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Southwold Railway

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by Bar Side, May 7, 2012.

  1. James Hewett

    James Hewett New Member

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    Indeed thanks Johann - and yes Phil it was a very nice day indeed. Rather to our surprise (it being a weekday) it turned out to be our most successful Open Day ever, both for visitor numbers and takings, and as importantly, we signed up our largest number of new members ever on one day. One visitor even cycled from Lowestoft! (and yes, he's now a member, and has offered to paint the number and lettering on the replica No 18 wagon) So we will probably make Suffolk Day (always 21st June) an annual event.
    As a departure from normal we decided to do some "real" work on the day, so not only was the wagon gloss-painted in Craftmaster GER freight grey, but three track panels were laid down onto genuine creosoted sleepers, and the heritage fence continued eastwards. Seems the public like to see things happening.....
    We'd like to take the opportunity here to thank all the volunteers who worked so hard (we know many of them read this forum).
    On September 11th we have to do it all again, but bigger and better, for the Event we are doing as part of the national Heritage Open Days celebration. Everyone is very welcome: 10.30 till 4.00.
    Meanwhile our first coach - a 4-wheeler - is now braked, and the body is started. It's based on an RNAD wagon, and represents a pragmatic solution until we can afford to do a proper SR Cleminson balcony brake-composite. Our 1936 Greenbat loco is in Norfolk, having traction batteries fitted, and design work done on possible air brakes. The RFS 4W DH is close to full operating condition. And much of the yard and sidings at Blythburgh will be re-laid over the next few months - including the Edwardian ground frame hut and, we hope, the second goods shed - we've been given major parts of the original building by the Parish.
     

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  2. rickyricks

    rickyricks New Member

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    Could I ask what the track layout will be at Blythburgh? Originally, I believe, the station had a single siding and a headshunt with the siding being converted into a passing loop in 1908, with the "new" point under the road bridge for the A12. James Hewett mentioned that one of the two future points will be some 80 yards to the west as the road bridge is no longer there, so will the new layout be two sidings, unlike the original?
     
  3. James Hewett

    James Hewett New Member

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    Hi Ricky - thanks for asking. At the moment we have two unconnected sidings - one into the Goods Shed and one alongside (which was originally the headshunt on the western end of the loop). And the main line. We are moving the main easternmost loop point from under the road to just west of the station building so that the point rodding can go where it should - into the ground frame hut. That's a job for this summer. Then, this winter when the car park is quieter, we'll put a second point onto the first, which will provide access to both sidings. We don't have room to complete the layout now - or permission - but we'd hope eventually to provide a point to the west of the Goods Shed, on the main line, to re-connect the loop. So the layout will be similar to that in the railway's last 20-or-so years but transposed. As things stand now, we can't reproduce the entire station, as it's occupied by a very well-used car park - but pretty-well anything is possible in the future, if we keep local people and the landowner (and, dare I say it, the planning dept.) happy. Blythburgh is almost certainly the only SR station which can be at least partially reproduced - Wenhaston is someone's garden, Halesworth has a housing estate on it, Southwold has a police station on it, and Walberswick is almost unapproachable (although we have long-term hopes!) I will try to draw up a map and post it here.
     
  4. rickyricks

    rickyricks New Member

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    Thank you James for the information - and good luck with the recreation of Blythburgh station.
     
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  5. rickyricks

    rickyricks New Member

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    Hi James. Based on the information in your post 323, and a 1914 OS map I've put together a schematic of the track layout at Blythburgh - is it more or less correct?
    Blytheburgh station track plan.JPG
     
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  6. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

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    I walked from Halesworth to Wenhaston (and back..) yesterday following the SR trackbed as much as I could, though I was actually heading for the Wenhaston Star pub - well worth a visit if you are in the area. I was frustrated on parts of the route as my 1988 OS map shows the riverside path along the Blyth crossing from the north bank to the south at one point, but it now renains on the north bank, so you are the wrong side of the river for the trackbed for the section nearer Wenhaston after the line crossed over the river itself.

    The southern SR bridge abutment in Halesworth (lighter brickwork) is still in situ.....

    rDSCF6798.JPG
    On the north side, the brickwork has gone, but the earth embankment is still there, covered in trees.

    The H&SR Group rebuilding in the Milennium Green area was the next on the agenda, with the relaid section of running line.....

    rDSCF6800.JPG

    rDSCF6801.JPG

    And the loco shed area......

    rDSCF6803.JPG

    rDSCF6804.JPG

    rDSCF6805.JPG

    About 1/3 mile of trackbed is walkable in this area.....

    rDSCF6807.JPG

    .... though a section to the east of this area shown as still extant on the 1988 map is now shut off/overgrown, so the next item of interest is the road bridge over the line at Mells which appears to have had a lot of work carried out on it in recent years. Rather surprised that this hasn't been removed, rather than spending money on strengthening/rebuilding it!

    rDSCF6810.JPG

    I did go for a climb down to track level, though there was a lot of dumped cut vegitation preventing me walking through the arch....

    rDSCF6811.JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2022
  7. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

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    The section between the road bridge and where the line crossed the River Blyth is not particularly well defined and the whole area is used for livestock grazing. The Public Footpath runs along the northen bank of the river so you don't really see the trackbed until you reach the point where the rail bridge used to be, as you climb up to cross what was obviously the location of the northern bridge abutment and end of a low earthen embankment leading to it. You can't really see it tooo well on the photo due to the vegitation, but there are some areas of concrete and scattered brickwork from the abutment still there on the northern side.....

    rDSCF6814.JPG

    There didn't appear to be any remains visible on the southern side of the river though.
    Between there and Wenhaston you are the wrong side of the river though in places you can clearly see the course of the railway through the land on the other side of the river - particularly the sections lined by trees.

