About the Southwold Railway Trust
The Southwold Railway was a 3ft gauge line running between Halesworth and Southwold in Suffolk, England, a distance of almost 9 miles. It opened in 1879 and closed in 1929. The line is usually remembered for its long-chimneyed steam engines, long six-wheeled coaches and steady work over 50 years - which helped Southwold to grow into the town it is today. Little now remains of the line, except for the trackbed, one van body, some S&T and PW equipment, one building, and some of the bridges.
The Southwold Railway Society was formed in 1994, and became a Charitable Trust in 2006, making this Charitable Statement:
The Southwold Railway Trust exists to promote awareness of the heritage of the old Southwold Railway which closed in 1929, preserve any remaining artefacts of the railway and instigate re-instatement of the railway as a local community and public amenity connecting Southwold to the main line railway at Halesworth.
Company Aims: The Southwold Railway Trust
- Is determined to build an operating railway on part or all of the original Southwold Railway trackbed, and therefore the Trust will continue to pursue such re-instatement, until that end is attained.
- Will to this end - as opportunity arises and where practical - purchase or otherwise acquire any sections of the original Southwold Railway trackbed which become available.
- Will promote, enable and provide environmentally-friendly visitor access to the Southwold Railway trackbed, for example by running guided vintage bus tours between Southwold and Halesworth, and also by promoting public access along the trackbed by walking and cycling.
- Will promote the memory of the Southwold Railway and foster wider interest therein.
- Will research, collate and add to the information about the Southwold Railway and augment the existing collection of artefacts and memorabilia relating to the railway, in anticipation of the establishment of an Accredited Museum of the railway at Wenhaston, or other suitable site.
- Will publish and otherwise disseminate information, display at exhibitions and promote public events.
- Will initiate and promote other such activities as are determined.
A consultation document was published in July 2003, with a plan to reopen the whole Southwold Railway, primarily as a local transport system, firstly to help manage summer traffic (by incorporating a park-and-ride) and secondly as a tourist line (in that order). After public consultation, a second plan was published in August 2005, with an adjusted route designed to follow the old from Halesworth to Blythburgh, then head north and make its way to Southwold to the north of the river, ending at the pier. This formed the basis for a planning application in March 2007, which received considerable local opposition in some quarters and was rejected later that year. (A further plan to establish a steam centre on derelict land near the Blyth Road recycling centre has now been abandoned in favour of the Wenhaston Station Project – which see below).
The Trust, however, continues to assert that such a Park and Ride scheme, utilising a heritage train service to reduce the scourge of excess traffic in the narrow streets, would be a considerable asset to Southwold, and that a carefully-managed and fully accountable tourist line, providing appropriate and sustainable transport in the Blyth Valley, would enhance the environment, landscape, access, and the historic value of the entire area. This fundamental Aim is laid out in the Trust's Charitable Statement.
Membership currently stands at 344. Current activities
of the Trust include:
Membership costs £15.00 annually. Please make cheques payable to
Railway Trust ", and send to the Membership Secretary,
27 High Street, Southwold IP18 6AD, UK along with your name and address.
here to use our secure online form to join up at once.
- Purchasing the original Southwold Railway trackbed to preserve it for transport use: the first section – at Wenhaston – being acquired on May 1st, 2013
- Planning and preparing to undertake the Wenhaston Station Project, which aims to re-create Wenhaston Station (close to its original site), and a half-mile of three foot gauge track, mainly on original trackbed, towards Blythburgh
- Building a replica 2-4-0T Sharp Stewart locomotive – "Blyth"
- Building a passenger train, including a coach and a covered van
- Staffing and supporting the SRT shop on Southwold High Street, and making available there such items as the DVD "Rails to Southwold" at £17.95 and a build-your-own model cardboard Sharpie (8" long) for £2
- Regular Southwold Railway related activities e.g. track bed walks, talks, shows, Annual Dinner, Model Show
- Publishing the quarterly Newsletter, with historical articles and information
- Publishing the SR Trackbed Walk booklet, and other appropriate books, leaflets and pamphlets
- Visiting railways and other related venues e.g. Mid-Suffolk Light Railway, Long Shop Museum
- Researching the history of the Southwold Railway (see Newsletter)
- Increasing local knowledge and appreciation of the Southwold Railway by, for example, recovering Walberswick Station foundations from the undergrowth and installing a seat on the site, appearing at exhibitions, and re-laying some three foot gauge track on Bridge No 2 at Bird's Folly, Halesworth