A RAILWAY carriage which survived over six decades as a house and a steam locomotive that helped to win the Second World War are returning to service this weekend.

Both launches are taking place at Tanfield Railway’s Mining Heritage Weekend, which will also feature displays of mining memorabilia, brass band performances and exhibitions plus steam hauled passenger and demonstration freight trains.

Trains at the visitor centre, between Stanley and Sunniside, are running from 10.30am on both Saturday and Sunday.

Tanfield Railway director David Watchman said: “Thousands of hours have gone into making this pair of historic vehicles ready to take to the rails again.”

Built in York, in 1901, for commuter services in North Tyneside, the carriage spent over 25 years ferrying workers to and from some of the region’s heaviest industries.

The carriage migrated to East Anglia in the 1930s where it saw out its final days on trains to destinations like Kings Lynn and Great Yarmouth before finding a new lease of life as a bungalow in the village of Wiggenhall St Germans. in Norfolk

Two generations of the same family lived in the carriage until the early years of the 21st Century. When they moved out, they alerted local railway enthusiasts to its existence and Tanfield Railway began a four year restoration programme.

The carriage is being officially inaugurated into traffic on Saturday by television historian John Grundy.

Also being re-launched on the same day will be National Coal Board steam locomotive No. 49, a veteran of the Second World War.

It was built during 1943 by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns, to a standard ‘Austerity’ design, at Forth Banks in what is now known as Newcastle’s Stephenson Quarter.

It helped to keep vital supplies moving during the war before finding a home in the coal industry.

No. 49 returned to its native North-East in 1947 working for the Ministry of Fuel and Power at Blue Bell opencast colliery in Backworth.

In 1952 the locomotive came under the ownership of the National Coal Board but stayed at Backworth, working coal trains to the Tyne until the 1970s.

After a major overhaul, which included a brand new fire box, No. 49 has been returned to steam after a seven year absence.

Mr Watchman said: “They’ve both got a unique place in North-East railway history and I can’t wait to see them in action.”

The Tanfield Railway, which runs regular steam services to East Tanfield near Stanley, is the world’s oldest railway, tracing its roots back to 1725.

It is operated by over 100 dedicated volunteers and operates every Sunday and Bank Holiday throughout the year.