Gallery: Steam gala brings in the crowds at anniversary celebration for Middy

HUNDREDS of visitors took time off from the Olympics to go to the first ever steam gala at Suffolk’s only standard gauge preserved railway.

The Mid Suffolk Light Railway, based at Brockford station, had three engines in steam for the first time ever.

The season’s main visitor “Wissington” was joined by two other industrial tank engines – as well as a diesel shunter – for the three-day event.

Organiser Ed Crosthwaite said everyone connected with the railway had been delighted by the turn-out and the weather had played it’s part.

“It’s been a great event – it has helped to bring us to the attention of the public. Every time we have a steam day here we have people from Ipswich and even nearer coming and saying: ‘We didn’t know you’re here’ and now more and more people are knowing about us.”

The gala marked a number of major anniversaries for “The Middy.”

It was held almost 60 years to the day from its closure – the last trains ran on July 26 1952. It also marks 21 years of the museum being founded and 10 years since the first trains ran on 450 metres of track.

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The Middy now has hopes of extending the line. It hopes to extend its run to 1,100 metres with a second station at the far end.

It is also preparing a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to restore its own locomotive – a sister engine to “Wissington.”

For the gala this was joined by former Falmouth Dock engine Number 3 and by “Hornpipe,” an industrial engine based in Windsor which visited Ipswich docks on its way to the gala last week.

Visitors were given a hint of the work required to get their own engine back in steam – its boiler was on show beside the station.

As well as the standard gauge trains, there was also a visit from the Barton House miniature railway from Norfolk, and a miniature steam traction engine giving displays in the station forecourt.