Many apologies for the hiatus in this blog: we have been working very hard, and much of the work is not very photogenic. Also, the usual collapse in Southwold ‘s broadband speed, occasioned by the twenty-fold summer increase in the town’s population, makes any kind of complex internet work very hard indeed.
Trust volunteers have continued to work hard in very hot weather, which is tiring just to live through, and more so in that much of the work is under direct sunlight, or in hot enclosed spaces, or both (the workforce threatened to enclose the Chairman inside what we can the “tin shed”, which protects our Blyth Valley Light Railway stock – this is a steel box, almost exactly the same as those used in WWII prisoner-of-war camps as a punishment – if he didn’t keep the new tool van tidy) (They were only half joking)
The new onsite office at Blyth Road has been cleaned and emptied, ready for its new role as the shop, staff room, and meeting room. Many site services are being put on by volunteers, although the three-phase power supply to the new workshop has been done professionally, for obvious reasons. The first raised garden at the site is growing nicely in donated topsoil. Some volunteers are nostalgic for the days of jungle-clearance at the Wenhaston trackbed, so they have begun clearing a 2-metre gap through the assorted buddleia, nettles and briars for the 7¼” railway which will circle the nature reserve. The future plant shop is ready, and a great deal of measuring and marking out has been done, as the land is pretty cramped to include all we want, so everything has to be in exactly the right place.
The (for the moment) last panel of three-foot track using rails we have is down, making 45 yards in all: we will need to source more decent 35lb rail before any more can be done – and of course find the cash to pay for it. So much is happening at once that we are close to outstripping our cashflow: the more comes in, by Bond sponsorship, new Memberships, or simple donations, the faster we can make it all happen. To facilitate that, we plan to open in the summer holiday in a low-key way, so that the public (who will not be charged) can see what we have done, and also see and discuss our plans, both for this site, and for the rest of the railway.
In other news – Bernie W of the East Anglia Transport Museum has very professionally completed the numbering and lettering on Van 40, which will travel to SteamWorks as soon as we have track to put it on. Motor Rail “Mells” will also move, so that the topcoat painting can be done without the risk that transport will damage it. Halesworth Museum donated a very nice 1940 railway notice board from Halesworth Station, which will now have a new lease of life for the SR (don’t forget to go to the Museum at Halesworth Station to see the special Southwold Railway display this summer). Staff enjoyed a very pleasant BBQ on our land in Wenhaston, which is looking at its best just now (but would look even better with a train on it).
The Light Railway travelled to Holton Fete and Classic Car Show on Sunday 18th, where the weather was so ridiculously hot that our air-cooled locomotive had eventually to be run just as a powered chassis, without any superstructure. We were very pleased to see some of the Holton primary pupils who kindly planted trees for us in spring: we will invite them back next year, to see how their trees have grown.
Lastly – it’s been said before, but needs saying again. First, the Trust has an overriding and (because it is a Registered Charity) legally-enforceable task: to restore the entire Southwold Railway. To those whostill say it will never happen we say – it will if you help it to happen.
And, second, if any reader of these blogs wishes to comment, then the proper place is online, using the “Contact us” prompt which we offer on the home page. No comment will be censored (unless our legal team believes it to be libellous), although the Trust reserves the right to correct any errors of fact within such comments. No complaints (or, for that matter, praise) received by any other method will be accepted. Please feel free to give us as much feedback as you wish.