Middy will weather the storm, say railway team as they reveal it is not reopening yet
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk’s much-loved ‘Middy’ – the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway – has taken the decision to dampen down the fires and to temporarily pull the tarpaulins over its engines and rolling stock, as it closes its ticket office for the foreseeable future.
Despite the recent easing of some coronavirus outbreak restrictions, the trustees of the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway have decided that they still cannot reopen the museum to the general public. The main Covid-19 precautions arising for the MSLR, as an accredited museum and a registered charity, are maintaining hygiene and cleaning arrangements, plus the assessment and protection of members of the public and vulnerable volunteers.
John Reeve, for the museum and restored railway, said: “The old railway had to be economic to run and much of the charm of the Middy is in the size and style of its vehicles and buildings. The numerous practical control measures, particularly social distancing, would prevent the Middy being the unique part of British Railway history and the attraction for visitors that it has become.
“Given the nature of the virus and the fact that there are so many related unknown quantities around its development, were we to open now, we could not guard against a visitor unwittingly bringing the virus to the MSLR and the consequent cost and disruption of deep cleaning the whole of the railway.”
He added that, although the Middy would be closed until further notice, the trustees were assured that the museum will survive the loss of income from the summer programme thanks to excellent financial management and support from central government.
“We will also be able to bring into play some volunteer activity, abiding by current strictures of numbers and social distancing, to continue the development of the Middy,” he said.
Many projects are already in development or are up and running including approvals for the provision of better visitor facilities at Dovebrook including a footbridge to the picnic area. Work on the restoration of steam loco no.1604 is also proceeding faster than anticipated as a result of the boiler contractors other work being delayed by coronavirus considerations. The locomotive will be ready to run at the 2022 70th anniversary of closure celebrations.
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“The route of the old footpath across the line has also been approved by Mid-Suffolk District Council, so work on the extension of the railway can continue. Nonetheless public awareness and support are both essential for the continued development of the Middy.”
These projects have their separate appeals to achieve completion and can be accessed via the websiteMr Reeve assured that families and rail enthusiasts will be kept up-to-date with developments at the railway during the closure period. “We are constantly reviewing the situation and will provide information on opening as soon as possible. The Middy will still be here once the crisis has passed.”