can, it will be encased in a cloak of scaffolding. A site visit this week by our engineers saw detailed measurements taken so the temporary structure can be designed.

We are working with Canal and River Trust to make arrangements for the work to take place in a safe and efficient fashion, with as little disruption to canal users as possible. Further details will be published as soon as they are confirmed.

To achieve the necessary clearances, and protect the workforce, boaters and walkers on the tow path will be quite a challenge.

We are grateful to the Canal and River Trust and would like to thank them for their support.

For the latest news on the project, and to donate, please see



Our next running day

We are operating steam-hauled passenger trains this weekend 15th and 16th August 2020 (pre-booking is essential).

Our on-train dining services remain suspended at present, but we are reviewing this situation regularly and will be pleased to transfer existing bookings to a future date when dining services resume...
More information...

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