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.

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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MSLR Staff – Stanley Emeney

November 29, 2020
One of the names commemorated on the Railway’s War Memorial at Brockford is Stanley Walter Emeney. A native of Laxfield who worked on the MSLR in its early days, he joined the Royal Navy in 1912, losing his life when submarine E14 was sunk in 1918.

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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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