Roaring out of M1 tunnel, Ex-NER H Class 0-4-0, No1310, heads the 12:20 Birthday Express to Park Halt, on the Middleton Railway. No.1310 was built in 1891 and weighs just 22tons 14cwt, her final owners were the National Coal Board and she was bought from the NCB by the Steam Power Trust, in 1965.
Last Sunday I was on the remote Cumbrian fells, at Aisgill, photographing ‘Flying Scotsman’, there were around 50 other people there with me. Today I was a mile from Leeds city centre, with the M621 motorway running above the tunnel, with no one for company, with, or without, a camera. Though they would probably never say so themselves the Middleton Railway, Britain’s first preserved standard gauge line, has been pretty shabbily treated by the council, who, for many years practically ignored it.
Leeds and the antecedants of the Middleton Railway, Charles Brandling’s colliery railway, have some serious railway pedigree pre-dating Stephenson’s engine Blucher. Stephenson is reported to have visted Brandling’s railway to see Murray & Blenkinsop’s engines at work on th line, in 1812. Leeds was home to the Round Foundry, Murray, Fenton & Wood, Manning Wardle, and of course the Hunslet Engine Co. whose works were less than 1/2 a mile from the Middleton Railway’s Moor Road terminus. David Joy, credited with the design of the famous ‘Jenny Lind’, and the Joy valve gear, was born in Leeds and worked for EB Wilson at the Railway Foundry.
These Leeds based locomotive manufacturers built ‘little engines’ in green, and many other colours too, in a history which stretches back over 200 years: A history which the city seems to want to ignore, which is a great pity.
If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it: