Station Name: NOTTINGHAM VICTORIA

[Source: Nick Catford]


Date opened: 24.5.1900
Location: On the east side of Milton Street. The station site is now occupied by the Victoria Shopping Centre
Company on opening: Great Central & Great Northern Joint
Date closed to passengers: 4.7.1967
Date closed completely: 4.7.1967
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state:

The station has been completely demolished with the exception of the clock tow which has been retained within the Victoria Shopping Centre which now stands on the site of the station. Much of the brick retaining wall surrounding the station survives. The south portal of the Mansfield Road Tunnel at the north end of the station survives, the tunnel is now securely gated. The north portal of the tunnel was buried when the Carrington Station cutting was infilled but access has been maintained buy building a shaft with a locked manhole cover. The north portal of the Victoria Street Tunnel is behind a brick wall in the Victoria Centre underground car park. The tunnel now carries heating pipes into the shopping centre. The south portal of the tunnel is extant.

County: Nottinghamshire
OS Grid Ref: SK573403
Date of visit: 1.6.2008

Notes: Nottingham Victoria Station was designed by the architect Albert Edward Lambert and the construction was on a grand scale. A 13 acre site was acquired at a cost of £473,000 in the heart of Nottingham's city centre; negotiations for the acquisition of the land had taken three years. The construction called for the demolition of whole streets of some 1,300 houses and 24 public houses, following which around 600,000 cubic yards of sandstone rock was excavated from the site. The site measured around 650 yards in length from north to south and had an average width of 110 yards with a tunnel at each end of it for access.

Both the Great Central Railway and Great Northern Railway shared the station (they split into two lines at Weekday Cross junction just beyond the Victoria Street tunnel). The two owners failed to reach agreement on the station's name; the Great Central naturally wanted it called 'Central', a proposition the Great Northern, still smarting from the incursion into

its territory made by the London Extension, would not accept. The two railway companies operated separate booking offices, the Great Central issuing tickets bearing 'Nottingham Central', whilst the Great Northern's window bore the legend 'Nottingham Joint St'n'. The Town Clerk tried to resolve the situation by suggesting the name 'Nottingham Victoria' to reflect the fact that the planned opening date coincided with Queen Victoria's birthday; this was readily accepted at a meeting of the Nottingham Joint Station Committee on 12 June.

Nottingham Victoria station was officially opened without ceremony in the early hours of 24 May 1900 - over a year after the start of services on the new railway line. The first service to call at the station was a Great Central express from Manchester to Marylebone which pulled in at 1.12am; it was followed fifteen minutes later by a Great Central express travelling in the opposite direction.

The main station building was in true Victorian splendour. It was constructed in a Renaissance style using the best quality faced bricks and Darley Dale stone with space at the front for Hackney carriages which was covered by a canopy. It faced on to the confluence of Mansfield Road and Milton Street for some 250 feet.

The three-storey building was dominated by a large 100-foot clock tower topped with a cupola and weather vane. At the north end of the building, access could be gained to the parcels office via two large metal gates. Once inside the building on the ground floor level, one reached the large and lofty booking hall. It was over 100 feet long and 66 feet wide, and
contained the best quality pine and a hard wearing oak floor along with a gallery on each side to gain access to spacious offices on the first floor. The booking hall contained seven ticket-issuing windows, three each for the Great Central and Great Northern, and one for excursion traffic; a clock-type train indicator served all platforms. An iron overbridge led from the booking hall and spanned the platforms, to which it was connected by four broad staircases. A small footbridge at the end provided access to the island platforms at the south end, themselves connected to a side exit leading on to Parliament Street.

The station itself comprised two large island platforms, each between 1,250 feet and 1,270 feet long, with two bays at each end for local traffic giving a total of 12 platform faces. On each island platform there were dining and tea rooms together with kitchens, sleeping facilities for staff, waiting rooms and lavatories; all these buildings were, like the rest of the station, lined with glazed tiles which were generally buff in colour and embellished with a chocolate dado. Large 42 feet 6 inches steel pillars held up an enormous 3-part glazed canopy measuring 450 feet in length, with a centre span of 83 feet 3 inches and a pair of flanking spans each of 63 feet 9 inches. There were additional glass roofs over the double-bay platforms, each carried on central pillars. An electrically-lit subway system, below track level and covering the breadth of the station, could be used for transporting luggage, thereby avoiding the need to carry it over the footbridges. The subway was linked to the main station by four lifts serving respectively the booking hall, cloakroom and two island platforms. The refreshment rooms had their own underground subway and lifts.

