A NEW £1.76 million addition to a railway museum has been unveiled.

The Brewster Interpretation Centre is the latest edition to the Colne Valley Railway Museum in Castle Hedingham.

Named after James Brewster, the first chairman of the original Colne Valley and Halstead Railway which built the line in 1860, the lottery funded project finally opened its doors to the public for the first time.

Several guests attended the ceremony including district councillor Graham Butland, artist Malcolm Root, patron Adrian Corder-Birch and Deputy Lieutenant Nigel Spencer.

In a speech to staff and guests, Mr Spencer said: “To be able to celebrate the opening of the new Brewster Centre, let alone acknowledge all the other ongoing developments currently happening here at Castle Hedingham, seems almost surreal when one considers the not-so-distant past when all that existed on this spot was a dirt track with nothing of any railway connection to suggest that Colchester and Cambridge were once linked by railway.

“Here, through sheer graft and perseverance, showing a dedication beyond any call of duty, volunteers have triumphed to keep the railway open.

“Supporters and working volunteers are the seed-corn of the future.

“My appeal today is to any of you who feel motivated to volunteer to help progress this railway.”

He also thanked Braintree District Council for their long-standing help in getting the project finished.

The new room includes various learning tools such as a short film explaining the railway’s history, an interactive screen with information on notable people, businesses and dates in the area.

It also includes a timeline of events displayed alongside major events in British and world history.

The aim of this was to not only to display information about the trains, but also the social history of the area.

The exhibition shows how the line went through different phases from delivering items like rabbits, bricks and furnaces to munitions for the world wars.

Railway preservation chairman Paul Lemon said he was extremely pleased and relieved with the opening as it had been a long time coming.

Mr Lemon said: “This building has had so many challenges, you wouldn’t believe.

“We wanted it open a year ago and it’s taken another year and the budget has been blown to pieces.

“But the day has come, and the reward is enormous.”

Mr Corder-Birch added: “As a member, I’m delighted to see the opening of the centre.

“It’s an excellent exhibition and I hope that many members of the public visit as much as possible, it’s well worthwhile.”

The centre has been developed with the assistance of a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the All Aboard: Developing the Colne Valley Railway project.

The exhibit’s information will be updated periodically.