The Southwold Railway Trust has completed the purchase of 31 acres of pasture land in Wenhaston! Along the southern edge of the site is the trackbed of the original Southwold Railway. We hope that in the near future it will be possible to relay track on a quarter of mile of the trackbed and to create a replica station in Wenhaston. The majority of the land that is now owned by the trust will continue in use as pasture land and will not be affected by any plans to restore the railway
On Sunday 26th May Rev. Simon Pitcher will be leading a Sole Bay team parish walk from St. Edmund’s Southwold to Holy Trinity Blythburgh, via St. Andrew’s Walberswick, leaving St. Edmund’s at 1pm and following the Southwold Railway trackbed as far as possible.
The reason for the walk is to tie in with the Rrgationtide tradition of”beating the parish bounds”, and of Whit walks at Pentecost / Trinity time. At Blythburgh at 4pm there will be a special evening service to dedicate a new sculpture in the church, followed by afternoon tea. Any rail enthusiasts would be very welcome to join in the walk.
The Southwold Railway was a narrow gauge railway plying between Halesworth and Southwold from 1879 to 1929. It’s not restored yet (although we’re working on it!) but we can take you on an entertaining and instructive all-day tour on an historic 1950′s bur – “Olive” – to see what’s left of the Southwold Railway; including surviving trackbed and track, the stations at Halesworth, Wenhaston, Blythburgh, Walberswick and Southwold. Also visit to the engine shed where we are building a replica 1879 locomotive, experience live steam at an enchanting garden railway, and watch footage of the line in Southwold’s world-famous Electric Picture Palace.
Join us at Southwold (10:15) or Halesworth (11:00) and let our guide, appropriately attired as a Victorian railway guard, take you into the golden age of steam during a delightful journey through the beautiful Blyth Valley.
The 2013 dates for these tours on these Thursday dates are:
Tickets are £15 per adult, £8 per child (under 12), with a Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) costing just £39.00. Go to the Shop page to book your tickets online!
Trust member Richard Stone has recently taken ownership of a Roundhouse Mildred class live steam locomotive – a generic model of no particular prototype sized to work well and look acceptable in the garden railway scales. If you ignore what’s going on below foot plate level there is more than a passing resemblance to a Southwold Sharpie and Richard’s loco now bears a set of BLYTH plates. The locomotive is fired by butane gas and controlled is achieved by a 2.4GHz radio control installation, with servos controlling both the regulator and the reversing valve gear.
It certainly looks good on Richard’s garden line (based on the eastern end of the Southwold Railway) and will be on static display with other large scale models at the Southwold Railway Trust Exhibition at St Edmunds Hall on 4th and 5th May (see Events page).
First wagon to run on SR track since 1929!
We continue to be highly safety-conscious, and keeping on top of our PAT testing and recording is an ongoing task. A very useful wooden step ladder (immediately pressed into use for tram body cleaning), and a socket set, were donated to the workshop. The Trust promotional stand painting in SR dark blue continues as weather allows. Ten attendees on the main March Workshop Day divided into four teams. Whilst the first team continued removing rotten panelling inside the tram, the second continued to paint the Trust promotional stand, the third continued with PAT testing, and the fourth re-assembled the axleboxes with bearings, circlips, etc. and a liberal amount of waterproof grease, and placed these over the axle ends. With the sliding sections of the W-irons greased, it was time to join forces and lower the completed sub-chassis onto the wheelsets/axleboxes, not forgetting to insert the springs and spring washers at the appropriate moment. As is usually the case, one axlebox refused to slide onto the W-irons – after a lot of head scratching (though it wouldn’t go all the way on, it also wouldn’t come off), we swapped the two boxes on one axle, and – with a certain amount of brute force and a great deal of careful jockeying – the whole thing suddenly fell into place. As most of the components had been altered or repaired, it was encouraging that it all fitted so well. As we now had our first three foot gauge wagon (or at least the most important parts of it), we of course had to have a little ride on it – all of a yard or so each way. Member Toby Robinson claimed the first ride, while the youngest (10-year-old William Stone) travelled in style sitting on a genuine SR sleeper for enhanced comfort! The sub-chassis was then completely painted in black, and, to use up surplus paint, we also painted one side of all the brake gear, and much of the couplings and dragboxes. New recruits are always welcome – some simple homework jobs also available if you’d like to help but cannot attend the Workshop Days.
