RAIL CHRONOLOGY:
The Great Northern and London & North Western Railways’ joint lines in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire and the Great Northern Railway’s Leicester and Newark-Bottesford branches

Page updated: 19 July 2018

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The origins of these lines were the subject of articles in Trains Illustrated (June 1959) and by John Marshall in the Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society no. 187 (March 2004, pp. 446-453), the latter being amended and amplified by David Hodgkins’s letter in Journal no. 190 (November 2004, pp. 695-696). Those origins are also examined, more succinctly, in chapter 21 of Peter Braine's The Railway Moon (PMB Publishing, 2010). Unfortunately, the closure details given by Marshall are suspect so these present notes seek simply to bring together the chronology of the lines’ closures.

Location map

Specimen passenger timetables

Despite what is shown in following tables, spelling of Loseby became Lowesby from 1917 and Ingarsby became Ingersby from 1939.
  • April 1910 : all routes in use
    southbound northbound
  • July 1925 : Leicester - Peterborough and Leicester - Newark services have ceased
    southbound northbound
  • August 1948 : Newark - Nottingham and Grantham - Leicester services have been reduced to one round trip each
    southbound northbound
  • September 1953 : Grantham - Leicester service has ceased - final timetable before December 1953 closures
    southbound northbound
  • September 1956 : rump workmen's services - final timetable before their spring 1957 withdrawals
    southbound northbound
  • June 1960 : only the summer weekend Leicester - Skegness and Mablethorpe services remain
    southbound northbound
  • Passenger closures

  • Newark - Bottesford North Junction - West Junction [- Nottingham]:
    service suspended from Monday 16 April 1917 and resumed from Tuesday 1 April 1919. Cotham station closed and the three round trips were withdrawn from Monday 11 September 1939. A single evening round trip (1730 Mon to Sat Nottingham Victoria - Newark and 2000 return) was fairly quickly restored - not in the timetable dated 2 October 1939 but certainly in that dated 4 December 1939 - although Cotham remained closed for passengers (12). From 28 October 1940 the return train was retimed to 1910 and in this form the single round trip service continued until finally withdrawn from Monday 3 January 1955.

  • [Newark -] Bottesford North Junction - South Junction [- Leicester]:
    service withdrawn from Monday 16 April 1917.

  • [Grantham -] Bottesford East Junction - South Junction - Stathern Junction [- Leicester]:
    Bottesford South station closed from Monday 1 May 1882 (22). The meagre (two round trips, Leicester Belgrave Road - Grantham) service (and calls at Redmile station) were "temporarily suspended" because of fuel shortage from Monday 15 January 1951, resumed from Monday 19 March until Wednesday 28 March 1951, to cover the Easter period, but thereafter suspended again (24). They were still shown as "suspended" in the summer working timetable, and indeed do not reappear until Bradshaw's Guide issue dated 2 July 1951, then running only until Saturday 8 September 1951 (there was no Sunday service at that time). Thus, 10 September 1951 marked the effective passenger closure of Redmile station and the end of winter passenger trains over this section of line. For summers 1952 and 1953 one round trip (1027 Leicester Belgrave Road - Grantham and 1400 return) was restored on Saturdays only (5 July - 13 September 1952, 4 July - 12 September 1953) - but did not call at Redmile (10). "Official" recognition of the de facto closure of Redmile station and of the local service over the line was not until Monday 7 December 1953. Throughout this period the line continued in use for summer Saturday and Sunday through trains and excursions between the Leicester and east coast resorts - until last trains Sunday 9 September 1962.

  • [Nottingham -] Saxondale Junction - Stathern Junction [- Market Harborough]:
    Nottingham terminal moved from London Road Low Level to Victoria from Monday 22 May 1944. Bingham Road station closed from Monday 2 July 1951. Service withdrawn from line from Monday 7 December 1953.

