Newsletter: March 2018

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Train weekend

On March 24th & 25th steam passenger trains ran on the branch line for the first time since the restored line opened in October 2015. The weekend was a huge success with over 2000 visitors coming to the heritage centre over the two days. There were 8 trains each day, all of which ran full or nearly so. Shunting demonstrations in the heritage centre sidings and the garden railway were also very popular with visitors, as was the new Spinney Trail extension.

View from high view point

View from the high view point. The queue for the first train of the day.

Currently the GCR have no plans to run further steam weekends on the branch line this year, due to the availability of steam locos. Heritage diesel trains are however scheduled to run over the weekend of the 21st & 22nd July, more details about that nearer the time and on the GCR’s website.

You can view some photos of the event thanks to Neil Raffan at

We also have a short video available on Youtube at

Trail News

With the help of small teams of volunteers from Network Rail and Tarmac, our Eco team managed to get the new ‘high path’ ready for the train weekend. This path starts from the Western edge of the Nunckley Spinney and extends to the top of the quarry face giving visitors an uninterrupted view over the quarry and adjoining farmland. The path is surprisingly steep in places.

In Spring the path will be surrounded by the sight and scent of fragrant English Bluebells. In the near future we will be installing woodland style seats in the natural lea at the top of the steep path; a welcome rest for those weary legs!

The recent snow together with the extreme cold and wet conditions has delayed the planting out of wild flowers and shrubs but the Team is looking forward to tackling this in early April. Wild Daffodils and Primroses are just coming into bloom around the Nunckley Nature Trail and our woodland birds are in full song throughout the site as nesting season approaches. For some it has already begun. We have already spotted an early Brimstone Butterfly on the Trail as well as Bumble Bees.

New Volunteers

The heritage centre site provides so much enjoyment and pleasure, not just for those that visit, but to the volunteers that make it all possible as well. The site will only ever be the sum of the time and effort that people can contribute to it.

We very much need your help! Not just to continue the work we do, but to do new and different things as well. There are so many different and varied areas you could get involved with. You might like to help with looking after the nature trails, restoring railway vehicles, operating the garden railway, maintaining the track, being a visitor guide, the list is almost endless, and there is never a dull moment! Whether you can spare a few hours most weeks, or just a few hours every now and again, your help will be very much valued and appreciated.

Whilst our guides are there to provide our visitors with background information, sometimes our visitors provide us with unexpected insights. Mark was recently on duty when two little girls, Millie and Katie, came with their mum and grandad to see “Granite Granny” in the quarry. When Mark asked who or where “Granite Granny” was, they pointed to the face in the rocks above the Museum building. Indeed there seems to be a face profile of an old lady in a bonnet. Their grandad told them that the old lady was there to keep an eye on all the workmen in the quarry, so every time they come to visit they have to see that “granny” is still there. Can you see her on the picture of the high path?

If you would like to get involved then please send an email to

Granite’s Shack

The train weekend was accompanied by the re-opening of Granite’s Shack which enjoyed it’s busiest weekend ever. The Shack now sells American style pancakes opposed to waffles, which are proving very popular with visitors. Weather permitting, Granite’s Shack will be open every day during school holidays and every weekend through till October.

Midland Brake Van

Since its arrival back in October last year, all the old timber cladding and rotten sections of the framework have been removed, the roof stripped back to the wooden decking, various metal fittings have been salvaged for restoration and the metal substructure has been cleaned and repainted. New softwood and hardwood timbers have been ordered and work has already started on the replacement of some of the cladding to the body of the van.
The four sets of suspension springs were removed under the supervision of Railway Vehicle Preservations (RVP) and after specialist examination were deemed beyond reclamation. New springs are on order and will be fitted with their help.

Well did you spot Granite Granny? Maybe this will help

banner showing granite granny

Granite Granny