Former colliery train driver retires from the railways after marking his diamond jubilee on the tracks

A veteran train driver has decided to call it a day after after celebrating his diamond jubilee at the footplate.

By James Harrison
Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 6:19 pm

Kenny Middlemist has finally decided it’s time to hang up his overalls, 60 years after he started as a steam locomotive fireman.

Later becoming a train driver, Mr Middlemist has been a volunteer on the Aln Valley Railway since it was founded.

And he is also the only driver to have also worked on the original line, between Alnwick and Alnmouth.

Kenny Middlemist has 60 years' experience on the railways.

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Michael Proctor, chairman of the Aln Valley Railway Trustees, said: “We are so grateful to Kenny for all he has contributed to the Aln Valley Railway over the last 25 years.

“Although he has decided to retire as a driver and fireman, we are delighted that he will still be involved in gardening and site maintenance work as well as sharing his vast knowledge on steam locos with current trainees.

“He will also be continuing to share his many stories and anecdotes with volunteers and visitors alike.”

Mr Middlemist is the only driver at the AVR to have worked on the original branch line, from Alnwick to Alnmouth.

Initially trained as a fireman in Alnmouth, Mr Middlemist spent four and a half years working on steam locomotives, later moving to Whittle Colliery in 1969 to become a shunter and fireman on the ‘short run’.

But when the driver on the ‘long run’ to the East Coast Mainline retired to stepped in to the vacant cabin.

He held the role for 16 years, initially driving steam locomotives, before switching to diesel-powered trains, until the colliery closed in 1987 and insists he “enjoyed every minute”.

Mr Middlemist started as shunter and fireman.