Harwich could become a major national centre for railway and shipping history if ambitious plans get the go-ahead.

Negotiations are underway to transform the derelict Harwich Station building into one of the biggest and most comprehensive railway archive museums in the south of England.

Bob Clow, a retired engine cleaner, has collected thousands of items of railway and shipping memorabilia over 35 years and his vision is to display them in a customised museum at the station.

Mr Clow is involved in discussions with the Railtrack property board, which owns the building, and other companies to consider the leasehold.

Funding and grants for the project are also under negotiation with possibilities including the Harwich Environmental Regeneration Scheme.

If the plans are accepted the museum would open alongside the station, which is still used, and would include a buffet room for refreshments, archive rooms for studying and interactive exhibits.

Mr Clow said: "I want to keep this collection in Harwich and I want to safeguard it so that when I'm gone it will be donated to the people of Harwich and not separated around the country.

"The museum would be extremely beneficial to everybody and there are no detrimental aspects to the plans at all."

He said he expected people to come by train and use the opportunity to go out into the town and visit other attractions and facilities.

"The station is right in the hub of the old town and it would be the jewel in the crown. It would be the most complex specialised museum in the county and possibly even the south of England," he added.

The plans will be on public display for a week at Harwich Town Station from July 9.

Museum dream - Bob Clow, who is hoping to open a rail museum in Harwich with some of his collection. Picture: TERRY WEEDEN

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