Press Release

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

GCR, NHR & EMRT In Advance Talks To Re-Open Line To Ruddington

GCR Based 63601 Travels Across Stanford Viaduct on the Nottingham Heritage Railway.

Discussions are very advanced in terms of a deal between the East Midlands Railway Trust, Nottingham Heritage Railway and Great Central Railway PLC aimed at facilitating the return of traffic to the line between the Midland Mainline and Ruddington.

Contrary to much-reported news of frictions between some of the parties, it is likely that an arrangement will be reached whereby GCR plc will assist in the management of repairs to those structures and infrastructure requiring major work, thus encouraging the return of freight traffic to the line at the earliest possible date and, subsequent to that, other services.

A major multi-million pounds project is underway to reunify the line with the southern section of the former Great Central Mainline which runs from Loughborough to Leicester. Read more on this here.

Commenting on the discussions, Michael Gough, GCR plc’s Managing Director said “ We have a major aspiration to be able to run trains one day from Leicester all the way through to Ruddington and, thus, we have a vested interest in trying as hard as we can to keep the northern section viable until we get there. We will, therefore, provide as much assistance as possible, particularly in the management of major repairs required to a number of their bridges and also assisting with the mirroring of GCR plc’s safety management systems and rule book"

NHR’s Chairman Mike Newton said; "Michael Gough, Clive Baines and I have been working very hard behind the scenes for several weeks to get a deal together.  We have developed great working relationships, and strong personal friendships, that will lead to an exciting future of co-operation between all parties.  I would like to thank all our volunteers for their patience as we move to a new beginning for the NHR, and we look forward to the opportunities ahead."

Loughborough Canopy officially complete


Historic station canopy now fully restored. Four hundred and fifty thousand pound project part of 'biggest ever' investment at railway HQ station.

The Great Central Railway is celebrating the completion of renovations to Loughborough Central station canopy. The elegant glass, steel and wood grade two listed station canopy has been completely restored at a cost of four hundred and fifty thousand pounds, in a project which has taken three years. Built in the late 1890s, the canopy is one of the largest station roofs in preservation. Known as Loughborough's Crystal Palace, the 'deep rebuild' has allowed much more light onto the platforms and sees the structure fit for another century of service.

The project was co-ordinated by volunteers, who were also able to refurbish some of the original wooden components. Meanwhile contractors built new steelwork and installed the glass. The project was funded through the GCR’s ‘Raising the Roof’ appeal and generous grants from charitable trusts. The work was carried in seven phases. One of the last parts of the job was to install a brand new sign for the station at street level on Great Central Road.

"This is a major milestone for the Great Central Railway," explained Managing Director Bill Ford. "The canopy is the defining feature of Loughborough Central. From its sad and sorry state it has been dramatically transformed. To have achieved this complex, expensive project on schedule and under budget is a credit to everyone in the team. Trains were kept running throughout the work even though platform faces had to be closed. Our visitors will see the difference for themselves. Even better, we've left a legacy. The canopy will protect generations of future visitors. They'll be able to experience this handsome Victorian town station as intended."

860 panes of glass were replaced and more than 1300 brand new 'dagger boards' which surround the edge of the canopy were manufactured.

Besides the renovation of the roof, in the last few years there have been a number of other significant improvements at Loughborough Central. A passenger lift from the booking hall to the platforms has been installed, additional toilets have been fitted and wheelchair access is now possible to the majority of the rooms on the platform. Behind the scenes, drains, electrics and the public address system have been repaired and replaced.

At the same time the award winning attraction has refurbished its Loughborough station museum which holds one of the best collections of historic Great Central artefacts in one place.In total around six hundred thousand pounds has been spent at the station. It represents the largest investment in the station since it opened for the very first Great Central passengers in 1899.

Charnwood Council leader David Slater cuts the canopy ribbon 8th August 2013© Tom Ingall

Bill concluded, "In the last five years each of our stations has seen serious investment. A new roof for the platform at Leicester North, new tea rooms at Rothley and Quorn and these splendid works at Loughborough. We're now welcoming visitors in ways and numbers never envisaged by the Victorian engineers who built the line. Our challenge is continually improving and updating what we offer to our guests while respecting the wonderful heritage around us."

