A STAR of the classic children’s television series The Railway Children has arrived in the region ahead of another starring role – in a steam gala.

The Victorian steam locomotive Sir Berkeley will be the main attraction at a two-day event at Tanfield Railway, near Stanley, starting tomorrow.

The loco, built in Leeds in 1891, is a unique survivor of the series of engines which provided the power to build Britain’s railway network.

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The Sir Berkeley was the workhorse which provided the power at thousands of construction projects, from railway building on the North Eastern Railway to the construction of some of the reservoirs which provide drinking water to the region’s major centres.

Having been saved for preservation in the Sixties, she took a starring role in the 1968 TV adaptation of The Railway Children, filmed in Yorkshire.

Tanfield Railway operations manager Chris Walker said: “In these days of huge road-going monsters, it’s hard to believe that locomotives such as Sir Berkeley were once an essential part of almost every major engineering or construction project.”

Six locomotives are to be in steam on the railway, between Sunniside in Gateshead and East Tanfield near Stanley, from 9am to 5pm each day.

The volunteer-run line, the oldest railway in the world, dating back to the days of wooden rails in 1725, will be running the most intensive service it has offered since the line was preserved almost 40 years ago.

Admission is £10 for adults, £7 for senior citizens, £6 for children and free for the under-fives.

For more information visit tanfield-railway.co.uk