Bid to restore historic rail track at Leiston is approved

PUBLISHED: 19:00 31 March 2016

The Sirapite shunting engine could soon be running on a restored heritage line at Leiston.

The Sirapite shunting engine could soon be running on a restored heritage line at Leiston.


A project to restore the rail link that once ran between the two Richard Garrett engineering works depots in Leiston during the last century has taken an important step forward.

Leiston Works Railway (LWR) wants to reinstate the rail line, which was abandoned in the late 1960s, to run between Buller Road and Main Street to connect with the award-winning Leiston Long Shop Museum, once the home to the foundries of Richard Garrett & Sons Limited.

The group’s aim is to run railway vehicles drawn by horses or 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.

The Sirapite would be able to pull a brake van, about to be restored by LWR members, allowing visitors to experience an industrial railway for themselves.

Now the ambitious and exciting project is a step closer following the granting of planning permission by Suffolk Coastal council to re-lay the track and erect fences and gates.

LWR trustee Colin Fisher said the application, 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.

He said: “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”.

Town councillors believe the new rail link could be an excellent attraction and boost the town’s economy.

The route of the line can still be found, tucked away at the back of a pub and between houses, and occasional tell-tale signs still exist.

In one place there is a former rail crossing gate and a cast-iron post, while in the Engineers Arms’ car park a section of rails can be seen, and in another place setts in the road mark the track bed.

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