The chassis components for our replica SR covered van arrived back from Peggs of Aldeburgh on 1 Feb., transported courtesy of Duncan’s Builders. Peggs have done a very nice job with the new axles, and have also welded in around 6” of new metal to separate the solebars and lengthen the brake cross-shaft. So we now have a pile of steel, some to be re-used, like the solebars, W-irons, and sub-frame, and some to be used only as templates, such as the buffer beams and gussets.
At the main Workshop Day, which was very well attended by over a dozen people, we moved the Van chassis components into the workshop using the newly-manufactured heavy-duty trolley and a lot of manpower (access to the workshop is not straightforward, as both the Tram and Manx Coach are in the new temporary building directly in front of the doors). The main sub-frame (solebars plus cross-members) was then primed where necessary, and the wheelsets cleaned up and primed. Meanwhile, the first panel of three foot gauge (actually 36 1/16”) Southwold Railway track to be built by the Trust was assembled from original SR rail and threaded bar cross-ties – a historic occasion. White paint on the rail ends defines them for safety against trip hazard.
Work continued on the rubbing down of the Tram saloon ceiling, the preparation of much of the internal saloon timber panelling, and a thorough scrub and clean of much of the external Tram body.
It’s a long haul, but we’re getting there!
Our new chimney for BLYTH inspected at Pegg’s of Aldeburgh on Friday 30th November – a most impressive piece of engineering.
The wagon chassis has also been made wider to 3′ gauge and both items will be returned to our shed in due course.
Pegg’s have been terrific throughout and are currently having a look at the small stress cracks in some of the original castings with a view to making them safe to use. Go to the link on our website link page to see the full range of services they offer (www.jtpeggandsons.co.uk)
The Southwold Railway Trust is naturally disappointed that Suffolk Coastal’s planning committee refused the application for a Southwold Railway Heritage Centre at Wenhaston last Wednesday, 5th December. However, we are much encouraged by the close vote – 5 to 3 – and also the emergence during the committee discussion that there was enthusiasm for a restoration of the Southwold Railway with track running through the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Of 504 miles of heritage railway in the UK, 326 run successfully through AONBs. Effect on the AONB was one of six reasons given for refusal, as was the risk of flooding. The Environment Agency withdrew its objections based upon flood risk, and the Trust believes that positive answers and solutions can be provided in respect of all the objections to our proposals. This being the case, we have decided to appeal to the Secretary of State against the planning decision. At the same time we will make a reapplication for a smaller project for the site, taking note of the comments made by objectors and by our many supporters.
SRT members John Ridgway, James Hewett & Toby Robinson collected the newly-blasted and primed wagon bits from Coastground, Great Yarmouth recently.
Buffers & Bits
The frame and wheelsets have already gone to Peggs of Aldeburgh for re-sizing.
All the rest is back in our workshop awaiting the return of modified frames and wheels so that we may start the re-assembly process.
Watch this space…
The stripped 4-wheel ex-WD chassis loaded on a lorry on its way to Coastground of Yarmouth, where it is to be grit-blasted and primed – along with the wheelsets, coupling assemblies, brake gear and springs. After this it will travel to Peggs of Aldeburgh to be cut up (ready for re-assembly at our workshop) into its new wider and shorter configuration. The wheels will be fitted on new, longer axles and the transformed chassis will form the basis of a replica of one of the original Southwold Railway covered vans. This will contain an independent braking system to run with the restored tram carriage and all future stock we may acquire.