East Anglian Railway Museum expands and celebrates a forty-year journey

By Richard Moss | 07 March 2011
a photo of a steam locomotive
The N7 steam train © Courtesy East Anglian Railway Museum
Rail museums seem to attract a particular kind of dedicated volunteer who are the lifleblood of many of our historic and heritage railways.

One such individual was the late Bernard ‘BDJ’ Walsh (1924 - 2004), the former President of the East Anglian Railway Museum near Colchester. His hard work and dedication helped to establish one the most comprehensive collections of preserved railway architecture, locomotives, wagons and ephemera in the east of England.

What was once a series of semi derelict railway buildings without any track to connect them has now been transformed into a museum with its very own N-7 steam locomotive. Today the re-laid tracks connect a complex of restored historic Victorian buildings that tell a story of railways in East Anglia stretching from the 1840s through to the 21st Century.

a photo of a pipe smoking railway signal man standing on the balcony of his wooden signal box
Bernard Walsh lived near Nayland as a boy, and latterly near Diss© Courtesy East Anglian Railway Museum
Now as the museum approaches its fortieth anniversary, a new heritage centre displaying a fine collection of railway ephemera is being opened to commemorate the industriousness of Bernard Walsh and his role in that transformation.

A major new development, the BDJ Walsh Heritage Centre will enable visitors to see more of the museum’s vast collection of ephemera ranging from signalling controls and station signs to locomotive nameplates.

“Mr Walsh who lived near Sudbury joined the Museum in 1971,” says Museum Trustee, Ian Reed. “He led the organisation through its formative years and this building is a tribute to his enthusiasm for this vital aspect of this nation’s industrial heritage.”

The museum, based at Chappel and Wakes Colne Station near Colchester will also be holding three days of commemorative activities culminating in a public open day on Sunday March 13. The event will also see a recreation of the very first open day at the museum forty years ago using historic trains and vintage carriages that will be offering rides to visitors.

Other improvements will also be unveiled at the open day including improved signage and interpretation of exhibits right across the museum, which sits on the edge of Constable Country.

“We look forward to welcoming lots of visitors to our expanded museum and to our anniversary event,” added Mr Reed. 
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