Tuesday, June 11, 2013

1940s at the Great Central Railway

A short holiday down south gave me a chance to visit the Great Central Railway at Loughborough last Sunday. When I chose the date I had not realised that my visit would coincide with a 1940s wartime weekend. What a treat it was... and what sights there were. This couple certainly looked the part!

Of course the stars of the weekend were still the locomotives, and there was ample opportunity to travel the line between Loughborough and Birstall (near Leicester) behind LMS Class 2, 2-6-0 No 46521, built at Swindon in 1953. Read about the locomotive here.

These are fellow heritage rail enthusiasts who had dressed for the occasion. Or is it an advert for 'Uniform Dating'?

There were big crowds of course, requiring the station master at Quorn and Woodhouse to resort to technical aids to get passengers to 'keep clear of the platform edge' for the arriving trains.

Such as that pulled by Great Northern Railway N2 Class 0-6-2T No 1744, built in Glasgow in 1920. Read more about it here.

Quorn and Woodhouse was the main focus for displays, and ceremonies.

There were lots of things to experience at Quorn. From Willys jeeps ...

... to frozen bananas. Chocanana was a new experience for me. Frozen bananas covered in chocolate or strawberry yoghurt with various toppings. Recommended!

Winston Churchill gave a passionate speech at Loughborough Station, here with His Majesty King George VI behind. (I discovered today that the King's speech at the outbreak of WW2 is online here.)

Listening intently!

The smart phones just slightly spoil the effect!

LMS 8F Class 2-8-0 No 8624 awaits at Loughborough. More on this locomotive here.

This DMU was also in use during the day.

The German military was on display at Rothley.

"The pointy end should be at the top."

At Rothley there is a wonderful garden railway!

We were in enemy territory at Birstall, aka Le Birstall for the day. This was a bit too scary!

Curling friends will likely smile at this. No, we're not back in Renfrewshire, but beside Birstall station.

Greenacres was set out as an American encampment. (Alternative caption: "Richard investigates new ways of persuading club members to pay their subscription on time.")

One of the highlights of the day was a display by a spitfire and a hurricane over Quorn.

An iconic profile.

Trying to capture the hurricane overhead presented a new photographic challenge!

What would it be like to sit in the cockpit of a spitfire?

Now I know. OK, so it's a replica, but nonetheless, what a thrill!

I can understand now why the Great Central Railway is rated as one of the best heritage lines in the country. I look forward to returning to focus just on the railway. On the other hand, perhaps I should be looking out for a chance to get dressed up, 1940s style, and join in, see below!

Photos © Skip Cottage

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