A FIREMAN working on the West Coast Railways Dalesman service which operates along the Settle to Carlisle line, has died.

The company posted a message on social media yesterday. It said: "West Coast Railway Company are deeply saddened at losing our fireman Mike Middleton last night (Tuesday) near Garsdale after being taken ill on 1Z34.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this awful time.

"Thank you for all the kind messages received from our passengers who were travelling yesterday on the Dalesman."

A number of tributes have been left on the company's Facebook page.

One from Paul Simpson, including a photograph of a lit railway lamp, read: "Thoughts very much with Mike’s family and friends at West Coast Railways. Difficult last seven days for the railway family, thoughts to everyone. Thought it only right to light a lamp for a fellow railman RIP."

Ian Hardman added: "He went doing the thing he loved, on one of the toughest sections of railway in the UK. The man went with dignity and a steel of determination, with the sound of a Scot in his ears.

"If there's ever a way for a footplateman to go, that would be it. Rest in peace, Mike, you earned your rest well. Condolences to family, friends and colleagues alike at this most awful of times."

Annie Keogh wrote: "Known Mike for over 20 years through the Ffestiniog railway. I was, like many others, shocked to hear this news. What a lovely quiet man. My thoughts are with his family and friends."

Terry Bartlett wrote: "Sorry to hear that. RIP Mike you did a great job at firing."

Ian Cole added: "Rest in peace fellow railwayman. Thoughts to your family and railway community you leave behind. Now it’s your turn to be looked after and resurrected and preserved to bring family and friends so many happy memories. Full steam ahead, sir!"

Linny Solway said: "RIP Mike. So sad to hear the news. Thank you for everything you have done to bring so much happiness to so many people through your hard work. It is much appreciated. Thoughts with everyone touched by your passing."

A rail passenger on the train added: "I was a passenger on the train last night and I can’t tell you how sad it was to be told he had been taken poorly and then sadly passed away. The staff were outstanding even though their colleague had passed. All my love goes out to family, friends and colleagues."

George M Howard wrote: "A rare breed getting rarer as another great man of the footplate has been lost. At least it can be said that he was doing the work he loved right to very the last moments of his life."

David Clarke added: "Rest in peace Mike. A really nice person. We had some laughs."

David Repton wrote: "I think that it would be perhaps be a nice gesture to put a commemorative seat or similar at Garsdale."

Mark Rand added: "Condolences from the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line."