Leeds & West Yorkshire

The Leeds engine that founded a railway in Sierra Leone

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Media captionNellie the engine was restored in Sierra Leone, as Tom Ingall reports

A Leeds museum is celebrating the 100th anniversary of a steam engine built in the Yorkshire city that founded a railway in Sierra Leone.

Leeds Industrial Museum is celebrating the city's role in 1915 of building Nellie the engine, Sierra Leone's oldest surviving steam locomotive.

It was used to shunt goods around the capital Freetown.

It survived the 1975 closure of the country's rail network and is in Sierra Leone's National Railway Museum.

The event - called West Riding to West Africa - is to also launch a campaign to help raise funds for the museum in Freetown.

Image copyright SLNRM
Image caption Nellie the Engine was built in Leeds in 1915

Nellie and other engines were hidden in a shed by railway staff when the 350-mile narrow gauge line closed 40 years ago.

The rolling stock survived a decade-long civil war, that ended in 2002, and was rediscovered by Colonel Steve Davies, a soldier with the British peacekeeping force.

Mr Davies, who later became director of the National Railway Museum in York, helped locals restore the engines and founded Sierra Leone's National Railway Museum.

It also contains other engines built in Leeds and other cities around the UK.

The museum collection is seen as a potential attraction for foreign tourists and part of a new cultural sector, according to organisers.

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