In September 2004, this website writer had the great privilege to visit the Cadeby Light Railway in Cadeby, Leicestershire, then under the proprietorship of Mrs. Audrey Boston, the widow of the late Rev. Teddy Boston, otherwise known as the Fat Clergyman. Among the exhibits in the Cadeby Light Railway's extensive collection of railwayania are several items donated by the Rev W. Awdry which are of great resonance for fans of the Railway Series. Besides a map of Sodor hanging on the wall, now viewable in the Map Section, there is no less than the Reverend's beautiful model of the Mid Sodor Railway. CLR stalwarts Dave Penney and Brian Kingett, on hand for a regular running session of Teddy's layout, were kind enough to open the model up for us. (All photos © Martin Clutterbuck 2004)

Cadeby Museum: Dave and Brian
Dave (left) and Brian (right), our hosts.

And off comes the plastic cover...

Mid Sodor Railway Layout
A compact but action-packed model in 009 scale (1:76 on a gauge of 9mm).

Views from the front, top and side, showing the level of detail:

Mid Sodor Railway: Front View
No very small children allowed...

Mid Sodor Railway: Top View
The road signs point to Peel Godred (left) and Ulfstead (right)

Mid Sodor Railway: Side View
Plunging ravines just right to fall down...

The model actually has an extensive stud of locos, but those familiar from the Duke the Lost Engine book are there:
Jim Falcon
On the right, the Hughes 0-4-2ST "Falcon "(on the left, a previously unknown engine, "Jim").

Duke: Side View

Duke: Front View
Two views of MSR No. 1, the George England 0-4-0ST+T better known as "The Duke".

Detail of the cute but unnamed "Mine Engine":

Mine engine

The Kerr Stuart 0-4-2ST "Stuart", meanwhile, is consigned to the Engine Box:

Engine carrying case used by the Rev. Awdry
"Stuart" is top left; "Tim" is the black engine underneath him. One of the remaining three is "Jerry". Can't see "Stanley" there - maybe he is he pumping out the mine?!

A close up of "Albert", another blue Hughes 0-4-2, skulking at the back of the layout:


Finally for now, the MSR Timetables...

MSR Timetable

... and a page from the MSR scrapbook (surely a vital document!) showing Jim, Tim and the Duke:

The Rev. Awdry's MSR Scrapbook

Referring to Duke the Lost Engine again, readers may recall Duke's discovery by the Fat Clergyman, who was of course in real life Teddy Boston, the founder of the Cadeby Light Railway. Brian Kingett told the story that by coincidence, Teddy discovered a loco greased and sheeted in a shed like Duke. This was his 2' engine Pixie, and the location Cranford Stone Quarries in Northamptonshire. The engine was discovered not by falling through a hole in the roof, but experimentally lifting a shed door off its hinges. Brian recalls, "So he went to see the site manager to enquire about buying the loco in the shed. The man said, 'Yes, there is a engine, but the shed door is locked and I don't have a key. Maybe we can left the shed door off its hinges?' Teddy obviously thought that was a jolly good idea!"

Once again, thanks to Dave, Brian and Audrey Boston for their generous hospitality. Other pages informed by the Cadeby experience are those based on Teddy's steam road vehicles, i.e. Trevor and George.

One more little tidbit: The Ulfstead Road station building was built by Doris Stokes and was based on the Corris station at Esgairgeiliog, of which pictures were taken by Corris Railway Press Officer Richard Greenhough. Check the resemblance of these two views, although the MSR version is perpendicular, rather than parallel to the track bed. Thanks very much to Richard for permission to use his photograph, and the real thing can be found on the website of the Corris Railway, which is making great progress.

Ulfstead Road
Ulfstead Road on the Mid Sodor Railway
Esgairgeiliog on the Cooris Railway
Esgairgeiliog on the Corris Railway © Richard Greenhough

Follows an esay compiled from Tony Griggs' notes from the seminal The Island of Sodor


The Mid Sodor Railway, now closed, had a life-span only of some 50 years; but its influence on Sudrian affairs has been long lasting. From the first it was worked as a main-line system. It pioneered the use of bogie coaches in the island. No less than eight of these, together with three Mid Sodor locomotives have survived and are in regular service on the Skarloey Railway.

