TRIBUTES have been paid to a man described as one of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s (NYNR) most colourful characters, who has died aged 91.

Charlie Hart, one of the founding members of the railway, played a leading role in its development. He died on Tuesday, February 11.

As an active volunteer, Mr Hart became a familiar and friendly sight around the railway up until a few years ago when his health began to deteriorate.

Over the years he sold guide books and immersed himself in fundraising for the charity.

Even when his ill-health stopped him from visiting the railway, Mr Hart, who is survived by his son, Tony, would watch the Whitby trains from his garden at his home in Ruswarp.

Visitors to the NYMR and those who worked alongside Mr Hart said they remember him as a dedicated volunteer.

Control officer Peter Allin said: “After the last run of afternoon services on a Friday, Charlie would very often pop to the bakery along with Jack Rogers, Sue, our trolley attendant, and whoever was the guard at the time and we would have our very own afternoon tea with cream cakes on-board the train. It was always great fun and one of the highlights of my week.”

Mr Hart also worked as a professional railway signalman and as an inspector with British Railways at the time the NYMR was closed in the 1960s.

Mr Hart founded the NYMR 900 Club in October, 1967, which was first called the 200 Club after the number of members it had. Since he founded the club, which was created to help raise money for the railway, it has grown to become the 900+Club.

Last year, Mr Hart and fellow founding members Michael Pitts and the late Tom Salmon took part in a reunion of the surviving founding members of the NYMR.

Philip Benham, general manager at the NYMR, said: “The volunteers and staff of the NYMR could not be more grateful for everything that he has done for the railway and in memory of Charlie, engines will carry a wreath on the day of his funeral during the February half-term running. Our thoughts and prayers are with Charlie’s family and friends.”

The funeral will take place tomorrow at 2pm at Scarborough Crematorium.

Flowers are requested from family only, but donations are welcome to St Catherine’s Hospice.