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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




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.

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.

Great Central Railway AGM

Notice is hereby given that the Company's annual general meeting will be held at Lovatt House, Loughborough on the 24th October 2020 at 10 a.m.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic (and having taken the advice of our auditors) with the need to conduct our business safely, this meeting will be held by the Directors behind closed doors.  We will be unable to allow entry to any other persons, due to the overriding need to protect everyone, and the sheer impracticality of holding a Covid-safe meeting for a large number of individuals.

Arrangements are being made to issue the formal notices of the meeting to shareholders in the usual manner. This will include the normal proxy form enabling shareholders to vote on the formal resolutions.

GCR board welcomes new director…

Great Central Railway PLC announces the appointment of The Rt. Honourable, The Baroness Morgan as a director.

Nicky Morgan, now appointed to the GCR PLC board, cutting the first sod as construction began on our bridge across the Midland Main Line .
Photo by Graham Wignall.

The Board of Great Central Railway are delighted to announce the appointment of The Rt. Hon the Baroness Morgan of Cotes (Nicky Morgan) to the GCR Board as a non-executive director.

Baroness Morgan, formerly Loughborough’s Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and now a Member of the House of Lords has already been a strong supporter and friend to the Railway for many years. She will take up the directorship from 1st June.

Commenting on the news, GCR’s Managing Director, Michael Gough said; “I am so very proud that Nicky has accepted this position – she will bring an entire new level of advice and gravitas to our corporate governance. As the Railway grows in popularity and strength, it will be so useful to have her massive experience and knowledge to hand”

Nicky said “I am very excited to be joining the GCR Board. The GCR has a very special place in the hearts of Leicestershire residents and beyond. I’ve worked with and enjoyed the Railway as their MP, as the founding Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail and also as an enthusiastic GCR local member for over 15 years now. I look forward to supporting the Railway’s exciting future and working with all GCR employees and volunteers.”

Test trains – Sunday 31st May

We are running some further test trains on Sunday of this weekend (31st May) and will open up the car park field adjacent to Quorn station for those who want to get a “steam fix” and photographic opportunities of one of the first heritage railways to run trains since lockdown.

As it stands, Standard Class 2 locomotive 78018 will be in traffic but this is subject to change as circumstances dictate. There is a strong chance that we will also be running some tests and equipment movements involving our diesel Class 37 during the course of the same day, albeit again subject to confirmation.

There will be no access to platforms and the cafés will not be able to open.

Approximate departure times from Loughborough are 13.00; 14.30 and 16.00.

We also suggest that to maintain social distancing, people remain in their cars to watch the trains, although if you decide to step outside, please ensure that you are at least 2 metres away from anyone who is not from your immediate household

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.

Annual General Meetings – Postponed

The Great Central Railway Annual General Meeting scheduled for the 4th July 2020 has been postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis. Even allowing for the fact that we are hopeful that social distancing regulations will have been relaxed by then, our auditors are currently closed due to the crisis and have confirmed to us this week that it will be impossible to complete audited accounts in time for the AGM to proceed. A new date will be announced as soon as the Railway and auditors are able to return to normal working.

Under advice from our auditors we have applied for and been granted the government’s 3 month filing extension and thus a new AGM date is likely to be late September or early October.

Weekend Shed Tours Saturday 14 & Sunday 15 March

Volunteer members of the Boscastle team will be offering informative tours of the Loughborough Locomotive Shed on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 March.

The tours will be at:

  11 00, 11 45, 12 45, 13 30, 14 15, 15 30 and 16 15.

Party size is limited at the discretion of the guide.

Please assemble outside the loco shed door and await guide.

Tours last approximately half an hour; please allow 10 minutes to walk to the shed prior to the tour and 10 minutes to walk back again.


Loco Shed Scene - Dennis Wilcock


There is no charge for the tour, but donations towards the overhaul of Rebuilt 'West Country' Class 4-6-2 no. 34039 Boscastle will be much appreciated - especially in view of the major work needed on the firebox.

PLEASE NOTE:  Visitors are required to be in possession of valid GCR travel tickets or platform tickets.   Tours are not suitable for children under 6, or for pushchairs.

All locomotives and attractions appear subject to availability. Great Central Railway reserves the right to amend or cancel any service.

Our next running day

Passenger trains have now returned to the GCR, running every Saturday and Sunday, and on selected weekdays.

Pre-booking is required at present, to ensure social distancing onboard trains.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the railway as we progressively return to normal operation, as the national situation improves.

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

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