Over the bank holiday weekend South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society commemorated 40 years since the closure by British Rail of the Haltwhistle to Alston branch line.
As on the 1st May 1976, the weather was inclement but the staff and volunteers were delighted to see so many people brave the wind and rain to join in. Bishop Auckland District Pipe and Drum Band in full regalia, played throughout the day heralding each train as it arrived at and left Alston station. Barber, the steam loco, was decorated with a beautiful floral wreath to pay tribute to that final journey. The wreath scattered a few flowers along the track which added to the reflective note of the occasion
South Tynedale Railway volunteers on the platform shared reminiscences with visitors, some of whom had been present back in ’76 to make that final journey and who remembered both the closure of the line and the birth of the Society which was created to reestablish contact with the Haltwhistle main line.
As well as travelling along the first part of the line visitors were able to view the exhibition and videos about the old line in the Discovery Centre. The South Tynedale Railway “Futures Coach” rolled into the platform each time the passenger train departed to inform visitors about the future development of the railway enabled by the Heritage Lottery Fund Project. The information included plans and detailed what will be happening in the next twelve months when the Society opens at Slaggyford in April 2017.
Quote from Heather Palmer, General Manager: "This was a very special weekend for the Society as it is our final year with Alston as our only station of the original five that closed in 1976. Easter 2017 will see us opening Slaggyford, the second station down the old Haltwhistle to Alston branch line. To have so many memories from people who were present at the closure was extremely moving and we are most grateful for their input to this event."