Celebrations to mark 125 years since the opening of the former Felixstowe rail station building will take place this Saturday 1 July.
Working together, Felixstowe Travel Watch, the Felixstowe Society, the Orwell Hotel, the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership and Greater Anglia will mark the occasion with a series of events.
The Mayor of Felixstowe, Cllr Seamus Bennett, will welcome a group of Brownies arriving from Derby Road (Ipswich) at 10.24 on a “Seaside Bucket and Spade” train and then tour the public exhibition about the history of the station in the original 1898 Town station building, before going on to join the celebrations taking place at the Orwell Hotel.
The Brownies’ day at the seaside will include a scavenger hunt and sandcastle competition, facilitated by the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership.
All events at the station and Orwell Hotel are open to the public.
There is also the chance to win one of 10 free rail tickets for a trip on the line as Greater Anglia launches a competition on social media. The winners will be picked at random and announced on 3rd July.
Richard Holland, Chair of Felixstowe Travel Watch, said:
“We were formed in 1972 to campaign for the retention of the passenger service as there was real threat of closure at that time, even though it had survived the widespread axing of branch lines following the Beeching Report in 1963.
“Thankfully the line has survived with a secure future for visitors and commuters. Together with the Felixstowe Society, Felixstowe Travel Watch is pleased to participate in celebrating the 125th anniversary of the historic Felixstowe Town station.”
Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, said:
“This wonderful Victorian building is still serving the town after 125 years, while our brand-new trains are providing a high-quality service for rail travellers in 2023 – connecting people to work, social and leisure opportunities from today’s station, which still uses the western end of one of the original station platforms.
“We are grateful for the ongoing support of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, Felixstowe Travel Watch, our station adopter volunteers Richard and Jenny Holland, and other local partners in ensuring a bright future for the line.”
Aaron Taffera, Chair of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, said:
“We’re delighted to be involved in the celebrations to mark this milestone,125 years on. The railway still plays an integral role in the town’s economy, enabling greater connectivity for residents and visitors with the railway station itself being situated at the very heart of the community which it serves.
“We are pleased to be playing our part in promoting the town and its easy rail connections to a wider audience, as well as facilitating improvements along the line.”
1 July 1898
Felixstowe station was opened by the Great Eastern Railway on 1 July 1898, 21 years after the opening of the line from Westerfield to Felixstowe as an addition to the existing Felixstowe Pier and Felixstowe Beach stations to better serve the town itself.
The station building, designed by J. Wilson and the Great Eastern Railway’s architect, W.N. Ashbee, is now a Grade II listed building and now houses a shopping centre, with the current Felixstowe station further along Great Eastern Square.
The Felixstowe Society led a campaign in 1983 to have the building listed and saved from demolition.
The Orwell Hotel opened the same day as the station in 1898 and is believed to be the oldest business in the town still operating from its original building.
The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership has recently funded new station signage in Great Eastern Square.