Old Photographs: Trains

This section shows trains on the ex-Great Central Railway around Leicester in the late 1960s, just before closure to passenger trains, and activity in the goods yard until its final closure in the early 1990s.

The first set of photographs was taken shortly after Christmas 1964 when I was given my first 35mm camera.  This was the second film through it and I was still getting used to the viewfinder and photographing moving trains.
The Great Central London Extension had only another couple of years of life.  The few photographs taken on this occasion are my only ones of steam on the GC before closure:

Black 5 steam locomotive Leicester GCR

LMS “Black Five” 4-6-0 44847 taking water. The turntable is behind the locomotive.
A private path led from Great Central Street through an archway in the building behind the water tower.  This path was a favourite with the spotters since, although the view of the station was not too good, it gave a grandstand view of locomotives being turned on the turntable.  The popular time here was when a Great Western Hall had arrived on a train from Bournemouth and was turned and watered before returning south.

9F on freight train, Leicester Central

British Railways Standard 9F, 2-10-0, 92030 heading southbound with a freight train.

9F on freight train, departing Leicester Central

After stopping in the platform, 92030 departed south with its train with steam escaping from the safety valves.

The following photographs were taken in 1967 and 1969.  By then through trains to London had ceased and only a Rugby Central to Nottingham shuttle passenger service, and local freights were being run.
Redundant track was being lifted at this time.

Passenger train to Nottingham, Leicester Central

On 4th August 1967 passengers alight from a train from Rugby before it departs northwards, away from the camera, to Nottingham. M56212 & M50626.

Class 27 diesel on oil wagons, Leicester Central

Class 27 Bo-Bo D5378 traveling south with 4 oil tank wagons on 4th August 1967.
A batch of these locomotives was allocated to local Midland Region depots at this time and were common on the local freight trains on the GC to Leicester before all were transferred to Scotland.

Passenger train to Nottingham, crossing the canal just north of Leicester Central station

A Rugby to Nottingham diesel multiple unit on the north viaduct, crossing over the Grand Union Canal, just north of Leicester Central station, around 1967.

Passenger train to Nottingham, crossing the river Soar just north of Leicester Central station

A Rugby to Nottingham train, with dmu vehicle M50798 leading, heading northwards out of Leicester, on the north viaduct crossing the River Soar.  10th August 1967.

Rugby to Nottingham train approaching Leicester on the GCR

A Rugby to Nottingham train in the southern suburbs of Leicester taken from Marlow road, on 9th. April 1969.  After arriving at Leicester Central this train was then due to depart for Nottingham at 7-30pm.  The cutting here is now filled in and this is part of the Great Central Way.

Nottingham to Rogby train heading out ofLeicester, GCR

Shortly after the northbound train shown in the previous photograph a southbound train went by.  This is the 7-28pm departure from Leicester to Rugby, and has just passed under the bridge carrying the ex-Midland Railway Leicester to Burton line.

Rugby to Nottingham train near Birstall on the GCR

Although a few miles north of Leicester the next two photographs are included for interest.
On 12th July 1967 a diesel multiple unit comprising M50392 and M56146 travels northwards away from Birstall with the 11:02 departure from Leicester, heading to Nottingham.
This is now the single track section of the preserved Great Central Railway between Leicester North and Rothley.  Notice how the undergrowth was growing rampant even then.

Rugby to Nottingham train near Thurcaston on the GCR

Later the same day as the previous photograph, M50797, M59323, and M50532 head north past Thurcaston with the 15:37 departure from Leicester, heading to Nottingham.

In the late 1960s the scrap yards of A.E. Piggot & Sons and Frank Berry took over the corner of Leicester Central goods yard between Western Boulevard and Upperton Road.  They collected scrap locally, cut it up, and sent it off to steelworks by rail, latterly via the reinstated chord from the nearby ex-Midland Railway Leicester-Burton line.

Class 27 diesel locomotive shunting wagons of scrap, Leicester Central goods yard

Class 27 Bo-Bo D5399 with a train of scrap metal at Leicester goods yard. Looking north with Upperton Road bridge in the distance.
17th April 1969, just before withdrawal of the final passenger service.

