Exhibition commemorating 50th anniversary of Horncastle line closure to open

The Horncastle History and Heritage Society will open their exhibition which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the closure of the railway to Horncastle in July.

Following the success of the exhibition, held virtually because of COVID-19, the real exhibition will set to open from July 29 to September 4, 2021.

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Lockdown restrictions prevented Horncastle History and Heritage Society opening their planned exhibition on the exact closure anniversary. Instead, a virtual exhibition presented new information, together with material from the Society’s extensive railway archive.

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The Joseph Banks Centre in Bridge Street, Horncastle, will host the exhibition. Admission will be free and it will be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. More information is available on www.horncastlejbc.info

Dr Ian Marshman, Chairman of the Society, said: “Today many people don’t realise Horncastle ever had a railway, as almost every trace of the station is gone. We hope this exhibition will show how the line changed life in Horncastle.

“There are many fascinating stories to be told, such as how local people fought to build the line in the 1850s and how it broadened horizons for ordinary people living here. It is also tantalising to discover how history could have taken a different path, with several schemes having been proposed – and in some cases, agreed by Parliament – to link Horncastle to lines to the Midlands and the North through Lincoln, as well as proposed docks at Sutton-on-Sea and Wainfleet and on to Skegness.”

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The railway reached Horncastle in 1855 from a branch leaving the Great Northern Railway’s “Lincolnshire Loop” at Kirkstead Junction (later renamed Woodhall Junction) via Woodhall Spa, where there was also a station and a siding for goods traffic.

The line closed to passengers in 1954, despite campaigns by local people, the Horncastle Urban District Council, the local MP and the local paper to keep the trains running.

Today, much of the route has formed part of the Spa Trail for walkers and cyclists between Horncastle and Woodhall Spa since 2010. Thanks to funding from Lincolnshire County Council’s Countryside Service, the Society has produced a new leaflet and map to promote the trail.

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Local railway enthusiast, Chris Bates, who helped compile the exhibition, said: “It is interesting to think that the line probably carries more ‘passengers’ today than it did when it closed. Even without its rails, it continues to be a great asset to the town”.

The free leaflet can be collected from the Joseph Banks Centre, or as a free download from Horncastle Walkers Are Welcome.

Dr Marshman added: “It’s a great asset for Horncastle that the town now has a dedicated exhibition space in the relaunched Joseph Banks Centre, where local heritage, nature and culture can be celebrated. Its refreshed tourist information centre for the area is also proving popular, with people popping in to pick up walk and cycle leaflets”

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The Society is also planning other events alongside the exhibition, including an expert talk and a special open weekend with a chance to see local railway artefacts from private collections, as well as a newly-completed model of Horncastle station. Details will be announced later.

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Sam Hewitt

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