London’s latest trunk railway and new link to the North is the Great Central (383 miles), opened in 1899, whose story is one of expansion.
The line joins the Northern system at the colliery village of Annerley, a few miles beyond Nottingham, and along its route southwards are the towns of Nottingham, Loughborough, Leicester, Rugby, and Aylesbury.
It passes through or near some places full of historic interest.
Among them is Newstead Abbey, Lord Byron‘s home; Hucknall Torkard, where the poet is buried; Quorndon – the station being called Quorn and Woodhouse – the headquarters of the Quorn Hunt; Lutterworth, where good John Wyckliff lived and taught; Grendon Underwood, where, according to Aubrey, Shakespeare picked up some of the humour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from the village constable, the bard having passed a night at Grendon on his way from Stratford to London.
To a considerable extent, the new line runs parallel to the Midland Railway.
The extension has cost £12,000,000, and of this sum 4,000,000 have been spent in London.
A speciality of the Great Central is the not merely comfortable, but absolutely luxurious carriages provided for third-class travellers, handsomely cushioned and upholstered, with windows that occupy all the side space.
All the principal trains are provided with a third-class buffet carriage, at whose counter the hungry and thirsty soul may refresh himself; a third-class dining-car, and a kitchen-car; there is no second-class.
The new terminus, called the Marylebone station, covers a large area, lying between Marylebone Road, Edgware Road, and Park Road, N.W., which used to be occupied by several squalid streets, and by portions of Harewood and Blandford Squares.
As a building it calls for little comment, but its red brick imparts a warm and bright tone which fog will not diminish, and as everything within is necessarily brand-new, including the porters’ uniforms, it can claim to be the cleanest of our great London stations.
The Great Central Hotel, of some architectural merit, crowns the whole work.
(The hotel is now known as the Landmark Hotel.)