diamond jubilee logoThis is an appeal to help the Middleton Railway continue its work of commemorating the pioneers of steam power, John Blenkinsop and Matthew Murray, and the Leeds locomotive building industry that they helped create. Please read on to find out more about:

  • the past that has inspired this appeal;
  • the present that is leading to this appeal;
  • the future need that this appeal is seeking to meet; and
  • the appeal itself, and ways to donate.

The Past

The Middleton Railway in Leeds was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1758 to deliver coal to the centre of Leeds and has operated every year since then, making it the oldest continually operating railway in the World.

In 1812, thanks to the genius of John Blenkinsop and the skill and ingenuity of Leeds engineer Matthew Murray, the Middleton Railway became the first railway in the world to successfully employ steam power.

The pioneering role of the Middleton Railway resulted in Leeds becoming one of the major centres of locomotive building in the UK and laid the foundations for Leeds holding its pre-eminent position as a major research and development centre and home of a wide range of high tech industries.

In 1960 the Middleton Railway became the first volunteer run standard gauge heritage railway in the world – yet another first in its long history - and it is now run by the Middleton Railway Trust Limited.

Matthew Murray as Forward

Matthew Murray representing MW 1690 Forward at our "Last Coals to Leeds" event, which comemmorated 50 years since the closure of Middleton Broom Pit [Picture © Tony Cowling, 2018]

The Present

Today the Middleton Railway continues to serve the people of Leeds by commemorating the pioneering role of Leeds and the Railway in developing Britain’s and the World’s railway systems, by preserving in working order steam and diesel locomotives typical of the products of the major Leeds locomotive builders and by offering the people of Leeds the opportunity to see and travel behind these historic machines as they work between the Railway’s operational base at Moor Road in South Leeds and Middleton Park.

The Railway, still operated entirely by volunteers, plays an active role in the life of Leeds, drawing volunteers, young and old, from all over Leeds and surrounding areas and specifically training young volunteers in the skills needed to operate and maintain its historic collection of locomotives and waggons.

Train with new party coach

Our recently-converted party coach, in a train headed by Matthew Murray. [Picture © John Goacher, 2018]

The Future Need

The year 2020 is the Middleton Railway Trust’s Diamond Jubilee year. A number of projects were being considered for launch this year and there were other major projects which were to be brought to a conclusion. These projects include:

  • preparations to expand the Railway’s museum, by creating a new gallery to better display the Railway’s collection of small exhibits, and so tell better the story of the links with John Blenkinsop and Matthew Murray
  • the restoration of Conway, the largest steam locomotive in the Railway’s collection (built by Kitson of Kitson College fame),
  • casting a new cylinder block for Matthew Murray, so that this historic, Leeds built, locomotive can steam on past its 150th birthday
  • completing the restoration of ‘No. 6’ - a locomotive which has not run for nearly fifty years, and
  • the construction of a fourth coach on a newly purchased chassis.

These various projects will involve young volunteers and will help to train them to become the custodians of the Middleton Railway’s heritage in the future.

Covid-19 has affected the Middleton Railway like many other charitable bodies. The Railway will survive Covid-19, as it has survived many cataclysmic events in its long life, but survival will come at a price, namely the rundown of the Railway’s financial reserves. This may mean that, without your support, many of the above projects will have to be deferred or even cancelled.

Conway in the Engine House

Conway in the Engine House, awaiting the completion of its cosmetic restoration [Picture © Tony Cowling, 2020]

The Appeal

To enable the Railway to continue with these and other projects, the Middleton Railway Trust is launching a new appeal ‘Safeguarding the Future’ to help the Trust overcome the damaging effects of Covid-19. If you wish to make a donation to this appeal, then there are various ways in which you can do so, as below. If you are also able to Gift Aid your donation, then this will increase its value to us by 25%, at no extra cost to you. We would strongly encourage you to use Gift Aid if you are eligible to do so: please see below for more details of the requirements for Gift Aid.

Online donations via GoFundMe

We have a page for our appeal at this funding website, and this will open in a separate browser tab or window. It uses the Paypal Giving Fund to send the donations to us, and this allows you to claim Gift Aid easily. They will email a receipt to you for your donation, and this includes a button which you can simply click to add a Gift Aid declaration for your donation.

Direct online donations

These are handled for us by PayPal in the ordinary way (so making a donation under Gift Aid this way involves a bit more work - see below for details.) Please click the button below to go to Paypal's page for donations to us.

Via our donation form

If you prefer not to use online payments, then you can access our form by clicking here, and it will open in a new browser tab or window so that you can download and print it. To add Gift Aid to this, please see the details below.

When you have filled in this form (and the Gift Aid declaration, if applicable), then please return it to us with your payment, either in person, or by post to: The Station, Moor Road, Hunslet, Leeds, LS10 2JQ.

In person at our shop

Once our shop is open again, then more information about the appeal will be available in the shop, and our shop staff will be happy to help you with the details. Our shop should re-open on 2nd August: click here for more details.

Donation by text

To donate £5 to the appeal, you can simply text RAILWAY 70085 . This will cost you £5 plus one standard rate message, and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £5 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, then please text RAILWAYNOINFO to 70085.

To donate more (up to a limit of £20), then please text RAILWAY followed by the amount to 70085. For instance, to give £10 text RAILWAY 10 to 70085.

You will receive a text message in reply, and this will include a link to the web site of Donr, which you can use to make a Gift Aid declaration for your text donation.

Donation by telephone

If you would prefer to contact us by telephone, on 0113 271 0320, then we can answer any questions that you may have about the appeal and take the details of your donation. We can accept payment by credit or debit card, and we accept most payment cards, except American Express & Diners Card. This does mean that donations made this way need to be of more than £5.

Gift Aid

If you are a taxpayer then you can use Gift Aid to increase the value of any donation that you make by 25%, at no extra cost to you. You will need to complete a Gift Aid declaration, and some of the donation methods described above allow this to be done online. For the other methods, you can access a declaration form by clicking here, and it will open in a new browser tab or window, so that you can download the form and print it.

This declaration form explains the requirements of the Gift Aid scheme. Note that for some types of tax you need to be paying more than the standard allowance for these to qualify you as a taxpayer.

If you are able to complete this declaration form and return it to us, either with a donation form or after making a donation in any of the other ways listed above, then we can then claim back the standard rate income tax that you have already paid on the amount of your donation. This does not cost you a penny!.

Indeed, if you have to pay income tax at higher rate and have to complete a tax return, then including the details of donations that you have made under Gift Aid will reduce the amount of higher-rate tax that you have to pay.

Our Thanks

The Trust recognises that these are very challenging times for many people and that there are many other Charities seeking the support of the public. The Trust will be very grateful for all contributions to this Appeal and will make sure that these contributions are used wisely to help the Railway continue to serve the people of Leeds.

No. 6 in Dartmouth Yard in 1974

No. 6 in Dartmouth yard in 1974 [Picture © Charles Milner, 1974]