The Saxmundham to Aldeburgh branch line
and Garrett Works spur

These photographs by Richard Casserley date from the 14.5.1956 (the Saxmundham postcard is probably earlier). Notes to the photographs by the photographer in italics. You can see that they took a day trip down the line; more photographs from this set can be seen on the Felixstowe Branch Line page.
Saxmundham Station
The only station still in use on this page (Leiston still stands, but the only rail traffic hauls nuclear waste flasks from the gantry, just the other side of Sizewell gates), Saxmundham is on the main line from Ipswich to Lowestoft. The former Aldeburgh line branches off to the north-east of the station and is still used for nuclear freight only, although there are hopes to reopen Leiston for passenger traffic.
(1) - Saxmundham 14/5/56, Class J15, 65447 with 7-24  to Aldeburgh.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Saxmundham railway 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Saxmundham railway 2
The main feature of Saxmundham station used to be the staggered platforms either side of one of the first of the two level crossings (Station Approach and Chantry Road respectively). Today the Lowestoft platform stands opposite the Ipswich platform, extending up from the signal box, which is still there; passenger access to the new platform is via a railed walkway behind the signal box. The engine shed has long gone.
(3) - Saxmundham 14/5/56,  65447 with 7-24  to Aldeburgh.                  (4) - Saxmundham 14/5/56,  Class B12, 61564 with 1-30 Liverpool St. - Gt.Yarmouth.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Saxmundham railway 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Saxmundham railway 4
Below: a postcard image of Sax in its heighday; lots of staff, lots of structures including a covered footbridge and the still extant signal box and impressive locomotive. Seems to be going the wrong way...
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Saxmundham railway 5

The Leiston Works spur
Sirapite is a very rare shunting engine. It is part traction engine and part locomotive and was built in 1906 by Aveling and Porter for Gypsum Mines Ltd at Mountfield in Sussex. Its name comes from a product similar to plaster of paris which was produced by the company; 'Sirapite' was decided to be more suitable than 'Parisite'. Sirapite was bought by Richard Garrett & Sons and brought to Leiston in 1929. It was used to replace the horses which had been used to control the trucks which conveyed goods and materials on tracks between the workers' houses to and from the town site (where today's Long Shop Museum is located) to the top works and Leiston railway station. Sirapite was the visible link between the company and the townspeople, trundling backwards and forwards across the main road, supervised by a man with a red flag (see below).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 6   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 9
This remarkable sequence of photographs follows Sirapite, with the Garrett's panther emblem on the front, on the spur from Leiston Station (visible in the background above) on its way past the 'top works' and down to the town works of Garrett's engineering.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 8   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 5
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 7   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 11
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 12   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 13
Below: we see, from the footplate of Sirapite, the crossing point on Leiston's Main Street, with a worthy with red flag to hold up the traffic during the passage of the locomotive into the town works.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 10   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 14
Below: Sirapite, having crossed Main Street, climbs the incline into the town works.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 3
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leiston railway 2
The line in Leiston was introduced in 1929 to replace the Suffolk Punch horses which had transported materials and goods for Richard Garrett & Sons. The shunting engine, Sirapite, which ran the line until 1962 has already been restored. The following project is to restore the inclined track between the beer garden of The Engineers Arms and Leiston Station. John Keeble, trustee of Leiston Works Railway Trust: "Hopefully in a year to two years we will have the line down and Sirapite going up it." Sirapite was replaced by a Battery Electric Locomotive in 1962 and moved on from Leiston. It was bought in 2004 by the trustees , where it currently has 100 feet of track to move along. The electric engine was used until the line was dismatled in 1968.
There is a fine gallery of images to supplement the Casserley photographs here on the Leiston Works Railway website (see Links), which shows locomotives on the narrow incline beside the public library and the beer garden of the Engineer's Arms.

Thorpeness Halt
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Thorpeness railway 1
These remarkable photographs of Thorpeness Station, known locally as Thorpe Halt, show that it was more than just a raised platform in the middle of nowhere. It has gas lighting, a timber-built shelter, bench and three old coaches, one of which seems to be converted into a box office. There are also a sack barrow and a luggage trolley, which suggests that a porter might be on hand. The crossing cottage at the end of the platform is still there on the Aldringham to Thorpe road. Today this sandy cross-over is used by golfers pulling their wheeled golf-bags from one hole to the next. Indeed one segment of the passengers arriving here would have come to stay at the Country Club or hotel by the club-house and to practice their golf; no doubt a horse-drawn carriage or automobile would collect them. Other, perhaps less wealthy, travellers might have the long walk into the village or back down the road to Aldringham.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Thorpeness railway 2
The above shot shows that Thorpe Halt even had its own siding.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Thorpeness railway 3
Although tucked away, the platform does still exist on this site: a lonely reminder of the chugging engines, steam and bustle on the single-track line to and from Aldeburgh.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Thorpeness railway 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Thorpeness railway 6Summer 1971 image
Above: undated snapshot of Thorpe Halt and a summer 1971 photograph from more-or-less the same position. We believe that the platform is still in place, although it was overgrown the last time we visited.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Thorpeness railway 5Summer 1971 image
Above: dodgy character at the Sheepwash crossing gates between Leiston and Thorpeness, 1971. The red paint on the central circle is faded but recognisable. The crossing cottage is visible in the right background. This is not a road, but a farm-track crossing.

Aldeburgh terminus
(23 to 25) - Aldeburgh 14/5/56,  65447 with 6-45 to Saxmundham.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Aldeburgh railway 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Aldeburgh railway 2
Some may recall the brick-built station standing rather forlonly above a weed-strewn trackbed in the early seventies. These photographs show that there was a large canopy projecting from the station building over both platform and track.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Aldeburgh railway 1
In Aldeburgh, by 2015 everything connected with the railway has gone, apart from the public house: the Railway Inn on Leiston Road.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Aldeburgh railway 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Aldeburgh railway 5
Stranded in time, these were the Aldeburgh Station remnants in summer 1971. The main station building with its mainly blind arches on the platform side displays the substantial brick columns at each end, which supported the large over-canopy.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Aldeburgh railway 5Summer 1971 images
Further down the platform, broken palings, an old gas lamp standard and derelict platform building.

See also Richard Casserley's period photographs (and some by his father) of the Ipswich-Westerfield-Felixstowe branch line .



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