  • [Nottingham -] Stathern Junction - Harby & Stathern - Melton Mowbray North - John O’Gaunt [- Leicester / - Market Harborough]:
    service withdrawn from Monday 7 December 1953, apart from summer Saturday and Sunday through trains and excursions - serving only Melton Mowbray - between Leicester and east coast resorts via Bottesford until last trains Sunday 9 September 1962. The "formal" closing date to passengers of Melton Mowbray North station was Monday 21 January 1963, although, of course, there were no trains by then!

  • [Nottingham -] John O’Gaunt - Marefield North Junction - West Junction - Leicester Belgrave Road:
    Loseby station became Lowesby in 1917. Ingersby station became Ingarsby in 1939. Service withdrawn from line from Monday 7 December 1953 apart from one weekday round trip (which was suspended 9 to 30 December 1956 and withdrawn from Monday 29 April 1957, to be replaced by bus service which was in turn withdrawn from Monday 30 September 1963, on cessation of BR subvention) and summer Saturday and Sunday through trains and excursions - serving only Leicester, Humberstone and Thurnby & Scraptoft - to east coast resorts until last trains Sunday 9 September 1962. The "formal" closing date to passengers of the remaining stations involved was Monday 21 January 1963, although, of course, there were no trains by then!

  • [Leicester -] Marefield West Junction - South Junction [- Peterborough GN]:
    service first threatened with withdrawal in 1892 but retained in response to local pressure (15); withdrawn from Saturday 1 April 1916 (20).

  • [Nottingham -] Marefield North Junction - South Junction - East Norton [- Market Harborough]:
    service withdrawn from Monday 7 December 1953.

  • [Nottingham -] East Norton - Hallaton Junction - Welham Junction [- Market Harborough]:
    service withdrawn Monday 7 December 1953, apart from one weekday unadvertised round trip between East Norton and Market Harborough which was withdrawn from Monday 20 May 1957.

  • [Leicester -] Hallaton Junction - Medbourne - Drayton Junction [- Peterborough GN]:
    service first threatened with withdrawal in 1892 but retained in response to local pressure (15); service withdrawn from Saturday 1 April 1916 (20).

    Although services from Northampton to Nottingham via the joint line and from Newark to Nottingham via Bottesford West Junction ceased from Monday 7 December 1953, some sources incorrectly imply that services between Newark and Northampton ceased from this date - in fact, there had been no such facility since World War I.

    What is believed to have been the last passenger train over the remaining portions of the joint line was the Railway Correspondence & Travel Society's Joint Lines Rail Tour on Saturday 18 May 1963, formed of eight coaches with Class 5 loco. no. 45238 of Nottingham heading it (11). The route was: Nottingham London Road Low Level - Bottesford West Jn - Bottesford South Jn - Melton Mowbray North (stop) - Marefield North Jn - Marefield West Jn - Leicester Belgrave Road (run round) - Marefield West Jn - Marefield North Jn - John O'Gaunt (run round) - Hallaton Jn - Welham Jn - Market Harborough LNWR. From here the train returned to Nottingham without use of the joint line - via Uppingham, Luffenham, Cottesmore, Melton Mowbray Town and Old Dalby. Subsequently there were at least two brake van trips, carrying Branch Line Society members, on the "isolated" GN section between Leicester Belgrave Road and Humberstone - using the short-lived connection from the Midland line - on 12 December 1964 and 1 March 1968.

    Freight closures

  • Newark - Bottesford West Junction:
    last regular freight traffic was oil in trainloads from Lindsey Oil Refinery (Immingham) to the Total Oil terminal at Rectory Junction (Colwick). The diversion of these trains via Grantham was effected as soon as a freight loop there had been extended to accommodate them; the last revenue use via the Newark - Bottesford line was round trips of these trains on (Good) Friday 17 April 1987 (17), with the line being taken out of commission in May 1987 (13) apart from a headshunt of about ¼ mile to access Newark Down Yard.

