Why Revive The Railway?

A train approaching Wenhaston Station

We wish to bring together a group of members who believe that the planned working heritage railway would be best centred on Halesworth and the upper Blyth Valley, because:

  • Halesworth, an up-and-coming market town which already has a lot to offer visitors, would provide an ideal support-network for a heritage railway
  • The revived heritage railway will beautifully complement Halesworth’s historic tourism offers – the Maltings Trail, the New Reach, the Town Trail, the Millennium Green, and the Hooker Trail – by recalling
  • Halesworth’s nineteenth and early twentieth-century importance as a transport hub
  • The Halesworth to Wenhaston section of the Southwold Railway is west of the A12 and outside the AONB: thus the railway will fit in with local and regional plans for new attractions
  • The Halesworth to Southwold Railway was a classic high-Victorian means of transport through the beautiful Blyth Valley, and deserves to be seen again in all its quirky glory
  • It was unique in many different ways – in its gauge, in its unusual rolling stock (most of which it used throughout its short 50-year life), in its financial success, and as an important part of Suffolk’s history
  • The historic trackbed – and many of the original civil engineering features – are still mainly unencumbered and in good condition
  • The railway provided – and could again provide – an alternative way for visitors and residents to enjoy the Blyth Valley without clogging up the arrow roads with car traffic
  • Heritage railways provide proven advantages to the areas where they have been revived, and the HtoSNGR would enhance Halesworth’s visitor offer : heritage railways extend the tourist season, and provide family-friendly all-weather all-year attractions for day and longer-term visitors: 1 in 8 of everyone employed in East Suffolk works in tourism, so it is very important to the local economy
  • Heritage railways provide not only volunteering opportunities (volunteering is good for you!), but many of them also provide jobs (the Festiniog Railway, for example, employs over 100 people)
  • Yes – nothing is impossible – and yes, it can be done! The Festiniog Railway’s Welsh Highland extension (24 miles through the Snowdonia National Park) re-opened 74 years after closure (despite the removal of all the rails and the demolition of most of the stations), and the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway is in the process of being re-opened through the Exmoor National Park, 83 years after closure: re-opening such a long-closed railway is practical, given community support
  • We have set up the Halesworth to Southwold Narrow Gauge Railway Society to emphasise for the first time the huge importance of Halesworth as a railway hub with its links to London and the Suffolk coast, an importance neglected up until now.
  • We have included narrow gauge in our name because the line to Southwold was built – and will be restored – to the very unusual gauge of three feet, a gauge only ever shared with two other English passenger lines.
  • One of our aims is to build a replica of Halesworth Station (Southwold Branch Line) close to the town, but on a new site, as the original site is no longer available: the community will be involved in selecting the site.