Norfolks lost railways..

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Mikeymutt

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I have been working on this project for several months now.its taken most of my time up.spending hours travelling to the old railway sites around Norfolk.walking them and biking them.i don't know loads about railways but I have had fun spending many hours looking over Google researching them.and learnt as I have gone on.i have found a few nice things along the way.this is going to be a long report so pass by now if it's not your thing.i have tried not to cover it with just miles of old walking routes and bridges (there are a lot of bridges) I have tried to cover the main parts of several lines including some of the industry that surrounds it.so please try to enjoy the toils of my work.

Most people know of the beaching cuts.two reports were produced in 1963 and 1965 with the aim of cutting the railways down.this proved very unpopular especially in rural areas.but he wanted to streamline the rail network.as a result miles of track was lost.including thousands of stations.many laying derelict for years.most lines have been lifted now and many stations renovated into residential dwellings or tea rooms.but if you look hard enough there still lots of remains laying about.lots of old rail lines have been made into cycle ways,some short lengths of track have been brought back into service or run as heritage lines.norfolk was one of many counties to get the massive cut in train services.

NORWICH TO AYLSHAM LINEE

The Norwich to aylsham line started its route at the city station in Norwich.being built in 1882 by the Lynn and fakenham railway company and taken over in 1893 by the M&GN joint railway.the rail line ran through to the thelmthorpe loop,this was put in later to provide a link to wroxham and county station.it was the sharpest curve in the country.the line closed to passengers in 1959 and carried on for industry and agricultural use and industry.the route at lenwade finally closed in 1985

City station was opened in 1882 and was well used with passengers heading to Cromer..the station was hit badly in the Second World War by the Germans as there was a large goods yard on the site.there is a local heritage group consisting of volunteers who have started digging the site,they unearthed a large section of platform.they were hoping to uncover the whole section.and other parts but the council decided to put a halt to it for some reason.

Here is part of the unearthed platform.

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This is the remains of the crane mount,the crane was on the coal stage and the crane was hand driven to load up the locos.

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The remains of an engine shed the floor in typical M&GN blue engineering bricks.

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Further down the line is an A frame bridge,this was one of three.only two remain and they are the only ones in Norfolk.

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This was a station at hellesdon.all that reminds are the platforms.but these are well hidden now amongst the trees.my step father remembers the station being here.

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Small concrete railway bridge

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Second A frame bridge

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Level crossing barrier at attlebridge

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Sculpture made from the original track these are dotted all along the walk.now known as marriots way

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Lenwade was a large industrial area and built next to the rail line and the lines run in to the yard.there was a massive cement works.making a selection of products like pre fabs etc.the site still has a smaller cement works on there

Some of the original line left

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One of the more modern buildings on the site.

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Foremans desk

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The main goods yard with the two large loading cranes.now lay silent.

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Looking down the former track beside the works

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Old phone housing I found in the side of the trees

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An old farm track bridge.i loved this little bridge.even though it's just small,the intricate work that went into this was amazing.even if it just covered an old track.with the skewered brickwork and the pertruding three tier header bricks in blue engineering bricks.

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Various more bridges along the line of different designs.some metal and some brick

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The former lenwade station.this one and the one at attlebridge have both been lovingly converted into residential use.both were heavily used during the Second World War due to RAF attlebridges close proximity

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A little down the line is whitwell station which was part of the M&GN line and was situated just outside reepham.the station closed in 1959 but the the line contained to operate for freight then in 1965 it was just operated for concrete moving from lenwade.until the line finally closed in 1985 and the track was lifted.the station has laid derelict for many years.until a few years ago a trust started renovating the station.its now used as a museum and tea rooms,and trains run on the old goods yard tracks.they are hoping to extend the line.the signal box has been restored too.they do events here as well.i did have the pleasure about three yrs ago of having permission to look around the old trains they had here.

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A bridge close to the station looking Norwich bound

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An old converted truck to run along the tracks to lay sleepers.it reminded me of something out of back to the future

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In reepham is another station which was part of the great eastern line.the station closed in 1952 to passengers and 1981 to freight.the station is now the home to a pine company.you can hire bikes here too.the owners of whitwell station want to link the two stations but this would mean relaying the themelthorpe curve track to join the two former stations.

Bridge coming into the station.

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The two platforms are completely different.the station side is of the standard brick built ones but the far side seems to be a concrete built one

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Finally we get to aylsham.here is the end of the marriots way.aylsham station is now the station to the narrow gauge railway,the bure valley run on the former east Norfolk railway.the station was linked to the themelthorpe curve later so trains could be linked to lenwade and Norwich.