The station had passing loops round all platforms (for freight), two signal boxes and two turntables. The two signal boxes were positioned at the north and south ends of the station and controlled entry and exit to the tunnels that allowed entry to the complex. The traffic that passed through was very varied. It included London–Manchester expresses, local services, cross-
country services (e.g. from York to Bristol via Oxford) as well as freight workings. As the station was shared with The Great Northern Railway (already well established when Victoria opened), a superb network of lines going to many destinations was available from the one station.

The last through service from Nottingham to London ran on 3rd September 1966. All that was left was a DMU service between Nottingham and Rugby. Victoria station was finally closed on 4 September 1967 when this service was cut back to Arkwright Street to allow for the building of the Victoria Shopping Centre and flats leaving only the clocktower surviving. Source: Wikipedia

For more pictures and information see also the Nottingham Victoria Station web site

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GREAT CENTRAL RAILWAY BETWEEN SHEFFIELD AND LONDON
The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS & L) was formed in 1846 by the
amalgamation of the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway with two proposed
lines - the Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway and the Great Grimsby and Sheffield
Junction Railway; the SA & M had opened between Manchester and Sheffield Bridgehouses in
1845. The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway ran between Manchester London Road
(now Piccadilly) via Penistone to Sheffield (the Woodhead route) and on to Brigg, Grimsby and Cleethorpes. A second line left the main line at Penistone and served Barnsley, Doncaster and Scunthorpe before rejoining the Grimsby line at Barnetby. The MS & LR opened a line from Sheffield Bridgehouses to Beighton for passengers on the 12th February 1849. Passengers going south and to London changed on to the ‘Midland’ line at Eckington. On 15th September 1851 a new station called Sheffield Victoria was opened a short distance to the south west of the Bridgehouses terminus which was retained as a goods depot.

In 1854, Edward Watkin became General Manager and then in 1864 chairman of the Company. Watkin's ambition was to build a rail link between the industrial heartland of Manchester and Sheffield, south to London and through a tunnel beneath the channel to reach Paris and the expanding markets of Continental Europe.

In order to fulfil his ambitions, Watkin also became Chairman of the Metropolitan Railway who were in the process of extending their line northwards towards Rickmansworth and the South Eastern Railway connecting London with Dover. Initially, Watkin tried to convince other companies to build links with the MS & L allowing him to reach London but he was unable to reach agreement and eventually was left with little option than to build his own line southward from Sheffield to reach the Metropolitan.

In the 1890's the MS&LR began construction of its 'Derbyshire Lines', in effect the first part of its push southwards. Leaving its east - west main line at Beighton Junction, some 5 1/2 miles east of Sheffield, the line headed south through the Nottingham coal field with a branch line serving its new Central Station in Chesterfield. In July 1890 the MS&LR obtained another act to extend from Chesterfield to Heath creating a loop line. Work started on this new section, of some 4¾ miles, before construction on the original line was finished and opened in July 1893.

In 1893 the MS&LR obtained Parliamentary approval to extend this line to London (known as the ‘London Extension’. Construction of the 92 mile route started in 1895 and on 1st August 1897 the company changed its name to the Great Central Railway; it was the last 'main line' to be built until the Channel Tunnel rail link in 2003.

Due to its late construction, the company was able to take advantage of the latest technology including steam excavators. It was heavily engineered with viaducts and wide cuttings with a maximum gradient of 1 in 128; there were no sharp curves or level crossings which would ensure a fast service for both passengers and freight. Most of the stations on the ‘London extension’ were built to a standard design consisting of an island platform with the booking office located on the platform. All the stations were built on an embankment or in a cutting adjacent to a road bridge, with access via stairs from the middle of the bridge; only the larger intermediate stations like Rugby and Loughborough had street level buildings.  Because Edward Watkin also expected his trains to reach Europe through a channel tunnel, the line was also built to a larger continental (Berne) loading gauge. The Great Central opened for coal traffic on 25 July 1898, for passenger traffic to a new terminus at Marylebone on 15 March 1899 and for general goods traffic on 11 April 1899.

The new line was built from Annesley in Nottinghamshire to join the existing Metropolitan Railway which had now reached Quainton Road in Buckinghamshire, where the line became joint Met/GCR owned (after 1903), it returned to GCR metals near Finchley Road for the final section into Marylebone. In 1903, new rails were laid parallel to the Metropolitan Railway from Harrow to the junction north of Finchley Road, enabling more traffic to use Marylebone. Although the new line had now reached London, Edward Watkin was unable to fulfil his ambition as he was forced to retire through ill health.

