With the good weather, it has been particularly enjoyable to be working for the Trust over the past few weeks (or so we tell the volunteers!). There have been a lot of landmarks.
The hard, long and tiring job of providing the new access road and pathway at Blyford Lane is basically complete – though next winter will be the real test, and there will doubtless be some fettling as it settles down. Stock fencing (by Keith Hall of Stoven) is complete, with the pastures separated from Trust land, and a plethora of gates at the east end (one between the footpath and our land, one across the footpath to keep the cattle in, two to provide farmer’s access from the south, and one to mark where our ownership of the trackbed ends. We are thinking of opening a small attraction – the Farm Gate Experience – which we are sure will be of interest [if only to those who like swinging on them]).
Markers for the chainage on Club 22 (which was the sponsoring group for land purchase) have just gone in: the sponsors’ plaques are on order from Leiston Press (who have a very beautiful staff – James the Chairman made a wholly-unnecessary visit in person). The Grassform protective grid is down, permanently, in the station area, protecting the roots of the large oak tree, and into the car parking area. Strimming, an endless job, goes on regularly.
Preparations for our Wenhaston Open Days on June 18th and 19th move on apace.
We are not ignoring our relationships with other sympathetic groups: we greeted (and sponsored) Gerald Burns, as he canoed between Halesworth and Southwold in aid of the restoration of the New Reach, and we enjoyed a guided walk to Bird’s Folly, courtesy of the Halesworth Millennium Green.
SR Van 40 – at the SOLD workshop in Lowestoft – is “complete”, with roof, ends, and walls – though the next phase – the sliding doors and the roof canvas, are neither small jobs! Open Wagon 41’s underframe is complete, with the couplings on, and one sapele mahogany solebar trial-fitted.
Final work on Peter Nicholson’s Motor Rail’s Deutz engine and the
electrical system are pretty well complete, leaving just the bonnet top and sides to add, and then the final painting. We will need coupling pins and chains, as none were on the loco when received.
Our Blyth Road Workshop plans are being modified to take account of the planning conditions, while we raise cash for the land purchase. We have £40,000 available for this (from the Wenhaston land sale, and from a donation), but the land cost (currently under negotiation) is likely to be at least twice that. We expect that the complete attraction and workshop, with track and building, will cost £75,000 to £100,000 on top of the land purchase, even with volunteers doing as much as possible of the work.
There is an opportunity elsewhere on this website to donate to this cause – the largest permission we have ever received, and an ideal base for the Trust’s activities – especially as it is in Southwold itself, and directly adjacent to the original trackbed.