Suffolk: Middy bids to double length of steam line

Middy train Middy train

Paul Geater paul.geater@archant.co.uk
Thursday, April 17, 2014
9:00 AM

Just days after the Mid Suffolk Light Railway outlined its development plans, it has taken the first step in its bid to become a major tourist draw by applying to double the length of its line.

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It has formally submitted a planning application to Mid Suffolk District Council to lay an extra 600 metres of track and then develop an small station at the far end of the line.

This could be called Wilby Halt, reviving the name of a halt on the line during its working life which ended with closure in 1952.

The Middy currently operates about 400 metres of track from Brockford and Wetheringsett station – and sees the extension as vital to develop in the long term.

The new Wilby Halt would be a very basic station of the type on the “Middy” before its closure – it would have no electricity or water supply and only basic oil lights.

It would include a second track so locomotives could run around the train before pulling it back to the main station at Wetheringsett.

The application is expected to be discussed by planning officials within the next few months – the Middy already has permission from the landowner to extend its route and has accessed some lengths of track to be relaid on the former route.

The application has gone in as the railway prepares for its first event of the season, an Easter steam-up on Sunday and Monday which is aimed firmly at families with children.

As well as building the extension to its line, the railway is also going ahead with a major project to restore the only steam locomotive it actually owns.

The restoration is expected to take five years, but when complete the Hudswell-Clarke engine is expected to become the main flagship of the railway.

And it then hopes to build an authentic Middy-style shed to enable it to keep its locomotive and historic coaches out of the elements.

Details of the railway’s development plans were outlined to tourist officials, council leaders, and Mid Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter at a special event earlier this month as the Middy aims to build on national recognition it has received.

In 2012 the museum was given a national award marking its success in re-creating the light railway which closed because it was unable to cope with road transport.

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