The Mid-Suffolk Light Railway has been awarded a £64,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop a new workshop building.
The award-winning railway, based at Brockford Station in Wetheringsett, will use the money to build an Edwardian-style engine shed to house historic railway equipment and deliver learning activities.
The grant follows funding already secured from the Alfred Williams Charitable Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Mid Suffolk District Council, The Pargiter Trust and Suffolk County Council for the project.
The line was opened in 1908, one of many light railways constructed during the period following the government’s Light Railway Act, which authorised entrepreneurs to set up cheaper railways with less rigid safety conditions to capitalise on ‘railwaymania’.
The 19-kilometre line ran between Haughley to Laxfield in Suffolk. It became part of the LNER in 1924, but overuse and little maintenance during World War II saw the railway fall into disrepair, and it was closed in July 1952.
In 1991 after almost all traces of the line had disappeared a group of enthusiasts decided the railway should not be forgotten. The ‘Middy’, a fine example of rural English history, is now resurrected as Suffolk’s only standard gauge railway museum.
The railway operates a full programme of steam trains and special events from March 27 to September 11.
Railway chairman Jon Taylor told Bury Free Press: “We’re thrilled at receiving support from the Heritage Lottery Fund ensuring we can introduce more people to the local historic heritage that remains of this railway line that once played such a central part to life in rural Suffolk.”
Robyn Llewellyn, head of HLF East of England, said: “This project will not only preserve important heritage skills, but will introduce a large number of people to the fascinating heritage of transport in their local area.”
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