Main Line

80080 arrives for the Winter Steam Gala

Our first guest locomotive has arrived for the Winter Steam Gala!

British Railways Standard Class 4 2-6-4T 80080 arrived at the GCR by road this morning, 18th January 2022. The loco is a member of the highly successful class of which 155 were built, and appears courtesy of The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust.

80080 stands at Quorn & Woodhouse, shortly after arrival on 18th January 2022.

The "Standard 4" will be joined at the event by another special guest, Battle of Britain Class 34072 "257 Squadron". Both locomotives are due to appear at all three days of the event from 28th to 30th January 2022.

We're looking forward to the event, where an intensive timetable on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th January will feature an exciting mixture of passenger and goods train services, with eight steam locomotives and our Diesel Railcar in action.

On the first day of the event, Friday 28th January, a busy timetable also sees passenger and goods trains, with five locomotives in action.

More details can be found on the event page



Friends of the Great Central Main Line announce exciting fundraising campaign to accelerate railway link up plan!

Loughborough landmark set to be completed this year subject to funding.

2022 will be the year an epic heritage railway project leaps forward. The Great Central Railway has already completed two pieces of its ambitious Reunification scheme and now plans to get a third one fixed by the end of the year.

Reunification will see two separate halves of the GCR reconnected to create an eighteen mile heritage line with economic benefits to Loughborough and the wider East Midlands.

The next job is to overhaul the bridge that carries the railway over the A60 Nottingham Road on the north east side of Loughborough. In a remarkable boost for the project a consortium of funders has brought together a substantial sum of money towards the cost of the work. Now the Friends of the Great Central Main Line is setting out to raise one hundred and ten thousand pounds to ‘top up the pot’.

Fundraising has also been underway for 18 months towards two further sections of the Reunification scheme - a new bridge across ‘Railway Terrace’ road in Loughborough and a short new section of railway to cross a factory car park. These two elements have been dubbed ‘The Factory Flyover’. Money continues to be donated from across the country and around the world and the fundraising work will continue towards this section alongside the new appeal for the A60 bridge. It is hoped work can start on the Factory Flyover within the next two or three years.

Andy Fillingham, Chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line said, “This is an incredible chance to move our Reunification scheme forward quickly. To have so much already committed towards the repair of the A60 bridge is phenomenal and I am sure that will encourage donors to help us reach our one hundred and ten thousand pound target. We launch this appeal today with the aim of finding the funds as soon as we can, so in turn contractors can get to work on the bridge.”

The bridge over the A60 is unique in the Reunification project. It’s the only structure which already has track on it. Not only is it vital to reconnect the two separate sections of the Great Central but it also connects the GCR to the national railway network. However, its 120 years old and often struck by careless lorry drivers whose trucks are too tall to fit underneath it. It’s currently closed to trains and the bridge decks are life expired. A programme of work over the next year will ensure it can be back in business and fit for another century of service.

The bridge is owned by the East Midlands Railway Trust as part of the nine miles of the Great Central Line north of Loughborough.

“We’re delighted fundraising is underway for the A60 road bridge,” says David Rae, Chairman of EMRT, “Overhauling it unlocks the potential of the line towards Nottingham allowing it once again to accept trains from the national rail network. It’s another great step forward towards the creation of the eighteen mile heritage railway across the East Midlands and we’re ready to support the fundraising campaign and the work ahead.”

“Every donation counts and is so welcome,” concluded Andy Fillingham, “Once we have got the funds raised for the A60 bridge and the work is underway we’ll continue the campaign to find the funds for the other parts of the Reunification jigsaw. We’re so humbled by the support we’ve received. Bit by bit, people power is making this project - once described as impossible - actually happen!”




To make a donation to the A60 bridge overhaul fund head to or send a cheque through the post made payable to the ‘David Clarke Railway Trust’, to DCRT, Lovatt House, 3 Wharncliffe Road, Loughborough, LE11 1SL. Please write on the back of the cheque A60 / Reunification.


