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LNER Route: Leicester to Marylebone

Rugby Central Station

Rugby Station (later Rugby Central Station) was opened by the Great Central Railway (GCR) on 15 March 1899. The Great Central Railway was in fact a large regional railway company whose General Manager, Colonel Sir William Pollitt, had major aspirations for the company to be part of a major international network. Originally the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway the railway changed its name to the Great Central Railway in 1897 in anticipation of the opening in 1899 of its London Extension on which was built Rugby Station. The GCR recognised from the outset that is route to London would be facing stiff competition from other companies that had had some sixty years to build up their business base. In addition, these railways had been built when costs were relatively lower with routes through populous areas of the country which had been further stimulated by the arrival of the railways. The services provided by the GCR at Rugby were more limited being confined to London Marylebone and to Manchester Piccadilly via Leicester Central, Nottingham Victoria and Sheffield Victoria as well as various cross country services to places such as Southampton and Hull.

Rugby Central was therefore much more modest than its LNWR equivalent (later named Rugby Midland by British Railways to avoid confusion) although overall its size and range of services were similar to other GCR stations along the mainline to London. The strategy of the GCR was to focus upon passenger comfort by building sumptuous coaching stock and running fast services along the route to London. Rugby Central was approximately midway along the GCR's route to London and was a stopping point for express services as well as a starting and change over point for local services. Peter Elliot in his book Rugby's Railway Heritage states an engine shed was initially to have been built at Rugby but due to an inadequate water supply this was built at Woodford Halse to the south of Rugby.

The station was situated on Hillmorton Road approximately a half mile to the east of the town's centre. The station's design followed the standard GCR design of a single island platform with a length of some 600 feet. The booking hall and office was, with the parcel office, located at street level, being built over the railway on one side of the road bridge with a covered staircase leading down to the island platform below. On the platform there were three waiting rooms and a Gentlemen's urinals, the latter being the only building not covered by the canopy. The goods yard was a modest affair with three primary sidings, one of which served a small goods shed, the second serving a cattle and vehicle dock whilst the third was used for general goods arriving primarily by open wagon. The latter siding was supported by a fixed position hand-operated crane used to off-load heavy items such as timber. Until the early 1960s the station was served by about six London – Manchester expresses daily, and was the terminus for local services from Aylesbury or Woodford Halse to the south, and Leicester Central or Nottingham Victoria from the north.

Following the First World War, which had caused the railways to suffer a significant lack of investment which in turn meant that many of the 120 railway companies were near to becoming bankrupt, the 1921 Railways Act, also known as the Grouping Act, was passed. The purpose of the Act was to stem the losses being made by many of the country's 120 by removing much of the internal competition, and to retain some of the benefits which the country had derived from a government-controlled railway during and after the Great War of 1914-1918. This Act resulted in the GCR being part of the London and North Eastern Railway when it formed in 1923. Following the Second World War and very similar circumstances where the 'Big Four' railway companies had effectively become bankrupt, the 1947 Transport Act resulted in the nationalisation of Britain's railways which resulted in the formation of British Railways in 1948. The former GCR route to London became the responsibility of the London Midland Region, one of six divisions set up to operate beneath the umbrella of the British Transport Commission.

These closely mirrored the regions covered by the former companies in England and Wales, although with the addition of a separate Scottish Region. The North Eastern Region was eventually amalgamated with the Eastern Region, reflecting the English operations of the 1923-1947 London and North Eastern Railway. This meant that the London Midland Region's officers and managers priorities were LMS centric and the former GCR route suffered as a consequence. The line was then run down and express services removed, leaving only the local services and an infrequent semi-fast service to London in place. Under Doctor Richard Beeching's report, 'The Reshaping of British Railways', the GCR's route to London was closed on 5th September 1966, the line to the south of Rugby and north of Nottingham being closed. The section between Rugby Central and Nottingham (initially Nottingham Victoria, later cut back to Nottingham Arkwright Street) remained open as self-contained branch carrying a DMU operated local passenger service until 3 May 1969 with the station closing formally on 5th May 1969.

Additional pages divided on different thematic subjects are available by clicking on the links below:

Rugby Great Central Station (32) Locomotives seen at Rugby Great Central Station (38)

View of Rugby Great Central Station

View of Rugby Great Central station's booking office and hall sited on the bridge carrying Hillmorton Road over the railway
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Leicestershire & Rutland R.O.
Rugby Great Central station's booking hall sited on the bridge carrying Hillmorton Road over the railway
Close up view of Rugby GC station's ticket and parcel offices located in the building facing on to Hillmorton Road
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Leicestershire & Rutland R.O.
Close up view of Rugby GC station's ticket and parcel offices located in the building facing on to Hillmorton Road
Close up view of the vaulted booking hall situated within the station building fronting Hillmorton Road
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Leicestershire & Rutland R.O.
Close up view of the vaulted booking hall situated within the station building fronting Hillmorton Road
An exterior view of the station building located at road level taken during its days under BR ownership
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Coventry Evening Telegraph
An exterior view of the station building located at road level taken during its days under BR ownership
A 1960s view of Rugby Central station's booking hall and offices located on Hillmorton Road
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N Tout
A 1960s view of Rugby Central station's booking hall and offices located on Hillmorton Road

