The 100th birthday of a locomotive called Nellie transported to Sierra Leone by Hunslet-based Manning Wardle & Company during the First World War will form part of a special exhibition set to open its doors this Saturday at a popular city museum.
If you’ve ever looked round the exhibition at Middleton Railway you will know that thousands of locomotives built in Hunslet were exported across the globe. As part of the ‘From West Riding to West Africa’ event at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, visitors will be able to, from Saturday 23 May – Monday 25 May between 11am -5pm, find out more about the shared history and common links that the city and Sierra Leone share through the railways.
The story of how railway locomotives built in Leeds during and after the First World War changed West Africa forever will be told through displays, food, music, talks and hands-on activities at the event which has been developed in partnership by Leeds Museums and Galleries, the National Railway Museum of Sierra Leone and local West African community groups. Not only is the 10th anniversary of the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum being marked in 2015, it is also 40 years since the closure of the railways in the country. Those joining in the celebrations over the three days will also be able to find out how the locomotives built in Leeds will be helping Sierra Leone’s economy recover from the recent crisis and be used as engines of growth once again.
The teams’ from Leeds Museums and Galleries and Sierra Leone National Railway Museum will also be commemorating the connections between Leeds and West Africa in a ceremony sistering two Leeds-built locomotives, Nellie in Freetown and Aldwyth in Leeds. The sistering will take place at 3pm in the Locomotive Gallery and we will be joined by Patrice Naiambana of Tribal Soul Arts.
Nellie was built by Manning Wardle & Company at their Boyne Engine Works on Jack Lane in Hunslet. If you are on Twitter you can find out more by following @PeopleofLeeds. This curated account has been given to Nellie this week and she’s tweeting from Sierra Leone.
To find out more about the event and see what’s on each day, please see: www.leeds.gov.uk/westridingtowestafrica
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:
“We are really looking forward to hosting the ‘From West Riding to West Africa’ exhibition at Armley Mills for three days from this Saturday, which will tell the little known fascinating story of our city’s links with Sierra Leone through the railways.
“There will as always be a lot to see and enjoy, including a range talks, food, music, hands-on activities and the chance to hear from West African community groups how locomotives built right here in Leeds made such a big impact on the railways in West Africa.”