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The Southwold Railway 1879–1929 (Hardback)

The Tale of a Suffolk Byway

Transport Photographic Books Colour Books 20th Century Trains and Railways 19th Century

By David Lee, Rob Shorland-Ball, Alan Taylor
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Series: Narrow Gauge Railways
Pages: 248
Illustrations: 150
ISBN: 9781473867581
Published: 25th February 2019



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A delightful example of one of East Anglia's minor railways: A 3ft gauge railway, single track, just over 8 miles long from Halesworth (connections to London) across the heathland and marshes of East Suffolk to the seaside resort and harbour of Southwold. This book collates the research and memories of one of the last surviving passengers with maps and pictures to tell a fascinating tale of immaculate passenger service, management from a distant London office, closure at very short notice, and twenty-first century revival.

This is an attractive and fascinating book which will find a home on the bookshelves of all those with a love of the narrow gauge or the beautiful part of Suffolk it served.

West Somerset Railway Society

★ ★ ★ ★ Very Good

As we have come to expect from this publisher, the book is a delight to read, beautifully laid out, and with first rate reproduction of photographs in generous sizes.

BackTrack February 2020, Vol 34 No 2

As featured in

Railway and Canal Historical Society

If you have a passing interest in the Southwold Railway and want a more relaxing read, I recommend this book.

Stephenson Locomotive Society

'Your ticket to some great Autumn reading'

East Anglian Daily Times, 21st September 2019 – by Nick Richards

Reviewed by

Ffestiniong Railway Magazine,2019

Plenty of details and good photographs within will be a great help to model makers. A good, readable, history of a much loved railway.

Friends of the National Railway Museum, Summer 2019

Featured in

The Journal of the Friends of the National Railway Museum, Summer 2019

Featured in

Tenderton Terrier

Selected as Book of the Month for

Best of British, May 2019

As featured in


As featured by

Narrow Gauge World

This beautifully researched book reveals the fascinating history of the Southwold Railway, a remarkable narrow gauge line that once linked the Suffolk seaside resort of Southwold with the Great Eastern main line at Halesworth nearly nine miles inland.

Whatever the future holds for the Southwold Railway, this book is a well-researched little gem of railway history.

RMT News, May 2019

The story of the line, description of its route and extent of the remains, together with the incidents in operation during its 50 year life all made for an easy and enjoyable read.

2019,Great Eastern Railway Society

The story of the line, description of its route and extent of the remains, together with the incidents in operation during its 50 year life all made for an easy and enjoyable read.

February 2019

This well produced and illustrated volume must surely be the definitive work on this subject.

The Southwold Museum & History Society

Compulsory reading. Very interesting.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

Actually the text is well written and easy to read, and a good balance is struck of interesting detail without becoming dry. The photos are well reproduced and captioned, and clearly referenced in the text - a nice touch. There are plenty of maps, diagrams, and drawings too - including of course locomotives, stock, and some buildings. There's even a chapter on operation which describes train consists, and how shunting took place, a topic that could easily become dull yet does not. So there is plenty of detail for modellers and enthusiasts, but the story of the railway told in a way that even non-enthusiasts would find easy to follow... So if like me you enjoy reading about long forgotten railways, you will like this book. It manages to be a historical record while remaining engaging to read and showing warmth for it's subject.

Read the full review here

Michael's Model Railways

This book will satisfy the appetite of anyone with an interest in narrow gauge or the social interest that accompanies it, not to forget the modeller who will find the photographs, plans and track diagrams of great help in capturing in model form this charming narrow gauge line.

Bradford Railway Circle

Although it contains considerable technical detail about the railway, much of the book is written in a narrative style, recounting the experiences of those who worked and travelled on the line.

This a very entertaining book and will please those interested in this type of charming byway, which used to be such a feature of the countryside.

Industrial Railway Society

"The Southwold Railway 1879 - 1929" is particularly recommended for the personal reading lists of all railroading history buffs and will prove to be an enduringly popular and valued addition to both community and academic library Railroading History collections and supplemental studies lists.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

A very atmospheric and interesting book which brings to life this 3ft gauge railway which ran from Halesworth to Southwold on the coast in Suffolk.

Highly recommended.

Branch Lines & Light Railway Publications

As featured by

The Southwold Gazette, April 2019

As featured by

Southwold Organ/Halesworth Hoot, April 2019

As featured by

Suffolk & Norfolk Life, April 2019

Click here to listen to Rob Shorland-Ball interview

NOTE: set cursor to 1:22:04

BBC Radio Suffolk with presenter Lesley Dolphin, 26th March 2019

Publicity for 10th April launch featured in the 'What's On' section

East Point Radio

As featured by

Essential Suffolk (online)

About David Lee

David Lee, now in his mid-90s, has researched the history of Southwold Railway for many years and welcomed the knowledge and expertise of Rob Shorland-Ball in bringing together this substantive book on the railway.

About Rob Shorland-Ball

Rob Shorland-Ball grew up in Cambridge, worked for BR at Cambridge Station and was Deputy Head and Project Development Director at the National Railway Museum ,York, from 1987 to 1994. He has an extensive knowledge of railways both as a researcher and author as well as a ‘hands-on’ steam engine, cleaner, fireman and driver. He has advised on projects at several heritage railways in the UK, at Steamtown, Scranton, Pennsylvania and Donetsk in the Ukraine. Rob, a former teacher, is also a born story teller so Cambridge Station comes to life in this book.

About Alan Taylor

The late Alan Taylor is an important contributor to The Southwold Railway 1879-1929, his opening chapter and several pictures are a tribute to his interest.

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