Reunion means it’s all aboard for driver Ken

Ken Middlemist  woth No. 615
Ken Middlemist woth No. 615

A train enthusiast who drove a locomotive at a Northumberland colliery more than two decades ago is set to take control of it once again.

Ken Middlemist, from Hipsburn, admits it would be ‘an honour’ to jump aboard the diesel shunter, known as number 615.

The emotional reunion comes as part of the Aln Valley Railway project, which aims to reopen the branchline from Alnmouth to Alnwick.

Those behind the scheme have managed to secure the former Whittle Colliery loco, which Ken used to drive in the 1980s.

It is in full working order and will be used on the Aln Valley Railway .

Ken, 68, said: “Hopefully I will drive it. It would be a great honour. There are a lot of people who don’t get this chance.

“When I was told the locomotive was coming here I was very emotional.”

The loco will be on view when the railway opens its gates at the Lionheart site, on the outskirts of Alnwick, on Saturday, July 14.

This historic day marks phase one of the project and the start of a number of opening days.

Visitors will be able to have a guided tour of the site and see the progress made with the locomotive shed, repair depot and tracklaying, among other things.

There won’t be any trains running at this point. It is hoped this will begin in the autumn.