Before I moved to Kirby Muxloe, I’d heard of the place, and for two reasons. Firstly, there was a castle there. It still exists – or at least, its gatehouse and moat do. And secondly, the 1960s satirical songsmiths, Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, performed a comparatively straight song about the Beeching closures, entitled Slow Train (this link takes you to a recording of the song with pictures of the stations named; Kirby Muxloe is the second one up) .
Kirby Muxloe is located on the Midland Railway’s line from Leicester to Burton-on-Trent via Coalville. The route as a whole incorporates much of the route of the very early Leicester and Swannington line, opened in stages starting in 1832; however, that line was blessed with an extremely long and narrow tunnel at Glenfield, and so in 1848 the Midland built a diversionary line to avoid that tunnel and connect the line to the rest of their system. Kirby Muxloe is located on that line. Kirby Muxloe is quite a ‘posh’ area; and it is the area around the station that has the best houses. The house my flat is located in is a bit downmarket from those properties, but nonetheless is a reasonable Victorian villa built in 1886. (And for me, it counts as a ‘newer’ property, as my previous place went back to at least 1815!) Interestingly, if you walk back into the village, the properties get more plebian as you get further from the station. Their builders thoughtfully put the dates of their building on them, and those dates get later the further you go from the station, giving a clear picture of advancing development over time as more and more people began commuting into Leicester by train.
The line remains open for aggregate traffic, which mainly runs at night; the passenger service, however, ceased in 1964 as part of the Beeching closures. The station has been demolished and re-developed, although there have been a range of proposals to re-instate passenger services between Leicester, Coalville and Burton. A station at Kirby Muxloe would be a great help to me, as my workplace is moving in the summer to a new office across the road from Leicester Midland station. Plans were well advanced at the time of privatisation, but ironically they were shelved because privatisation “froze” proposals at their 1989 state unless they could secure the necessary funding and permissions from a range of bodies and regulatory authorities; when British Rail was the sole service provider, if they decided that a service should be re-instated, then they were the sole body to decide that from the “railway” side of the business.
But today, there was something worth seeing – a passenger train. Not a steam train, and not a regular service, but a railtour for enthusiasts to travel over a number of freight-only lines in the Midlands and South Yorkshire. I would have liked to have travelled on this, but at £75 a seat and with the nearest boarding point being Market Harborough, just over 20 miles to the south, this wasn’t practicable for me. Instead, I had to content myself with walking up the road and taking a picture of the train as it passed through the site of the station. (I contemplated another vantage point that would have made a nicer picture, but I wanted to get the train passing through the station site.)
Would that I could repeat this exercise from August on a daily basis!