  • Saxondale Junction - Barnstone APCM Cement Works/Lime Siding:
    closed and taken out of commission from Monday 10 September 1962 (13), the curve from Bottesford West to South having been restored to through running; from this date, access to Barnstone was via Bottesford West Junction and Stathern Junction.

  • Barnstone APCM Cement Works/Lime Siding - Stathern Junction:
    closed from Monday 1 January 1968 (3) and taken out of commission from Monday 19 February 1968 (13). Note: APCM became Blue Circle Cement 1 June 1978; Stathern Junction ceased to be a physical junction from Sunday 7 June 1964 - thereafter the Barnstone and Bottesford lines ran as parallel but separate tracks between here and Harby & Stathern station.

  • Marefield North Junction - Welham Junction:
    closed from Monday 4 November 1963 (9).

  • Marefield West Junction - South Junction:
    closed during the World War I (probably with the withdrawal of the passenger service from Saturday 1 April 1916). The south junction points were removed in November 1929 and the remainder lifted in March 1930.

  • Hallaton Junction - Drayton Junction:
    closed from Saturday 1 April 1916 (20) although remaining for wagon storage until World War II. Drayton Junction removed Tuesday 2 January 1945 and Hallaton Junction removed Sunday 29 December 1946.

  • Leicester Belgrave Road - Catherine Street bridge [Shell Mex/BP oil siding]:
    closed 14 December 1964 (7).

  • Catherine Street bridge [Shell Mex/BP oil siding] - Leicester East Junction - Morton Road bridge:
    closed with final private siding (Shell Mex/BP oil siding) from Wednesday 1 January 1969 (8) (and put out of use Wednesday 2 April 1969 (1)).

  • Humberstone Road Junction - Leicester East Junction:
    constructed ca. 1882/3 to connect the GN at Leicester East Junction with the Midland at Humberstone Road Junction; apparently never used, and severed (at the Midland end) 8 June 1908. Restored and opened Monday 1 June 1964 to become the means of serving Humberstone and Belgrave Road after closure of the line to Melton Mowbray; closed again from Wednesday 1 January 1969 (8) (and put out of use Wednesday 2 April 1969 (1)).

  • Morton Road bridge - Humberstone:
    closed from Monday 1 May 1967 (9).

  • Humberstone - Marefield North Junction - Sysonby Junction - Melton Mowbray North:
    closed from Monday 1 June 1964 (9).

  • Melton Junction - Sysonby Junction:
    first severed 31 October 1882 but reopened 16 April 1883; traffic finally ceased from Monday 18 April 1887 (contemporaneously with the opening of the Midland’s Holwell branch which joined the GN's Waltham-on-the-Wold branch at Wycombe Junction), the junction being later removed; formally recorded as closed 5 July 1887 (21)

  • Melton Mowbray North - Scalford - Stathern Ironstone Sidings:
    closed from Monday 7 September 1964 (14) (although the line remained in the Sectional Appendix until 1967).

  • Scalford - Wycombe Junction - Waltham-on-the-Wold - Eaton Siding - Waltham quarries siding:
    closed from Monday 4 May 1964 (3). Both Clinker's Register and BR’s weekly traffic notices at the time recorded a private siding as being retained; while a private siding agreement may still have been "live", in practice no siding was active. The last regular traffic between the end of branch and Basic mines siding (near Eaton) was 1958, between there and Waltham station (and probably also Scalford) was summer 1963 (19). Lifting of the line to Scalford commenced Monday 1 February 1965 and was completed within two months (5). Despite the Post Office and the Ordnance Survey using Waltham on the Wolds (no hyphens, plural Wolds), the owning railway generally settled on the form Waltham-on-the-Wold (hyphens, singular Wold) (6).

  • Stathern Ironstone Sidings - Harby & Stathern:
    closed from Monday 2 October 1967 (13) - but traffic had actually ceased when Stewarts & Lloyds Minerals’ loading staff at Eastwell (the last traffic feeding Stathern Ironstone Siding, by road at that stage) were paid off on Saturday 25 February 1967 (4). Taken out of commission (in the words of the Weekly Operating Notice - "put out of use pending removal") Wednesday 20 December 1967 (13). Stathern Ironstone Sidings had been known as Eastwell Sidings until 1887.

