The new Seaton Wetlands Halt and Riverside Halt were officially opened to passengers on 1 August. This increases the total number of stops from three to five along the three-mile line.
The project creating these new stops started as early as 2019, with Riverside halt starting construction before the pandemic, and finishing the day before the first lockdown in March 2020. Seaton Tramway’s Riverside Depot will now be accessible via a new 400sqm deck constructed above the tidal River Axe Estuary. This will allow not only a view inside the Tramway’s Depot, and a chance to see shunting of trams and engineering but is a fantastic vantage point to view the wildlife of the estuary.
Since construction finished new interpretation has been installed, including an interactive exhibit which explains how electricity is delivered to the line and the trams. The halt is also fitted with picnic tables. Visitors will also be able to look around the estuary with a new telescope which is fitted on the deck.
Seaton Wetlands Halt will allow visitors to Seaton Tramway access to the nature reserves, its 4km of trails and the wildlife that inhabits them. The Wetlands Halt is situated on what has been known as ‘Swan’s Nest Loop’, its name coming from the many swans which nest every spring around this area. These swans would add to a list of situations that delayed the construction of the halt, originally scheduled to open in Spring 2020, for the Tramway’s 50th year of operation at Seaton. The halt at the Wetlands is sponsored by a generous donation from the Fine Family Foundation.
Jenny Nunn, Chief Executive of Seaton Tramway: “After many years in the planning, together with our partners at EDDC’s Countryside team, we have finally managed to complete the last piece of the jigsaw, by creating a circular link via the Tramway to Seaton and the amazing Seaton Wetlands… This is a unique project which also opens up an area by the River Axe for the first time offering an innovative insight into the history of, not only the former railway branch line, but also the general history, tourism and wildlife of the area.”
The new stops were built as part of Travel’s Through the Axe Valley & Heritage tram project, part funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the tramway. The project has seen among other things new information boards developed, an oversized LED screen installed at Seaton station and an information room at Colyton. There is also a new ‘Gilbert’s Trail’, an interactive booklet for families to explore the tram.
Seaton Tramway has recently brought home a handful of awards this season, including Accessibility & Inclusivity Award & Large Attraction of the Year Award at the Visit Devon Awards, as well as the Outstanding Visitor Attraction from the Heritage Railway Association Awards. More details can be found at www.tram.co.uk/accessibility.