Lakeshore Railroad celebrates 50th anniversary in South Marine Park as visitors board miniature train

A miniature steam railway in South Shields is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The railway began in the early 1970s as an idea from engineers and enthusiasts Jack Wakefield and Don Proudlock. A special trio was completed by the third founder, Micheal Henderson who still owns the railway today.

And today (July 2), visitors and fans celebrated 50 years of the miniature railway with a reopening ceremony, with owner Michael on hand to cut a ribbon to mark the occasion.

The Lakeshore Railroad in South Marine Park is celebrating 50 years of journeys.

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A weekend of celebrations kicked off at 10.30am by Anthony Coulls, historian and senior curator of Rail Transport at the National Railway Museum, in York, before visitors had the opportunity to board the train.

Organiser Matt Nunn said the railway is the last public steam-hauled working railway of the 9 ½ inch gauge to be found anywhere in the country.

The Lakeshore Railroad’s archivist and events and marketing manager said: “I couldn’t be happier to be here today to celebrate the 50th anniversary. It’s lovely to see everyone come together, we’ve got original drivers here – people who have been here from the start.

Mike Henderson, owner of Lakeshore Railroad

“It’s a tremendous occasion, as we have the Auld Reekie here from Scotland which the sister of South Marine Park’s own original engine Mountaineer, it’s the first time they’ve ever met.”

The significant weekend was also marked with royalty as two 1924 Wembley Exhibition carriages, once ridden by George V during a rare public appearance, were on display.

Matt added: “We have students from Downs School, near Malvern, in Worcestershire with us here today with a train from the Downs Light Railway, which makes up to six visiting and resident locomotives in total working in the park, so we have visitors from far and wide.

"This will be our last celebration for a few years but we hope to see another 50 happy years of this working railway.”

50th Anniversary celebrations of the South Shields miniature railway in South Marine Park, on Saturday. Pictured l-r are Matt Nunn, owner Michael Henderson and Anthony Coulls of the National Railway Museum, York.

Celebrations will continue tomorrow (Sunday, July 2) where visitors can enjoy boarding the coal-driven train which still provides just as much pleasure to countless people today as it did half a century earlier.

50th Anniversary celebrations of the South Shields miniature railway in South Marine Park, on Saturday.
50th Anniversary celebrations of the South Shields miniature railway in South Marine Park, on Saturday.
50th Anniversary celebrations of the South Shields miniature railway in South Marine Park, on Saturday.
50th Anniversary celebrations of the South Shields miniature railway in South Marine Park, on Saturday.