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Leiston: Engineers Arms pub sale could provide vital land for steam railway’s revival

19:30 27 January 2014

Leiston Works Railway acting chairman, Colin Fisher, presents co chairman of Bright Sparks, Sarah Whiting, with their

Leiston Works Railway acting chairman, Colin Fisher, presents co chairman of Bright Sparks, Sarah Whiting, with their "sponsor a sleeper" certificate

Archant

Organisers of a heritage railway project have had their hopes raised that a vital strip of land for the restored track can be obtained.

The Leiston Works Railway – which wants to run a live steam railway between Buller Road and Main Street in Leiston – is in negotiations with an entrepreneur who wants to buy a closed-down pub.

So far the LWR has purchased and cleared the track between Buller Road and the garden of the Engineers Arms, and also raised enough money to lay sleepers and track on that section.

But the 150 yards of land alongside the Engineers Arms is crucial to completing the project and linking with the Long Shop Museum.

When the pub suddenly closed down last year it was registered as a community asset, giving people or groups six months to come up with a business plan and bid for the site.

LWR chairman Colin Fisher said the six months was due to expire on March 7 when Adnams, the owner of the pub, could accept commercial bids for the property.

He said: “We have made phenomenal progress with this project in the past two years and we have had enormous interest from all over the country.

“We are in the position of being able to go ahead with installing the rails and sleepers, which are already paid for.”

The next objective was to cross the tarmac at the Engineers Arms.

While there had been no community bid made so far, the LWR was aware of commercial interest in the pub site.

One person, who lives abroad, had come forward with a bid for the building with a plan to reopen it as a community pub and was open to working with a Community Interest Company or another community group on the project. He was also sympathetic to the railway project and wanted to help.

Mr Fisher said: “He fully supports our objective of putting the track over the tarmac and garden area.

“We won’t know the full outcome until March when the moratorium expires for the community asset listing, but we believe this project is doable and could be very beneficial for Leiston. The support has been overwhelming.”

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