From the outset, the line had to compete with established north – south routes and the first train only carried a disappointing four passengers so the company had to work hard to win passengers from its rivals; with  a well managed Advertising campaign and the introduction of a fast and efficient train service the companies fortunes slowly improved although it was never a match for its rival lines.

In the 1923 grouping, the Great Central became part of the London & North Eastern Railway which brought an increase in freight traffic from the south Midlands and south west England but the LNER's main north - south route was into London Kings Cross so the Great Central was always considered as a secondary route.

After nationalisation, the line became part of British Railways Eastern Region but was transferred to the London Midland Region in 1958. By this time the service was already in decline with the increasing popularity of the car and it was unable to compete with other north - south routes as the line passed through sparsely populated areas south of Rugby. Manchester
to London express services were withdrawn on 2nd January 1960 leaving only three semi-fast trains a day and it came as little surprise when the line became the first main line to close in the Beeching era. Beeching considered that the Great Central was a duplicate route which could be sacrificed in favour of the Midland main line.

Many of the intermediate stations, including the Chesterfield loop closed on 4th March 1963 and long distance freight services were withdrawn shortly afterwards.  Annesley Motive Power Depot (between Nottingham and Sheffield) closed on 3rd January 1966 and Nottingham Victoria closed on 5th September 1966 along with the remaining stations south of Rugby. The track was lifted between Rugby and Calvert leaving a diesel multiple unit (DMU) shuttle service operating between Rugby and Arkwright Street and the southern section of the line between Aylesbury and London Marylebone which still carried considerable commuter traffic. The northern section of the line between Sheffield Victoria and Woodhouse also remained open as this also formed part of the Sheffield to Lincoln line. The line north of Nottingham remained in use until May 1968 serving the collieries at Annesley and Newstead and was eventually lifted in October/November 1969.

In 1968 the London Railway Preservation Society chose Quainton Road as its new base, the society being renamed as the Quainton Railway Society; this has now developed into the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre covering 25 acres. The Centre boasts one of the largest private railway collections in the country with numerous steam locomotives, many housed in the
former listed trainshed from Oxford Rewley Road which was dismantled and rebuilt at Quainton Road in 1999/2000.

The shuttle service between Nottingham and Rugby lasted until 3rd May 1969. As closure approached a group of railway enthusiasts got together to discuss the possibility of buying a section of the track to operate preserved steam locomotives.  A steam service was reinstated between Loughborough and Quorn in 1973 and in 1976 Charnwood Borough Council agreed to purchase the land from BR and lease it to the railway for 99 years. Despite a shaky start, the Great Central Railway PLC are now operating throughout the year between their headquarters at Loughborough Central and a new station called Leicester North just inside the city boundary. The remaining track between Leicester - Rugby was lifted in early 1970.

North of Loughborough, the line remained open for freight traffic after closure to passengers in 1969 serving the gypsum mine at East Leake and the Ruddington Ordnance Storage and Disposal Depot south of Nottingham. This traffic ceased in the 1980's and the track north of Loughborough was mothballed by BR until 2000. In the early 1990's a group of

transport enthusiasts set up the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) Ltd with the aim of redeveloping the derelict Ruddington Ordnance depot as part of a country park project. The depot was turned into the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre (NTHC) and trains were run on a small length of line into the depot.

The NTHC's aim was to reinstate the remaining line into Loughborough where it joins the GCR
PLC thus forming a single 18 mile preserved line. In the 1990's NTHC obtained a loan to buy
the track from Railtrack. Gypsum traffic resumed in 2000 with up to two daily trains and revenue from British Gypsum is used to pay off the loan. Rushcliffe Halt has now been restored and in 2003 regular services were reinstated although passenger trains south of Rushcliffe Halt are limited to the second Sunday of each month as there is no station at Loughborough.

It is now both groups aim to reinstate two bridges, one over the Midland main line north of Loughborough, rebuild 300 yards of embankment and relay little more than a quarter of a mile of track. As well a 'bridging the gap' between the two preserved lines further long term proposals would see the line extended southwards to Leicester Abbey and northwards from Ruddington to join up with the Nottingham tram network and on to Nottingham city centre.

Sheffield Victoria closed on 5th January 1970 with the closure of the Woodhead route and trains from Lincoln were diverted into Sheffield Midland. Although the southern section of the main line remained open, it too was proposed for partial closure in 1986. Aylesbury was to remain open but all services would run into Paddington via Princes Risborough. Marylebone
Station was due to close on 12th May 1986 but the station was eventually reprieved and the closure proposals were rescinded. Following rail privatisation in the 1990's, Chiltern Railways took over the route and in 2006 two new platforms were built at Marylebone on the site of the old daytime carriage sidings. The new platforms and partial resignalling of the station throat now make it possible to run 20 trains per hour in and out of the station.

