Photo gallery: Norfolk Railway Society celebrates 60 years of love for trains
- Credit: Archant
It was 60 years ago when a little story appeared in the Eastern Evening News saying a meeting was taking place in Norwich to see if there was any interest in forming a group for people who loved the railways.
A room at the YMCA in St Giles Street was booked and 28 people turned up. One of them was a man who became the first president of the Norfolk Railway Society. His name was Bill Harvey, British Railways Shedmaster at Norwich and a first-rate steam locomotive engineer.
From the very early days a pattern was formed. They would meet up on the first and third Thursday of each month from May to September and organise visits and outings throughout the summer months.
It is wonderful to think that after all these years this is still happening. Membership has grown to around 100 and for the last 20 years an annual railway show has been held.
The next one, which will also mark the forming of the society in 1955, takes place later this month on Saturday, February 21, and they would love to see anyone – of any age – who is interested in railways and trains.
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While so many organisations have come and gone, this society has gone from strength to strength because our passion for railways is being passed from one generation to the next and, of course, we are fortunate to have the local railway lines in Norfolk run by teams of dedicated volunteers and delighting visitors and locals alike.
Today members of the society love all trains, the old and the new, from steam to diesel and electric.
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The story of the railways in Norfolk starts back in 1834 when there was first talk of a 'Grand Eastern Counties Railway' to link our wild and isolated corner of the country with the rest of Britain.
The 'Grand' was later dropped and the building of the railway ended at Colchester.
Norfolk folk were disappointed but before long a scheme was put forward by George and Robert Stephenson to build a railway between Norwich and Great Yarmouth. It opened on May 1, 1844 – times were changing. The trains were arriving.
Over the years the network extended south to London and criss-crossed the large and sprawling county of Norfolk.
Miles and miles of track were laid. Stations were springing up in towns and villages. For the first time communities were linked up. The days of horse-power over bumpy dirt tracks were coming to an end as the trains, which gave work to generations, came huffing and puffing along.
As the steam rose over the flatlands of Norfolk, life would never be the same again.
And let's not forget that there was a special bond of friendship between all those who worked on the railways. At work and at play.
There was a thriving social side. The men and women were part of a big 'railway family'. And as for that football team which played in the Thursday League. Well, they were one of the best.
Many employees spent their entire working lives on the railways, They loved the trains just as much as members of the railway society did... and still do today.
• The 60th anniversary show by the Norfolk Railway Society is taking place at Ipswich Road United Reformed Church Halls, Eaton Rise, Norwich, on Saturday, February 21, from noon to 5pm.
• Attractions will include: model layouts, an archive exhibition, railway art and photographic displays, plus a raffle with money going to the North Norfolk Railway Suburban Four appeal.
• Admission is £3 (children 25p). A family ticket is £5. For more details about the society, click on www.norfolkrailwaysociety.org.uk. New members are always welcome. All you need is an interest in railways and trains.
• My thanks to Richard Adderson for the photographs, which were taken by David Pearce and the late Roger Harrison.