TO mark the 45th anniversary of a rail-blocking protest in Newcastleton many of the original cast are coming together once again.

On the night of January 5 into 6, 1969, the village rose up to show its anger at the looming Beeching cuts to the Waverley Line.

Protesters blocked the final train from Edinburgh to Carlisle.

MP at the time, David Steel, now Lord Steel of Aikwood, was just 26 when he was elected to parliament in a by-election four years earlier.

Lord Steel was aboard the final train that was initially blocked in Galashiels and Hawick by protesters.

By the time it had eventually reached Newcastleton, villagers had closed the level crossing gates and stood in protest on the line.

Paul Brennock from the Waverley Route Heritage Association said: “It was freezing cold as it was well past midnight in early January but the protesters would not budge resulting in the police arresting the parish minister, the Reverend Brydon Maben, who was one of the ringleaders of the demonstration, and that made the demonstrators even more resolute.

“Lord Steel was summoned by the Guard to negotiate with the demonstrators to allow the train to continue its journey.

“The police tried to force the gates open but they could not do anything.

“Lord Steel, addressing the demonstrators from the footbridge, came to an agreement with the crowd that, if he could get the minister released from the police station without charges, they would go away. “With the release of the minister secured the train continued its passage arriving at its final destination, London St Pancras Station some two hours late.” Lord Steel will return to the village later this week as part of the Waverley Route Heritage Association’s commemorative event to mark the protests.

A dinner, kindly sponsored by Scotrail, will be held at The Grapes Hotel on Sunday, January 5.

Tickets are still available from The Grapes Hotel and the Liddesdale Hotel.