View of Rugby Central station's up platform which is in pristine condition at the time of opening in 1899
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Leicestershire & Rutland R.O.
View of Rugby Central station's up platform which is in pristine condition at the time of opening in 1899
Close up showing the glazed covered walkway providing access from the booking hall down to the platform
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Leicestershire & Rutland R.O.
Close up showing the glazed covered walkway providing access from the booking hall down to the platform
Close up showing the passenger facilities located on Rugby Central station's island platform
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Leicestershire & Rutland R.O.
Close up showing the passenger facilities located on Rugby Central station's island platform
Looking towards Leicester showing the down platform and the booking hall and offices spanning the tracks
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Lens of Sutton
Looking towards Leicester showing the down platform and the booking hall and offices spanning the tracks
Close up showing the buffer stops of the passing loop line and the points rejoining the main line
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Lens of Sutton
Close up showing the buffer stops of the passing loop line and the points rejoining the main line

Close up showing the down platform's passenger facilities including waiting and a refreshment rooms
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Lens of Sutton
Close up showing the down platform's passenger facilities including waiting and a refreshment rooms
Close up showing the Gentlemen's urinals located at the London end of Rugby's Great Central station
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Lens of Sutton
Close up showing the Gentlemen's urinals located at the London end of Rugby's Great Central station
View looking along Rugby Central's island platform towards Leicester with the goods yard seen on the left
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Lens of Sutton
View looking along Rugby Central's island platform towards Leicester with the goods yard seen on the left
Close up showing the southern end of the station's platform buildings looking towards Leicester
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Lens of Sutton
Close up showing the southern end of the station's platform buildings looking towards Leicester
Looking  towards Leicester from the London end of the island platform with the goods shed on the left
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Lens of Sutton
Looking towards Leicester from the London end of the island platform with the goods shed on the left

Close up showing the yard's fixed crane which was used to load and unload heavy goods from open wagons
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Weston Collection
Close up showing the yard's fixed crane which was used to load and unload heavy goods from open wagons
Close up showing Rugby GC station's signal box which controlled the goods yard and the station section
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Weston Collection
Close up showing Rugby GC station's signal box which controlled the goods yard and the station section
Looking back towards London from a down train showing the passing loop on the right and the signal box
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C Weightman/A Bullimore
Looking back towards London from a down train showing the passing loop on the right and the signal box
Internal view of Rugby's signal box showing the lever frame and signal diagram controlling this section of track
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C Weightman/A Bullimore
Internal view of Rugby's signal box showing the lever frame and signal diagram controlling this section of track

Close up showing Rugby Station signal box located at the London end of the down side of the station
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Weston Collection
Close up showing Rugby Station signal box located at the London end of the down side of the station
Another view of Rugby Central Signal Box seen shortly after the through line to London and Sheffield was closed
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C Weightman/A Bullimore
Another view of Rugby Central Signal Box seen shortly after the through line to London and Sheffield was closed
Rugby Central's Signal Box's signalling diagram showing the few signals and points now under its control
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C Weightman/A Bullimore
Rugby Central's Signal Box's signalling diagram showing the few signals and points now under its control
A Howitzer Battery is being loaded on to special wagons at the Army Ordance Depot at Barby on 11th August 1914
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WoW
A Howitzer Battery is being loaded on to special wagons at the Army Ordance Depot at Barby on 11th August 1914
Another view of the Howitzer Battery being loaded by its crew at the Army Ordnance Depot at Barby
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WoW
Another view of the Howitzer Battery being loaded by its crew at the Army Ordnance Depot at Barby

BR guard John Magee, receives a Leicester Mercury news packet whilst working his last week at Rugby station
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Leicestershire & Rutland R.O.
BR guard John Magee, receives a Leicester Mercury news packet whilst working his last week at Rugby station
Looking in the direction of London along the siding used by open wagons needing access to the fixed crane
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Anon
Looking in the direction of London along the siding used by open wagons needing access to the fixed crane

Drawings of Rugby Great Central Station

An original Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway drawing of Rugby Passenger station
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A West
An original Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway drawing of Rugby Passenger station
Side and front elevations of the single storey office used for parcels and passenger access to the platform
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A West
Side and front elevations of the single storey office used for parcels and passenger access to the platform
Close up showing the station's front and rear elevation including the covered half-glazed walkway and staircase
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A West
Close up showing the station's front and rear elevation including the covered half-glazed walkway and staircase
Close up showing a detailed plan, a front to rear cross-section and a rear road level section of Rugby station
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A West
Close up showing a detailed plan, a front to rear cross-section and a rear road level section of Rugby station
Close up showing the end elevation of Rugby station at both its road and platform levels
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A West
Close up showing the end elevation of Rugby station at both its road and platform levels

Map of Rugby Great Central station

A plan of Rugby station as proposed and published in the Rugby Advertiser on Saturday 1st May 1897
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Great Central Railway
A plan of Rugby station as proposed and published in the Rugby Advertiser on Saturday 1st May 1897

Rugby Great Central Station (32) Locomotives seen at Rugby Great Central Station (38)