One of our village’s main tourist attractions has announced it will begin to re-open some areas of its Mere Way site just after the Easter holidays. Although this means Ruddington kids will miss out on the Easter Bunny for a second year running – having also been deprived of a festive train trip with Santa – at least we can now see a light at the end of the (metaphorical) tunnel.
Heritage services last ran at Great Central Railway (Nottingham) during the February half-term last year before all trains were cancelled and the centre closed to visitors due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The charity reached that “difficult decision” partly because of the challenges of introducing the required social distancing and cleaning regimes but also because it depends entirely on volunteers – many of whom fall into the groups most at risk from COVID-19.
Whilst parts of the centre did re-open to the public for a while last August, it’s over a year since any passenger services ran on the tracks. However, now that a Government ‘Roadmap’ has been released, showing us the way out of the latest ‘lockdown’, and with the vaccine rollout well underway, GCRN has revealed provisional dates to start getting things back to normal:
• 18th July: Nottingham Area Bus Society gathering & running day.
• 8th August: Stewart Classic Vehicle Register Summer Gathering.
• 4th September: GCCG Classic Car Club Event.
• 29th & 30th August: Bank Holiday Rail Specials. (TBC)
• 12th September: Mazda MX5 Owners Club Inter Area Event.
• 3rd October: Road Transport Event.
• 6th November: GCRN Firework Spectacular.
• Sat & Sun from 27th Nov – 19th Dec: Santa Specials (TBC)
• 24th December: GCRN Christmas Eve Santa Specials (TBC)
• 27th – 30th December: Winter Holiday Trains (TBC)
GCRN says it hopes to add further events and announce the restart of its normal weekend running days and loco allocations as it gets closer to confirming them. With the cost of repairing more recent damage caused by vandals further depleting its cash reserves, the opportunity to bring back some much needed income is extremely welcome. The recently acquired Class 144 DMU Railcar (144003), which volunteers hoped might run services all year ’round, has also yet to carry any passengers.
Commercial Director, Phil Stanway, says: “After studying the announcements we are planning to reopen some areas of our site to the public from April 12th 2021 (days and hours to follow). This will include the Ruddington Model Railway Club (only the outdoor layout initially) and the Nottingham Area Bus Society (entry to the garages will not be permitted) along with The Heritage Café returning to offering sit down meals using our outdoor seated areas for dining.”
Until that date, their onsite café (only) remains open for takeaways on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am till 4pm.
Phil adds: “It is also our intention to reopen other aspects of the site as guidelines allow over the coming months and to restart our heritage rail services in time for summer, but please remember that all dates are currently fluid and based on the guidelines issued by the Government, so may be subject to change. Also, at this time, the open areas DO NOT include the Miniature Railway.”
RUDDINGTON.info will keep you posted on further updates.