Furness Railway Number 20 visited Leeds in June 2012 - as star attraction to help the Middleton Railway celebrate an important bicentenary!
On June 24th 1812 the Middleton Railway became the first in the world to use steam locomotives in a commercial environment. The engines, designed and built by John Blenkinsop and Matthew Murray, started work hauling coal from the local mine into Leeds to fuel the industrial revolution.
Since then, steam locomotives have played an important part in the history of the Middleton Railway, continuing to move coal for 150 years, and more recently hauling pasengers on the first standard gauge preserved railway in Britain.
To celebrate this important anniversary the Middleton Railway held a “200 Years of Steam Gala” on the 23rd and 24th June 2012, making it the biggest event in the railway's history.
To accompany the already announced visit of the replica "Steam Elephant" from Beamish, the railway secured the oldest working standard gauge locomotive to run on the world’s oldest working steam railway!
Furness No.20, built in 1863 by Sharp Stewart & Co was the first tender locomotive to visit the railway in preservation, and joined the railway's fleet of home based engines and the Vintage Carriage Trust's "Bellerophon" - which is seen here at Beamish in 2008 with FR20 when the pair first met. With "Steam Elephant", this is quite a Beamish reunion!
The Middleton Railway ran an intensive service of passenger and freight trains. The line operated five locomotives over one hundred years old, along with a replica that celebrates a design of nearly 200 years of age.
Other locomotives in traffic included all the available home fleet, featuring the first gala appearance of the NER H Class 1310, along with the two resident Manning Wardles, "Matthew Murray" and "Sir Berkeley".
The Engine House museum was also be filled with steam, with three amazing live steam layouts in operation. The Middleton Railway aimed to have 200 live steam model locomotives in operation over the weekend to celebrate the 200 years since steam operation began. There was also a display of traction engines and other steam vehicles along with other related transport stands and displays. And the Leeds Brewery Company provided a special beer for the event - the "Middleton Pioneer".
İFurness Railway Trust