In common with other heritage railways and museums around the country, the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway has had to cancel all immediate opening days and postpone events scheduled for Spring and early Summer, due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
This is an enormous disappointment to the Middy’s volunteers after such promising start to the year with a record attendance for the New Year’s Steam-up and the brilliant Easter weather, which would surely have occasioned another excellent turn out of visitors, as it did in 2019.
As an accredited museum and and a registered charity, the MSLR depends almost entirely on open days for funding – no visitors = no income. At present and, with no clear end in sight to the emergency, the railway still needs support even when it can’t open. Basic maintenance and security still have a cost although all the Middy staff are unpaid volunteers.
The good news is that the Trustees have been assured that the Museum could survive the loss of income from the whole 2020 summer programme if necessary and the Middy will still be here when the crisis has passed. Nonetheless the strain on finances will be enormous, especially with the two major projects currently in hand, both essential for the continued development of the Middy.
First is the restoration of steam loco no.1604 in time for the 2022 70th anniversary of closure celebrations. This loco is wholly owned by the Middy and, until now, was fast heading towards its resurrection with all its running gear in place and the boiler and firebox repairs well in hand and continuing with an outside contractor. It was hoped and, maybe still could be, that 1604 would be steaming again by the end of next year.
Secondly, the extension project was proceeding well with the trackbed and ballast in place and the store of rail and sleepers almost complete to finishthe line to its new destination at Aspall Halt. This would make the Middy more than twice its current length and give visitors a real feel what is was like to travel by steam train in rural Suffolk 100 years ago.
Both of these projects have their separate appeals to achieve completion and can be accessed via the Appeals page of this web site and of course, we are always open to non-specific contributions addressed to Mid-Suffolk Light Railway, Brockford Station, Wetheringsett, Suffolk IP14 5PW or, by bank transfer to Mid-Suffolk Light Railway Company, account number 00018314, sort code 40-52-40 reference General Appeal.
We will re-open and reschedule major events as soon as things improve. We will be constantly reviewing the situation and posting latest news on the website, www.mslr.org.uk