Posted in Railways on Saturday 25th April 2009 at 11:14pm

Woke up, and found myself in Loughborough. It wasn't quite as unexpected as that opening sentence makes it sound, but I had forgotten where I was during the night in part due to some disturbingly vivid dreams. I'd actually travelled up yesterday on what ended up being a stunning day. I was a bit distracted by a busy week, and it was good to just relax into the journey and not worry too much. I hadn't been to Loughborough since 1997, and it must have been around the same time of year too as it was as I recall a little before the general election. Not much had changed from my original observations of the town, but during the hot dusty slog out to the edge of town I noted a tired, down at heel feel to the place which hadn't been there before. I put it down to the effects of the surprising heat and pressed on to the Great Central Hotel. I knew I'd booked somewhere close to the Great Central Railway - in fact it is the original station hotel - but I was surprised to find the fine old station stuck in the midst of a vacant empty plot.

So this morning, once I'd regained my bearings, I set out early for the station - just a short walk away. Staying over yesterday evening allowed a decent length of time at today's Diesel Gala - something that the rail replacement buses down south wouldn't have permitted otherwise. Found a fair number of others had opted for the early start too, and could smell breakfast cooking onboard the stock which was due to form the 0900 departure with D1705 ticking over on the front. Soon off and heading the full length of the line to cover the track.

New to the Great Central, ex-Anglia liveried 47714
New to the Great Central, ex-Anglia liveried 47714

A couple of interesting surprises on the first run included 37255 and 47714 stabled in sidings at Quorn & Woodhouse. The latter was due to work trains at this gala but is apparently not yet ready. Marvelled at the station buildings along the line, which are built in the very individual style of the Great Central, and each reflecting a different period in the line's history. Decided that the best option for the next few moves was to make a few round trips between Rothley and Leicester North - not a big mileage earner, but a chance to sample most of the locos in service. This tactic allowed me to sample classes 31, 33 and 37 - with 37314 being particularly impressive.

37314 'Dalzell' running around at Leicester North
37314 'Dalzell' running around at Leicester North

Decided to stay with the 37 for it's non-stop turn running the length of the line. A shame it couldn't really open up, but the hint of power when the engine was working hard was very impressive. Further photos at Leicester North, then back on board for the run back to Loughborough, stopping only at Rothley. Again, a fine performance. Arrived into the station in time to see staff preparing for the only steam worked turn today, a special dining train which looked very impressive indeed. Wandered down the platform for a poke around the extensive yard and sheds.

D5830 (31297) at Loughborough Central
D5830 (31297) at Loughborough Central

Time for one last spin on one of the shorter turns which ran beyond Rothley to reverse at the Brook, then back into Loughborough. This time, D5380 was partnering 37314. The sun was now high in the sky, and feeling a little drowsy I enjoyed my last thundering arrival into Loughborough Central, before heading back up the stairs and making the long hot walk back to the mainline station. Despite a slight concern about how busy the return service would be, had a pretty straightforward journey back to Bristol and then a coach homewards. A great gala at a fine railway, and well worth the effort to get there early.

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I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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