Growing up with the Great Central Railway in Loughborough by Mike Jones, County Councillor

Growing up with the Great Central Railway in Loughborough by Mike Jones, County Councillor

I lived with my parents and brother, from 1945 to 1964, ( age 3 to 21 ) at 19 Little Moor Lane, which was about 250yards from the station. The houses were, I was told by my father, built for the railway workers around the turn of the century. As such they were reckoned to be of higher standard construction than most of the terraced rows of that period.
We were so close to the station that I recall, on many occasions, being showered in my pushchair with "fine rain" when the Locomotives were letting off steam, and my mother coming out to take me indoors. Also, on wet days, the sound of Loco's skidding on the tracks as they tried to start, and the consequent chug-chug-chug of the Engine, could be heard clearly from our back yard.

A very busy scene at the construction site of Loughborough Central Station, sometime around 1897. Little Moor Lane is to the right of the picture. See Details

Around ten to nine each evening - you didn't say 8.50pm in those days - All the youngsters in the street, and some parents, would run up to the "boards" at the top of the lane to see the "Master Cutler" speed by, sparks from the boiler furnace flying through the air, and the fireman clearly visible in the glow of the fire, heaving more coal onto the blaze. I still recall my brother Pete; Ralph, Barry & Graham Cripps, Dave Onslow and others racing to be first to the fence that helped us to climb the boards for a good view.

The National Railway Museum's flagship locomotive - pioneer V2 class 2-6-2, No. 60800 GREEN ARROW - stands outside Loughborough shed in the summer of 2002. See Details

Other Trains that I recall were the "Milk Train", the "Fish Train" and the one with Iron Ore Wagons. All goods trains had a Guards Van at the end, with a swinging lantern, and those were the days when the Driver AND the Guard would wave to you. Our special outing, from time to time was to travel by passenger train to Leicester Central Station to shop and to eat at "Timsons Pie Shop" on Belgrave Gate. Another memory from that time was the delivery of large wicker-baskets of pigeons which were often released on the platform and circled the station several times before their built-in "radar" clicked in and they headed back home.

A quiet moment at Leicester Central Station. See Details

Part of the way up Little Moor Lane on the right, was a roughly surfaced track that led to the Station Master's House. The Station Master I most remember was Mr Thorley who was an imposing figure with his Black Suit and Waistcoat, Bowler Hat and Large Moustache.
It was a sad day for the locals when the Steam Trains were replaced with diesels, but an even sadder one when the last scheduled diesel left the station in March 1969. My wife and myself took our two children to the station on that day and took a photograph of the very last train leaving the station.

This photograph was taken on the day that the last Diesel Multiple Unit passed through Loughborough Central Station in March 1969, prior to the final closure of the line. See Details

I also recall that to the right of little Moor Lane, walking toward the railway, was "Holloways field" named after the local butcher who grazed cattle there, and the Children's favourite, Boogaloo the Horse. To the left was the Herbert Morris Cranes Foundry and Pattern Sheds. Further buildings at the top of the lane still house a redundant Herbert Morris Crane.
A further memory was the fence on the Empress Road hill, made of vertical sleepers from the railway line, and the Gateway & posh wooden steps that were made to allow the Station Master access to his home, when returning from the town, without having to walk to the bottom of the hill and up Little Moor Lane.

Bridge 332, the girder structure built to carry Empress Road across the London Extension north of Loughborough Central. See Details

A final memory is the times that we used to "tightrope" along the top of the fence for several hundred yards from Little Moor Lane to the top of the Empress Road Hill (the fence can be seen in the above photograph of the last Diesel Multiple Unit).

Mike Jones 1st March 2004

This photograph, taken on Loughborough Central Station in March 1969, shows the large water tower situated at the end of the down platform. See Details