Heritage railway project on track thanks to Loughborough Town Deal

Published: Fri 28th October, 2022

  • From Left, Jane Hunt, MP for Loughborough, Cllr Jonathan Morgan, co-chair of Loughborough Town Deal and Leader of Charnwood Borough Council, and David Ellard, commercial manager for Great Central Railway
    From Left, Jane Hunt MP for Loughborough, Cllr Jonathan Morgan, Co-chair of Loughborough Town Deal and Leader of Charnwood Borough Council, and David Ellard, commercial manager for Great Central Railway

Plans to create a heritage locomotive works and education centre at Great Central Railway have been given a £280,000 boost by Loughborough Town Deal.

The Town Deal Board has confirmed funding to support the creation of the facility which will be used to maintain the historic engines, showcase the railway to visitors and be a place where apprentices can learn new skills.

It is one of 11 projects Loughborough Town Deal is supporting after securing £16.9 million of Government funding. In total, the projects are worth more than £40 million of investment for the town.

The Town Deal Board is co-chaired by Cllr Jonathan Morgan, Leader of Charnwood Borough Council, and Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, founder of Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Cllr Morgan said: “Great Central Railway brings thousands of people to Loughborough each year and it is good news that the Town Deal can invest in the attraction and support the local visitor economy.

“The railway is also an integral part of Loughborough’s history, and its future, and I hope it’s now full steam ahead for the Great Central Railway team.”

Dr Kotecha said: “This project will help the railway engage with new audiences and offer employment opportunities to budding engineers. Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to work on historic steam engines?

“This is just another example of the Town Deal investing in the future of Loughborough. I am also pleased we have now committed over £11 million of Town Deal investment into Loughborough.”

At the front, from left, Jane Hunt, MP for Loughborough, Cllr Jonathan Morgan, co-chair of Loughborough Town Deal and Leader of Charnwood Borough Council, and David Ellard, commercial manager for Great Central Railway with staff and engineers from Great Central RailwayDavid Ellard, commercial manager at Great Central Railway, said: “The current facility is life expired and the location has evolved over its 50-year life at the GCR. The new design allows the space to be better laid out which enables a better workflow, improved welfare facilities and improved access for visitors and designated viewing areas.

“Externally, the improved outlook of the building will be more pleasing to the local community, residents and visitors.

“We are indebted to Loughborough Town Deal and Charnwood Borough Council for their support of this project.”

Jane Hunt, MP for Loughborough, said: “I welcome this Town Deal investment into Great Central Railway which is a unique asset for the country, not just here in Loughborough. I look forward to seeing this exciting project develop.”

The Great Central Railway is Europe's only surviving fully-signalled double track main line heritage railway and attracts over 110,000 visitors per year.

The new heritage locomotive works and education centre will be created at the railway’s locomotive repair works at the north end of Loughborough station in Great Central Road. It will be a centre of excellence for the restoration and maintenance of heritage locomotives and for delivering education for apprentice training and school engagement programmes. It will also improve the visitor experience, providing viewing facilities and interactive displays.

The centre will cost around £980,000 in total and it is hoped to be completed by September 2023.

Loughborough Town Deal is backing projects to boost skills, improve the town centre, reduce flooding, regenerate the riverside, develop a creative hub and support two key attractions – the bell foundry and the Great Central Railway.

So far, Loughborough Town Deal has committed to invest:

  • £2.6 million to create a Digital Skills Hub at Loughborough College
  • £900,000 to create a Careers and Enterprise Hub in Loughborough's town centre
  • £835,000 to help save Taylor’s Bell Foundry, the last major bell foundry in the UK
  • £1.7 million to support the Bedford Square Gateway Project which is regenerating part of the town centre
  • £885,000 to fund towpath improvements alongside the River Soar
  • £1.6 million to a creative arts hub at the Generator
  • £2.5 million to support the Health and Innovative Loughborough project

With the confirmed funding for the Great Central Railway, Loughborough Town Deal investment has now reached £11.3 million.

For more information, visit www.loughboroughtowndeal.co.uk.