Planning consent was granted in 2016 for a Visitor Centre, Railway and Nature Reserve on the old Gas Works site in Blyth Road, Southwold IP18 6AZ. The plan shows the Southwold Railway Steamworks project which will include a Visitor Centre building with cafe, shop, toilets, museum and engine shed, plus 11 chains of three foot gauge track, including a run parallel and close to the site of the original track as it approached
Southwold Station. The project includes a 7¼ inch gauge miniature railway running around the site plus parking for blue badge holders. We would like to encourage visitors to Steamworks to walk either along Blyth Road or across the Common. The Halesworth to Southwold X88 bus service stops Mon to Sat at the end of Blyth Road on Station Road. There are various signposted car parks in Southwold. Eventually visitors will find over a quarter mile of track, in two gauges, which will be set in a landscaped Nature Reserve containing ponds, wild flower meadow and woodland.
On the 30th March 2017 the Trust completed the purchase of the site in Blyth Road. By August, the first part (about a third) of the building was broadly complete, with Peckett “Scaldwell” and Motor Rail “Mells” inside. By the end of 2019 phases two and three were largely complete, meaning Van 40 and Wagon 41 are also there, whilst three donated Royal Naval underframes are lined up, awaiting transformation into further items of replica rolling stock. (see details of our “Heritage Train Project” for further details.) Whilst the portable building initially provided the shop and office, the third section of our new building now houses a purpose-built shop and cafe. The (7.25″) Blyth Valley Light Railway runs in a circuit around the site, with a roster of one electric and two steam locomotives offering rides from our canopied ‘miniature’ station. Roger G’s Midland Railway van provides tool storage, and an interesting contrast with our own Van 40, of very similar construction, whilst the 3′ gauge Cleminson coach from the Manx Northern Railway and a 3′ gauge tramcar trailer from Belgium are at present static exhibits, and are awaiting full restoration.
Sadly we have been forced to remain closed during the 2020 season due to Coronavirus, but it has given us the opportunity to move work forward on several fronts. Tracklaying for the three-foot has advanced significantly, in anticipation of the ultimate delivery of our new-build locomotive ‘Blyth’- a replica of one of the original 2-4-0 locomotives built for the Southwold Railway by Sharp, Stewart & Co of Manchester in 1879, Funding permitting, this locomotive will be delivered in 2021, and the three foot gauge trackwork currently in hand will give us an 80 yard demonstration line upon which she will operate.
Although it is difficult to be certain of anything at this moment in time, it is hoped that we will be able to open to the public again for the 2021 season. For those who have visited us before, there will be much new progress evident- and if you haven’t visited us before, we look forward to the opportunity to welcome you to Steamworks.
Our purchase of the site and erection of buildings to house Scaldwell and the workshop means funds for developing the project are currently very low and our drive to get more money in goes on. The Trust is continuing to issue Bonds (A Bond, in this context, does not represent stock, generate interest or become repayable, but is a Subscriber receipt acknowledging the subscription to the Southwold Railway) with a value of £50 per Bond as a means of sponsoring this Project. If you would be interested in the Bond scheme please either register that interest through firstname.lastname@example.org or you can download the Bond Application form here. You also can help us make this project a reality by donating through Paypal:
You can read more about this Project on our Blog. Below are some recent items about this project