TRIBUTES have been paid to a founding member of the world’s most popular heritage railway who has died at the age of 91.
Charlie Hart was a professional signalman and inspector with British Railways at the time that the North Yorkshire Moors Railway was closed in the 1960s.
Mr Hart, who lived at Ruswarp, became one of the key people in the railway’s earliest days.
He was an active volunteer until recent years, selling guide books along the route as well as being heavily involved in fund-raising for the charity.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s general manager, Philip Benham, said “Our thoughts and prayers are now with Charlie’s family and friends.
“The volunteers and staff of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway could not be more grateful for everything that he has done.”
Mr Hart joined fellow founding members Michael Pitts and Tom Salmon for a reunion in May last year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the railway.
Mr Salmon himself died on Christmas morning last year, just hours after his wife, Erica, had passed away.
The couple had both been in hospital after suffering from long illnesses.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which runs services between Pickering and Whitby, carries more than 350,000 passengers a year and lays claim to being the world’s most popular heritage route.
It was planned by George Stephenson to open trade routes inland from Whitby.
The line eventually fell victim in 1965 to Dr Richard Beeching’s infamous cutbacks to the rail network, but reopened again in 1973. Research claims that the railway brings in more than £30m a year to the local economy.