A heritage railway is on track for a bright future following a major lottery award has been given another boost.
Earlier this year, Alston-based South Tynedale Railway was handed £4.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
As part of a £5.6m scheme, the volunteer-run railway plans the extension of its track by 1.5 miles from Alston to Slaggyford in the South Tyne Valley; conservation works; new visitor facilities, including a second platform, improved cafe, additional locomotives and carriages, and additional spaces for exhibitions and education.
The railway already attracts up to 50,000 visitors per year.
Now a new development team has been appointed, led by Laura Sole, with two job-share deputies, Roe Baker and Kim Holden, and a new accounts technician and administrator, Janis Goodfellow.
Brian Craven, railway deputy chairman, said: “This is a hugely significant development for South Tynedale Railway. The railway has been run almost exclusively by a dedicated and knowledgeable team of volunteers for over 30 years, who have achieved a great deal. “This development project will help take the railway to the next stage and expand on its already successful programmes.
“It is really exciting to welcome our first full-time staff team to develop the business of the railway and the many opportunities that exist to enhance and improve what we offer our visitors and the local community.”
Laura said: “ There is a huge amount of exciting potential to build on – the railway itself, the heritage of its surroundings from lead mining back to pre-history, and its beautiful natural landscape setting.”
This week the railway was also presented with a national Transport Trust Restoration Award, by trust patron Prince Michael of Kent.
The award is for the restoration of the 1908 steam locomotive, Barber, which worked for more than 40 years until 1949 on the Harrogate Gasworks Railway.
South Tynedale Railway launched an appeal in 2011 and raised the funds to complete the restoration with a train going into service at the end of August.