Middleton Railway’s 60-year milestone ... with just four people there
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But lockdown meant it was a muted affair with just four people – three crew and an assessor – boarding diesel locomotive No 1697 to haul a commemorative train from Moor Road to Middleton Park in Leeds.
The world’s oldest working railway, the Middleton Railway, was built in 1758 and the first railway authorised by an Act of Parliament.
In June 1960 it also became the first standard-gauge preserved railway to open in the world.
Ian Smith, vice president of the Middleton Railway Trust, who was on board, said the Office of Road and Rail had told them before reopening – hopefully in early August – that their crew had to be reassessed.
He said: “We thought the best thing would be to run that training course at 4.45pm on June 20 because that was the date and time the first train ran with volunteers.”
Waving it away was Matthew Youell, the son of the railway’s charismatic founder, Dr Fred Youell. Like many heritage railways, Middleton is feeling the pinch and has set up a GoFundMe appeal to raise funds.