A LOCOMOTIVE has been formally blessed on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway - in the first ceremony of its kind.

Father Neil Roberts conducted the ceremony with the loco "Repton" at Pickering station.

Originally designed in 1930 by Richard Maunsell for the Southern Railway, Repton formed part of a group of 40 steam locomotives affectionately known as the "School Class" as they were named after public schools.

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The loco entered service in 1934 and was withdrawn in 1962. After spells on the rails in both the USA and Canada, it is now back in service with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway at Pickering.

The engine is one of only three from the class that is still operational and a 17-strong contingent from Repton School in Derbyshire travelled to Pickering for the ceremony. Accompanied by railway executives the group also toured the Grosmont signalling box and sidings.

Father Roberts said: “It is a rare privilege to bless a locomotive and an honour to be asked to bless the newly-restored Repton steam locomotive."