Timeline of the Great Central Railway

5th May 1837 Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne & Manchester incorporated.
Railway plans to connect Manchester to Sheffield using the famous Woodhead Route over the Pennines.

1845 The Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne & Manchester Railway opens the first Woodhead Tunnel bore.

27th July 1846 Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway formed.
MS&LR formed by the amalgamation of the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne & Manchester Railway; the Great Grimsby & Sheffield Junction Railway; the Sheffield & Lincolnshire Junction Railway; the Sheffield & Lincolnshire Extension Railway; and the Great Grimsby Dock Company.

2nd February 1852 Second Woodhead bore opens.

3rd June 1897 The MS&LR changes its name to the GCR.

1899 The "London Extension" opens.

1901 J.G. Robinson becomes Locomotive Superintendent.

1901 Locomotive naming re-introduced.
Naming was previously stopped by the MS&LR in 1859.

1902 Sam Fay became General Manager.

1902 Fay sets up a Publicity Department.
This is the first Publicity Department on any British railway.

1904 Record set for the longest run by a British locomotive.
Run is 374 miles long from Manchester to Plymouth by Class 8B (LNER C4) No. 267.

1904 The WM&CQR is acquired.

1905 Marylebone becomes the HQ.

1905 Power signalling introduced in the Manchester area.

1906 The GW&GC Joint line is fully open.

1906 The Wigan Junction Railway, the Liverpool, St Helens & South Lancashire Railway are acquired.

1907 The LD&ECR is acquired.

1907 Wath marshalling yard opens.

1909 The South Yorkshire Joint Railway opens.

1910 Dukinfield carriage and wagon works opens.

1912 Immingham dock opens.

1916 New Keadby bridge open.

1922 Three aspect automatic colour light signals are introduced on the new Wembley loop.

1st January 1923 Grouping sees the GCR absorbed by the new LNER.

1936 The LNER draws up plans to electrify the Woodhead Route.
With steep gradients, heavy mineral traffic, and choking tunnels, the Woodhead Route is seen as ideal for early mainline electrification. World War 2 intervenes and most of the construction is postponed.

1954 The electrified Woodhead Route with a new third tunnel opens.

1970 Last passenger service on the Woodhead Route.

17th July 1981 Last train on the Woodhead Route.


Thank you to Richard Barron for much of the above information.