    Once you get onto the road leading from Blyford into Wenhaston, this sign is next to the carriageway near to where the station/level crossing used to be.....

    rDSCF6815.JPG

    and on the eastern side of the road is the Southwold based SR Groups section of trackbed that they own.....

    rDSCF6816.JPG

    They have opened it to the Public on occasions in the past - mainly as part of the bus tours of the line they used to operate, but I haven't seen anything about those trips running of late and don't think anything like that has run since pre-Covid. There is no car parking available anywhere near the site so that was why the place was only open for organised trips.
     
  8. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Johann for giving us such a comprehensive "Walk - Along". It is great to see the steady growth of the SR, well done to all involved.
     
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  9. James Hewett

    James Hewett New Member

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    Hi - yes, that's accurate - thanks. The main line point installation will begin next Tuesday August 9th - materials are already onsite. A biggish job, as we are widening and lengthening an ex-Derbyshire two-foot-gauge turnout.
    Wagon 18 (replica open) and wagon 2 (re-gauged Permaquip trolley, PW) are also there now. Fencing has moved on well, with some original material included. Gearing up for our Sunday Sept. 11th Open Day and Model Show - now an integral part of the Halesworth Heritage Open Days, - and entirely free, including light refreshments!
     

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  10. James Hewett

    James Hewett New Member

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    The main line point is now installed, on SG sleepers split lengthways (to preserve the "look"). There was a lot of tweaking, as we are inserting a re-gauged RH - now slightly Y - point into a 1000-yard radius LH curve against a platform edge, and the installation is surrounded by very tight site constraints. The tie-bar and facing point lock will be rodded under the platform into the ground frame hut. A second oil lamp has been fabricated - and a platform bench identical to the originals has been obtained for re-build: we hope that the running-in board, seat, and oil lamp posts on the restored platform will attract families to take selfies and have a picnic.
    Replica wagon 18 was being sign-written on Thursday.
    Top-ballast and platform top-surface will be started next Tuesday.
    Wagon 2 (a re-gauged Permaquip trolley) was the first item of rolling stock to run on the main line here since 1929 - and it carried the first genuine freight loads (rail, sleepers tools, fittings) since that date. Even the hand-shunting was authentic - it's what was done for 50 years when the railway was open.
     

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  11. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    Marvellous stuff. Hope to see it in October.
     
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  12. James Hewett

    James Hewett New Member

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    Another record-breaking event at Blythburgh Station on Sunday 11th September. A large queue built up before opening, observed the two minutes' silence, and then visitors quite literally poured onto the station site!
    Several hundred visitors, lots of donations, and many souvenirs sold. Wagon 18 (replica 1879 open) formed part of a freight display - which included a genuine - and unique - Blythburgh station (Earl of Stradbroke) milk churn. The Norfolk and Suffolk Narrow Gauge Modellers put on a fine show, and films, in the village hall where our friends from the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway Museum had one of their best days at an outside event.
    Visitors came from over a hundred miles away in some cases.
    Visible was the completed section - about two-and-a-half chains - of the re-laid main line with point one, and the platform alongside - well over 100 sleepers have now been sponsored at £35.00 each, with one sleeper-sponsor fixing down his own sleeper on the day.
    As the event was part of the national Heritage Open Days, a community bus brought a group from Halesworth Museum, and we were able to arrange for them to go on later to the Southwold Railway Trust's own Open Day at Blyth Road.
    It was very hard work (not hand-shunting the wagon - that was easy) - but it paid off, and donations were so substantial that the free entry (and free refreshments) turned out to be a practical idea.
    We already have some enquiries about next year, so it looks as if it'll be an annual event.
     

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  13. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Well-Known Member

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    Glad that the event went so well and many thanks for the pictures and regular updates James.
     
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  14. Tobbes

    Tobbes Member

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    Superb - many congratulations, Southwold. Sorry I couldn't make it, see you next year.
     
  15. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

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    A view taken this morning at Blythburgh whilst I was en-route to Lowestoft.........

    DSCF6900.JPG
     
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  16. rickyricks

    rickyricks New Member

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    Thank you Johann; very much appreciated. I live a long way from Blythburgh so these images are always of interest.
     
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  17. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    Looks good doesn't it. We'll be visiting the Steamworks on the October open day. Don't know if we'll be able to get to Blythborough too. (Would you know if there is a cycle route from Walberswick?)
     
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  18. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

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    Only cycle route would be using the main roads - B1387 & B1125 - though both are reasonbly quiet now we are out of the main holiday season.
    Most of the way is covered by walking routes along the old trackbed between Walberswick Common and the A12 at Blythburgh with only a short distance of the trackbed inaccesable. Looking at the photos I took back in April when I walked it (some of which were posted on here) you might be able to cover a lot of that on a bike, though some of it is a bit narrow in places, plus there is the odd gate/style to negotiate...
     
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  19. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    Fingers crossed for a good turnout at Southwold this afternoon. We will be there.
     
  20. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    We came, we saw, we drank tea.

    Lovely to see Blyth in the flesh. It looks immaculate.

    Had a fascinating chat with one of the volunteers (apologies if I stopped you from doing stuff), but it sounds like they have their heads screwed on and are ready for the procedural complexities of going towards passenger operation on the "big railway".
     
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