Celebrating ton-up for Leeds-built locomotive at bank holiday event

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The inspirational story of how locomotives built in Hunslet a century ago are helping kickstart an economic recovery in ebola-hit Sierra Leone is being brought to life in Leeds this bank holiday weekend.

The ‘From West Riding to West Africa’ celebration event will be held from 11am to 5pm today, tomorrow and Monday at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, Canal Road, Armley.

The city museum has teamed up with the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum, where half-a-dozen locomotives built at the former Hunslet works are on display.

One of the locomotives - named Nellie by children in Freetown – was transported to Sierra Leone during the First World War by Leeds based Manning Wardle and Company.

Now Nellie has been given a cosmetic makeover in Sierra Leone and will celebrate her 100th birthday this weekend.

To mark the occasion, a ‘sistering’ ceremony was due to take place today for Nellie and Armley Mills resident tank engine Aldwyth, also built by Manning Wardle Ltd in 1882.

Tim Dunn, trustee of the Friends of Sierra Leone National Railway Museum, said: “Locomotives from Leeds have become beacons of hope in Sierra Leone and are seen as a way to bring in foreign tourists and international knowledge and training.

“For the first time, young people will be able to train with hands-on engineering apprenticeships.

“The potential for this museum as a cultural, heritage and educational hub is only just being realised.” For more information, go to www.sierraleonerailwaymuseum.com .

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