Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Mid Suffolk Light Railway - the ultimate line to nowhere!

I recently purchased a second hand copy of Peter Paye's excellent book 'The Mid-Suffolk Light Railway' (Wild Swan, 1986). It's a superb book with a wealth of information and some wonderful and evocative photos of this charming and much-loved railway backwater.

If ever there was a line to nowhere, this is it. The original proposals for the railway were for some 50 route miles linking up with the existing GER network at 3 points and consisting of two connected 'branches'. In the end only 18 miles were constructed, ending at the relatively insignificant village of Laxfield in the middle of the Suffolk countryside - the 'middle of nowhere' to all intents and purposes.

Most of the tiny stations were located in the middle of open countryside and served small villages or hamlets several miles from the railway itself, and the line retained much of its old-world character right up to closure in the 1950s.

Although my primary interest has always been in the GWR / WR I have a definite soft spot for the GER / ER branch lines and byways. In fact anywhere that is a bit out of the way and off the beaten track really. Some people are inspired by images of crack express trains powering along the main line but that has never really inspired me so much as the rural backwater with its ancient rolling stock, weed-grown trackbeds and empty platforms.

Anyway, I can thoroughly recommend the book.

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