More information about the A60 bridge and the wider Reunification project can be found at



A1 Pacific 60163 ‘Tornado’ To Visit GCR


Following Tornado’s temporary withdrawal from mainline services due to wheel flats, the steam engine; which was the first new locomotive to be built in the UK since Evening Star 92220 was built in 1960, is set to return to the Great Central. Shortly after being built, Tornado first visited the GCR for high-speed testing in 2008 ahead of its launch onto the mainline.

The locomotive should arrive in the coming days after our Last Hurrah Gala as road transport allows and will operate on a selected number of dates into the 2022 season. Keep a close eye on our website and social media for updates on when this special guest loco will be running.

The locomotive is expected to leave the Great Central in advance of our Winter Steam Gala on the 28th - 30th January where we are hoping for two other guest locomotives as well as up to 7 locomotives from home fleet to be in service.

To see a list of what Tornado is running and book ticket please click here!

60163 Will arrive and operate with thanks to the A1 Steam Trust - To find out more about the trust and Tornado visit their website

A Fives Farewell

The final chance to travel behind 45305 in its current boiler ticket.

Friends renewal reminder

Membership of Friends of Great Central Railway (FoGCML)


Since the start of the Pandemic and with many office staff furloughed, the normal chasing mechanisms for those whose FoGCML memberships have expired hasn't worked as well as usual.  This has meant that many Friends memberships have expired.


In recognition of these issues, Friends took the decision that throughout the Pandemic, we would continue to send out the Main Line magazine to everyone who was a member at the beginning of February 2020, so that our whole community would continue to enjoy being kept up to date with everything to do with our Railway.  However, the time has now come that we cannot continue to afford do this and therefore from and including the Main Line magazine due for publication on 1st June 2021, you will not receive a copy of the magazine if you are not a current member.


As you will appreciate, it hasn’t and isn't an easy time for heritage steam railways at the present time and as we re-open our railway to the public, we would like to remind all to please keep their FoGCML membership up to date.  So, if your membership has lapsed, please can I ask you to renew your membership asap?  You can do this by sending a cheque (made out to Friends of Great Central Main Line) to Hanni Trahar, Great Central Railway, Lovatt House, 3 Wharncliffe Road, Loughborough LE11 1SL, or alternatively, please do an internet bank transfer direct to the FoGCML account, details below.  Please quote your Membership Number as the reference for the bank transfer.  If you have any problems or queries with this, please contact


FoGCML account details below.


Account name                   Friends of the Great Central Main Line

Sort Code                            40-30-24

Account No                         32504480


Thank you for your help with this and I hope to see you around the Railway in the coming weeks.


Andy Fillingham

Chairman – Friends of Great Central Main Line

GCR & Friends Annual General Meetings (live stream details)

The Company's annual general meeting will be held at Great Central Railway, Quorn Station LE12 8AG in the marquee on the 17th July 2021 at 10.30 a.m. (door open 10a.m.). Shareholders have received their formal Notices via Royal Mail.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, advice received and the need to maintain social distancing, this meeting is limited strictly to an attendance of maximum 30 people, including the Directors, the Company Secretary & the Auditor. In this respect, the maximum number of shareholders requesting a place has now been reached.

The AGM will also be live streamed to ensure that those who cannot attend will be able to witness the proceedings. This will be available to view here -

At 12.30 pm or, if later, upon conclusion of the above meeting, the annual general meeting of Friends of Great Central Main Line will be held. Similar arrangements will apply in respect of attendance to those set out above.

GCR receives £515,700 from Culture Recovery Fund

Great Central Railway receives £515,700 from the Culture Recovery Fund

Great Central Railway to receive £515,700 from the second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

  • GCR are among more than 2,700 recipients to benefit from the latest round of awards from the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund 
  • This award will hugely assist the Railway to recover from the devastating impact of Covid closures and ongoing restrictions


The Great Central Railway has received a grant of £515,700 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen.

Nearly £400 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country including GCR in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary announced today.

The grant, covering the period from April to June 2021, will support the organisation with the costs it faces as it starts to welcome back visitors and makes the transition towards full re-opening

Over £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

This brings the Government's total investment across grants, capital and repayable finance from the Culture Recovery Fund so far to more than £1.2 billion across over 5,000 individual cultural and heritage organisations and sites.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

“Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they've ever faced.

Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors - helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead."


Michael Gough, the Great Central Railway PLC’s Managing Director, said: 

“I cannot emphasise enough how much of a shot in the arm this is for us at such an incredibly difficult time. 

Whilst we have successfully navigated the crisis thus far, the impact of Covid-19 has dealt the Railway a £3 million income-reduction-blow in the last 12 months and this grant will significantly assist in the funding of actions we need to carry out to re-open Covid-secure and in-line with government guidance. 

It will support us in the complex process of transitioning from months of lockdown and significant restriction and to return to the previous sustainable business model of welcoming over 110,000 visitors each year through our doors”


Ros Kerslake, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: 

“Spring is definitely here, bringing not only sunshine but that sense of optimism and hope for the future. We are all looking forward to heritage places and other visitor attractions reopening and I am very pleased that we have been able to support DCMS in delivering this vital funding to ensure the UK’s heritage sector can rebuild and thrive, boosting local economies, creating jobs and supporting personal wellbeing.” 


Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: 

“The value of our heritage sites and the people who run them has been amply demonstrated, as they have provided an anchor for so many of us through the dark days of the last year. Vital grants from the Culture Recovery Fund have helped them survive and will now help them recover, as the places we all cherish start to reopen in the months ahead.”

The funding awarded today is from a £400 million pot which was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England as well as the British Film Institute and Arts Council England.


Lottery Heritage Award Update 31/03/2021

Heritage Lottery Emergency Fund

Like for everyone else, most other businesses and operations last year was a very time challenging for the railway. Having been forced to close on March 23rd, due to the spread of COVID -19, we were faced with several months of being unable to generate income ourselves and even after a moderately successful 2019 our cash reserves very quickly began to reduce.

The nature of a heritage railway operation is that it cannot be “mothballed” – most costs are still incurred whether we generate income or not and without addressing this the railway would not be able to re-open in compliance with all regulatory and safety requirements. It was therefore imperative that we secured additional funding, ensuring we were able to survive this crisis and be able to deliver a full calendar and timetable of activities as restrictions are eased so that once again we could look forward to generating severely needed income.

Many avenues of potential income were investigated and we were advised that the Heritage Lottery were launching an emergency fund. Grateful for the opportunity we applied and in November we were pleased to announce we had received a grant for £250,000 to ensure essential works could continue and our running costs and overheads paid. The grant contributes to our costs from November to March 2021 and has been invaluable in getting us to this point where we are in a position at the end of March 2021 to be able to plan limited opening as restrictions are due to be relaxed in April.

As we look forward to returning to normal operations during the summer, we still have challenges to overcome. Not least frustrated bookings from last year that have to be honoured. However, as we look forward to generating income that begins to returning us to our pre-Covid financial stability, we feel if it were not for grant from the HLF, which has significantly contributed to our survival to date, then we might not be in the position we are now whereby we see how we can navigate our way to viability.

The money has been used across the railway and the following is an overview of some of the areas where this money has been used.

Permanent Way and Infrastructure.

Responsible for ensuring our tracks, bridges, signalling and lineside boundaries are maintained in compliance with regulations implemented and inspected by the Office of Road and Rail. Their work includes flailing the vegetation track side to ensure this does not encroach on the rails, the clearing of culverts to allow excess water to drain away, maintaining the rails and replacing ballast, new fencing along the railway boundaries to prevent trespass and the concreting of sidings at our Swithland location.

An example of some of the work we have done is shown below. The rails rest on Ballast (crushed stone) this moves over time and has to be re-built up again to ensure that the rails run completely flat. The following picture shows the Ballast hopper wagons being moved to our Carriage & Wagon works for essential maintenance and exams ahead of track maintenance. March 2021

The next image shows a tamping unit, this lifts the rails and helps align them when the ballast has been either compacted or displaced. The ballast is then reloaded onto the track bed. March 2021

The next photo shows a rail mounted Crane which is in situ to install a replacement parapet on bridge 341. February 2021

Carriage and Wagon Works

This department does most of our restoration, maintenance and safety exams of our rolling stock. Not all work is possible and some of our coachwork has to be sub-contracted to companies to external specialist companies.


