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Special birthday for historic museum

PUBLISHED: 09:00 10 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:07 01 August 2010

HALESWORTH Station, an historic building which now houses the town's museum, celebrates its 150th birthday this year.

The Haddiscoe, Beccles and Halesworth line terminated at Old Station Road, Halesworth but in 1859 the line was extended to the south and the present station was built.

HALESWORTH Station, an historic building which now houses the town's museum, celebrates its 150th birthday this year.

The Haddiscoe, Beccles and Halesworth line terminated at Old Station Road, Halesworth but in 1859 the line was extended to the south and the present station was built.

And to mark the anniversary the museum trustees have researched and set up a new display, which includes railway photographs and artefacts with a scale model to compliment the special event. There is also an open display of a Look Out Man surrounded with the tools of his trade and yet more artefacts from the museum's collection.

The station was bombed in 1941 when the Station Master Mr Holland, his wife and their servant Joan Clarke were killed. In 1965, thanks to a vigorous campaign, the East Suffolk line was saved from the swingeing closures orchestrated by Dr Beeching.

Like so many unmanned stations the building, although used commercially for a while, was derelict by the 1990s, vandalised and boarded up. It is now in good condition thanks to heritage funding, which saw its restoration, and the continuing care by the present occupants.

In 1999 Railway Heritage took away the unique moveable platforms, cosmetically restored them and reinstalled them for all to see. The museum has a fine working model of the moveable platforms, which shows the way the gates were operated.

In 1986, when the signalling of the East Suffolk Line was changed to radio control, the signal box became redundant. A group of local enthusiasts, led by signalman Peter Punchard, arranged for the preservation of the signal box and it was moved to a site in Halesworth Middle School grounds where it was available for the public to visit and was an educational resource for local school children.

After 20 years there was less interest and funds for maintenance and up-keep were difficult to find. Following negotiations with the mid-Norfolk Railway, based at Dereham, Halesworth Box is now on a new base at County School Station and will be restored as a working box to control the layout there when the line is restored from North Elmham.

There is also a new display of late 19th century and early 20th century photographs of old Halesworth shops and examples of items they sold, and another new display of photographs of events, people and buildings taken in the 1960's now with a modern photograph alongside.

The display based on the names on the War Memorial will continue for another year. It gives so much information about those named as well as medals and photographs.

The museum will be open from May to September Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday between 10am-12.30pm and Wednesdays 2-4pm. Opening times October-April are most Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am-12.30pm. At other times by appointment. Schools and groups by arrangement.

Contact 01986 875351 mob.07769644624

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