The Mid Sodor lives on too in the prosperous 15" gauge Arlesdale Railway which uses its former track bed and station; and also in the Culdee Fell, which latter enterprise was a Mid Sodor "Brainchild" in the 1890s. The Mid Sodor were the first to realise that there were dividends to be had from the "visiting industry", and deliberately set out to encourage "foreigners", and cater for holiday makers.. By so doing they turned what was then a mere trickle into a stream; which stream now greatly increased, has become a vital factor in the island's economy.


When first promoted, the Sodor and Mainland Railway (S&M) had canvassed support from investors in the Peel Godred area with a promise to build them a branch from Cronk; but as the years passed it seemed less and less likely that this promise would ever be implemented. By 1870 the people of Peel Godred had come to the conclusion that if they were ever to have a railway they must build it themselves.

A line southwards down the valley was favoured at first. This on the face of it would have been simplest and cheapest, but would have involved somewhere a junction with the S&M, and since the company was tittering on the verge of bankruptcy, most felt that to embark on such a project would be the height of imprudence. It behoved them to look elsewhere.

Some six miles to the west, mine owners at Cas-ny-Hawin had combined with others in the Arle valley to build a tramway to the port of Arlesburgh. This 2'3" gauge line had originally been horse worked, but following the Skarloey Railway's lead, that had in 1866 adopted steam traction, but for mineral purposes only. It had not been inspected and passed for passenger traffic. Passengers were carried however, but free of charge and at their own risk, on payment of a toll for the carriage of their coats, hats, and personal belongings.


The Peel Godred Committee approached the mining companies who saw the advantages in the Peel Godred connection, and following a series of meetings at Ulfstead Castle chaired by the Earl of Sodor, the Mid Sodor Railway Company was formed in 1872. They bought up the tramway and re-laid it to board of trade passenger carrying standards, and opened in 1874. There were four stations, Arlesdale, Marthwaite, Ffarquhar Road and Arlesburgh. A road coach link was provided to from Peel Godred to Marthwaite pending competition of the mountain section. They were thus prudently in a position to earn revenue while the most difficult section of line was under construction.

The site selected for the summit station at Ulfstead Road stood 867ft above sea level, 264ft higher than Cas-ny-Hawin, though the two places as the crow flies were only 1.5 miles apart. Mr C E Spooner of the Festiniog Railway was consulted, but as he was then much occupied with the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway, the actual survey was undertaken by his son Edwin, who advised that the railway should climb in a series of reverse loops, thus effectively increasing the distance between the two places to 6 miles, and reducing the gradient to manageable proportions. He advised that the actual length of the climb should be for 5 miles at an average of 1 in 100, and that it should be arranged in "steps" with level or nearly level stretches between them. He explained that this would allow "labouring" locomotives to ease off and blow up steam, or alternatively to gain speed and therefore impetus before tackling the next climb ahead.

Edwin Spooner's survey and estimates were accepted. It neccesitated the cutting of four tunnels, and it was here that the company's trouble began. Having cut two tunnels it was found that the expense was exceeding estimates and, with two more tunnels in prospect, money was running short. They economised by cutting clearances to those that had been allowed for on the Festiniog Railway, but even so they had little money left for the last few miles to Peel Godred. Fortunately there were no expensive civil engineering problems here, and the only casualty was the fine Central station that had been planned for the town, They had to settle instead for a temporary terminus on cheaper land in the outskirts alongside the Arlesburgh Road. A branch to Ulfstead had also been planned, and this had to be dropped too.


The line was opened throughout in October 1880. They had hoped for a June opening following the Board of Trade Inspection; but the Inspector, disturbed by the scanty clearances in the mountain section, refused to allow this even though he could not fault anything else. When, however it was pointed out by both Spooner father and son, that the clearances to which he took exception, if anything, more than generous than those which had been allowed on the Festiniog Railway, he paid a second visit at the end of September, and reluctantly passed it on condition that similar safety precautions to those enforced on the Festiniog were followed, namely that all carriage doors should be locked between Arlesdale and Ulfstead Road. This was no real hardship. On the upward journey water-stops were needed at both places anyway, while the down trains at Ulfstead Road the routine brake test which common prudence required before starting the decent, also gave ample time for attention of the carriage doors.

