Celebrate the Era of Steam Trains at Lavenham Guildhall

A brand new exhibition at Lavenham Guildhall celebrates the era of steam railways on the branch line that ran through Lavenham and connected with Haverhill, Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury.

Discover the background and history of the railway as it influenced the local community, see replica and original artefacts and railway memorabilia including tickets, signalling notices, posters, maps, timetables, and a mock-up of a station trolley complete with suitcases and parcels! 

The railway line, like so many others was victim of Dr Beeching’s ‘axe’ in the 1960s and the last passenger train ran in 1961, although freight continued along the line until 1965. Thereafter the tracks were pulled up and much of the superstructure fell into disrepair and decayed, although the bridges and some evidence of trackside buildings still remain. 

There are also some wonderful old photographs of Lavenham station in the early 20th century on display at the exhibition and a section on the flora and fauna that have reclaimed the line since it was closed in the 1960s.

The exhibition will fascinate anyone interested in the age of steam and how it influenced local village life in Lavenham and East Anglia's bygone era. For those of a younger generation the exhibition offers a glimpse into recent history, albeit one that may seem very alien to their 21st century experience!

Today some local parts of the line have been turned into peaceful walking trails and flora and fauna have returned to these now tranquil green tracks running through cuttings and along embankments where 60 years ago steam ruled.

Lavenham Station (Photo courtesy of Lavenham Guildhall)

Why not visit the exhibition and then walk some of the line? 

The Lavenham to Long Melford railway walk is a self-guided walk through woods and open fields - largely following the route of the old GER Lavenham to Long Melford railway line. See a site of special scientific interest, and the site of an 1891 railway accident. Finish by visiting Melford Hall, home of the Hyde-Parker family, in another well-preserved medieval ‘wool village’. The walk provides the opportunity to see wild flowers alongside birds and animal wildlife in their natural habitat. Ideal for adventurer families.

The Lavenham woodland walk is an easy walk around the Lavenham Woodland community project, part of the old Lavenham to Long Melford Great Eastern Railway line, and the opportunity to visit the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. Look out for some of the 24 varieties of butterflies that have been seen in the area. 

There is also an organised and guided series of bookable railway walks from Melford Hall, Lavenham Guildhall's sister property.

Lavenham's Century of the Railway Exhibition will run at Lavenham Guildhall from March 2019 to February 2020 . Entry to Lavenham Guildhall, including the exhibition, is £8 adults, £4 children, and £20 for families. Free for National Trust members, Click here for opening times.