Mid Suffolk District Council Planning Committee last week formally approved plans for the extension of the Mid Suffolk Light Railway to more than double its current length. This means the Middy will be able to give visitors vintage steam train rides of just over 1 kilometre once the extension has been completed.
The new section follows the existing track bed and will enhance the visitor experience of this unique Edwardian Railway by doubling the length of demonstration journey and giving passengers a ‘destination’. The line will eventually terminate at Aspall Halt, the construction being modelled on the old station at Wilby, which had the minimal building and facilities so typical of the original cash-strapped Middy.
Commenting on the decision, John Stark, MSLR Chairman said, “2016 was the 25th Anniversary year of the rebirth of the Middy, which started out as a static museum to the much loved rural line. Now it’s one of Suffolk’s major tourist attractions and we were voted Suffolk Museum of the year in 2015. The Middy also recently featured on BBC2’s popular Great British Railway Journeys presented by Michael Portillo, giving a very welcome boost to our profile as the only standard gauge preserved railway in Suffolk.”
During 2016 a number of major developments were achieved at the Middy, which is staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers, including the construction and completion of the Heritage Lottery funded restoration loco shed, returning the historic 150 year old Great Eastern Railway First Class smoking coach to traffic and running four engines in steam at the end of season Steam Gala, but amongst the most important was the work that went into the presentation to the Planning Committee ensuring their support for the future of the Museum.
The Mid Suffolk Light Railway season opens on 16th and 17th April with the Easter Steam Up with two locos in steam and Easter Egg hunts for children, followed by the ever popular ‘Middy in the War Years’ 30th April and 1st May featuring period military vehicles, displays and re-enactments, then every Sunday and Bank Holiday from 28th May to 28th August, with the Grand 4 loco Steam Railway Gala 9th and 10th September.
For more information visit www.mslr.org.uk or call 01449766899.