The Southwold Railway Trust can look backward to 2015 as a good, but hard, year of consolidation. Our volunteers spent almost six months on two efforts – firstly, works to enable the boundaries and access on the Wenhaston land, including a great deal of clearance for stock fencing, and preparation of our new access trackway, and secondly, moving everything we own at the Rolling Stock workshop to a new venue. Much of this necessary but less obviously constructive work is now done, so we can get on with more interesting things. The Chairman made another foray to Galloway (through the floods) over the New Year (he claims that it’s only to get away from the all-night fireworks in Southwold), so SRT now has an enormous quantity of timber for all kinds of purposes. And yes, he got lost again.
For the Heritage Train, the laminated poplar roof ribs, thanks to specialist Essex carpenter Tony, arrived in mid- January – their advent will allow the SOLD workshop to carry on with the build of Van 40’s body. The underframe (in two parts), both (re-axled) wheelsets, the brake cross shaft, and both headstocks for Coal Wagon 41 arrived at our workshop on Wednesday 20th, ready for re-assembly. This description glosses over the difficulty of removing very heavy metal sections from a pick-up, using only muscle power – complicated by the fact that many or most pieces are awkwardly-shaped, with many protruding sharp corners. And of course the regauged wheelsets tried to run away – that’s what they do. But all was completed in safety by an enthusiastic team. On the loco front, expressions of interest are being sought from contractors for the build completion of our steam locomotive “Blyth”, and the Motor Rail is motoring on nicely. At the November 2015 AGM, Members supported the Resolution: “That the Southwold Railway Trust set up, promote and administer a Trackbed Fund, to be used to purchase, lease or otherwise acquire access rights on any part of the Southwold Railway trackbed (or land adjacent to it) between Halesworth and Southwold, including the Harbour Railway, to preserve this valuable asset for posterity as a transport corridor through the Blyth Valley.” as it is entirely in concert with the stated charitable aims. Trustees subsequently confirmed this, so the Trust has set up a Fund which can be used to purchase any trackbed section which might become available. The SR trackbed is astonishingly almost intact, even 87 years after closure: it is thus very much the remit of SRT to try to protect it, and keep it in being for future railway (and footpath) provision. The job is enormous, and will have to be done in the face of strong local opposition – but there is also tremendous support out there in the real world. The reward is commensurate. The Fund is open for donations, of any size, on the Trackbed Fund section of this website, or to our registered office. The SR is probably the last great narrow gauge restoration project in England, and you can help it to happen.