AFTERNOON TEA ON THE GREAT CENTRAL RAILWAY
Step back in time as you board a classic steam train and journey through the Leicestershire countryside in style on the Great Central Railway. A truly magical experience that transports you to the bygone era of steam engines where over forty years of work and dedication by a team of former rail workers and volunteers have kept the main line steam alive.
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Restored stations, signals, carriages, wagons and steam and diesel locomotives, welcome to the UK’s only double track, main line heritage railway and the only place in the world where you’ll see full-size steam engines pass each other on the double track. Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Great Central railway in Leicestershire where afternoon tea service will commence shortly.
History of the Great Central Railway
Back in 1841, Thomas Cook, hailed a pioneer of popular tourism, arranged his first day trip by chartering a steam train and taking 500 travel naïve passengers from Leicester to Loughborough charging them only a shilling.
This and other excursions Thomas arranged, proved to be hugely popular, which in turn led to him establishing his own travel company, which gave Leicester the accolade of being the ‘birthplace of popular tourism.’ His company is known globally to have changed the world landscape of tourism.
Fast forward to present day and visitors to the Great Central railway can still ride that same landmark route, through the Leicestershire countryside by boarding a restored steam engine from Leicester North station in Birstall to Loughborough Central.
At its peak, the Great Central railway linked cities in the North of England to the Midlands and London. Today the journey the diesel and steam trains take is truly one that captures the UK’s heritage, taking passengers between four charmingly restored stations, signal boxes, water towers, and viaducts as it makes its way through the county, The stations lining the route are Loughborough Central, Quorn & Woodhouse, Rothley and Leicester North. All stops are equipped with conveniences such as ladies and gentlemen’s rooms, a tea room for refreshments with some even having a bar. The platforms are lined with old-world luggage stands and signs in keeping with the heyday of the line.
On more recent years, the restored stations along the line have been used as a backdrop for filming locations in the popular Netflix series, The Crown, the TV production of Victoria and also The Hours starring Nicole Kidman. The stations have made so many more feature films and TV appearances than you can imagine.
As well as riding the Great Central Railway route, there are first class carriages, which provide restaurant services including three to five course meals, themed nights such as Murder Mystery evenings, Fish & Chip dinners, Italian and Indian nights and Santa season trains to mention a few of the special trains that are offered on certain times of the year.
The English are know for their love for the constitution of afternoon tea so what better way to uphold the tradition than to experience a quintessential afternoon tea aboard the first class carriages.
Related Post: The Great British Constitution of Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea Aboard The Elizabeth Ann
Step off the platform and into the restored carriage, which will have you feeling like you’re part of a period drama, with comfortable upholstered seats, traditional crockery dressing the table perfectly under a crisp white table cloth and enjoy the service on board whilst the train takes you from Loughborough, through to Swithland & Woodhouse, onto Rothley and to Leicester North. After a short stop at Leicester North head back along the same route ending your journey back in Loughborough.
Be sure to watch for the wildlife as you stop on the bridge at Swithland reservoir and local countryside as you sip on your choice of a selection of teas, from Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Peppermint, Superfruity as well as a decaffeinated options. Oh and there’s coffee too! Tea and coffee refills are a plenty to wash down the afternoon treats,
A cute china cake stand is delivered to seat with a great selection of sandwiches and cakes, vegetarians are well catered for so be sure to mention upon booking.
The savoury spread includes a sandwich selection of roast beef and horseradish sauce, Red Leicester cheese and autumn fruit chutney, egg mayonnaise with watercress and a miniature savoury tart.
The sweet tier includes miniature Brioche Pasquier macarons, sultana, and cherry fruit cake, danish pastries and chocolate eclairs.
Be sure to leave a little room as the scones with strawberry preserve and clotted cream are served upon leaving Leicester North Station on the route back.
The afternoon tea steam engine round trip lasts around an hour and a half and is available on selected dates on weekdays leaving Loughborough Central at 15:00 and 14:45 on weekends.
A Memorable Experience
The first-class carriage makes a wonderful gift option for family or friends as well as a great day out in between exploring the villages and towns surrounding the stations. The ticket for afternoon tea allows you all day access to the trains on the line so you can really discover and enjoy the train route as much as you wish on the day.
Additionally, you can fulfil your childhood dream and drive a locomotive with one of the special packages on offer by the Great Central Railway.
If you fancy staying the night why not book a hotel in either Leicester, Loughborough. Rothley or Swithland and even take a look at things you can do in the Leicestershire area. Scope out some great guided tours and restaurants for your stay.
Afternoon Tea aboard the Elizabeth-Ann is a memorable time and a great way to see the surrounding area of Leicestershire, supporting the local economy and making the work of the volunteers and those who preserve the railway line truly worthwhile. So why not take a step back in history and relive the route Thomas Cook led the oath to what we know as tourism today.
- Address: Great Central Railway. Great Central Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire. LE11 1RW
- Website; The Great Central Railway
- Tel: +44 (0) 1509 632323
- Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 09:00-17:00
- Booking information: All bookings to be made via telephone. Tickets will be issued by post to your home address.
- Further Information: Fares & Timetables
- Afternoon Tea priced at £29 per person (inclusive of the ‘Day Runabout ticket’ permitting a full day ticket to travel the line.
- The Great British Constitution of Afternoon Tea
- The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Leicester By A Local
- The Most Romantic Benches in Leicester
Trip Planning Essentials
- Flying to the area: Check flights with Skyscanner
- Check flight schedules through Skyscanner
- Reserve your car hire with EuropCar
- Book your preferred Leicestershire Accommodation
- Look at Attractions and things to do in Leicestershire
- Travel Green with Eco-Friendly products