The canopy was declared complete in a special ceremony on August the 8th, by Charnwood Borough Council leader David Slater. It was attended by volunteers, contractors and many of the generous donors who have supported the rebuild.

See the Canopy Roll of honour here. Thank you to everyone who supported the appeal.






Date:               10 July 2013

Contact:          Michael Stokes: or 07710 934788


Great Central Railway, in association with the Soar Valley Model Railway Club, are to hold a model railway & engineering exhibition in 2014

The three day model railway & engineering exhibition will be held on Friday 20th June to Sunday 22nd June 2014.  Its GCR’s first ever model railway expo and it promises to be a totally different experience in the model railway world!

The event will be spread over the GCR's four stations at Loughborough, Quorn & Woodhouse, Rothley and Leicester North, with each station specialising in different areas of the hobby. The eight mile long exhibition will have steam and diesel hauled trains transporting the visitors between the stations with a fast frequent service.

Michael Stokes, Event Organiser for the GCR said "We are really looking forward to hosting this exciting new event in the GCR's calendar, where visitors will be able to experience the real thing on their way to the various exhibition halls. We will also have on display several of the railway's award winning preserved carriages and wagons, where visitors will be able to inspect them at close quarters."

The exhibition will cater for up to 80 layouts of all gauges.  There will be traders, second hand stalls and demonstration stands. Catering will be provided by our themed station cafes and on board buffet carriages.

"This will be a truly unique and memorable experience for enthusiasts and families combining historic reality and the hobby.  People looking to have a stand at the exhibition should contact us early as we expect the demand to be unprecedented." Michael concluded.




1000 children evacuated from Loughborough


Dramatic curtain raiser to Great Central Railway’s biggest ever wartime weekend as children experience life as an evacuee

7th, 8th & 9th June 2013

The Great Central Railway is helping 1000 children experience what it was like to be a World War II evacuee. School children from all over the Midlands will arrive at the railway on Friday 7th of June and board steam trains for a return trip into history.

It is part of the first day of the Great Central Railway’s annual Wartime Weekend event. Thousands of people are expected to visit the award winning Leicestershire attraction during the three day event.

Christine Brown, Event Organiser said "The weekend will give visitors the real chance to experience some of the sights and sounds of life in wartime Britain. It is difficult to imagine how difficult it would have been for children to leave home and go to stay with someone they didn’t know. Their day with us, will give them a flavour of the emotion involved. They’ll also be able to learn about other aspects of life in Britain as it entered the war.”

The Wartime Weekend event will also feature period entertainment, vintage flypasts, displays of military vehicles and 'visiting dignitaries' including Winston Churchill at stations along the line. At Quorn station there will be a replica of a Spitfire fighter plane, real ale tent, memorabilia market, fire engine demonstrations and land army & working farmer equipment displays.

As always, remembrance is at the heart of the event. On Sunday morning there will be a church service and on Sunday afternoon there will be a poppy drop from a vintage aircraft.

On Saturday and Sunday hundreds of re-enactors will bring the stations and trains to life wearing period clothes, giving twenty first century visitors the closest experience to time travel they can get. Period music and singers will be appearing throughout the weekend along with cameo scenes invoking the warring forties.

A busy timetable of steam hauled passenger trains will operate on both days. Tickets can be booked on line at

New for this year is the transformation of the Greenacres visitor centre and café at Leicester North station into an American base with singers, kit displays and vehicles; Saturday & Sunday only.


Loughborough Canopy Contractors Back In Action

Phase 3a of the Loughborough Central canopy renovations is go!

Contractors are back at Loughborough Central as the long running project to restore the station's grade II listed canopy enters the home straight. 

Launched in 2010 the campaign to renovate one of the largest canopies in railway preservation (often called Loughborough’s Crystal Palace) has successfully raised hundreds of thousands of pounds. Contractors have kept pace with the fundraising with work now completed to 2/3rds of the distinctive steel and glass roof.

Project co-ordinator and GCR Director Tony Sparks explains, "This has been a very complex project with a lot of learning on the job. However, we have now completed work on the canopy at both ends of Loughborough's station, the entire length of platform two and the station entrance on Great Central Road. We only have platform one to do now!"

