From its opening in 1859 the line connected the old Town Works (the remaining part of which is now the Long Shop Museum) to the local branch railway running from Leiston to Saxmundham.

By 1912 Garretts had expanded and built their Top Works and the line was used to transport goods and materials between the two sites as well as on to more distant places.  Originally the wagons were hauled by Suffolk Punch horses but in 1929 these were replaced by the steam shunting engine Sirapite now owned, and fully restored to working order, by the Leiston Long Shop Museum.  For the last years of its operation, from 1962 until the railway was dismantled in 1968, haulage was by a Battery Electric Locomotive.