Station Name:RUDDINGTON FACTORY HALT
|Location:||Within Ruddington Ordnance Depot|
|Company on opening:||London & North Eastern Railway|
|Date closed to passengers:||After 1947|
|Date closed completely:||After 1947|
|Company on closing:||British Railways (London Midland Region)|
No trace of the station remains. The site is now occupied by Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre
|OS Grid Ref:||SK574323 (approximate)|
|Date of visit:||Not visited|
Notes: At the start of WW2 a munitions factory was built just outside the village of Ruddington. The purpose of this factory was to produce 500lb and 1,000lb bombs for the Royal Air Force. Construction on the site began in December 1940 and by June 1942 production had begun.
Ruddington was an ideal location as it had excellent rail links from Nottingham, Loughborough and Leicester and this would be vital in bringing in the large numbers of workers each day that would be required man the production processes. When the site was originally proposed it was planned that there would be around 6,000 workers on the site. Of this number 2,000 would live in a hostel, which was to be specifically built to house them. It was anticipated that a further 800 workers would find lodgings in and around Ruddington. This left the necessity of organizing transport to and from the site for around 3,000 workers. The factory was to be run 24 hours a day on a three-shift basis.
By the time that production on the site did commence the proposed plans had been greatly modified. The proposed hostel for 2,000 people was never built. In fact accommodation was provided for only about 30 people on the site! However, approximately 200 buildings of various shapes and sizes were erected and roads, paths and rail link to Ruddington station with passenger platforms and a large loading bay. The station at the factory was called Ruddington Factory Halt and the service didn't appear in any timetables, it opened on 1st September 1941.
Large 'blast banks' also needed to be constructed around the site in order to minimize the effects of any explosions that might occur as a result of accident or enemy action. A whole new sewage and drains system also needed to be constructed on the site. The actual cost for all this work doesn’t seem to be available anywhere but other sites constructed along the same lines tended to cost in the region of £3,000,000 to £5,000,000.
Almost exclusively civilian workers staffed the factories, military personnel figured very little in the overall workforce. The person in overall charge of the site when it was in production was the Commandant, a title that smacks more of the axis forces than the allies. Amongst the first group of people to start work on the site were the security staff. They numbered about 36 personnel and operated around the clock. Everyone entering and leaving the site had to pass through a security gate and show his or her security passes. None of these security staff were armed, security of the site never seems to have been a major issue. The number of firemen employed on the site was approximately 72 personnel; double the number of security staff and it can be deduced that the threat of fire and explosion was considered to be far greater than breaches of security.
The site also was not defended in any way, there were no anti-aircraft measures taken to protect the site. To locate and attack such relatively small sites in daylight was highly dangerous for the attacking aircrew and at night with the blackout the site was difficult to locate. The only danger from aerial attack would be from a stray bomb that had been aimed at Nottingham. That never happened, indeed during the whole of the war none of the ten munitions factories were ever hit by bombs.
The running of these establishments was given, to what appeared on the face of it, some very strange bodies. The management of Ruddington was handled by the Co-op who were used to organising a large workforce with all that that entailed. Bomb-making production on the site lasted for less than three years. Workers had time off for the V/E Day celebrations and when they returned to the site afterwards it was to be told that production was ending immediately and that the site was closing. By V/J Day in August 1945 the site had been mothballed and being looked after by a skeleton staff.
With the end of hostilities the Ministry of Defence found itself in possession of vast quantities of surplus war equipment from the armed forces. A means of disposing of this surplus was by auction and suitable locations to have such auctions were needed. Ruddington with its central location was deemed to be an ideal site for such auctions and so it was that in July 1946 the first of these sales took place. The amounts of vehicles that were involved was staggering. At that first auction some 800 trucks, 300 cars and 1,900 motorcycles were sold. Such was the success of that first auction that the stage was set for Ruddington to become the main location for future war surplus sales. The depot became the Ruddington Ordnance Storage and Disposal Depot remaining in use until December 1983 when the auctions finally finished.
The exact position of the station within the depot is unknown, is remained in use until some time after 1947. After decommissioning the site was bought by Nottinghamshire County Council and redeveloped as the Rushcliffe Country Park and within it the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre.
A book has been written about the history of the depot, it is called Bombs to Butterflies and is available from either the Rushcliffe Country Park Rangers or Ruddington Village Museum, priced at £4.00. A mail order service is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Source: Keyworth & District Local History Society
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GREAT CENTRAL RAILWAY BETWEEN SHEFFIELD AND LONDON
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.
The NTHC's aim was to reinstate the remaining line into Loughborough where it joins the GCR
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, 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.