Centenary celebrations at Leighton Buzzard Railway as restoration work gives a platform for the future

More than 130 members attended a celebration at Leighton Buzzard Railway on Sunday, November 17 to commemorate 100 years since the line first opened.

Giving an opening speech, Leighton Buzzard Railway chairman, Terry Bendall, said: “I doubt if the original promoters of the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway thought it would still be working 100 years later.

Hudswell Clarkes No.1238 & 1643 lead the members special. Photo: Joey  Evans

Hudswell Clarkes No.1238 & 1643 lead the members special. Photo: Joey Evans

“It’s a testament to the dedication and hard work of all our volunteers and supporters over the past half a century of preservation.”

The railway was gifted with a steel sleeper from the original World War One railway track, by its twin French railway, P’tit train de la Haute Somme, which will take price of place in the station building at Page’s Park.

A special members’ train was operated to Stonehenge Works, headed by the pair of visiting Hudswell Clarke ‘Ganges-class’ – 1238 from Apedale Valley Light Railway and GP39 from Statfold Barn Railway – the same type as the first steam locomotives to run at Leighton Buzzard.

This allowed both a view of the ongoing extension work, and the chance to recreate the original opening photo of 1919, where visiting dignitaries had their image taken in a similar manner.

Leighton Buzzard Railway centenary celebrations. Photo Joey Evans

Leighton Buzzard Railway centenary celebrations. Photo Joey Evans

Further speeches were also made by railway vice presidents Tony Tomkins and Alf Fisher, as well as special guest Lord Faulkner, President of the Heritage Railway Association.

During the course of a conversation Lord Faulkner said he was very impressed at what the railway and its volunteers had achieved in 52 years of preservation.

Also unveiled on the day was a new donation point in the station, allowing customers the ability to donate £3, £5 or £10 via contactless card, or cash and cheques of any amount to the railway’s extension fund.