We returned again to the Great Central Railway this year for the 1940s themed weekend. Our journey back in time started at Loughborough Central Station where the display was all about the British Home Front. There was a weaponry display, dig for victory. office HQ for the Women’s Home Guard Auxiliary, a dining shelter and singers entertaining us with songs of the 1940s.
Leicester North station became French themed as Le Birstall. Here a skirmish took place between the Germans and the French Resistance. We were entertained by singer Luna Nightingale and there was French bread, cheese and wine to buy.
Rothley station became German Occupied Territory with platoons of German soldiers patrolling. A battle re-enactment took place with weaponry and pyrotechnics. There were displays of armoured military vehicles, anti-tank guns, signals equipment, a field kitchen and most gruesomely the field hospital. All pretty realistic and there was even German beer on sale.
Quorn and Woodhouse was a bit more light-hearted as a British and American base. There was an aerial Battle of Britain flypast, a large display of vintage vehicles, guns, armoury, working agricultural machinery, an Anderson air raid shelter and a WW11 rest centre. There was entertainment by singers, dancers and actors. In the main marquee, there was a dance floor and real ale bar. We had tea and cakes in Churchill’s 1940s tea room.
Of course, there were the steam trains themselves and lots of lovely people dressed in authentic costume of the period. We met Bomber Harris, Montgomery, Sir Winston Churchill plus the King and Queen. It was an enjoyable day out.
The Great Central Railway is speeding ahead with plans for the future. There is the new bridge, which will carry trains over the Midland Main Line and link up with 500 metres of track between the two. Today there is a small museum on the platform at Loughborough , but there is going to be a new large museum alongside Leicester North station, This will be able to display irreplaceable locomotives. So good news for railway enthusiasts!