Somesay Island Railway is the 4th Shrubsole Garden Railway and has been built up since 1984. Originally started as entertainment for a (then) young family, it was, from the outset, envisaged as a system that would pay more regard to railway operating practices than to producing fine-scale models. It was also intended that it would be able to involve large or small numbers of operators, of all ages, and there was always, at the back of the mind, the thought that running a railway ought to be an activity that could be used to raise money for a charity.
In April 1998, Wendy Shrubsole, Martin’s first wife, died of a brain cancer. Her final days were spent in her own home, and were eased by the assistance given by nurses from MARIE CURIE CANCER CARE. Later that year, on an impulse, the Railway, which had lain dormant for 2 years, was brought back to life and friends invited to “play trains, and give money”. This was the first “Trains for Marie Curie Cancer Care” weekend, and set the pattern for the regular weekends that have cumulatively raised over £48,750 for the charity.
A hobby that generates more than it costs is a pleasing hobby to pursue. At the same time, as the Railway has attracted more visitors, so it has been overhauled and expanded, so that there is always some new appeal or challenge. This has meant that the layout, and the accompanying garden works, has become more than can be managed by one person working alone. As a result, there is now a Somesay team; the dedicated youngsters, Stuart, and Scott, who turn their hands to anything, and who provide guidance to all first time visitors; the Railway team, Chris B, Chris N, Garth, Roger, Stan, and Steve, who all provide extra modelling skills, and “Parks and Gardens”, Dave and Rona, who ensure the verdure is kept in shape for visitors. We must not forget to mention others who help in a less ‘hands-on’ way, particularly Richard who has written a history of Somesay Island and its archaeology, which can be reached here.
Nothing would have been achieved without the longest served volunteer, the “Chief Engineer”, Ron, who has been part of the project since the first Trains for MARIE CURIE CANCER CARE, and who has contributed to every part of the layout.
Finally the health of the scheme owes a great deal to Liz, who married Martin in 2002. Liz first visited Somesay in 2000, was introduced to civil gardening/engineering in 2001, and (despite that?) has given every support and encouragement, and undertaken a lot of catering, ever since with her own group of helpers: Christine, Judy, Lucy and Alison.
Somesay Island Railway has given a lot of fun, and challenge, to visitors and team members, for years. It is our ambition that we shall be able to continue doing more, and better, of the same, and so persuade our visitors to support MARIE CURIE CANCER CARE, for many years to come.
Thank you to all who have supported us in the past, and welcome to all who would like to come in future.