RAILWAY chiefs are realising a ‘20-year-dream’ after securing a land deal to develop historic tracks near Stafford.
The Amerton Railway has been trying to buy the land it has used at Amerton Farm and Craft Centre for decades.
The firm is now set to purchase the field through which its nar- row gauge railway runs after farm boss Paul Williams agreed to sell it to the Staffordshire Narrow Gauge Railway charity.
The charity, which preserves and runs narrow gauge locomo- tives in Staffordshire, is holding an open day on Saturday to cele- brate the historic deal.
Visitors will be able to ride behind a host of Staffordshire steam engines, including renowned 115-year-old engine Isabel.
Railway chairman Derek Luker said: “It will be a day of celebra- tion and a great chance to thank all those who have helped make this dream come true.
“It is also an opportunity to show the county’s tremendous rail- way heritage which is steadily becoming a really popular tourist attraction.”
Stan Highfield, Mayor of Stafford, will cut a celebratory ribbon at 1pm to herald “the next 20 years of narrow gauge railway her- itage preservation in Staffordshire”.
The event comes two decades after the then-mayor of Stafford Salome Dainton opened the railway and made a speech from Isabel’s footplate before taking a trip along the line.
Cash funding for the deal has come from donations from members and friends of the railway and a mortgage.
Isabel, built in 1897 by Bagnalls of Stafford, will be giving rides on Saturday between noon and 5pm. The steam engine is now fully restored and will operate at weekends along Amerton Rail- way’s mile-long track.
Historic county engines built in Stoke-on-Trent, Burton-upon- Trent and Tamworth, varying in age from five to 100 years old, will also be on display.