Lottery boost for Mid Suffolk Light Railway's jubilee
PUBLISHED: 18:00 25 April 2016
Suffolk's only standard-gauge steam railway, the 'Middy', got its 25th birthday year off to a great start at the weekend with the formal start of work on its new workshop.
The workshop is being built at the Mid Suffolk Light Railway’s headquarters at the Brockford and Wetheringsett station – largely thanks to a £64,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The railway moved on to the site 25 years ago and operated its first steam trains on just under half a mile of track in 2002, the 50th anniversary of the closure of the “Middy” which had played a vital role in carrying supplies to USAAF bases along its route during the Second World War.
The start of work on the new building was launched by Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter, who said the railway was rapidly becoming a major tourist attraction in the district.
And he pledged his support for the railway’s future developments – the railway wants to extend its run by about half a mile, it is looking to restore its own locomotive and it has almost completed the restoration of a former GER carriage.
Dr Poulter said: “This is a very important day for the Middy and I am looking forward to supporting them more in the future.”
Carole Riley from Heritage Lottery Fund said the scheme was vital on a number of levels – it would allow members to restore and keep historic rolling stock under cover, it would encourage more volunteers, and enable the volunteers to use their skills under cover.
Middy chairman Jon Taylor said: “We hope not only to give individuals participating an enjoyable time but use the massive skills base these people have acquired over their working lives to benefit the restoration activities at the museum.”
The museum is currently preparing for its summer season. This weekend it was offering rides to specially-invited guests behind its guest locomotive, an LNER tank engine.
Next weekend the railway will be hosting its annual “Middy at War” event with wartime re-enactments and a flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Douglas Dakota – a type of aircraft that was a familiar site in the East Anglian skies during the war.
The Middy at War event takes place on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday – when the flypast takes place.