CELEBRATIONS have been going on this week at The Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway with the news it has raised £200,000 for the restoration of one of its steam locomotives - but £100,000 is still needed.

Wheldale, the subject of the fundraising effort, was built in Leeds by the famous Hunslet Engine Company in 1944. It spent around 40 years operating in West Yorkshire’s coal mining industry before being saved for future generations.

A small group of volunteers have worked hard for many years to raise the required funds.

Chairman of Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway Rob Shaw said: “We are thrilled to have reached £200,000 raised for the restoration of Wheldale.

"Our railway has really grown in the last few years and Wheldale will be a great addition to our operational fleet of locomotives. It is perfectly suited for our railway. We still have a mountain to climb to raise the remaining £100,000 needed to complete the restoration.”

In addition, the steam railway is encouraging people to become volunteers on the heritage line to boost the large team who look after its visitors, tracks and rolling stock.

Volunteers often come to the railway with no previous experience of steam locomotives and historic equipment. Whether their ‘day-job’ is in IT, banking, supermarkets or simply being retired, the railway welcomes people and gives the relevant training to new recruits. Every area of the railway’s management involves the help and support of volunteers who can be found guarding trains, maintaining track, fundraising for restoration, manning shops or painting buildings, among other duties.

The railway was also very pleased to welcome a number of volunteers from Skipton Building Society this summer who spearheaded a special effort to spruce up Holywell Halt, approximately half-way down the line. The building society team gave over 80 days of work, making a very valuable contribution to keeping the railway running.

Mr Shaw added: “Volunteers are hugely important to our future. Our team comes from around Yorkshire and further afield, are of a wide range of ages and all join the railway wanting a different experience.

The Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway operates on a former route of the Midland Railway. It is 4.5 miles long and is the base for a range of historic pieces of rolling stock including the 1887 Queen Victoria Saloon owned by associated organisation Stately Trains.

For information of Wheldale go to: www.ebar.org.uk/wheldale

For information on volunteering go to: www.ebar.org.uk/volunteering