CROWDS flocked to an historic railway as it turned back the clock to the Edwardian era for the Easter weekend.

The Tanfield Railway, near Stanley, is immersing itself in the Edwardian age from Good Friday to Easter Monday with a host of family activities alongside steam train rides featuring locomotives over a century old.

Typical scenes were brought back to life by re-enactors from The Ragged Victorians. Focusing on life for the ‘lower classes’, the group pride themselves on shedding light on ‘the great unwashed’ whose lives are often forgotten in history books.

Events continue today. Visitors will also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the animals that were common in the Edwardian era. Domesticated breeds that would have been well-known to families of the time including geese, rabbits, sheep, chickens ducks and goats will be on hand for petting by young and old courtesy of Animals About Town.

Animals, and humans, of a more fantastical nature will be celebrated in an Edwardian travelling sideshow. The Palace of Curiosities features such bizarre and unfathomable items as the Marcus Island Mermaid that will suspend the disbelief of visitors with extravagant period performances.

Appropriate tunes will also be played out across the railway courtesy of local musical duo The Ran Tanners who specialise in playing instruments including the Northumbrian pipes, Fiddle and English concertina that would have been commonly heard in the Edwardian era.

The other star performers will be a pair of steam locomotives, built by some of Tyneside’s most famous industrial concerns, that worked through the Edwardian period.

Working throughout the event will be Keighley Corporation Gas Department No. 2, a veteran of 1911 built by Hawthorn Leslie in Newcastle. Robert Stephenson built Twizell, which dates back to 1891 and worked in the County Durham colliery empire of James Joicey, will be joining No. 2 on the Sunday and Monday of the event.

Tanfield Railway director, David Watchman, said: “Many of our steam locomotives are genuine survivors from the Edwardian age, so we want to create something of the atmosphere of Easter during that era. In that period Easter was probably the largest family event of the year and many of the activities we now consider to be essential to the celebrations were created during that time, including chocolate eggs.”

The Tanfield Railway, which runs from Sunniside in Gateshead to East Tanfield near Stanley is the world’s oldest railway. It traces its roots back to 1725 – a full century before the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Today it is operated by over 100 dedicated volunteers and operates steam trains every Sunday and Bank Holiday throughout the year.