We have recently published a new book - 'From Rag to Railway'
has received favourable reviews in both 'Heritage Railway' and
'Steam Railway' magazine - the latter rated it as 'highly
and "definitely one
for the industrial enthusiast". The 80 page book
contains 160 mostly colour and mostly unpublished images showing the
changes and challenges the railway
has faced, its people and its
rolling stock. Available from the Middleton Railway shop for £8.50
or is available by mail order for £10 (including postage)
to – Middleton Railway (Book), The Station, Moor Road, Hunslet,
Leeds, LS 10 2JQ.
You can also order a copy by telephoning our
information line on 0845 680 1758 (only 9am until 9pm please!) and
having your card details ready!
If you have never visited the railway before, why not do so during
our 50th anniversary year, and if you have, why not make a repeat
visit and see the changes?
You will always be greeted with a warm
welcome. Trains run every weekend and August Wednesdays.
Contact Ian Dobson Middleton Railway
If you require any information regarding the book or the railway I
can be contacted on 07795 690049 or by e-mail -
History of the railway
The story of preservation at the Middleton Railway is a remarkable
The railway made preservation history by becoming the first
standard gauge line to be run by volunteers.
In late 1959 Leeds University Union Railway Society were looking for
somewhere to build and run a small railway. Several options were
discussed until eventually the Middleton Railway was decided upon.
After discussions with the owners, the Society moved into Claytons
Yard and took over the Northern part of the recently vacated
Middleton Railway. The students and lecturers, led by Fred Youell,
undertook track repairs and maintenance between lessons. Further
negotiations took place and soon the lines first locomotive arrived
on loan from the Hunslet Engine Company at the Middleton Railway, a
small ex LMS Hunslet diesel that was later bought by the society and
named “John Alcock” in honour of its designer. More items or rolling
stock arrived at the railway, including several trams and railcars.
This included a Swansea and Mumbles vehicle. This and the Hunslet
diesel became the first standard gauge passenger train to be
operated by volunteers. 50 years ago this week, the annual Leeds
University “Rag Week” took place, and the railway offered rides for
a small donation. During the course of the week over 7000 people
However, passenger trains were not to be a regular feature, as in
September 1960 regular freight services began, moving goods in and
out of the various works along the line down to the British Rail
interchange at Balm Road. Unfortunately “John Alcock” failed and the
Railway arranged to borrow a BR Class 04 - D2323 for a short time to
operate their trains, probably becoming the first railway to hire in
a visiting locomotive! With repairs complete the Hunslet was
returned to service and the BR locomotive left. The railway started
to acquire other locomotives and it was only a matter of time until
steam locomotives started to arrive on the line.
The students continued to run the railway, many coming down before,
during and after lectures to keep the freight moving and valuable
income coming in for the railway. Open days in Claytons Yard were a
regular event with locomotives displayed for the public and
enthusiasts to see. Tours were also run for enthusiast groups
wishing to travel on the railway.
With the decline of freight, the railway had to think ahead and look
at regular passenger operation. When this first started, it
consisted of nothing more than an open wagon and brake van propelled
towards what is now Middleton Park, via the re-connected Southern
end of the line that British Rail had now vacated with the closure
of the colliery at Broom Pit. One threat to the line was the
building of the M1 motorway tunnel, after a level crossing and
flagmen were suggested the builders eventually agreed to a tunnel
built over the railway to carry the motorway.
Time moved on and the railway was forced to move from Claytons Yard
to the current Moor Road site. Here a shed and station was built,
and its first proper passenger carriage constructed, followed by a
second similar vehicle.
In more recent times the railway has had other bridges built over
the line. During the construction period of one of these bridges,
the railway made the decision to rebuild its Moor Road site with the
help of Lottery money. In 2007 the Engine House was officially
The railway still continues to grow and has just had a very
successful 50th anniversary gala. Current projects include the
restoration of NER H Class 1310 (LNER Y7)
mouse over the "Enthusiasts" tab then click Y7 workshop
diary in the drop down menu.