  • Harby & Stathern - Stathern Junction - Redmile (for the Air Ministry private siding):
    closed (with the line from Barnstone) from Monday 1 January 1968 (3) and taken out of commission from Monday 19 February 1968 (13). Note: Stathern Junction ceased to be a physical junction from Sunday 7 June 1964 - thereafter the Barnstone and Bottesford lines ran as parallel but separate tracks between here and Harby & Stathern station.

  • Redmile (for the Air Ministry private siding) - Bottesford West Junction:
    converted to one engine in steam operation from Monday 19 February 1968 (13). However, withdrawal of the Barnstone trains probably marked the effective end of use of this section for although the Air Ministry private siding agreement was not formally determined until Sunday 31 August 1969 (2), there is believed to have been little or no actual traffic since the points were clamped and padlocked on Sunday 7 June 1964 (13). The line itself was notionally available for movements until Saturday 12 December 1970, the points at Bottesford West Junction being removed on Sunday 28 October 1973 (13).

  • Of the curves at Bottesford:
    - North to South was the route of L&NWR coal trains from Doncaster (interchange from MS&LR) to Camden, until the exchange point was altered to Colwick with the MS&L extension to Annesley in 1892. The decision not to restore a Newark - Leicester passenger service after World War 1 prompted the joint committee to reduce the use of this link to the night shift only, from early 1920 (the line was not closed - Bottesford South Junction was set towards East Junction during the day shifts but towards North Junction during the night shift) (23). A Northampton - Doncaster freight round trip was running until mid-1961 (withdrawal date not yet established) and the line was taken out of commission from Monday 11 December 1961 (13) (some sources record the closure as from Sunday 18 February 1962, but this was the date the North Junction box was finally closed as part of a scheme for singling the line to Lowfield);
    - South to East closed from Monday 10 September 1962 (the day after the last of the seasonal weekend passenger trains at Leicester Belgrave Road);
    - West to South was put out of use Monday 1 May 1882 (later severed at the south end) (16); restored and reopened from Monday 10 September 1962 (work undertaken previous day (13)) and finally closed with the line to Redmile (see above);
    - North to West closed with the Newark line (see above).
    There was no curve from North to East.

    Sources:

  • Published material
    CLINKER, C R, L.N.W.R.Chronology 1900-1960, David & Charles, 1961
    CLINKER, C R, Clinker's Register of Closed Passenger Stations and Goods Depots...1830-1977, AvonAnglia , 1978
    GOUGH, JOHN, The Midland Railway - A Chronology, Railway & Canal Historical Society, 1989
    GREVILLE, M D & SPENCE, JEOFFRY, Closed Passenger Lines of Great Britain 1827-1947, Railway & Canal Historical Society, 1974
    HENSHAW, ALFRED, The Great Northern Railway in the East Midlands (fourth volume), Railway Correspondence & Travel Society, 2003
    JACKSON, JIM Joint Line Engineman, in LMS Journal no. 16, p.39 et seq
    QUICK, M E, Railway Passenger Stations in England, Scotland and Wales - A Chronology, Railway & Canal Historical Society, 2009 and four supplements
    TONKS, ERIC, The Ironstone Quarries of the Midlands, Vol. IX, Leicestershire, Runpast Publishing, 1992
    Further descriptive material about the line can be found in a two-part article by C P Walker in Railway World (September and October 1963 issues). John Davies's archived website carries an excellent selection of illustrations. Peter Smith's webpage carries some illustrations of Melton Mowbray North.