There are two pillboxes near the station.one is completely over grown.but one type 28 is still visible on the road

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DEREHAM TO FAKENHAM LINE

this is part of a bigger line that ran from wymondham to wells which was operated by the great eastern railway.the south side of the line is now part of the mid Norfolk railway which run steam trains between Dereham and whymondham.they are hoping to stretch the line eventually to the county station.then eventually on to fakenham

County station was a small station north of Dereham.the station opened in 1864 and in 1987 it opened up as a heritage centre then the mid Norfolk railway bought the station buildings.there is a really old nice signal box further down the line at the back of the station.

The road crossing the track is not in use here

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The station house

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A few miles up the track is the north elmham railway station.i looked at this a few years ago.and it laid there all derelict.but now it's been converted into a family dwelling.the station opened in 1857 as a timber framed building but was later replaced by a brick one.there was a dairy plant here which was loaded on the trains by a shunting horse,grain and fertiliser was moved from here too.

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There are several empty buildings here what I can guess they were associated with the railway.might even have been the old dairy once.i was talking to a local who said there was an order to demolish them.maybe for when the line finally reaches that far.

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KINGS LYNN TO DEREHAM LINE

This line opened up in 1948 and shut to passengers in 1968.it was owned by great eastern railway,the company originally wanted it to extend to Great Yarmouth.but this was scuppered by a rival company.the line is just over twenty six miles long.wendling station that was on this line was used in several episodes of dads army.the station is now long gone,now under the A47 as road improvements.

Middleton towers was a small station near leziate which shut when the line shut.the line from here to Kings Lynn is still open due to the large quarries situated around this area.thousands of tonnes are shifted by the trains here every year.saving lots of road transportation.you can see in the foreground the sand loading hoppers.the sand,silica sand is used in glass making.

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Lime along with chalk was a large industry in Norfolk.there were many lime kilns around the county.usually designed in a bowl like shape with the kilns in a central coloumn going to a central chimmney..I found this one by chance.bit different to other kilns I have been to.in its a three bay chamber one with a kiln either side of what is almost a small tunnel.two of the kilns are collapsed with just one remaining you can see.the kilns are next to the railway line so transportation was a bit easier

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One of two kiln entrances at the top end of the funnel

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The other entrance

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The remains of some sort of pot hidden in the soil

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Near to the kilns I walked under this farm track bridge.i liked this one for the growth around it

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At swaffham is a branch line that went off to thetford.i walked this and just found a few nice bridges.first up is a small brick arched bridge.

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Looking down the line from under the bridge

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Came across this small farm bridge.not sure why it had metal girder style plates to one side of the bridge

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And last up is this three arch brick bridge.very impressive too.

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CROMER LINE

Cromer was a busy railway town due to its popularity as a holiday resort during the Victorian times.it was served by four stations,there is still a very active railway there but all the other stations closed because cromers popularity declined,I can tell you it's very popular nowadays along with sheringham up the road.there is still remains from the old railways.the tunnel and viaducts at east runton,

Cromer railway tunnel is the only standard gauge tunnel in Norfolk measuring in at fifty metres long it's not the biggest tunnel.it served the line between mundsley and Cromer and was owned by the Norfolk and Suffolk joint railways.the line proved not to popular and was shut down.in the tunnel is a spigot mortar base for the home guard to stand and gaurd the tunnel from invading Germans.

The tunnel entrance looking out to Cromer.

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Cromer high was the first station opened in Cromer.it shut down in 1954 to passengers.there is not a lot left there now.some old steps made of concrete and the entrance to the acsess road and there is a remaining station wall.

some old concrete steps leading up to the acsess road

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The old wall

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Acsess road entrance.original concrete and metal post

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The viaducts at east runton.are quite lovely structures.there is two of them.one still runs a live line the other one is unused.had a nice little scramble up the bank to admire the brickwork arches.and to get up top to have a look at the top.the viaducts were constructed in 1906

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Brick pattern arches on the side of the arches.

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MELTON CONSTABLE TO YARMOUTH LINE

This line from the central hub at Melton Constable to the popular resort of Great Yarmouth,the line was owned by the midland and great northern railway,the line shut in 1959,and the former track serves as part of the weavers way cycle and walkway

Just before you get to honing station there is a beautiful Victorian iron bridge.the bridge is listed

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A bit further up the track is honing station.there is still lots of remains here,the two platforms and a hut with a pump in it,the remains of the waiting room,and the base of the station.

The wooden pump hut

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The waiting room

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The waiting room fire place and cellar fireplace

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Remains of station fireplace

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At the back I made a nice discovery.it was the old cattle grid.a lot of stations had cattle grids to transport cattle from the local farms.this still had the original gates and flooring.

The walkway to herd the cattle from the farm to the grid

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Cattle grid gates.

