Steam fans in Wallingford were chuffed to welcome the Mayor of Darlington, who puffed 250 miles south to join the heritage railway.

A restored saddle-tank steam loco which used to push coal trucks, the Mayor of Darlington will now carry passengers on the Wallingford to Cholsey line.

The Wallingford to Cholsey line is hiring the loco from the Darlington Railway Museum, which could not afford to run it.

Malcolm Simpson, 71, was the driver and chief mechanical engineer on the engine when it was housed at the Darlington museum, and has been working on steam trains since he was 15.

He said: “Like all steam trains, they are few and far between and children of the modern age don’t know what it is.

“It is about looking back into a past.”

Mrs Lester said: “It is tiny and we had good fun riding on it.

“The Wallingford Cholsey line is a super society, run by lovely guys and girls who are committed to keeping this going.”

Members of the North-East Railways Preservation Society spent four years restoring the locomotive after it was stripped of brass fittings by vandals. The engine was built in Bristol in 1953, and spent its entire working life in Darlington.