The following pictures show the progression of work done to two carriages. The first is our Director’s Saloon No. 999503, the Arrowvale Belle and dates from 1959, built at Wolverton. It has been necessary to do a complete restoration of this vehicle. This has included repanelling and veneering the inside.  The finished vehicle is to be added to our fleet of carriages to available for charter and due to its unique design, we expect this to be very popular


Initial exterior paint preparation and stripped interior prior to restoration.

All of the interior required restoration

Completed exterior paint and renewed interior following restoration

Veranda Car – Images required plus any other work of interest.

This was originally converted from a BR Mk1 coach by Nemesis Rail at Burton on Trent. To ensure continued compliance with safety regulations it has been necessary to improve the railings and whilst out of traffic also undertake essential maintenance and attend to the paintwork. The following picture is prior to restoration.

This image below shows Jamie Swanson welding the new security rails and the next two show the completed repairs.

Essential maintenance for Heritage Stations

Quorn & Woodhouse

Goods Shed and Platform – This unique piece of heritage enables us to showcase how freight was loaded and unloaded and to show and discuss the effects of social change that was brought about by the railways, benefitting industry, local communities and bringing fresh food to the cities. In recent times the building and loading platform had fallen into disrepair. We had already planned to restore this in 2020, but the monies allocated had to be used elsewhere as our reserves continued to reduce. Through careful planning we had identified that we could bring this back to life and at the same time life also use this as a classroom and museum. We have already made strides in welcoming schools to the railway and we want to encourage more school visits to the railway to ensure our heritage is understood and appreciated and hopefully engage the attention of future steam engineers and volunteers. The following pictures show how work has progressed.

Replacing the rotted platform

The Completed Livestock Pen


The inside of the building also needed extensive restoration as shown in the next two photos showing the replacement ceiling and rebuilt fire place.

The completed floor and original working markings found on the walls during preparation which will be kept.

Locomotive works

The team have been very busy and have used their time well to ensure we are ready for the time we can re-open and commence running again. Apart from the usual on-going maintenance required for all vehicles essential repairs have been made to No.6990 “Witherslack Hall” Great Western Railway Modified Hall Class 4-6-0 and No.92214 British Railways Standard Class 9F 2-10-0.

The following photos show new super heater elements for the 9F


Jonny Johnson and Alex Burnside after fitting the super heater elements to the 9f

Jonny Johnson again putting the sanding valve back on the 9F after overhauling the valve

Next we have new piston valves for 6990 Witherslack hall and the boring device set up on to enable correct fitting.

As ever, all work was overseen by our Chief Engineer Craig Stinchcombe.



The Great Central Railway would like to acknowledge the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and all National Lottery players.

Whilst there is still challenges facing the railway and we remain cautious as to when we can fully re-open again, without doubt without the grant we would not be in the position we are today.


Loughborough Station                           Quorn and Woodhouse Station entrance



Rothley Station Entrance




Heritage Emergency Fund Announcement – 22nd October 2020

The Directors and Management of The Great Central Railway are delighted to announce that The National Lottery Heritage Fund have awarded £250,000 of support to the Railway from the Heritage Emergency Fund, which was set up to assist heritage organizations at risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Speaking about the news, GCR’s Managing Director, Michael Gough said “This is a huge relief to all of our management, staff and volunteers and comes at a point when the Railway is going through an incredibly difficult and stressful time in navigating the impact of the Covid crisis. Despite the fact that significant hard work has gone into operational recovery with many services now running again, much of what we are able to do to generate essential income is  severely hampered by restrictions, reductions in capacity and significantly increased costs and we are so grateful that The National Lottery Heritage Fund has agreed to help us with our recovery at this crucial time."

Anne Jenkins, Director, England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing. All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis."

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are pleased to be able to lend our support to organisations such as The Great Central Railway during this uncertain time.


British Railways Standard Class 9F 92214 steams through the Leicestershire countryside, with National Lottery Heritage Fund logo included.

Our next running day

This weekend

One steam locomotive and our Diesel Railcar are in action this weekend 22nd and 23rd January 2022.

Our appeals

Reunification appeal - Reuniting the two halves of the Great Central Railway
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