The Story So Far…
This project has a long and interesting planning history. Currently we are considering our next application to restore Wenhaston Station and half a mile of track with historic accuracy. The station will be within a dozen yards of its original location. As many Heritage Railways have found before us the planning journey is not simple but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Currently we can use the site for railway activities on 28 days a year with the public invited but not charged. In the past two years there have been successful open days which had a number of visitors including many local residents. At the 2016 event Trust volunteers laid 50 yards of track, some of it was original SR track and was donated by Halesworth Millennium Green. Fencing has been erected adjoining the track bed and Station, around 500 yards. Some of this fencing was original as is the design. Local residents and environmental groups are very happy that our work so far has reduced the risk of flooding and encouraged wildlife. A RSPB member has installed bird boxes for various species. We would like to install a bird hide at this site. Local barn owls were welcome visitors at our last event. The number of RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust members in the Trust guarantees that the protection and enhancement of the local environment is in the best interests of all flora and fauna.
Thanks to very generous members and supporters, the Southwold Railway Trust raised sufficient finance and loans to be in a position to purchase the Wenhaston site, now reduced to just over 5 acres (including more than 29 chains of practically-untouched trackbed) and therefore decided to proceed with the purchase, regardless of the outcome of the planning application. Even if no railway could be built at this time, it was an unique opportunity to preserve a section of the original route and trackbed until such time as any future planning application might succeed. The land was purchased on May 1st 2013, with a subsequent declared intention of acquiring any further affordable sections of the trackbed that might become available. The trackbed fund was established to achieve this aim. The sale of 26 surplus acres of farmland in 2015 meant that all loans were able to be repaid, thus removing a considerable financial burden.