  • Other sources
    The National Archives at Kew is shown below as TNA
    (1) LMR Weekly Operating Notice ME 13/69
    (2) ER Public Relations Officer letter 21 April 1970 ref PR14/1/TW
    (3) ER Public Relations Officer letter 18 September 1969 ref PR14/1/TW
    (4) Stewarts & Lloyds Minerals Ltd, Sysonby Lodge, per Eric S Tonks letter 3 January 1970 [also Tonks page 139]
    (5) Stewarts & Lloyds Minerals Ltd, Sysonby Lodge, per Eric S Tonks letter 14 February 1970
    (6) Railway Clearing House Hand-book of Stations (e.g. 1904 and 1956 editions), McCorquodale's Railway & Commercial Gazetteer and Henshaw - GNR ticket illustrated on page 97 and GNR signalling notice illustrated on page 165 (alas, however, Henshaw's text and maps are in error)
    (7) TNA AN 155/207. A proposal to rename the remaining part of the Belgrave Road freight site, east of Catherine Street overbridge, "Catherine Street Depot" upon closure of the line west of the bridge was not proceeded with.
    (8) TNA AN 155/367
    (9) TNA AN 155/207
    (10) Bradshaw's Official Guide issues 1410 (February 1951) to 1413 (7 May to 17 June 1951) - including the "late changes" supplement sheets - show no services; issues 1414 (2 to 31 July 1951; there is an unexplained gap between 18 June when the BR timetables were reissued and 2 July) and 1415 (1 August to 9 September 1951) show the same service as for winter 1950/51, plus the summer seasonal trains; issues from 1416 (10 to 30 September 1951) show no services until summer 1952 [TNA 903/424 onwards]. Eastern Operating Area Nottingham District Section C working timetables [TNA RAIL 909/various] show the Leicester - Grantham local services (apart from the Saturday Leicester - Grantham trains that ran in the summers of 1952 [Railway Magazine April 1953 p.279] and 1953) as "suspended" from summer 1951 right through until summer 1953 - and then omitted from September 1953.
    (11) Railway Observer (the RCTS magazine), August 1963, carried a one page report on this tour.
    (12) The implication in the final paragraph of page 74 of The Great Northern Railway in the East Midlands (fourth volume), that the service was suspended throughout the war, is disproven by the LNER public timetables (Table 63) [TNA RAIL 943/33 to 943/39].
    (13) From relevant working timetable, working timetable supplement or weekly operating notice.
    (14) On closure of Melton Mowbray North goods depot (Clinker's Register and WR General Instructions Circular A2/85) and signal box (noted as "closed" in Stathern Ironstone Sidings signal box train register book on 5 September 1964)
    (15) Lincolnshire History & Archaeology no. 6 (1971), p. 103 et seq
    (16) Information from Michael Back
    (17) Great Northern News no. 167, page 09
    (18) Tonks page 112
    (19) Tonks pages 101 and 76 respectively
    (20) Railway News, 6 January 1917, page 15
    (21) all dates from Great Northern and London & North Western Joint Officers' Committee minutes
    (22) The GN&LNW official notice in the Nottingham & Midland Counties Daily Express (24 April 1882) stated that the station "...will be closed on Saturday night 29 April 1882".
    (23) GN&LNW joint officers' committee min. 3664, 20 April 1920; L&NW working timetable 11 July 1921. Bottesford East box worked directly to Redmile during the day while West box worked to Cotham. At the start of the night shift, Bottesford East switched out, the signaman walked to South box to reverse the points (thus connecting the "block" automatically to the North box instead of the East box) and then continued to North box, which he switched in. The whole procedure was reversed next morning. West box was open for three shifts while South box was switched in only when necessary.
    (24) Information in Clinker papers (in Special Collections Library, Brunel University), apparently from D S M Barrie, but not fully recorded in Clinker's Register

    Unless otherwise specified, dates are "with effect from" (i.e. the first day from which the changed circumstances obtained, rather than the last day on which the old circumstances prevailed); where engineering work was involved, this often took place on the Sunday immediately prior to a Monday date.

    Richard Maund


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