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.

Trade Unions on the MSLR

December 29, 2021
The record books of the National Union of Railwaymen (the NUR) for the years 1897 to 1928, recently made available online, have revealed that almost eighty MSLR employees were union members during that period. It’s particularly interesting that many of these are people we’ve never come across before in any other source.

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Directors of the MSLR – JB Chevallier

August 3, 2021
JB Chevallier was perhaps the most conscientious director of the Mid-Suffolk, attending nearly every meeting of the Company’s Board. He is certainly the only director to have played in four FA Cup Finals! He was also more canny than most of his fellow directors, limiting his personal financial investment (and ultimately losses) in the company.

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MSLR Locomotives in 1920

July 26, 2021
The Middy had three locomotives of its own, all supplied by Hudswell Clarke of Leeds (the builders of our very own no. 1604, currently being restored at Brockford). This account is based on the detailed questionnaire which the MSLR compiled for the Ministry of Transport in 1920.

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The Mendlesham Station Building

June 3, 2021
The most impressive of the three original MSLR buildings at Brockford, and the centrepiece of the re-created station, is the structure which originally stood on the platform at Mendlesham station. It is unmistakeably a railway building, in contrast to the much smaller and simpler Wilby and Brockford huts.

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GER Horsebox No. 180 / MSLR No. 15

May 11, 2021
The MSLR Museum is very proud to have Great Eastern Railway (GER) horsebox no. 180 as part of its collection of historic railway vehicles. It is believed to be the oldest preserved horsebox in the country and is of great historical importance.

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GER Locos on the Middy

May 4, 2021
After the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) takeover in July 1924, the MSLR’s three Hudswell Clarke locos were quickly removed and never returned to the branch. From then until closure, motive power was provided by various locos of ex-Great Eastern Railway (GER) origin.

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The Wilby Station Building

April 27, 2021
Three original MSLR buildings are preserved at the Brockford museum site. The first to arrive, in August 1991, was the hut which had provided facilities at the railway’s smallest and quietest station, Wilby. Amazingly, many of its original fittings had survived nearly 40 years’ service as a garden shed.

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The Light Railway (Investigation) Committee

March 2, 2021
As we know, the MSLR was taken over by the London & North Eastern Railway in 1924. But when the government was planning to re-organise the railways after the Great War, they were unsure what to do about light railways. The Middy might well have been left to pursue an independent existence – with consequences we can only guess at.

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Moving the Goods

February 10, 2021
For the MSLR, as for most other railways in Britain right up to the 1960s, goods traffic was more important than passengers. In the last six months of the Middy’s independent existence before it was absorbed by the LNER in 1924, goods traffic of various types accounted for 80% of total revenue.

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The Middy Staff in 1922

January 31, 2021
The only surviving definitive list of the staff of the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway was compiled in April 1922 by the Great Eastern Railway, as part of the preparations for the absorption of the Middy by the London & North Eastern Railway.

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