All aboard: Railway Housing is raising steam for centenary celebration

A 100-year-old housing association is celebrating its centenary in style later this year, by taking residents on a trip back to the bygone days of steam locomotion.

Railway Housing Association (RHA), in partnership with Darlington Building Society, is treating people to afternoon tea on board railway carriages operated by Wensleydale Railway.

The carriages, pulled by the Tornado – a coal-fired steam engine built in Darlington – will follow the route of the popular tourist and heritage line starting in Leeming Bar and heading to Redmire, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

“Railway Housing Association was established in 1919, predominantly to provide housing for railwaymen returning from World War One, said Anne Rowlands, RHA’s chief executive.

“Whilst people no longer need a railway connection to live in our homes, we are very proud of our heritage so when we were planning the events for our centenary year, one of our residents suggested a trip on a steam train and we thought this would be the perfect celebration.

“This would not have been possible without the kind support of Darlington Building Society and we would like to thank them for enabling us to make such an amazing event happen.”

The Darlington-based housing association says it has been inundated with requests from residents to be part of the afternoon tea experience, which takes place on 4 June. Given the limited availability of spaces, the organisation has carried out a ballot and the lucky residents are to be notified shortly.

Darlington Building Society is also taking a carriage on the day and will be opening a ballot for its members to join the celebrations.

“As part of our commitment to the region, we are keen to support other long-standing local organisations. This is a perfect opportunity to share with the wider community alongside our own members,” said Caroline Darnbrook, the building society’s director of products and marketing.

While on the train, guests will be treated to refreshments, along with an afternoon tea consisting of sandwiches, savoury nibbles and cakes/scones. The three-hour round trip will take people through some of the most picturesque parts of North Yorkshire.

“This is the first year that we will have the Tornado operating on the line, so it seems very fitting to have it for a such a special event as this,” said Rebekah Jerram, the railway company’s events coordinator. “We are looking forward to welcoming Railway Housing Association and Darlington Building Society on what promises to be a very special day.”

RHA owns over 1,500 rented homes across the UK, but mainly concentrated in Darlington, Durham, Doncaster, Hull and York. It also manages 73 leasehold properties for older people.


Main Image: Rebekah Jerram (centre) serves afternoon tea on the platform of Bedale station to Anne Rowlands (left) and Caroline Darnbrook (right).

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