Posts Tagged ‘3ft gauge’

Southwold closure 80th anniversary

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


River Blyth swing bridge. Southwold Museum archives.

The Southwold Museum has put on-line an impressive amount of material about Southwold’s past. An article by David Lee, ‘Transport to Southwold’, includes a description of the town’s road, rail and water links. There is a short history of the Southwold Railway including a gallery of photographs. The picture shows one of the railway’s original diminutive Sharp Stewart 2-4-0T engines hauling a mixed train. Note the line’s unusual 6 wheeled carriages. Click on the photograph to proceed to the Museum’s Southwold Railway section.

On April 11th 1929 the Southwold Railway closed. The Southwold Railway was one of England’s more curious public narrow gauge lines. 9 miles long, it was built to connect the small Suffolk seaside town of Southwold to the GER mainline at Halesworth. It was opened in 1879 and laid to a gauge of 3ft, which was common on public and industrial lines in Ireland and the Isle of Man, but only used on a handful industrial lines on the British mainland.

As in the case of the Welsh Highland Railway, the line’s legal identity continued long after closure and the railway formation remained intact. An abindonment order was only obtained in the 1990s releasing land for development at Halesworth. The Southwold Railway Society was formed in 1994 with the long-term objective of restoring the line. The Society was reconstituted as the Southwold Railway Trust some time later. In 2007, the Trust applied for planning permission to relay the line, but unfortunately due to a small minority of local activists who opposed the reopening proposal, the application was rejected.