New track, new station - big year ahead for Middy in 2022
- Credit: Paul Geater
Suffolk's only standard-gauge heritage railway is looking forward to marking the 70th anniversary of the closure of the original line in style next year.
Its supporters and volunteers are becoming increasingly confident that the extension that will more than double its running line will open in July 2022 - the original line closed in July 1952.
And they should also have their own locomotive ready to run on the kilometre-long extension by the time the track is laid.
The ballast for the 500 metres of track from the current end of the line at Dovebrook has been laid and railway marketing manager John Reeve said the funding was in place to lay the track.
He said: "We're just about there with the funding for the track - what we now have to look at is getting money to build the platform at Aspall Halt at the far end of the line.
"But we are going ahead with making the plans for next July because we are very hopeful we will have got enough to get on with that by that time - people seem very keen to support us on this."
There is also very good news from the railway's own steam locomotive which is nearing completion after a long restoration.
The 1928-built Hudswell Clarke tank engine worked at a British Sugar plant in Lincolnshire – but is very similar to some of the locomotives that worked on the Middy before it closed in 1952. None of them survived.
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It has been under restoration for many years with the boiler being repaired by specialists at Yaxham in Norfolk.
That has passed safety tests and the firebox which was rebuilt at the Middy's own workshop has now been sent to be attached.
Mr Reeve said: "Once that is done the boiler and firebox will be brought back here to be put back on the rolling chassis that we have been working on and it should all be ready to go.
"We are hopeful we will have our own engine ready to open our extension next year - that will be a great day for all of us!"