Trust Chairman James and our Co-op Display

The Trust is pleased and thankful that the Co-operative Group has chosen our charity as one of the local beneficiaries for their community funding.

We have a display in Southwold Co-op, where the Chairman spent a recent afternoon talking to customers about our aims. As a registered charity which aims to benefit the local community, the SRT has a lot in common with the Co-operative movement. If you would like your shopping to benefit us, become a Co-op member, and then choose SRT from the list of Southwold charities – online is easiest.

Trust volunteers having a short rest during an 8-hour working day

Comments from the public and press that the Trust has “certainly hit the ground running” are gratifying, even when the pace of events is hard to keep up with! Thanks to “Just Nice Things”, we ran another successful Pop-Up shop at iChameleon in the Halesworth Throroughfare, over the last week in May. We were again joined by local groups – principally Halesworth Museum, Halesworth Millennium Green, The New Reach Group, the Men’s Shed, the Lions, and the Tourism Group – and there was a great deal of interest from Halesworth residents and visitors.
In the year – or so – since we ran our first such shop in the fine market town, we hear a lot more of “when are you going to build the railway – I can’t wait”, and less of the “it’ll never happen”. We signed up a lot more Members from both Halesworth and Wenhaston: Trust membership is increasing very fast now. Naturally, the major query was how we are planning to reach Halesworth, now that the original station is no more: although we have various possible plans for this, it’s for the residents and businesses to decide, seeing that there seems to be almost universal support of the return of the railway.

Midland Railway Van arriving, thanks to Roger G (owner) and John Gatehouse (haulier)

Meanwhile, at the other end of our branch line in Southwold, volunteers have been building, landscaping, fettling track, putting services on, and generally readying the site of the visitor centre for operation. On Wednesday 31st, a historic Midland Railway van arrived on loan, thanks to a generous Member: the volunteers ended up doing a very long and hard day indeed, preparing for and receiving this immaculate museum-piece of a nineteenth-century vehicle, which will become our tool store at first, with other functions later. It will also be interesting for our public (when it is appropriate to allow them onsite) to see the contrast in size between this standard-gauge van, and our own van 40. Construction methods and design are remarkably similar. Our (current) 8 panels of three-foot-gauge track are looking very nice indeed: a professional railwayman came by, and thought we had done a pretty good job (especially considering that much of the rail was originally curved).

New volunteer Ted resting on the first raised flower bed

On Friday June 2nd, the Trust held its first Board meeting onsite, in the new company office. Paramount on the agenda was fund-raising, as we can do nothing without cash, and the land purchase and building have depleted our available funding: reports on our re-application for planning permission at Wenhaston (sadly, we know that the local “charity-haters” are already mustering their troops to destroy this harmless dream), and of our progress on the Business Plan for the entire 8-mile line, were also prominent.

Fund-raising will start with another effort on the sponsorship Bonds these are £50 each, and, although they do not confer ownership or are trade-able (our Members own the railway), they will be rewarded with a collectable certificate of donation, based on the design of the original SR shares, and will also provide the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped this iconic and historic railway to be restored.

The Co-operative connection, another successful Pop-Up Shop, the first railway van onsite