Natives soon excepted this door drill as a matter of course, but visitors to the island complained at "being imprisoned without trial". The company's servants however heeded such complaints. To them, as Sudrian born and bred, tourists were decent enough folk, but like all foreigners, particularly English and Manx, they were probably not quite right in the head!


The bulk of the passenger traffic was between Peel Godred and Arlesburgh, but it was the mines that provided most revenue. Local Passenger and Goods Traffic was slow to develop and so from the beginning the Mid Sodor Railway encouraged tourism. One aspect which encouraged tourism was the arrangement that Isle Of Man Steam Packet Companies steamers should call at Arlesburgh twice daily in summer and twice weekly in winter. Arlesburgh became he Port for Peel Godred and between 1890 and 1923 the railway enjoyed moderate prosperity.

The normal journey time for the 25 miles was one and a half hours for local trains, but the pride of the line were the boat expresses run in connection with the steamers. The line had to be clear for these trains and woe betide anyone who hindered the smart running of these trains. With stops only at Arlesdale an Ulfstead Road, they covered the 25 miles in one and a quarter hours, which was fast by narrow gauge standards. Special observation cars were used on these trains which were built at Arlesdale works. The usual load was 4 bogie coaches, strengthened to 6 and busy times.

Holiday makers were catered four during the summer by "The Picnic". This train, run between Easter and Michaelmas, left Arlesburgh at 10am, calling at all stations as well as many beauty spots on route for ramblers and picnic parties and it had a relaxed timing to allow for these. The return left Peel Godred a 3.30pm returning passengers to Arlesburgh at 5.10 in time for High tea at the sacred hour (to Sudrian Landladies) of 5.30!

The Culdee Fell Railway (originally planned by the Mid Sodor), though operated and built by a separate company was a tourist railway. The Mid Sodor had planned an extension to it from Peel Godred to Kirk Machan, but this would have involved expensive engineering works and was never built. The Mid Sodor Railway did however take the opportunity of moving their Peel Godred terminus at Arlesdale Road to a more convenient site near King Orry's Bridge. This site became the rail head for the line for the next thirty years.

The mining companies provided block trains and paid well for the convenience, Local goods traffic was slow to develop and at first the guard's van was sufficient for parcels and small items, but did not suit larger ones. Mixed trains were tried but passenger complaints at delays caused by shunting meant that they were only short lived. The company eventually provided a daily goods train. It stopped to shunt anywhere and was allowed two and a half hours for the twenty five miles. This slowness lead to its nickname "The Horse and Cart", given to it by traders and travellers. Passengers were also carried in the brake van on payment of half ordinary third class fare, but wisely, the company did not guarantee arrival times at any station.

The railway served the valley well for 40 years, it was well loved and became part of the of the landscape. Even its vagaries were part of a local tradition. People assumed that it would last forever. It survived World War I, though stretched to its limit, and had nearly succeeded in making good its maintenance arrears when it received a blow from which it was not to recover.


In 1923, the Peel Godred Power company (a subsidiary of the British Aluminium Company), obtained powers to build a dam and hydro-electric power plant a mile or so northwards of the town. They had at first considered using the Mid Sodor Railway and the Port of Arlesburgh, but although the Port was adequate, the clearances on the mountain section of the railway proved to be an unsurpassable obstacle. Accordingly there was an agreement with the North Western Railway for the construction of a standard gauge branch from Killdane. The opening of this line was disastrous for the Mid Sodor Railway as Passenger and Goods traffic from Peel Godred fell. Except in summer when the tourists came, the passenger trains on the mountain section ran almost empty, and by 1935, the Isle of Man steamers ceased to call at Arlesburgh and this traffic too disappeared.

The Mountain section was closed in 1936 when half the locomotives and all the bogie carriage stock was sold in attempt to keep the company's head above water. The line remained open with local traffic from Arlesdale to Arlesburgh, but this soon took to the roads and the line was once again a mineral tramway with trains run only when required.


World war II bought an upsurge in traffic, but while the locomotives were maintained the track and stock suffered. The mines suffered too, as they were stripped beyond safety margins and so at the war they closed one by one, reducing traffic further. That at Cas-ny-Hawin survived until December 1946 when it was abandoned because of flooding. As the railway no longer had a need to exist it was abandoned too in January 1947.

