THE Wensleydale Railway is buying an old, disused railway bridge over the A1 and hope to use it to plug a gap where once there was a stone bridge at Redmire. It is hoped the purchase will mean the line can be extended to Aysgarth Falls in due course.

One day they may make a film about the volunteers' epic efforts to restore the Dales railway line. It will be a bit like The Bridge on the River Kwai, although with less torture. I'm not saying there will be no torture, but there will definitely be less. Okay, for legal reasons there will be no torture in the film of the Wensleydale Railway, but there will be a lot of tea and cakes served on quite slow-moving trains, which to some - not me - is quite unpleasant, albeit not strictly speaking torture.

Anyway, the volunteers and small number of staff are doing a great job and if they can restore the link to Aysgarth, perhaps one day they will reopen the line all the way to Hawes and on to Garsdale to connect to the Settle-Carlisle line.

Of course, in the film about the construction of a bridge on the Burma Railway by British soldiers caught by the Japanese during the Second World War, the ultimate aim is to connect Rangoon, now known as Yangon, with Bangkok. Rangoon is famous for its mix of colonial architecture, modern high-rises and gilded Buddhist pagodas. Sounds a bit like Hawes to me. Then you have Bangkok which is where British men go to enjoy the sleazy after-dark entertainment, which is not dissimilar to Northallerton.

Interestingly, the metal bridge near Catterick Racecourse is on the old Catterick sub-branch line which joined the Richmond branch line at what was Catterick Bridge Station, under what I think is now a caravan dealership opposite the tip at Brompton-on-Swale.

The line to Catterick was used during both World Wars by hundreds of thousands of troops travelling to and from the garrison. It was the scene of a particularly unpleasant incident on February 4, 1944 when 12 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a massive explosion. The exact course was never disclosed but it is thought soldiers loading explosives onto railway trucks in a less than gentle manner trigger a single grenade which set off a further six trucks of antitank grenades, followed by tonnes of incendiary bombs.

The explosion ruined the Railway Hotel and that night thirsty soldiers had to salvage what beer they could from its open cellars, presumably as the injured were still being treated nearby.