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First stages of Southwold railway renovation completed

PUBLISHED: 12:05 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:54 12 March 2018

Volunteers at Blyth Road, April 2017. Photo: Courtesy of Southwold Railway Trust

Volunteers at Blyth Road, April 2017. Photo: Courtesy of Southwold Railway Trust

Courtesy of Southwold Railway Trust

The essential first stages of a coastal railway renovation project have been completed.

The Heritage Train as ran in 1879 Southwold Railway.The Heritage Train as ran in 1879 Southwold Railway.

Southwold Railway Trust (SRT) has revealed the foundations of its Steam Works facility, in Blyth Road, are now installed with the structure expected to be opened to the public in July.

John Bennett, chairman of SRT, said: “Steam Works is both a celebration of the Southwold Railway and the first phase of its restoration – plus a visitor centre for this charming coastal resort.

“The station platform will also provide access to a museum created within a delightful replica Southwold Railway van already on site.”

The 1,000sq ft facility will house the ‘Egg and Shovel Café’, a shop, toilets and a boardroom.

SRT purchased the Blyth Road site last year and the project is part of the charity’s larger plans to reinstall the narrow gauge railway which ran from 1870 to 1929, with stops in Wenhaston, Blythburgh and Walberswick.

The charity has full planning permission to build 22-chains of track, in two or more gauges, on the site which is adjacent to the original 1879 trackbed. Mr Bennett said: “The trust has owned the site for less than a year but great progress has been made.”

The chairman explained the project has been made possible by the money left to the trust from its late-president Alan Taylor.

He said: “It will enable the trust to pursue its projects with some vigour – though donations and physical help are very much encouraged as there is much to do.

“An excellent team of volunteers work regularly at the site and more are always welcome.”

Mr Bennet also provided updates on other projects the trust are currently working on.

He said: “The main seven and a quarter inch track loop around the one acre landscaped site is nearing completion and there will be rides in the summer - some of which will be steam-powered.

“In the engine shed work continues on Scaldwell – the 3ft gauge locomotive given to the trust last year.

“Plans to build a steel gantry to facilitate the lifting of the saddle tank are on the drawing board but it will be erected soon.”

For more information on the trust and the project visit: www.southwoldrailway.co.uk

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