A new set of quality Southwold Railway pens is now available at the shop. These retractable pens come in 5 metallic colour finishes (black, blue, red, purple and green) and feature a ‘Sharpie’ outline loco with commemorative detailing. They are available online at just £2.00 each, or a set of one of each colour for £8.00. Additionally, callers at the shop may choose any three pens of their choice for only £5.00. Also new in is a marvellous A4 paperback book by Canon David Pitcher – “All Change for Framlingham”. With his considerable experience as both pupil and master at Framlingham College, David expertly guides us through the life and times of this historic branch on the East Suffolk line. Highly recommended for yourself or as a gift at just £11.00.
If you’re quick you might just be able to avail yourself of some seasonal exotic jams in the shop – Apple, Raspberry & White Chocolate (out of this world!), Apple Strudel or Spicy Xmas Jam (apple, pear, plum and cinnamon) among others. Outrageously delicious, but selling fast…!
Another fine day at Wenhaston (we’ve been very lucky so far this winter – or perhaps I shouldn’t have said that), and our largest team – so far – of 10 volunteers cleared a horrible and intimidating tangle of bramble and ivy, finally breaking through to a clearer section. Substantial progress means that we have now cleared 6½ chains in all, and the head of working is now almost a third of the way to breakthrough at the east end of the wooded trackbed.
The main clearance has to be completed by the end of February, as the birds’ nesting season then precludes vegetation removal until August. At that point we will backtrack to clear brush piles and felled dead trees: much of the resulting brush will remain onsite in suitable places away from the trackbed, as a useful habitat for plants, animals, birds and invertebrates, while some of the logs may well be of value.
We were very pleased to welcome some new volunteers, including two from the Mid Norfolk Railway, who arrived with a very useful selection of strimmers and cutters – and even managed to manhandle a wheelbarrow over the fences. A rope was also used to good effect in bringing down dead saplings: as the roots are so shallow in the poor soil, this is the safest way to do the job.
While we wait, with increasing impatience, for the interminable planning process to come to a conclusion, it’s good to see real progress on this classic section of the old Southwold Railway.
The Trust is very pleased to announce that we have secured the long-term loan of Motor Rail diesel locomotive 105H006, by kind agreement of the owner, Peter Nicholson. The only extant example of its class, this very rare three foot gauge locomotive will be ideal for construction trains, permanent way work, shunting, and staff training, at Wenhaston Station.
The loco, which will become SR No 5, is in good condition (the Deutz engine has been run quite recently) although it will need some TLC after standing outside for a number of years. This will include re-assembly of part of the braking system, re-attachment of one coupling assembly, a new exhaust, new glass in the cab, and a complete appraisal of the hydraulic drive. 105H006 comes with a complete set of drawings and manuals.
The arrival of this locomotive increases the Southwold Railway Trust’s stocklist to six, joining our two steam loco chassis, two coaches, and the SR van replica chassis.
The Rolling Stock Group is aiming to arrange transport to Southwold from No 5’s Devon location before Easter 2014. Funds are being sought from SRT members for this, and also for repair and service requirements when 105H006 gets to the Trust’s Southwold workshop.
Both photos by kind permission of Peter Nicholson
The Wenhaston Environmental Volunteers have continued to clear the original trackbed on Trust land. Brambles, both alive and dead, nettles, and scrub dead saplings (mainly elm) are being removed, initially to provide a path for members’ access and accurate survey. By lunchtime on Sunday November 17th, when rain stopped work, the team had reached a point over 4 chains (90 yards in all) from the wood’s edge. Thus we have cleared about one fifth of the heavily-wooded trackbed section. We unearthed another SR sleeper, and some more original fence sections.
The four volunteers onsite also walked to the east end of the land, to see how much tangled vegetation remains to be removed: there are some sections which are relatively clear, separated by several daunting jungles of tangled brambles and deadwood up to three or four yards high and wide. The recent St Jude’s storm brought down quite a few largish trees – again, mostly already dead – which will add to the clearance required.
Anyone who would like to help with this pioneering work, on one of our three workdays per month, is welcome, but you must be a paid-up member of the Trust to take part.
A more than usually hard job – two and a half hours of ivy hacking – to unearth a donated 3 yard length of original Southwold Railway rail, which used to hold up a Wenhaston resident’s washing line.
John Ridgway and James Hewett absented themselves from rolling stock work at the SRT workshop for this: you can’t see John because he’s behind the camera – but he did more than half the work, and provided transport for the rail (and a hundredweight or so of ivy as well) back to Southwold.
It was still worth it, though, as there are very few genuine SR artefacts left: this rail is at least 84 years old, and could even be 134, as the SR only lasted for fifty years – not enough to wear out all its original rail.
We now have about 37 feet of rail, but need another 83 feet for workshop use – and of course for posterity.
The Rolling Stock Group have been making good progress with Coach 7 (the tram trailer) and the regauged chassis for the SR covered van. The picture shows us painting the coach roof, after the rubbing down and priming had been done. The centre section is canvas – in very good condition, luckily. The two sections of the van chassis have been welded together, to provide a higher and wider chassis than the original. Brake gear is now completed – see picture.
The first Wenhaston working day was on Sunday 27th October 2013. There were seven volunteers onsite. We were very lucky with the weather, which was sunny, though wet underfoot.
Clearance was started along the top of the old trackbed embankment (for a footpath only, not the eventual full 3.5m loading gauge width). About 50 metres (about one eighth of the length of old trackbed in our ownership) were cleared of scrub, brambles and dead wood, but leaving the large live trees intact. We reached a point where there is a very pleasant view over the valley side to the south and found two original fence posts and one fence rail.
The area inside the gates and some of the station site were also cleared of re-grown nettles and the gates adjusted.
Further workdays and winter 2013/2014 tasks were decided – these will be published in the Newsletter.
Our Southwold Railway Bus Tours – aboard the splendid 1950s coach OLIVE – have proved so popular that we have decided to add two more trips in September to cope with the demand! Please ring John Bennett on 01502 724340 for tickets prices and availability on the tours on September 12th and 26th. These tours tie in with local services to and from Ipswich and Lowestoft, so you could even do the whole day by joining the tour at Halesworth Station if you wish.
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 1950s bus – “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. Buffet lunch may be booked at £5 per head extra – or bring a picnic if you prefer. Don’t delay, as tickets are selling fast!
Sorry the Blog has been rather static of late, but I’ve just been waiting for news of the planning application, which should have been decided by mid July. Needless to say, it was first put back to mid-August and then mid-September – no further comment from me necessary!!! It is still almost impossible to make sense of the SCDC Planning Department website so you will need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to support our application, labelling the email ‘f.a.o.Steve Milligan Case Officer Planning Application No. C/13/0833.
On a positive note, the Southwold Railway Tours on board “Olive” are proving very popular and seem to be enjoyed by young and old alike. Seats are still available for 1st, 15th and 29th August, so please ring John Bennett on 01502 724340 if you wish to join one of the tours.
It’s great that we’ve now got the land!
The revised planning application is now with Suffolk Coastal District Council, but finding it on their pages is convoluted, to say the least! To register your support please go to ‘scdc planning’ page, then scroll down to the foot of the page to find the link marked ‘planning applications quick search’. This will take you to the relevant page, where you can enter the application number, which is 13/0833 for details about the revised plan.
Do, please, spread the word and support us in our quest to return steam to the Blyth valley!