Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway will celebrate the historic occasion in the Skegness Water Leisure Park on Saturday, August 27.
It was on this date in 1960 that the first trains ran on the original site of the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway in North Sea Lane, Humberston, near Cleethorpes – carrying passengers and their luggage from a station near the local bus terminus, to Humberston Beach station, on the edge of Humberston Fitties holiday camp.
The enthusiasts who built the line rented a strip of land from the erstwhile Grimsby Rural District Council and bought a selection of World War One battlefield rails, wagons, two ambulance vans and a 1926 ”Simplex” diesel locomotive which had become redundant on the Nocton Estates Railway – a 23 mile system running across Nocton Fen near Bardney, to an interchange with British Railways at Nocton and Dunston station, between Sleaford
The LCLR immediately became very popular, until a combination of cheap foreign package holidays, the aftermath of the miners’ strike on its core passengers’ ability to take holidays and an unsympathetic local authority, forced its closure in 1985.
However, rails and rolling stock mostly went into storage at Burgh-le-Marsh near Skegness (some had also gone to the Museum of Army Transport at Beverley) and were later moved to the site of the developing Skegness Water Leisure Park, where it reopened in 2009.
Its subsequent success and recognition of the significance of its collection has seen it hosting a visit by HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne): an extension to the line and relaying with newer and heavier rails and sleepers; grants from various Lottery funds and Lincolnshire County Council, to help with restoration and survival through the covid pandemic.
A highlight has been the return to steam of the 1903-vintage 0-6-0ST steam locomotive, Jurassic.
In 2020 as the line prepared to celebrate this unique 60th anniversary in the world’s railway history*, traditional signwriter Tim Fry from Martin Dales, near Woodhall Spa, generously made a commemorative headboard inscribed “1960-2020”.
However no trains could run that year because of covid – and now, with the 62nd anniversary due to fall on an operating day, the LCLR is planning to place the headboard on one of its services that day.
Trains are due to run from 11am to around 4pm, Initially and on the penultimate service with a heritage diesel and from around midday to about 3.30 pm with the steam engine Jurassic.
The second heritage railway to be built by enthusiasts on a greenfield site was in 1963, when the Ocean Beach Railway opened at Dunedin in New Zealand’s South Island. Initial celebration plans for the LCLR in 2020 had included offering a free ride to anyone with a New Zealand passport!
To mark the friendship between the railways, anyone with a valid New Zealand passport can travel free of charge on the LCLR on Saturday, August 27.
Trust chairman Richard Shepherd said: “We get visitors from all over the world coming to ride on our historic trains and so there will be a special welcome that day for Kiwis who remember to bring their passport with them!”