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Beyond Ipswich

(or In Search of Remains)

Martin Lovell

MARTIN LOVELL looks at what there is to see in Lowestoft.

A few issues of Right Lines ago our esteemed Guvnor visited the town of Ipswich, and reported on the railway activity there. So I thought as I visit a friend further East, I would do the same.

Liverpool Street Station

Leaving Littlehampton fairly early I journeyed to London Victoria, round the Circle line to Liverpool Street, and with catching the 11 o’clock Norwich train my quest began.

Abellio Greater Anglia

A fast, comfortable journey on the Abellio Greater Anglia line soon deposited me and luggage at Ipswich, ready to take the mostly single-track line to Lowestoft. This journey takes in some rather nice scenery and a variety of stations (most of which have their original buildings) even though their uses have changed, either just boarded up or housing hairdressing salons etc.

At Woodbridge you pass boatyards on the river Deben, then on to Saxmundham, Darsham and Halesworth.

Although now just a passing station, Halesworth is worth a visit for 2 reasons; Firstly, when the platforms had to be extended a lot of years ago, it was found that a level crossing at one end of the station would have to be done away with. This was objected to by the locals, so the solution was to incorporate the crossing gates as part of the platform, and even though the level crossing has gone, these platform “gates” are still in place.

Halesworth Crossing

The other reason of course, is that Halesworth was the westerly terminus of the much maligned Southwold railway. Opened in 1879, it ran on 3ft gauge track from Halesworth to Southwold, via charming places such as Blythburgh, Wenhaston and Walberswick, where the railway bridge still remains over the river. It is only in use by pedestrians now, over to the seaside town of Southwold.

Halesworth Bridge

Halesworth Bridge

Halesworth

No real traces remain at Halesworth, but there is a museum in one of the station buildings showing photos etc of this delightful railway.

Luckily, a society has been formed to resurrect a part of this line, and last I heard, were doing well. There is a museum shop in Southwold, not far from the terminus site, where more information can be gathered.

Onwards then via Beccles, through Oulton Broard alongside the River Waveney to Lowestoft, the most Easterly station in the country.

Lowestoft Station
Lowestoft Station

The port of Lowestoft was, and indeed still is, a busy port, with a few quite large vessels having to negotiate the narrow channel formed by the lifting bridge. Sadly there is no longer a requirement for goods to be picked up by the railway.

Lowestoft Port

The large area of sidings are still there however, the rusty rails disappearing in the undergrowth, and even a couple of semaphore signals stand guard over them.

Lowestoft Signal Box

There was however a line that travelled alongside the road on the east side of the river, down to the present day port area, and it was this that I hoped to find traces of - so one fine day I set off, camera in hand to see what, if anything I could find.

Walking down Commercial Road at first it looked like a quest in vain, as nothing looked railwayish at all, but then in a fenced off yard, success.

Lowestoft Points

A set of rusty points, partially buried under a skip or two but nevertheless a part of the old system.

Lowestoft Track
Lowestoft Track
Lowestoft Track
Lowestoft Track

Encouraged by this I walked on a bit further, and then the old track set in the concrete began to appear. First as just sections, but then as a longer stretch, which eventually disappeared off into the Port area, which appeared to be out of bounds according to several notices. Next visit, I will check to see if I can get permission from wherever to visit the inner sanctum.

Lowestoft Bridge

Another line ran from the West side of the river, but all that remains of that is this bridge over the footpath that used to be the track bed. I thought I would include the picture anyway.

Lowestoft Bridge

as well as the remains of the line out of the station to another wharf, which was on the seaward side of the lifting bridge.

Having finished my excursion for the day, I made my way to the other good reason for visiting this town, to enjoy a well-earned pint or two...

Lowestoft Station
Lowestoft Station

So there we are. As far East as you can go by rail in the UK.

East Anglia Transport Museum

Next time I hope to give details of another attraction only a short bus ride from Lowestoft, namely the East Anglia Transport Museum at Carlton Colville, but until then, Happy modelling and trips out.

Martin

We hope that Martin's observations have inspired you to look around your local area for interesting ideas for modelling!

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