A HERITAGE railway famed for its steam engines has been turning the spotlight on a different form of traction – human-power.

Long ago when engineers were looking to repair or inspect a railway line they would forsake their coal-fired locos and turn instead to the oldest form of power.

Velocipedes were introduced after 1820 as a means of transporting railwaymen quickly and easily from one point to another along the line.

They sat on the tracks, some with three-wheels, others with four or five wheels, and all were driven by using either a hand-pump or pedal power. The vehicles were also light enough to be removed from the tracks when not needed.

Nowadays track workers and inspectors carry out their duties in a very different way – but that has not stopped velocipedes from becoming the centre of attraction for a national group looking to safeguard their memory through research, restoration and re-building.

And for the third year in succession, the North York Moors Railway played host to a national velocipede rally, bringing enthusiasts together from across the country to put their people-powered vehicles to the test.

Nineteen members with ten vehicles spent two days on the tracks, riding between Goathland and Grosmont, and between Pickering and Levisham.

The railway’s co-ordinator, Tammy Naylor said: “This was a very successful rally, held when our steam trains were not running, bringing together those with a keen interest in building and riding machines which demonstrate how gearing works and the translation of rotational motion into moving forces.

“Our stretches of track not only create challenges for riders on account of the steep gradients, but the spectacular North York Moors scenery never fails to please.”