RECREATE your childhood this weekend with a ride on County Durham’s last 15 inch miniature railway.

Thorpe Light Railway at Whorlton Lido in Teesdale is holding a running day on Sunday, August 18 and for £2.50 you can ride as many times as you like on the 770 yard double loop line.

Memories 403 in December told the story of the lido, which was once one of the most popular days-out in the North-East: on a sunny Sunday in the Seventies, there could be a thousand or more vehicles parked on the grassy field beside the Tees.

The lido, named after the fashionable beach in Venice, seems to have opened in 1905 beneath the pioneering 1831 suspension bridge over the river. People paid a few pennies to picnic on the field and paddle amid the falls of the river.

The lido really became popular after 1953 when the field was bought by Herbert Dunn of Bishop Auckland, who added amenities like changing rooms and toilets.

In 1971, his son, Raymond, bought the Lakeside Miniature Railway from Southport and transplanted it to the lido on a professionally laid track, complete with 33 yard tunnel. It opened on Good Friday, with King George, a 1915 Welsh engine, pulling the first visitors. In 1972, a diesel engine named Wendy arrived and became a mainstay of the line.

In 1990, new owners took over, dug a lake inside one of the loops, and worked with Wendy until 2005 when the lido was bought, and closed, by the nearby Thorpe Hall estate. It was a controversial closure, although Whorlton villagers were relieved that they were now spared the drunken antics of a few visitors.

The railway fell derelict. Vandalised, Wendy was locked in the tunnel as trees grew over the line and embankments fell down.

In 2011, there were moves to ship the railway to Sierra Leone, but a friends group was formed to save it. Led by Anthony Coulls, a curator at the National Railway Museum, and including Michael Dunn, the great-grandson of the lido’s founder, they cleared the line and reopened in June 2013.

Now called the Thorpe Light Railway, it has six open days a year, and on August 18, Soony, a US-style steam engine which regularly visits the line, will be working – Wendy the diesel is currently awaiting conversion to a more environmentally-friendly power source.

The line is open from noon to 4pm, and The Barista Sisters will be selling drinks from their 50-year-old horse trailer. There is no access to the river, and it seems as if Whorlton suspension bridge will be shut, so follow the diversion via Winston. The suspension bridge has its own postcode, DL12 8XD, so following that will get satnav users to the railway.

The final running day of the year is September 8.

With thanks to vice-chairman Andrew Brown for his help