North of Aylesbury the track remains in place but is only used by waste freight trains to the landfill site at Calvert where a junction with the Oxford - Cambridge line remains in use. On selected days, usually bank holidays, special passenger services run to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton Road station. There are now proposals to extend the passenger services northwards to a new station called Aylesbury Vale Parkway at the point where the line crosses the A41 near Berryfields Farm. This area is to be known as the Berryfields Major Development Area and will include park and ride facilities for Aylesbury.

With our motorway network now working at capacity there have been a number of proposals to reopen other sections of the Great Central main line and in 2006 Central Railway was formed to look into the feasibility of building a new rail link from central England to the Channel Tunnel which would include rebuilding part of the Great Central route south of
Rugby reviving a 1990’s government proposal to reopen that section of the line as part of a fast rail link from Scotland to the Channel Tunnel.

Preservation group web sites: The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, The Great Central Railway (steam service between Loughborough and Leicester North) & Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre (steam service between Ruddington and Loughborough)

Selected other web sites: The Transport Archive contains further detailed history of the Great Central plus a vast collection of 2344 'on line' photographs many ( the Newton Collection) taken during the construction of the London Extension. Chris Ward's Annesley Web site featuring numerous photographs of the Great Central around Nottingham and the Annesley Motive Power Depot. Great Central Railway through Leicester. Nigel Tout's web site with numerous photographs of the Great Central remains around Leicester and a series of archive photographs of the line. Bridging the Gap details ongoing work to reinstate the link between the two preserved lines. The Great Central Railway Society promotes an historical interest in the Great Central Railway.

Selected further reading: Great Central Memories by John MC Healey published 1987 by Baton Transport ISBN 0 85936 193 4 - heavily illustrated history of the London Extension. Great Central Then and Now by Mac Hawkins - published (2nd edition) by BCA 1992 ISBN 0 7153 9326 X , station by station photographic survey of the Great Central between Sheffield and London with numerous 'then and now' photographs. See also Sheepbridge & Brimington Station and construction of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway through Brimington by Philip Cousins. Published in St. Michael & All Saints, Brimington parish magazine. (Click here for full text). All tickets from Michael Stewart.

Too see other stations on the Great Central Railway between Sheffield Victoria and Aylesbury click on the station name: Aylesbury, Waddesdon, Quainton Road (1st site), Quainton Road (2nd site)**, Calvert, Finmere, Brackley Central, Helmdon, Culworth, Woodford Halse, Charwelton, Braunston & Willoughby, Rugby Central, Lutterworth, Ashby Magna, Whetstone, Leicester Central, Leicester North***, Belgrave & Birstall, Rothley**, Swithland****, Quorn & Woodhouse**, Loughborough Central**, East Leake, Rushcliffe Halt**, Ruddington, Ruddington Factory Halt, Arkwright Street, Nottingham Victoria, Carrington, New Basford, Bulwell Common, Bulwell Hall Halt, Hucknall Central, Annesley South Junction Halt, Hollinwell & Annesley, Kirkby Bentinck, Tibshelf Town, Pilsley, Heath, Staveley Central, Renishaw Central, Killamarsh Central, Beighton (1st site), Beighton (2nd site), Woodhouse Junction, Woodhouse*, Darnall*, Sheffield Victoria & Sheffield Bridgehouses.
Chesterfield loop - Staveley Works, Brimington, Chesterfield Central & Grassmoor

* Station still open but included for completeness ** Station reopened by Great Central steam railway and Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre *** New station opened by Great Central steam railway
**** Station planned and partially built but not opened



Nottingham Victoria Station under construction in 1897. The bridge is temporary and was later removed.
P
hoto by S W A Newton from Leicester & Rutland Record Office



Nottingham Victoria Station in c.1906
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Nottingham Victoria Station in October 1962
Photo by Brian Johnson

RCTS East Midlander No 7 Railtour at Nottingham Victoria Station on 9th May 1964
Photo by Chris Ward from Chris's Train Gallery web site
LCGB Great Central Railtour at Nottingham Victoria Station on 3rd September 1966
Photo by Graham TV Stacey (from 30937 Photographic Group web site)

Nottingham Victoria Station in May 1969
Photo by J E Connor

The site of Nottingham Victoria Station looking south in June 2008
Photo by Nick Catford

Click here for more pictures of Nottingham Victoria Station



 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


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