Heritage Leeds railway is building for future after supporters buy 285 memorial bricks

A steam engine in full flow at Middleton Railway. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
A steam engine in full flow at Middleton Railway. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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Hundreds of locomotive lovers have bought bricks to help boost the world’s oldest continuously working railway.

Middleton Railway Trust, based in Moor Road, Hunslet, launched a buy a brick appeal to raise funds for a new running shed so that it could better preserve its collection of historic engines five years ago.

Planning and construction delays set the £60,000 project back but hundreds of supporters still invested in £2.50 bricks, while around 285 people bought £30 engraved bricks to dedicate to loved ones.

Among the donated bricks are a cluster dedicated to some of Hunslet RLFC’s players of the famed 1965 team – each will be engraved with a player’s name, painted in club colours and displayed in formation within the shed’s walls.

The show of support has seen builders finally erect the running shed’s steel frame. It is hoped that the facility will be completed by the autumn.

Ian Smith, vice president of the trust, said: “We started out in Garnet Road with a couple of sidings in the open air with all the pollution from the local factories.

“Over the years we’ve been able to improve it and if you look at the facilities now, with the addition of the new running shed, compared to 20 years ago it’s a quantum leap.”

The new shed will add to the site’s existing security and allow volunteers to prepare engines for use under cover.

It will also aid light maintenance work and open up more space for exhibitions in the trust’s main engine house.

Mr Smith added: “We are really grateful to all the people who have donated over the years. Without all the support the railway couldn’t exist. There is a bond between the railway and the community.”

Built to transport coal from Middleton Colliery to the factories of Leeds, the railway was launched in 1758. The volunteer-led Middleton Railway Trust took it over in 1960.

Visit www.middletonrailway.org.uk for details.