Mini railway launches crisis appeal after coronavirus halts services

PUBLISHED: 12:10 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:46 02 April 2020

The Wells and Walsingham Railway has launched a crisis appeal   Picture: Ian Burt

The Wells and Walsingham Railway has launched a crisis appeal Picture: Ian Burt

The world’s smallest public railway has launched a crisis appeal to help keep it alive.

The Wells and Walsingham Light Railway, which runs through four picturesque miles of north Norfolk, has had to close because of coronavirus.

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It said in a blog post: “We need to start a fighting fund to keep covering the fixed costs and paying our wonderful staff. They are our family and we, following the Government and Bank of England’s support and encouragement intend to keep all of our team. No-one gets thrown under a train.

“We hope that the country recovers from this as soon as possible and that we all do our bit to be good citizens and try to slow the spread of this awful virus as much as we can.

“Normal life seems a long way off we know but before we know it the smells, sights and sounds of steam trains will be once again chuffing through the north Norfolk countryside. In the meantime, stay safe and stay at home.”

The line is the world's smallest public railway Picture: Ian BurtThe line is the world's smallest public railway Picture: Ian Burt

The GoFundMe appeal can be found here.

The railway is also selling one of its carriages to raise money towards its costs.

The railway was built by Lt-Cdr Roy Francis, who had already built the mile long 10-ins gauge beach railway to ease traffic congestion at Wells.

In 1979 he started to construct the WWLR on the four miles of old Great Eastern track bed from Wells to Walsingham. Work began in 1979 and the first ran in 1982 on what was the longest 10-ins narrow gauge steam railway in the world.

Lt-Cdr Francis was an Arctic convoys veteran who survived the sinking of HMS Edinburgh in icy seas aged just 19 in 1942.

After retiring from the Navy in 1952, he became a boat builder before moving on to pursue his passion for steam railways.

Lt-Cdr Francis passed away in 2015. His family still runs the railway he founded.

MORE - Tribute to Lt-Cdr Francis

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