Oldest locomotive arrives for Middy steam festival

Middy locomotive

The Beyer Peacock locomotive was built in 1879 and is believed to be the oldest steam engine currently operating in the UK. - Credit: Mid Suffolk Light Railway

The Mid Suffolk Light Railway is being visited by Britain's oldest working steam locomotive this weekend as one of its biggest events takes on a new twist.

The "Middy at War" weekend has always been one of its most popular events - commemorating the wartime years when it was at its busiest supplying USAAF bases on its route.

This year the theme has been subtly changed to become The Middy in the Forties with more of an emphasis on its civilian role during the decade - including carrying children to school in Stowmarket.

There will still be displays of lovingly-restored military vehicles and a mock-up of a German mountain camp at the Dovebrook end of the line.

But organisers hope the change in emphasis will reflect concerns that have arisen because of the news being dominated by war in Ukraine.

The guest engine for the event is an 1879-built Beyer Peacock tank engine which is believed to be the oldest working steam locomotive in Britain at present.

Middy locomotive

The Beyer Peacock locomotive arrived at the Middy this week. - Credit: Mid Suffolk Light Railway

There are older engines that have operated and are currently being overhauled but this locomotive that is usually based at the Foxfield Railway in Staffordshire is the oldest in current use - and the oldest to ever operate on the Middy.

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The event runs on Saturday and Sunday and includes music from the era on both days.

On Saturday afternoon there is due to be a flypast by a Hawker Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.