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Wherry Lines CRP offers exclusive opportunity to visit historic swing bridge

A Greater Anglia Lowestoft-bound Wherry Lines service crosses the River Waveney at Somerleyton Swing Bridge. Photo credit: Wherry Lines CRP.

The Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership (CRP) and Lowestoft Central Project will once again play a key role in the Lowestoft Heritage Open Days Festival, providing members of the public with the rare opportunity to see behind the scenes of Somerleyton railway swing bridge.

Operated by Network Rail, the bridge was constructed in the early 1900s and has carried the railway between Norwich and Lowestoft across the River Waveney for over 100 years. It still opens to allow river traffic several times a day, using much of its original mechanical equipment.

The tours are set to be a major highlight of the heritage festival which runs from September 8-17. There are several other transport themed activities planned, including vintage bus tours, free entry to one of the region’s top transport museums, exhibitions featuring the former Lowestoft to Yarmouth Railway, photographs of the region’s rail routes and a talk and walk around Lowestoft station showing how it narrowly survived destruction during two World Wars.

Somerleyton swing bridge. Photo credit: Wherry Lines CRP.

Ian Martin, Operations Manager at Network Rail, said: “Somerleyton swing bridge is a marvel of Edwardian engineering which is usually out of bounds to the general public. As part of the Heritage Open Days Festival and through our great relationship with the Community Rail Partnership, it is a pleasure to give people the chance to see the original equipment first-hand.”

Martin Halliday, Development Officer at Community Rail Norfolk, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Lowestoft Heritage Open Days Festival once again this year and are very pleased to be working with Network Rail to enable the public a rare opportunity to tour Somerleyton swing bridge.”

Guided tours will take place on Saturday 9 September and Saturday 16 September. Those wishing to visit the bridge are required to apply for tickets by emailing or calling in person at the Community Rail Shop and Tourist Information Office at Lowestoft Station.

With its remote location within the marshes, those attending tours must be able to walk approximately one mile on uneven ground and be able to climb several steps. Those applying for tickets will be allocated a time slot and meeting point where they will be escorted to and from the bridge.

All events taking place during the Heritage Open Days’s Festival are available to view online here.