Two of the locomotives were sold to the Sodor Aluminium company to assist with an expansion project, but this was completed in 1951 and the two engines stored for nearly a year when they were sold to the Skarloey Railway for GPB25 each. The third engine was sheeted up and left in Arlesdale shed as it was too old and no buyers came forward. It remained here until 1969 when it was rediscovered, restored and returned to service on the Skarloey railway.


The Mid Sodor had, during its lifetime, a number of locomotives, but little is known about those which did not survive (in one form of another) after the 1935 sales.

Number 1 "Duke"
A "George England" type tender saddletank 0-4-0STT locomotive, built at Boston Lodge to the order of the Earl of Sodor in 1879 for the opening of the Mid Sodor Railway in 1880. The directors named him "Duke" in honour of the Earl, their chairman, and booked him to haul the opening train. Duke was soundly built and well maintained and remained in traffic until the closure of the line in 1947, but found no buyer at the sale. He was oiled, greased and left in Arlesdale shed, where he was forgotten about. He was eventually found in 1969, and taken to Crovan's Gate for restoration and repair. Now rebuilt and in service on the Skarloey Railway, he still carries his MSR livery and Brass Nameplate, but not his MSR number.

Number 2 "Stanley"
A Baldwin 4-6-0 tank engine bought second-hand as Army surplus after World War I, and nicknamed Stanley after the well known politician of the time. Stanley was a bad bargain as he was a rough rider and prone to derailment. Repeated attempts to cure this habit failed and he was turned into a pumping engine first at Arlesdale works in 1928, and latterly at Cas-ny-Hawin mine. He was nearly worn out early in 1946, and finally broke down later that year. The flooding which resulted forced the mines' closure in December and ultimately that of the railway in January 1947.

Number 3 "Falcon" and Number 4 "Stuart"
Number 3 was built as an 0-4-0 Saddle tank by Messers Hughes at Falcon works Loughborough for the MSR and delivered by sea to Arlesburgh in 1904 to replace a locomotive then scrapped. The MSR gave him blue livery and named him Falcon. He returned to Loughborough in 1910 to have trailing wheels added as a cure for unsteadiness in running.
Number 4 is a Kerr Stuart standard 0-4-2 Saddle tank engine built in 1920. He was delivered by rail to Cronk, and hauled thence to Peel Godred by traction engine. During his MSR service he was painted green and given the name "Stuart". In 1947 on the closure of the Mid Sodor Railway, both engines were sold to the Sodor Aluminium Company and used until 1951 on an expansion project, after which time they were sheeted up for nearly a year when in 1952 they were sold again to the Skarloey Railway. Number 3 Became "Sir Handel" and number 4 "Peter Sam". Their MSR numbers remained the same as their Skarloey Railway ones.


There were two stations in Arlesburgh, Harbour, and Bridge Street. Bridge Street which was convenient was the terminus for all local services and only the Boat trains and the mining block trains used the harbour station. Bridge Street had two platforms with an "all-over" timber roof and an extensive yard for goods, locomotives an carriages.

Ffarquhar Road Station had one platform and a solid passenger shelter made from granite off-cuts from the local quarry.

Marthwaite had a station building, loop and goods yard. From the goods loop there was a branch which swung northwards to a granite quarry, a mile and a half from the village.

Arlesdale Green. There was not originally a station here, the main Arlesdale station being considered near enough to the village. There was only ever a wooden hut on the site and a patch of gravel for a platform. Later a platform and name board as well as a corrugated building were provided.

Just before Arlesdale station is reached there was a junction from the mainline to a quarry as well as some railway cottages. Arlesdale station itself had a run-round loop, locomotive and carriage sheds. The line then started to climb into the mountains, turning back on itself passing through a tunnel and pausing at Cas-ny-Hawin. Another three tunnels were passed through and Ulfstead Road was reached, the line climbing all the time.

Ulfstead Road had a curved station and was the summit of the line. it had a passing loop and platform as well as a road overbridge.

The line then left the mountains, calling at the hamlet of Ballamoddey and then arrived at Peel Godred next to King Orry's Bridge.. The route can be followed in detail on maps to be found here