Moving rails (the rail lifters – and by that we mean the tools, not the volunteers – are almost as old as the SR!)

On Wednesday May 3rd, Trust volunteers laid the first two permanent panels of three-foot-gauge rails on the new Southwold Railway – 88 years after closure. This will form part of the northern of the two roads inside the new rolling stock facility, which itself forms part of the SteamWorks visitor centre at Blyth Road.
We have a small amount of good-quality 35lb per yard rail: this was laid onto SR-size sleepers, because of height constraints between foundation and roof height. So we decided to lay the sleepers very much closer together than the SR standard, to provide more support and solidity to the rails.

Visitor centre, first track

Our very helpful and friendly contractors, Duncan and Son of Reydon, had provided a level and well-compacted base: in fact, a little too well-compacted, as it turned out, as our standard-gauge track screws protruded through the sleepers and raised the entire panel from the ground. Experiments with cutting the ends off the – very hard – track screws (or digging holes for them) were time consuming: in the end, we drilled the substrate with a masonry drill, allowing the long track screws to be “screwed” into it. The panels certainly won’t be moving around! We are sourcing shorter screws.

Looking east from the new building

The building was also going up around us, and the central section (all we can afford at the moment) should be complete quite soon.
Many of the volunteers were shovelling scalpings, to improve the access roadway (it certainly needs it) for the benefit of our neighbours (and of course, eventually, for ourselves as well), while some were clearing the site of detritus.

Trust volunteer Chris guarding at Bressingham

Lest it be thought that we don’t enjoy ourselves as well (though trackwork is enjoyable, it’s very hard on the back), some of the volunteers visited Bressingham’s Gala on Monday 1st, where many of our friends were operating and exhibiting.

Stuart’s steam roller at Bressingham (Stuart is our “Scaldwell” Project Manager)

Bressingham put on an amazing show, with steam everywhere: some of our more intrepid volunteers were also to be seen cavorting on the Gallopers (no photographic evidence, sadly, which will at least spare their blushes).

First Permanent Track Laid in Southwold for the SR