Project to reinstate historic railway to Southwold remains on track
- Credit: John Bennett
A charity which aims to reinstate a Victorian-era train line in a costal town has bought new land to make sure the project stays on track.
The Southwold Railway Trust (SRT) has announced the purchasing of the Steam Works site at Blyth Road in Southwold.
This signals a further step towards the charity's plans to reinstall the narrow gauge railway which ran from 1879 to 1929, with stops in Wenhaston, Blythburgh and Walberswick.
SRT already has full planning permission to build 22-chains of track, in two or more gauges, on this newly purchased land, which is adjacent to the original 1879 trackbed, a popular walk and cycle way to the river Blyth Bridge.
James Hewett, of Southwold Railway Trust, said: 'Land in Southwold is some of the most expensive in the area, and the trust has devoted most of its assets to this sale, so there will be a major fund-raising exercise to pay for all the work.'
'Even with all the hard work of our volunteers, costs are naturally involved in providing the visitor centre, museum, and railway restoration shed, in sourcing and laying track, and in laying out the extensive landscaping for the nature reserve.'
Mr Hewett added: 'The sooner we can provide the facilities, the sooner we can open to the public, and thus create revenue for the restoration of the rest of the railway.
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'The project is small, but is an essential first step towards the railway restoration, which is eminently achievable: operations at this site will allow the trust to become the 202nd Heritage Railway in the UK, also becoming a part of Suffolk's tourism offer, which provides one in eight jobs in East Suffolk.'
Currently the Steam Works site is unused and is only open to SRT members for the time being while adhering to the appropriate regulations for construction sites.
'It gives us hope that the complete restoration of the eight mile Southwold Railway is now realistic and achievable,' explained Mr Hewett.
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