Heritage railway in buy-a-brick campaign

Locomotive lovers are being asked to buy a brick to help fund a new £40,000 running shed at the world’s oldest continuously working railway.

The volunteer-led Middleton Railway Trust, based in Moor Road, Hunslet, Leeds, is appealing to residents to dip into their pockets so it can better preserve its collection of historic engines.

Donations of just £2.50 will pay for a brick for the running shed, while enthusiasts who offer £30 can have their names engraved on a brick that will help make up the new building.

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The trust has already raised around £10,000 for the project, for which plans have now been submitted.

It is hoped that the shed will be completed in time for the start of the 2014 programme of events.

Andrew Gill, chair of the railway trust, said: “This is a private railway but it’s there for the community and we try and make it a community venture, it’s open to anybody.

“The railway belongs to the people of Leeds, it’s their history – support it, use it, play with it.”

He said early building work could start in the next fortnight, if plans are approved.

In a bid to cut costs, the shed will be constructed by trust volunteers apart from the roof cladding and erection of the steel frame.

Donors have started to gift unused bricks to the project already, while dozens have invested in personalised bricks in memory of loved ones or through a love of the railway.

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.

Mr Gill said: “This is all part of the history of the city of Leeds, from the coal-mining to the locomotive-building industry.”

Originally built to transport coal from Middleton Colliery to the factories of Leeds, the railway was established in 1758.

Last year it celebrated 200 years since it became the world’s first railway to use steam locomotives in a commercial environment.

Middleton Railway is now a heritage railway run by volunteers from the Middleton Railway Trust, which was founded in 1960.

Visit www.middletonrailway.org.uk or call 0113 2710320 for information or to buy a brick.