Middleton Railway

Steam locomotive awaits its next task outside the Engine House

    • Having been established by an Act of Parliament in 1758, the Middleton Railway, Leeds, can claim to be the oldest working Railway in the world. It also played host to the first commercially successful, revenue earning, steam locomotives which entered service there in 1812. The Middleton Railway Trust in Leeds has formidable claims to fame. It is the direct descendant of a waggonway which was constructed between Middleton and Casson Close, near Leeds Bridge, following authorisation by the first Railway legislation and Act of Parliament in 1758. In 1812 the first commercially successful steam locomotives commenced operation on the Middleton Railway. Included in the design was the Blenkinsop rack and pinion drive. This was the first regular revenue-earning use of steam traction, as distinct from experimental operation, in the world. More recently it became the first standard gauge railway to be taken over by a preservation society in 1960. A detailed history can be found in the book, "A History of the Middleton Railway" which can be obtained from the Railway's shop. The Trust is now an Accredited Museum and registered charity and has acquired a selection of industrial locomotives, known as the Leeds Collection these locomotives having been built in Leeds, and stock in keeping with its long history of service. The railway currently operates passenger services over approximately 1 mile of track between its headquarters at Moor Road, Hunslet, Leeds and Park Halt, which is on the outskirts of Middleton Park. The Railway hopes to extend the line so that it terminates near the park amenities and discussions are ongoing with Leeds City Council to work towards that aim. Further information about the park can be found on Leeds City Council's Middleton Park web page. The railway is operated entirely by volunteers.
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