Preservation powerhouse Susan Youell dies at 86


VOLUNTEERS and friends of the Middleton Railway have been in mourning following the death on July 27 of Susan Youell , the widow of the line’s founder, Dr Fred Youell.

Susan, 86, played a major part in the early running of what claims to be one of the first two standard gauge heritage lines, while also becoming secretary of the Association of Railway Preservation Societies under the leadership of Captain Peter Manisty, RN.

The Middleton Railway’s service on Sunday, July 30, hauled by Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0DMs D577 Mary and D631 Carroll carried a wreath in remembrance of Susan. ROBERT TAGGART/MR

Susan was born on January 15, 1931, the eldest child of John Harold Atherley, a chemist and Dorothy Jeffery, a baker’s daughter in Nottingham. A bright young girl, she spent a happy childhood with her family who were avid railway fanatics.

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Somewhat unusually for a girl at that time, Susan also had a great interest in railways and was proud of the fact that she had seen Sir Nigel Gresley’s Pacifics during LNER days.

Susan attended Mundella Grammar School in Nottingham. As a high flyer she gained a place at Leeds University after the war, to study maths and physics.

Susan Youell in the late 1980s. MR

It was no surprise that she joined the University Railway Society and met her husband-to-be Dr Fred Youell, a university lecturer and founder of the Middleton Railway, and they married on August 2, 1955.

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They had three children, Harriet, Sarah (with a middle name of Claudia, after GER chairman Claud Hamilton), and Matthew, named after Matthew Murray, builder of the world’s first commercially successful steam locomotives for the Middleton Railway in 1812.

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