Diesel shunter with wagons of scrap, Leicester Central goods yard

The coal yard and scrap yards were being shunted by 0-6-0 shunter number 3400, seen from Upperton Road bridge on a very murky day in December 1973.

Diesel shunter with coal wagon, Leicester Central goods yard

A telephoto view of 3400 shunting the coal yard. Shunting wagons in a coal yard is a scene that has long disappeared nationally as well as here.

Diesel shunter, Leicester GCR goods yard

0-6-0 shunter 3057 at the end of the coal and scrap sidings at Leicester goods yard, 1973.

Class 25 diesel locomotive shunting Leicester GCR goods yard

Surprisingly, given the sharp curves and the state of the sidings, main line locomotives were allowed to shunt the yards.  Here is Class 25 Bo-Bo number 25124 shunting the scrap yards in 1974.  Behind the locomotive are the original coal sidings still in use, and in the centre distance is the ex-Great Central goods warehouse.

Class 25 diesel locomotive shunting scrap sidings at Leicester GCR goods yard

Bo-Bo 25316 shunting in Piggot’s scrap yard, 1974.

Class 25 diesel locomotive shunting scrap sidings at Leicester GCR goods yard

25316 preparing the wagons of scrap for departure, looking south from Upperton Road bridge, 1974.

Class 25 diesel locomotive propels wagons of scrap up the chord from GCR to Leicester-Burton line

25316 propelling the train of scrap up the chord from the ex-Great Central to the ex-Midland Railway, Leicester to Burton line, 1974.  In the foreground are stacks of wood in the wood yard which took over the engine shed site.

In 1973 a third scrap yard opened on the site of Leicester goods yard, run by Vic Berry.  Initially taking railway wagons and coaches for cutting, it became famous in the late 1980s and early 1990s when redundant locomotives arrived in large numbers for scrapping.
Since there was a good view from the Great Central Way footpath which ran alongside it was always interesting to walk along and see what the latest arrivals were.

Vic Berry's scrapyard, GCR Leicester

The view of Vic Berry’s scrap yard looking north from Upperton Road bridge.

Vic Berry's scrapyard, GCR Leicester
Vic Berry's scrapyard, GCR Leicester, with Class 25 and Class 27 diesel locomotives

At one time the rate of arrival of vehicles at Berry’s scrapyard was much greater than the rate of disposal resulting in this well known landmark of a stack of classes 25 and 27 waiting their fate.

DMUs for Berry's scrapyard, Leicester GCR

Not all arrivals left in little pieces.  Since the scrap yard had a sealed asbestos removal shed, some old stock for refurbishment came here to have the asbestos removed before being repainted.  Here the scrapyard shunter, 0-6-0 03 069, together with its match wagon shunt three freshly painted diesel units on the chord line leading to the ex-Midland Railway Leicester to Burton line.  In the centre is a single car unit (“bubble car”) sandwiched between two motorised parcels vehicles.  The roof of the wagon repair shop can be seen above the units and Upperton Road bridge in the background on the left.

Cutting diesel locomotives in Berry's scrapyard, Leicester GCR
Stack of coaches for scap in Berry's scrapyard, Leicester GCR

In the latter days the stacks of locomotives were replaced by stacks of carriages, here with a London Underground vehicle on top.  The end of the scrap yard was triggered in 1991 when there was a serious fire in these stacks (it was reported that people had been sleeping in coaches) and fears that asbestos dust was being released.  The scrap yard was subsequently closed and cleared.

Vic Berry's yard cleared, Leicester

Vic Berry’s scrapyard cleared.

Class 37 diesel locomotives shunt Piggott's scrapyard, Leicester

While Vic Berry’s scrap yard and its railway vehicles had the limelight, the smaller and older scrap yard of A.E. Piggott & Sons continued operating in the corner between Upperton Road and Western Boulevard.  In the early 1990s Piggott’s sent cut-up scrap to steelworks in South Wales.  Here two Co-Co class 37 locomotives shunt in the scrapyard.

Class 37 diesel locomotive shunt Piggott's scrapyard, Leicester

Here, in 1991, Co-Co 37 701 “Tremorfa Steelworks” is making up its train of wagons of scrap.  The last of these trains departed in December 1995.

Old Photographs Section

© 2001-2017   Text and photographs copyright Nigel Tout, unless otherwise indicated.