Tracks through Grantham aims to capture the spirit and way of life of the railway community in and around the Lincolnshire market town of Grantham. In the town there is still pride in the role of generations of Grantham people who established and maintained a fine tradition in all aspects of railway work.
The importance of Grantham as a railway centre stems from the town's location on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) which links London with Edinburgh. The line is nearly 400 miles long and it has a proud history as a high speed railway.
Grantham's main line railway station opened in 1852 on the Great Northern Railway's new, more direct route for the ECML between Peterborough and Retford. Grantham became the junction for lines to Lincoln and Nottingham.
In 1876 the Grantham's place in railway legend became established when the Great Northern was the first company to run express passenger services for more than 100 miles without a stop, this being the 105½ miles between London King’s Cross and Grantham. Grantham was an ideal distance from London to be chosen as a regular staging point for changing steam locomotives. From 1862 until 1963 men based at Grantham 'Loco', as the engine shed was known, had charge of a fleet of the world's most advanced express steam locomotives, sometimes including the famous Flying Scotsman and the record holder Mallard.
Five miles south of Grantham is the top of Stoke Bank, a 13-mile descent towards Peterborough over nearly straight track. This is one the world's most renowned railway 'racing stretches', where speed records have been made and broken. In July 1938 Barkston Junction, just a few miles to the north of Grantham, became the starting point for the record-breaking run of the world's fastest steam locomotive, Mallard. Hauling a test train it passed through Grantham station gathering speed en route to Stoke Bank where the still unbeaten 126 mph world record was achieved.
Tracks through Grantham hopes to give a unique insight into life on the railway through personal experiences and photographs generously shared with the project. You will also find here the reminiscences of 'loco spotters' of the 1950s and 1960s. Some of them were local lads, but many others travelled to Grantham from far and wide to experience the excitement of the high speed main line steam railway. However, the main line is only part of the story. Branch lines, private mineral railways serving the nearby ironstone workings, even sidings into the works of manufacturers - all these and more play their part.
You will find in our pages many links to other resources on the Internet and also references to our suggestions for further reading in books and periodicals. The Grantham Journal, the town's newspaper, was inaugurated in 1854 and is a marvellous resource for information about railway life in the earlier years. During the 20th century a remarkable number of people recorded and documented the railway scene at Grantham – its trains and locomotives, its tracks and buildings and, most engagingly, the stories of railway people and their families. Authors and photographers have left us a rich legacy in words and pictures which breathe life into railway history.
Our site can easily be explored using the menu above, which appears at the top of every page. There are also links within the site to facilitate progress to the next page in a sequence. We hope you enjoy your journey through Grantham's vibrant and fascinating railway history.
We are continually looking to improve our knowledge and add content, so if you think you could provide new information or would like to comment on any aspect of the website please get in touch using our contact form.