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The cattle grid

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This pillbox was a bit further down the line.this one has been decorated with flowers

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One of two bridges that went over the north walsham to dilham canal.the north walsham to dilham canal was built close to this stretch of railway.the canal is the only one in norfolk.the canal was built to service the various mills along its stretch,being operated by wherries it opened in 1826,the canal was not a succsess,it laid derelict for years there is a trust that has started restoring it and some of the six locks.if anyone is interested on more info on the canal here is my friend Chris's very good and very informative video of the canal with one of the trusts members

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Briggate lock

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Honing lock

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The next station is felmingham station.it closed the same time as the rest.the inside is being used for storage.

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Old farm track bridge

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MELTON CONSTABLE

Melton constable was a railway station and later became a massive locomotive works on a fourteen acre site.the site operated 1882 to 1964.it became known as the "Crewe of Norfolk" due to the lines coming in and the massive works,the population of the village in 1881 was 118 and by 1911 the population had grown to 1157,they had there own gas works there,housing was built and even a school.during the world wars the stations works were used extensively,the site is now an industrial area but many of the buildings exist including the water tower.

Looking down one of the old workshops,this building is massive and is laying empty,I did look for a way in,but it is sealed so tight.

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Some old lines I found out the back.

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After a little nosey about I stumbled hidden in the corner a pair of buildings.one had been used for buisness use but the one next to it was very derelict.and the door was open.it was just two rooms but they were very nice.all I can guess was that this was the yard office originally.i really loved the colours in here.i actually went back again to re shoot it.

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On the far side of the site is the old water tower.its been clad on the outside.there was even bullet holes in there from enemy planes in the war.i could not spot them,so maybe they have been filled.they are trying to get listed status on this now

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That is the end of this report,sorry it's gone on so long.i don't normally do reports this long.but a lot of work has gone into this.i have tried not to rabble on in massive detail.there is loads of info online,i am sure I have got a few things wrong but I ain't bothered.its all about learning and I enjoyed getting out there discovering things and photographing them.i will carry on doing this project but have covered the main things in here,thanks for looking anyway.
 

sureshank

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looks great mikey i had a quick look through buti am defo going to give it a read tonight and let u know how i found it
 

BikinGlynn

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Wow amazing pics Mikey, lots of em too brilliantly compiled I loved it Thanks
 

krela

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It's like a treasure trove of transport and industrial history. What a variety! Thanks MM.
 

jsp77

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Very nice Mikey, you have certainly put in some hours for this posting. Enjoyed it thanks:encouragement:
 

HughieD

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I knew this was going to be good given the teaser photos you'd been posting on FB Mikey....but I never imagined it was going to be this ace. Fantastic stuff...loved that. What a fab project. Thank you for sharing that with us all...
 

Mikeymutt

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thank you all.your comments are lovely.well worth the hours getting out there and doing the photos and compiling the report.glad you liked it
 

druid

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I have a complaint Mikey


....the post ended :-(

Interesting subject, great selection of photos with a nicely balanced mix of fact and personal comment. Loved it!
 

Hugh Jorgan

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As a railwayman almost going into 40 years service this is a detailed and fantastic report, a few mistakes, but I'll let you off. The bridges are now grade 2 listed and cannot be destroyed. The railway company will lift tracks and leave station buildings derelict but they cannot destroy bridges (I'm glad!). The building with the enquiries sign on it is my favourite as it is still in original, needs a few repairs though.
 

Mikeymutt

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thank yours.sorry it had to end druid..i did not think high that the standard bridges were listed I thought they were just left because of still in use by roads etc.sorry about the mistakes ha ha
 

Dirus_Strictus

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Brilliant Mikey!! Being ex BRB I spent many hours on the closed and partially closed lines of Norfolk and Suffolk - even though being run down, various structures, water supplies, access points etc. had to be inspected routinely and me being 'junior' at the time got what my boss thought was the boring job. Not on your life, enjoyed every minute I was out on those old trackways. Just one point, which may be down to 'local' naming, your 'Cattle Grids' are not actually grids, they are cattle pens. A cattle grid looks like a number of scaffold poles laid longways down a ditch that has been dug across a farm access road or country lane - stops cattle or sheep walking down road as their hooves slip between the poles if they try - I am sure you will have clattered over many. Again, many thanks for such a brilliant reminder of my early working past!

Hugh Jorgan makes an interesting point about listing bridges, but sadly listing can be the thin end of the wedge as listing provides no immediate money for maintenance. Like a number on other closed routes, unless providing vital access or public footpaths many of the metal structures will start to rust as bed drainage gets blocked and water gets into the structures. Nothing sadder than a rusty old iron bridge.
 
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darbians

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Some really nice bits there. Google maps shows a car graveyard at the swaffham bridge. It's gone now tho :/
 

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