Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Railway Echo No 7


The Great Central Railway (GCR) was the last main line to be built, from Annesley in Nottinghamshire to Quainton Road in Bucks. Opened in 1899, it connected the northern railways of chairman Sir Edward Watkin with a joint line developed with the Metroplitan Railway into London. Watkin's dream was for a fast route across the Pennines, the Midlands and the capital to a Channel tunnel and on to Paris. The GCR ran out of steam in Marylebone, a tiny station by comparison with other London termini, and in no longer than seventy years the fast 'London Extension' across Midland acres had gone.
The GCR crossed high above the historical heart of Leicester on a succession of viaducts, much of which still remain. The most impressive straddles Braunstone Gate, a magnificent bowstring lattice girder leviathan. So of course this is the one the apparently culturally-bereft De Montfort University want to destroy so that students have more room to run, jump, swim, play netball.Also hanging-on further up the line are the remaining fragments of the GCR station in purply-orange brick and cream terracotta, including this evocative sign for the Parcels Offices. I travelled on this line in the 1960s, and never in my wildest imaginings would I have thought that one day it could all disappear. And certainly not that what was left of an engineering marvel like this bridge would be erased from the townscape. Come on Leicester, take a look at the De Montfort's current buildings and decide which you'd rather have.

4 comments:

Diplomat said...

Pete - is that a motor spray shop in the bridge arch - i would quoite like to live there so would appreciate it if you could have a rummage. Railway Arch Industry.

Peter Ashley said...

I have it on the authority of my only son-in-law that there's everything you could possibly want going on Underneath the Arches. And yes, he specifically mentioned motor spray shops with blokes looking over their shoulders all the time. Good book idea Diplo- my favourite would be the 'Maigret' Citroen garage under Waterloo East, but I fear he's had to move on.

Jon Dudley said...

That was a perfect location for selling a Light Fifteen. The modicum of daylight available was insufficient to spot the inevitable rust..trouble was you'd already fallen for the damned thing (who wouldn't). One of my all time favourite cars. Despite owning other older and arguably more desirable vehicles, this is one car I really feel drawn to. Cue accordian music, Rupert Davies, pipe et al en Paris.

Peter Ashley said...

Oh yes, and his sidekick Lucas riding on the slim running boards rather than getting in.