Historic railway saved after change of heart

HER TO STAY: Popular events such as the Thomas Day will continue now the railway's future is secure.
HER TO STAY: Popular events such as the Thomas Day will continue now the railway's future is secure.
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A charity-run railway museum has been saved after a developer had a change of heart over plans to build on the site.

The Colne Valley Railway, based at Castle Hedingham Station, had been told it would need to leave the site by the end of the year by the line’s landlord Christopher Young.

However Mr Young has now decided to sell the section of the railway leased by the Colne Valley Preservation Society to the charity, offering a one-year extension on top of the current lease while it applies for lottery funding to purchase the site.

Paul Lemon, chairman of the charity, said: “We are grateful to Mr Young for agreeing to sell us this unique section of the Colne Valley and Halstead Railway track bed that has been the railway’s home for the last 40 years, and for the extension to our lease on the present site.

“This sale should enable us to fully achieve our charity’s main objective as well as remain open to the public during the transition period whilst we reconfigure the site.

“We are also grateful to the local landowners who have supported us in our search for a suitable alternative site and have agreed to consider the sale of additional land we might require.”

Included in the sale is the rolling stock, buildings, track and all other materials from the present railway site.

The area being sold also includes the piece of land between the track bed and Yeldham Road, known as Newman’s Sidings.

The remainder of the land is being retained by Mr Young as a prospective site for his own developments.

For the sale to go ahead the charity will need to be successful in the second stage of its Heritage Lottery Fund bid to secure total funding of about £1.7 million.

As well as the purchase of the site the application includes the provision of two new buildings, an interpretation centre and a skills centre.

The charity will hear in March if the bid has been successful.

The railway, which is used for a number of popular events attracting 20,000 visitors a year, has a mile-long running line with a fully-constructed station, signal box and railway yard.