The last East Leake History Society meeting of the season drew in an audience of almost 80 people many of whom were visitors, when local man Phil Sharpe gave an illustrated talk on the history of the former East Leake railway station. Interestingly only three people in the audience had lived in the village long enough to remember the station.
As a young boy Phil lived near the old Ruddington station and often played on the station yard, which is how his interest in the railway began. For many years he has been a volunteer helping to revive and maintain the GCR heritage railway line. Such is his enthusiasm that for the last 3 years in his loft he has been building a scale model of a 1 mile stretch of the track from Rushcliffe Halt to the Woodgate bridge, and models of the former East Leake station buildings, some of which were on display.
Construction of the railway line from Ruddington to Loughborough began in 1896. It was a huge undertaking that records show carving a path through the rural landscape. East Leake station featured a porter’s room, a booking office, waiting rooms and toilets with a signal box. Pedestrian access was via the road with stairs covered by a weather protection canopy. The arch in the brickwork on the side of the bridge in Station Road was the entrance to the stairway. A station master’s house was built on the opposite side of the road where there was also a goods yard and a large goods shed, half brick and half wood. This section of the railway was used extensively for carrying freight to and from the gypsum works and the ammunition depot at Ruddington (on land which is now at Rushcliffe Country Park). Old photographs show a cattle dock, and it is thought coal may have been offloaded and stored on the site.
The line was opened for passenger transport in 1899. This may have prompted local businessmen to move into the village as they could then commute to Nottingham or Leicester by train. Railway tickets from archives suggest it was mainly used for local journeys although one ticket is from Rushcliffe Halt to Mablethorpe!
During WWII the unusually large goods shed was used by LNER as a divisional wartime control centre as it was safer sited away from the city. After the war it was occupied by Ellis rope making company who needed a long building for producing lengths of rope.
The line was closed in 1969 as part of the Beeching cuts and nationalisation of the railways. The station buildings were probably demolished in the early 1970s .
Three years on Phil continues to expand on his scale model based on old photographs and archives, and aims to capture the features making it recognisable as the former East Leake station. Have you got any information, photographs or articles on the station you can share? If so, please let us know.
Written by the East Leake and District Local History Society