History of the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway

Discover some of the fascinating stories of the Middy, from its Victorian origins, through its Edwardian heyday and decline, right up to its ongoing revival as the MSLR Museum. Look out for more material being added regularly! For an historical overview, visit Introduction to the Middy.

Photo by George Powell, courtesy of Great Eastern Railway Society.

Light Railways in Britain

November 11, 2020
In the late 19th century, railways were seen as a cure for the deep depression affecting agriculture and rural communities. The Government of the day introduced the Light Railways Act, which was intended to allow new lines to be promoted, constructed and operated much more quickly and cheaply than had previously been possible.

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Lord Kitchener and the MSLR

October 5, 2020
Horatio Herbert Kitchener was one of the most famous men of his time, who drew massive crowds wherever he went, and whose image was reproduced on countless biscuit tins, buttons and postcards. It was therefore rather a coup for the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway to persuade him to become their “first passenger” in 1902.

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Coach No. 12

September 26, 2020
Coach No. 12, a two-compartment Brake Third, was the first passenger vehicle to be restored by the Museum, and has been in service from 2002 to the present day. Sister to a carriage which ran on the original MSLR, it was retired by the Great Eastern Railway in 1910 and spent over 80 years in a field before being rescued.

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Haughley – The Middy’s Link to the World

August 27, 2020
Haughley Junction, just north of Stowmarket, was where the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway connected to the rest of the British railway network. By changing at Haughley, passengers could catch direct trains to Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Norwich, Cambridge and London. Goods loaded onto a wagon at Brockford or Laxfield could be delivered in a few days to Aberdeen or Penzance.

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Our Belgian Visitor

August 9, 2020
Since 2015 the Museum has hosted an unusual resident locomotive, which has attracted a lot of attention. ‘Tram’ engine No. 2525 is very different from any other engine we’ve seen at Brockford, and here we look at the background to this type of loco and the company which built it.

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Edgar Gladwell

July 30, 2020
Edgar Gladwell was a railwayman for over 45 years, spending much of his career on the Middy. Starting as a humble office boy, by the time the line closed he was Station Master at Stradbroke, in overall charge of the section from Kenton to Laxfield.

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The Middy in Glorious Technicolor

July 14, 2020
We have recently acquired some rare colour photos of the MSLR, dating back to 1909! See the railway as it really appeared back in the day in living colour.

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The MSLR War Memorial

June 29, 2020
In 2014 the Museum wanted to commemorate the centenary of the start of the Great War, and an obvious question was “How many of the MSLR staff died in the War?” This turned out to be more difficult to answer than you might think!

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The Mid-Suffolk’s Extravagant Station Signs

June 14, 2020
The original MSLR station signs or ‘running-in boards’ were a very distinctive feature of the railway with their ornate 9-inch tall cast-iron letters, supplied by MacFarlane’s of Glasgow. The Museum displays two of the surviving signs, while accurate replicas have been made for our current and future stations.

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Early Days of the MSLR Museum

May 30, 2020
Our own archives include more than 8,000 photographs illustrating the development of the Museum. Here are a few from the earliest days (and even before!)

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