The Leiston Expansion Goes Full Steam Ahead

imagePositive news has come out of Leiston Works Railway (LWR), who want to reinstate the rail line from Buller Road and Main Street to then connect with the award-winning Leiston Long Shop Museum, which is the once the home to the foundries of Richard Garrett & Sons Limited. This line was abandoned in the late 1960s under the Beeching Cuts. In fact, some of the route of the line can still be found, hidden away at the back of a pub and between houses, such as a former rail crossing gate and a cast-iron post, while in the local pub, the Engineers Arms’ car park, a section of rails can be seen. Some of the setts in the road mark the original track bed

The group’s ultimate aim is to run railway vehicles drawn by horses or  hauled by steam locomotives, including the historic steam shunting locomotive Sirapite, which was used on the railway from 1929 to 1962 and which has been restored to working order at the Long Shop. I first saw this locomotive on a news story on BBC Look East when she was first restored at the museum in March 2010. You can see the news clip here.

Since the locomotive returned to service, the ambitious and exciting project was always on the cards, but it is a step closer following the granting of planning permission by Suffolk Coastal council, which will entail to re-lay the track and erect fences and gates.The expansion would allow the locomotive to pull a brake van, which is about to be restored by LWR members, allowing visitors to experience an industrial railway at first hand. The town councillors have said that this attraction will help to boost the town economy.

LWR trustee Colin Fisher said the application, which was funded by Leiston Town Council, and supporting documentation was the result of a lot of hard work by the committee, and a large part of the overall submission, stating that “this is a very important step forward in the short history of the LWR, and we owe a great sense of gratitude to Leiston Town Council, Sharps Redmore Ltd and Seaprop Ltd, who all made financial contributions through the various surveys that were required in support the LWR application. I would also like to thank all those who wrote letters of support, it was an essential part of the application, and very encouraging to see the level of support we received. We are also grateful for the cooperation and support we received from the Long Shop Museum during this process”.

Since I saw the news report, I have still not been able to visit the museum, but six years on, the hard working volunteers are still making incredible tracks for Sirapite, the little engine that could…

Thanks for reading.

 

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