The Great Central Railway in Nottingham

The GCR London Extension ran North to South through Nottingham centre. It was in tunnel for much of the way as the city was built up. The Victoria station was built in a cutting in a cleared slum area.

We start just south of the city centre at Arkwright Street, and travel North, above ground where possible. I hope it goes without saying that tunnels are potentially dangerous structures and should not be entered foolishly.

The Meadows and Arkwright Street

As a late arrival in the city, after it had largely been developed, the GCR had an expensive approach to Nottingham. Having crossed the Trent on a girder bridge, it rose up and and marched across southern Nottingham on a long brick viaduct. There was a large goods yard in The Meadows, followed by a small station at Arkwright Street. This station was on the viaduct and largely build of wood. By 1987, the viaduct only partially survived (it has now all been demolished).

From Collin Street to the Trent on - undergoing demolition and a trip from Leicester when still open.

Weekday Cross and Victoria Street

Continuing across the rooves of the Midland station and up Middle Hill, the line disappeared underground at Weekday Cross underneath the Lacemarket. These days it carries only steam heating pipes for the District Heating scheme from Cattlemarket incinerator to the flats built above the Victoria Centre.

Victoria Station site

Following closure in 1968, Nottingham Victoria Station was redeveloped as the Victoria shopping centre. However the tunnels were not filled in, merely secured. The Victoria Street tunnel is still accessible for maintenance work on the heating pipes, by way of a door at the south end of the Victoria Centre car park.

Victoria Station was built in a cutting in the Bunter sandstone on which Nottingham is built. The Victoria Centre did not fill the entire cutting, even after it was extended in the late 1990s, and the former cutting walls and brickwork are still open to view. This wall features in many old pictures of trains entering the station.

Subterranea Britannica's memories of Nottingham Victoria

Mansfield Road Tunnel

Northwards from Victoria Station, the Great Central again tunneled under existing properties and high ground on Mansfield Road. During the mid 1980s, the wooden hoarding closing the tunnel entrance was decorated with a large mural of a steam loco. It was still there, rather faded, 15 years later. The tunnel is still in good condition and runs as far as the former site of Carrington station. It is now blocked off there with a wall of bricks and a manhole to the surface, Carrington cutting having been filled in and redeveloped.

The sandstone strata upon which Nottingham is built are clearly visible in the tunnel walls, though parts of the walls are lined with brick. Along the way there are a small number of one-man refuges, a couple of which have a ledge making them wider at the top. There are also slots which presumably once contained signal posts - here is the site of what I presume to have been Victoria Station up home, but I'd welcome correction from enginemen !

Sherwood Rise Tunnel

From Carrington station, the line once more had to run underground to traverse Sherwood Rise. This tunnel too is truncated at the Carrington site in the same way as before, the two walls having been built exactly at the Carrington tunnel portals, now buried tens of feet underground. It emerged again in sandstone cutting walls at New Basford station, now the site of a small infill housing development.

Relevant Links

Nick Willis' Victoria Station web site is absolutely full of information and pics.

Nottingham Rail shows in photographs how the railways of Nottingham and surrounding areas have changed over the last 100 years.

[Underworld icon] Excellent pictures of the GCR's bridges and tunnels further north in Yorkshire come and go, on The Underworld - might be worth having a look in case they're there now (hello, Jack :-)).

Youtube: Demolition Nottingham Victoria Station, five minute film taken from roof level on Trinity Square opposite.

A Railway Walk - viaducts, bridges and tunnels of the GCR London Extension in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire

The Great Central in 2002 - bridges and tunnels currently covering the route Leicester southwards (2004), also with large scale plans of Nottingham Victoria.

Great Central Railway Through Leicester - bridges, viaducts and station remains in and around Leicester, including Rugby to Nottingham Arkwright Street by DMU in 1969.

The Greater Nottingham Rapid Transport scheme.

Cab views from a tram of GCR Collin Street viaduct

In the meantime you could also see what Google has to say ...

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