The Victorian era is known as the golden age of railways, but Middleton Railway, which this year celebrates its 250th anniversary, was operating long before other well-known lines.
Middleton is a heritage railway which runs a passenger service and maintains The Engine House, home to a collection of steam and diesel trains. Major Leeds locomotive builders including Kitson & Co and the Hunslet Engine Company are represented in two and a half centuries of railway history.
The Middleton Railway was established by an Act of Parliament in 1758 to transport coal from Middleton collieries to the factories of Leeds. The line was originally used by horse-drawn wagons. Soon, an alternative method of transport was needed because of the high costs of horses and fodder, caused partly by shortages from the Napoleonic War.
Experimental locomotives were tested on the line and the world’s first commercially successful steam locomotive, designed by John Blenkinsop, entered service in Middleton in 1812.
Today’s railway runs from Moor Road Station to Middleton Park, an ancient woodland that was once part of the local coal mining industry.
Middleton Railway has interactive presentations and hosts a programme of events throughout its season, which runs until December. One of the most popular engines is Sir Berkeley, which featured in The Railway Children.
Don’t miss: circular depressions on the ground at Middleton Wood. These were bell-pits from early coal mining.
The Middleton Railway, The Station, Moor Road, Leeds LS10 2JQ
0113 271 0320