Steam travel is to return to East Lincolnshire 50 years after the destruction of much of the coast's rail network.
Over two months later this year, ELR50 will commemorate the moment in history when the chairman of British Rail, Dr Beeching, wielded his axe - and also celebrate a bygone era and show how railways are being revived locally.
in October 1970, East Lincolnshire was dealt the devastating blow of the loss of 100 miles of its network, including the Great Northern Railway’s Peterborough-Grimsby main line via Boston and Spalding, as well as the branches from Firsby to Lincoln, Willoughby-Mablethorpe and Woodhall Junction-Horncastle.
Today, only the Nottingham-Skegness line survives, but is thriving under the new management of East Midlands Railway, one of ELR50’s major supporters. It has mapped out its own programme of special activities.
Among the highlights of the festival will be the return to Skegness of the ‘Royal Scot’, one of the world’s most famous steam locomotives which was rescued from the scrapyard in 1962 by Skegness holiday camp magnate Sir Billy Butlin.
It will be returning to the resort with a special train from London’s King’s Cross on Saturday, September 26.
Skegness, Mablethorpe and Sutton-on-Sea will have their own events, fondly recalling the days when thousands of holiday trippers made their way by train from regions such as the
East Midlands and South Yorkshire.
An exhibition is planned at Batemans Brewery Visitors Centre in Wainfleet, in August, with the story of Lincolnshire’s railways and featuring hundreds of priceless relics from almost every location in the area . There will be displays of old cars, Lincolnshire Road Car buses, and commercial vehicles.
Collectors from all over the UK looking for a bargain are expected to flock to Talisman Railwayana’s auction of items at Batemans on September 19.
Organiser Howard Johnston said the festival is a dream come true for him. "When I lived in Boston I had the pleasure of travelling the line. I'm retired now but my business is event organising and with, the anniversary coming up, I wanted to give something back," he said.
"There is a lot organised already and many exciting things to come."
One of the main benefactors of the festival will be the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, based at Ludborough Station, which is is reinstating a section of the old main line to Louth.
The Railway will be running special steam-hauled trains most weekends over its restored section of old East Lincolnshire main line between Ludborough and North Thoresby, just
north of Louth.
Surplus funds raised by ELR50 will help its four-mile extension towards Louth. A large guest steam locomotive will be running from August 29.
Schools will also be getting involved with a county-wide schools railway poster competition.
The public launch of ELR50 will be at Skegness Railway Station on January 23. East Midlands Railway have agreed to hold a naming event when one of their trains arrives around 12.30pm.
The train is a Class 158 and will be named by Chris Baron, CEO of Butlins in Skegness. The name plate will be attached on the train for the whole year, promoting the festival across the country.
Sponsorship opportunities for ELR50 are still available. So far sponsors iinclude East Midlands Railway, Lincolnshire County Council, Batemans Brewery, Visit Lincs Coast, Stagecoach, Visit the Seaside, Poacher Line Partnership, Moschatel, and Mortons Media Group.
For details call Mike Fowler on 01767 691401/07721 471141 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org