Forward Thinking at Ruddington’s Railway

A brand new fund to develop one of Nottinghamshire’s leading heritage attractions has been launched in our village today (Friday 9th July).

‘The Forward Fund’ aims to provide new visitor facilities, including a new station building at ‘The Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre’ in Ruddington. It will also raise money to upgrade tracks and bridges on the nine mile section of the historic Great Central Railway through the county.

Rushcliffe’s MP Ruth Edwards is a patron

Guest of honour for the launch was Rushcliffe MP, Ruth Edwards – who is a patron of The East Midlands Railway Trust (EMRT), the registered charity which is running the new fund. She told “It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone to support the development of The Great Central Railway which is a wonderful asset for Ruddington. Obviously they’re hoping to eventually join the line up down to Leicester, as well as linking it up to other transport like the trams, so it’s a great vision and I’m really excited to be here to support this brilliant venture. Right around Rushcliffe so many organisations are run by wonderful volunteers, like those here at the heritage centre. We’ve got people with such amazing, specialist skills and I was just blown away when I saw everything they were doing!”

Also in attendance was Ruddington’s Nottinghamshire County Councillor Reg Adair, who adds: “As things are opening up again, this day is a really good day to get the locals involved – and some outside people as well – because the railway has a great future. The day we can get on the train in Ruddington and get off in Leicester – I look forward to it!”

Now it seems major repairs will be needed to this bridge over the A60 {Photo: Tom Ingall}

Plans to completely overhaul a bridge which carries the railway over the busy A60 road adjacent to the Brush factory in Loughborough were announced today, as well. This new work is now required because the structure was discovered recently to be in a poor state of repair – not helped by several bridge strikes by over-height vehicles. Consequently freight trains serving the British Gypsum plant at East Leake have now had to be stopped. When the new bridge is installed they will restart, taking lorries off the road and ensuring the heritage line can serve the community – as well as carry passengers all 18 miles from Ruddington to Leicester North once the multi million pound Reunification Project is completed.

To be ‘Reunification Ready’ the Northern section needs major investment to keep its massive viaducts, bridges and tunnel in good order. The Forward Fund is seen as a key part of the plan to achieve this with the A60 bridge work as the first stage. EMRT is determined the railway will remain a facility for the community and an educational asset long into the future.

Professor David Rae

EMRT Chairman David Rae says: “The Great Central Railway and the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre have great potential as a heritage and leisure amenity for the area, but too few people know about them. The 125-year-old railway line was starved of investment from the 1960s and needs major renewals. The area is seeing major housebuilding and development from East Leake north past the Fairham development on Gotham Moor, and new homes around Ruddington. We aim to rise to the challenge and offer people in this busy area a great experience at the Heritage Centre and in future on the rail line. There is a once-only opportunity to make this happen and close partnerships with the Councils and communities along the route are essential.”

Also announced today were The 125 Group‘s plans to house not just ONE but TWO retired Intercity 125 power cars here in Ruddington. One of these – 43159 – is rather famous in railway circles for setting a new world diesel rail speed record of 148mph with 43102 – whilst running a test train for the Mark 4 coach SIG bogies between Darlington and York on 1st November 1987.

During today’s launch event, as well as picking up literature about EMRT’s Forward Fund and other plans relevant to Ruddington’s heritage site, invited guests were also able to ride out in the sunshine on the centre’s extensive miniature railway, view its bus and heritage railway collections and enjoy a complimentary buffet lunch at the onsite Heritage Café.

Volunteer Karen Sharpe hands out information to the invited guests

{Top aerial view photo courtesy of Zeke Allsopp}

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