Southwold Railway Steamworks
Published: Thursday 28th Dec 2017
Written by: Chloe Baker
With fifty years of use under its belt, in April of 1929 Southwold Railway which linked Southwold to Halesworth closed its train doors for the last time. When opened in 1879, the track wove from the Suffolk coast and past Walberswick, Blythburgh and Wenhaston all whilst passing beautiful Suffolk countryside. The 3-foot narrow gauge line was enjoyed by tourists and locals creating an easy link through the popular coastal towns.
With much of the trackbed still intact, the Southwold Railway Trust is a dedicated team of locals who are working towards preserving the memory of the what was once a popular mode of transport and are looking to reopen as much as the original route as they can along with an exciting tourism attraction, Southwold Railways Steamworks.
Work for SRS began only in April of 2017, but plans are already coming to life with foundations in place and a workshop full of railway goodies. The team want to create an attraction where tourists and locals can reminisce about what once was an iconic part of Southwold and beyond. With plans for a 3-foot gauge railway track, parts of the track have already been put into place along with a large train pilot which was won in an auction by the trust and is the same size as the 3-foot track, a very rare find. Although the pilot is currently very rusty and worse for wear, the team look to fix it up so that it is looking spick and span and may even carry a trailer in which the team hope will be fit for visitor train rides. The team also want to create platforms where two tracks will emerge from, creating an authentic station feel.
Other parts of the plan are a charming mini railroad which will wind its way around a man-made lake and eye-pleasing gardens, a gift shop, other train heirlooms and a visitor centre full of interesting historical facts and hands-on activities. The trust hopes to inherit the only original remaining part of the Southwold Railway train which is currently on display at the Carlton Colville Transport Museum.
The project is all very exciting, and we can’t wait to see the attraction come to life. The trust hopes to open in three to four years, and with generous donations and volunteers, we are sure they will be up and running in no time. To discover more about the trust, visit their web page www.southwoldrailway.co.uk.