Photo gallery: Norfolk Railway Society celebrates 60 years of love for trains
PUBLISHED: 12:11 04 February 2015 | UPDATED: 15:52 05 February 2015
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.
Photo gallery: Railway archive
A special train which the Society organised on September 1956. It started at Norwich Victoria station, and here it is standing underneath Southwell Road bridge, now the gateway to Lakenham Way and Sainsbury's car park. It covered four sections of railway not used for passenger trains on a roundabout trip before terminating at Thorpe Station.
This is one of Roger Harrison's pictures, showing what was a major event in the early years of the NRS. It was May 15 1960, and they hired a locomotive and crew from British Railways so members could spend the afternoon taking turns driving and firing the engine - under supervision from the professionals! - up and down the line between North Walsham and Mundesley.
Platform 1 with 68011 & 68009 in the Royal Dock at Norwich station, taken on September 9 2014. Two of the newest locomotives running on Network Rail, one in Chiltern Rail colours and the other in the livery of Direct Rail Services, were sent to Norwich for crew training and familiarisation in the summer of 2014. Built by Vossloh they are intended for both passenger and freight work with the capability of 100mph running.
Norwich's Platform 4 with 12.36 to Great Yarmouth departing on December 30 2014. It’s remarkable that it is still possible to see a guard waving a traditional green flag to the driver giving the all clear for the train to depart.
The engine of a train bound for Yarmouth comes under the footbridge at Whitlingham Junction and approaches the derelict station platforms. The station had been closed in 1954, but the footbridge, built in 1886 remains to this day, providing access to the marshes. It is around 1960, and the train is one of the many which ran on Saturdays in the Summer, bringing holidaymakers to Yarmouth from far and wide, from the north, the Midlands and London. Engines of this type were normally be used on goods trains during the week, but had to be pressed into service on these Saturday trains.
Anybody who was a trainspotter in Norwich during the 1950s will instantly recognise this scene, taken through the railings bordering Carrow Road. The unmistakeable bulk of the coaling tower dominates the middle distance, and the turntable is in the foreground.
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.
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.
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.