[Source: Glynn Waite]

Opening of Great Central Railway to London March 15th 1899

S.W.A. Newton, the first to book at Leicester GCR station. The Great Central Railway was opened to the general public for passenger traffic on Wednesday March 15th 1899, the line having been formally opened previously by Mr Ritchie, President of the Board of Trade, on Wednesday March 9th 1899 at Marylebone London.

The first public passenger train to arrive at the new station at Leicester was the 5.5am from Manchester (London Road) to Sheffield and Leicester, via Nottingham, the christening engine being No.698, decorated by flags fixed to the funnel, and the coat of arms above the buffer beam Place (in gold). Engine No.680* took forward this train to London (Marylebone) at 5.10am – dep. Lutterworth 5.32am; dep. Brackley 6.24am; arr. Marylebone 7.55am.

This ticket, besides being the first ticket ever issued out of the new Leicester Great Central station, the first ever fare being paid to the company at Leicester, is also the first ticket issued to Lutterworth, as Lutterworth had never had a railway station before.

* Ken Grainger of the Great Central Railway Society believes that in the dark, with what must have been a slick change of locomotives, Newton, in not wanting to miss his train, actually misread the number of the locomotive that took the train forward. 680 was Class 9D 0-6-0 and it is highly improbable that a locomotive of this design was used on such an auspicious occasion. It is believed that he actually transposed the numbers and that the engine was 860 – a new Class 11A 4-4-0, built specially for the top link jobs on this route.

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