At the start of September building contractors were back at Loughborough Central to make a start on platform one. To minimise the disruption to train services the remaining work is being tackled in two phases. The first (for which funding is in place) is now underway with part of the roof dismantled. It should be finished by December.

Tony continued "We're down to the last few tens of thousands of pounds to raise. We’ve started on the penultimate phase and we hope to make a start on the final section of the canopy in January 2013. We could have the whole job completed before next Summer. It is not a given yet, so we continue to be grateful to everyone who can support our Raising The Roof : One Last Push appeal." If we make it, it will be an incredible achievement and a credit to all the funding bodies and individuals who have supported us

The station is also receiving other important work including renovations to platform slabs and coping stones, new lights and new public address equipment. In the last few years the station has also received a lift for passengers to reach the platforms from the road level booking hall and improved toilet facilities.

"We've been flattered by the compliments we've received since completing the entire length of platform 2,” concluded Tony. “The improvements to Loughborough Central have transformed the passenger experience at the station and it now looks much smarter as well. If you're coming to the Autumn Steam gala, please excuse the dust now work is underway again - but we're getting towards the end of this milestone project for the GCR"

Jubilee Awards salute two charities founded by one local benefactor

Earlier this year the Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire launched the Diamond Jubilee awards scheme for community groups,with the aim of making 60 awards, one for each year of her Majesty's reign.

People working as a team, and volunteering their time and energies to enhance their community, were encouraged to apply and the winners received their awards at a celebration event at Beaumanor Hall on Thursday 19th July. Two of the awards went to two very different charities that both bear the name of a well-known local benefactor, David Clarke, who died in 2002.

One award went to the Mountsorrel Railway Project, which is a project of the David Clarke Railway Trust. David Clarke was, in his lifetime, the
major benefactor of the Great Central Railway and he would have been delighted to see the community effort that is going into restoring the disused mineral railway that links Mountsorrel with the Great Central Railway just south of Swithland Reservoir. The project combines heritage, ecology and community elements and has clearly grabbed the imagination of local councils, schools, businesses and MPs, all of whom have given unequivocal support or sponsorship to the project. To date approximately half of the 1.2 miles of track has been re-laid and it is anticipated that Wood Lane, Mountsorrel, will be reached later this year with the terminus at Bond Lane, Mountsorrel, to be reached by February next year. Last year, 2011 saw the first train on the branch since 1959 and, when completed, the Mountsorrel Railway will give another revenue stream to the Great Central Railway and can give ‘joined-up’ economic support for other tourist and visitor initiatives such as Stonehurst Farm, the proposed local Country Park and, possibly, a visitor centre.

The other charity that gained Jubilee recognition is the Shuttlewood Clarke Foundation whose objective is to alleviate need, hardship, suffering and distress amongst the elderly and young persons by providing support, care and friendship. The foundation, based at Ulverscroft Manor and Ulverscroft Grange, offers an information hub and support worker for adults with disabilities, the elderly, their carers and relatives, and those seeking advice about support and care services. In addition, visitors can relax and enjoy the wonderful surroundings in the Tea Rooms, marvel at the views from the sensory garden and walk along the wheelchair friendly pathways.

Commenting on his organisation’s award, the Mountsorrel Railway Project’s leader, Steve Cramp, said he was delighted by the recognition that comes with the Lord-Lieutenant’s award. “This is yet another endorsement for our project that is captivating everyone who learns about it. We are looking
forward to transporting passengers down the restored line in the near future but, in the meantime, we still have plenty of room for more volunteers.” He added, “We welcome anyone who wants to help restore the railway or reinvigorate the natural habitat alongside the track.”

Malcolm Freckelton who is a Trustee of both charities and was a long-standing friend of David Clarke said “It is now ten years since David’s death but, if he were here now, I have no doubt that he would be immensely proud of both organisations’ progress and of the growing public recognition exemplified by these awards in Jubilee year.”

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Santa & Winter Wonderlights

Our Santa and Winter Wonderlights begin on Wednesday 1st December.

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