North Yorkshire Moors Railway cancels popular 1940s weekend due to sensitivity over war in Ukraine

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway has cancelled this month’s Railway in Wartime 1940s-themed festival due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The weekend was due to take place on October 15 and 16 but proceeds from ticket sales will now be donated to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal instead.

Chief executive Chris Price said: “We did not think it was right to have a wartime-themed event in the calendar, when the people of Ukraine are facing such a tense, dangerous, and distressing time. Ongoing violence is causing people to flee their homes and become separated from their families.

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“We appreciate there will be a lot of disappointed people, but we hope everyone understands our decision, and that as many people as possible will still use the railway on that weekend, thus helping to raise thousands of pounds for the Ukraine appeal.”

Visitors at a previous Railway in Wartime eventVisitors at a previous Railway in Wartime event
Visitors at a previous Railway in Wartime event

Over the closed winter period, the NYMR had begun plans to host a Railway in Wartime event, with activity along the heritage line. The railway had begun discussions with local stakeholders to discuss how it would manage and deliver the off-site activities, including the famous military parade, in light of a loss of volunteer since the pandemic, which has also seen a reduction of up to 40 per cent of the railway’s resource.

Director of corporate services Laura Strangeway said: “We have taken guidance from the Heritage Railway Association which has recommended to its membership not to schedule wartime re-enactment events for the foreseeable future, and it is with regret that we will not be hosting the annual event.

“The NYMR is aware of the impact to local businesses and will continue to liaise with stakeholders. It is still planning to host its Light Spectacular (22-30 October) and Santa Special events, all of which are great opportunities for local businesses to get involved.”

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The Annual Steam Gala went ahead as planned in September, with the railway welcoming Sir Nigel Gresley following the locomotive’s recent overhaul which has kept it out of service since 2015. The famous engine will also haul special trains on the NYMR this autumn.