Southwold Railway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Southwold Railway
Southwold Railway Station.jpg
A postcard sent in 1924 featuring Southwold railway station
Locale England
Dates of operation 1879–1929
Successor abandoned
Track gauge 3 ft (914 mm)
Length 8 12 miles (13.7 km)
Headquarters Southwold

The Southwold Railway was a narrow gauge railway line between Halesworth and Southwold in the English county of Suffolk. 8 34 miles (14.1 km) long, it was 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge. It opened in 1879 and closed in 1929.

Intermediate stations were at Wenhaston, Blythburgh and Walberswick.


Southwold Railway
East Suffolk Line
Harbour branch

The route closely followed the River Blyth, with Halesworth and Southwold both on the north side, but the longest section, including the intermediate stations, was on the south side. Although the line closed in 1929, its track was still marked and identified on a 1933 Ordnance Survey map, a navigable version of which is accessible in the external links section. The line was lifted and the equipment was scrapped in 1941 to help with war efforts. Some track can still be found on the harbour branch and a surviving van is at the East Anglian transport museum (Carlton Colville). There is also a surviving (but derelict) coal shed at Blythburgh.

Parts of the route from Southwold to Blythburgh are walkable, particularly through woodland known as the Heronry on the south shore of the Blyth estuary. The original footbridge at Southwold was blown up during the war but its pillars now support a footbridge.[1]

Proposed re-establishment of the line[edit]

The Southwold Railway Society was formed in 1994 to:

  1. further the memory of the Southwold Railway and to foster wider interest therein
  2. research, collate and add to the information about the Southwold Railway and to augment the existing collection of artifacts and memorabilia relating to the railway
  3. Publish and otherwise disseminate information, display at exhibitions and promote public events
  4. Investigate the possibility of re-establishing part of the line and to promote this if re-establishment was shown to be possible
  5. Initiate and promote other such activities as are determined

The Southwold Railway Trust was established in 2006 with the objective of promoting awareness of the heritage of the Southwold Railway, preserving any remaining artefacts and instigating re-instatement of the railway as a local community and public amenity connecting Southwold to the main line railway at Halesworth.

The trust submitted a planning application in June 2012 with a view to recreating a new station close to the original station site in Wenhaston. Plans include a new station building based on the design of the original, plus a workshop and visitor centre building. The proposals include the reopening of a 12 mile (0.80 km) section of the original railway towards Bythburgh. Lineside walks and picnic facilities, and the conservation and appreciation of local wildlife are also central to the plans. It is hoped[by whom?] that the trust will conserve a little piece of this historic and unique railway for current and future generations. To haul trains on the reopened line the trust is progressing with the construction of a replica Sharp Stewart steam locomotive, based on the designs of the locomotives that served the railway.


Number Name Builder Type Works Number Built Notes
(1) Southwold Sharp Stewart 2-4-0 T 2848 1879 Returned to makers, 1883
1 Southwold Sharp Stewart 2-4-2 T 3913 1893 Scrapped, 1929
2 Halesworth Sharp Stewart 2-4-0 T 2849 1879 Scrapped, 1941
3 Blyth Sharp Stewart 2-4-0 T 2850 1879 Scrapped, 1941. A replica is being produced by the trust[citation needed]
4 Wenhaston Manning Wardle 0-6-2 T 1845 1914 Scrapped, 1941


Track bed and another rail 
More rails can be seen sinking in the mud 
Site of old bridge. Rails can be seen sinking in the mud 

See also[edit]


  • Kidner, R.W. (1947). English Narrow Gauge Railways (3rd ed.). The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-037-1. 
  • Mitchell, V. and Smith, K. (1984). Branch Line to Southwold. Middleton Press. ISBN 0-906520-15-0. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°19′17″N 1°36′03″E / 52.3215°N 1.6009°E / 52.3215; 1.6009