My layout is set in the mid-60s when steam was still in regular use alongside a growing number of early diesels, and before the modern-image rail-blue livery was introduced. It reflects my childhood memories which, as we all know, are always rose-tinted. There’s nothing wrong with a good measure of nostalgia and it is what makes railway modelling a personal pastime. I simply wish to recreate fond memories and visions of what might have been . . . or what should have been.
The main line railway through Leicestershire was originally built by the Midland Counties Railway which connected Derby, Nottingham and Leicester with Rugby and thence, via the London and Birmingham Railway, to London. The route was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1836 and construction started immediately. It was opened in three stages:
The Midland Counties Railway connected with the North Midland Railway and the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway in Derby at what was known as the Tri Junct Station, now Derby Midland Station. In 1844, these three companies merged to form the Midland Railway, an empire was born, and that is another story!
However, for my story, a branch line was constructed westward from Loughborough. It followed the route built by the LNWR through Snell’s Nook and Shepshed but then continued westward through Osgathorpe, Worthington and Swadlincote to Branston, just south of Burton-upon-Trent. The line wouldn’t have gone any further as it would have been trespassing into North Staffordshire Railway territory. Burton was famous for its beer traffic (and was why the undercroft at St Pancras was built as it was) and was originally served by the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway.
On a personal note, my grandparents lived in Countesthorpe and their garden backed onto the railway line. The line wasn’t busy when I visited in the 1950s and I occasionally went down to the level crossing at the end of the road to talk with the signalman in his box. Life was gentler in those days and a signalman would not be in trouble for letting an interested youngster into his box to see how everything worked and even to try and pull some levers.
The Midland Railway later built their own line to London from a junction at Wigston and the line between Wigston Junction and Rugby closed in 1961, before Dr Beeching was appointed Chairman of the British Railways Board.
• Introduction • Index • Geographical Setting •