Middy prepares the way for its expansion from Brockford to Aspall Halt

The visiting engine arrives at the Middy. Picture: MID SUFFOLK LIGHT RAILWAY

The visiting engine arrives at the Middy. Picture: MID SUFFOLK LIGHT RAILWAY - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s only standard gauge preserved railway is preparing for its extension that will double its length and turn it into a line “that goes from somewhere to somewhere.”

The route of the Middy extension. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The route of the Middy extension. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

The Mid Suffolk Light Railway, or Middy, is based at Brockford and Wetheringsett station near Stowmarket and runs for almost a quarter of a mile to “Dovebrook” in a small copse.

Earlier this year the railway was given planning permission to more than double its length and build a new station called “Aspall Halt” about half a mile from its main base.

Now fundraising is due to start in earnest with a “sponsor a sleeper scheme” about to be launched as the start of a campaign to raise £125,000 to complete the extension.

The new “Aspall Halt” will be built to resemble the Wilby Halt on the line which closed along with the rest of the Middy in 1952.

The planning permission for the extension includes a requirement that work should start within three years, but John Reeve from the Middy said the new extension would take several years beyond that to be completed.

He said: “We are launching the Sponsor a Sleeper scheme with our latest members’ magazine. You can sponsor one for £15 and we need 787 to complete the line to Aspall Halt.

The route of the Middy extension. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The route of the Middy extension. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

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“But that’s only the start of the fundraising and there is some preparatory work that we will be doing over the autumn and winter after our steam gala in a couple of weeks’ time.”

The museum had a successful bank holiday weekend with a guest engine – a green Y7 LNER shunting engine which shared duties with a fellow shunting engine that has spent the summer at the Middy.

Mr Reeve said: “It was a very good weekend for us. There is a lot of support for us out there and we are hoping this will encourage people to get behind us.”

The track to Aspall will run on what is currently a path beside a field which has already been largely cleared by volunteers so visitors can see the trackbed of the line that closed more than a decade before Dr Beeching produced his notorious report on the future of British Railways which led to many line closures.

Mr Reeve said: “There’s still some way to go – but things are starting to be planned to extend the line to Aspall Halt and a recreated local station within the next few years.”

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