Mid-Norfolk Railway

Mid-Norfolk Railway

Overview
The Mid-Norfolk Railway or MNR is a heritage railway
Heritage railway
thumb|right|the Historical [[Khyber train safari|Khyber Railway]] goes through the [[Khyber Pass]], [[Pakistan]]A heritage railway , preserved railway , tourist railway , or tourist railroad is a railway that is run as a tourist attraction, in some cases by volunteers, and...

 in the English county of Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

. Opening as a tourist line in 1997, it is often referred to as a "New Generation" heritage railway.

The 11.5 miles (18.5 km) line runs through the centre of Norfolk between the market towns of Wymondham
Wymondham
Wymondham is a historic market town and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It lies 9.5 miles to the south west of the city of Norwich, on the A11 road to Thetford and London.- Before The Great Fire :...

 and Dereham
Dereham
Dereham, also known as East Dereham, is a town and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It is situated on the A47 road, some 15 miles west of the city of Norwich and 25 miles east of King's Lynn. The civil parish has an area of and in the 2001 census had a population of...

 via , and , operating steam and diesel services. The line is periodically used for commercial freight operations and staff instruction for mainline railway companies.

It is the southern section of the former Wymondham, Dereham, Fakenham and Wells-next-the-Sea
Wymondham to Wells branch
The Wymondham to Wells branch was a railway built in stages by the Norfolk Railway and Eastern Counties Railway between 1847 and 1857. The railway ran from Wymondham in the south, through Dereham and Fakenham to the coastal town of Wells-next-the-Sea; more specifically, the line ran from Wymondham...

 line, opened by the Norfolk Railway in 1847 and closed to passengers in stages from 1964 to 1969 as part of the Beeching cuts
Beeching Axe
The Beeching Axe or the Beeching Cuts are informal names for the British Government's attempt in the 1960s to reduce the cost of running British Railways, the nationalised railway system in the United Kingdom. The name is that of the main author of The Reshaping of British Railways, Dr Richard...

.
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Encyclopedia
The Mid-Norfolk Railway or MNR is a heritage railway
Heritage railway
thumb|right|the Historical [[Khyber train safari|Khyber Railway]] goes through the [[Khyber Pass]], [[Pakistan]]A heritage railway , preserved railway , tourist railway , or tourist railroad is a railway that is run as a tourist attraction, in some cases by volunteers, and...

 in the English county of Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

. Opening as a tourist line in 1997, it is often referred to as a "New Generation" heritage railway.

The 11.5 miles (18.5 km) line runs through the centre of Norfolk between the market towns of Wymondham
Wymondham
Wymondham is a historic market town and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It lies 9.5 miles to the south west of the city of Norwich, on the A11 road to Thetford and London.- Before The Great Fire :...

 and Dereham
Dereham
Dereham, also known as East Dereham, is a town and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It is situated on the A47 road, some 15 miles west of the city of Norwich and 25 miles east of King's Lynn. The civil parish has an area of and in the 2001 census had a population of...

 via , and , operating steam and diesel services. The line is periodically used for commercial freight operations and staff instruction for mainline railway companies.

It is the southern section of the former Wymondham, Dereham, Fakenham and Wells-next-the-Sea
Wymondham to Wells branch
The Wymondham to Wells branch was a railway built in stages by the Norfolk Railway and Eastern Counties Railway between 1847 and 1857. The railway ran from Wymondham in the south, through Dereham and Fakenham to the coastal town of Wells-next-the-Sea; more specifically, the line ran from Wymondham...

 line, opened by the Norfolk Railway in 1847 and closed to passengers in stages from 1964 to 1969 as part of the Beeching cuts
Beeching Axe
The Beeching Axe or the Beeching Cuts are informal names for the British Government's attempt in the 1960s to reduce the cost of running British Railways, the nationalised railway system in the United Kingdom. The name is that of the main author of The Reshaping of British Railways, Dr Richard...

. The final section of the line closed to goods traffic in 1989. The northern section of this line has been operated by the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
The Wells and Walsingham Light Railway is a gauge heritage railway in Norfolk, England running between the coastal town of Wells and Walsingham which is further inland...

 since 1982.

The MNR is owned and operated by the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust (a charitable trust
Charitable trust
A charitable trust is an irrevocable trust established for charitable purposes, and is a more specific term than "charitable organization".-United States:...

), and is mostly operated and staffed by volunteers. The company owns a further 6 miles (9.7 km) of line, as far as County School railway station
County School railway station
County School is a railway station approximately one mile north of the village of North Elmham in the English county of Norfolk. The station is part of a line being gradually restored by the Mid-Norfolk Railway from East Dereham to Fakenham.-History:...

, which will make it the third largest heritage railway in England once restoration is complete. The Mid-Norfolk Railway has long-term aims to restore the railway as far as Fakenham
Fakenham
Fakenham is a town and civil parish in Norfolk, England. It is situated on the River Wensum, some north east of King's Lynn, south west of Cromer, and north west of Norwich....

.

Route history


Main article:Wymondham to Wells branch
Wymondham to Wells branch
The Wymondham to Wells branch was a railway built in stages by the Norfolk Railway and Eastern Counties Railway between 1847 and 1857. The railway ran from Wymondham in the south, through Dereham and Fakenham to the coastal town of Wells-next-the-Sea; more specifically, the line ran from Wymondham...




The Wymondham to Wells branch was opened in stages between 15 February 1847 and 1857, after Parliamentary consent was given in 1845. The entire line became part of the Great Eastern Railway
Great Eastern Railway
The Great Eastern Railway was a pre-grouping British railway company, whose main line linked London Liverpool Street to Norwich and which had other lines through East Anglia...

 in 1862. The line between Wymondham and Dereham was provided with double track
Double track
A double track railway usually involves running one track in each direction, compared to a single track railway where trains in both directions share the same track.- Overview :...

 in 1882, the line north of there remaining single track
Single track (rail)
A single track railway is where trains in both directions share the same track. Single track is normally used on lesser used rail lines, often branch lines, where the traffic density is not high enough to justify the cost of building double tracks....

.

As part of the Great Eastern Railway, the branch became part of the Southern Area of the London and North Eastern Railway
London and North Eastern Railway
The London and North Eastern Railway was the second-largest of the "Big Four" railway companies created by the Railways Act 1921 in Britain...

 at The Grouping in 1923. The line was heavily used during World War I and World War II, with extra Air Ministry sidings provided at Dereham in 1943. In the early days of the war, Dereham was used as a reception centre for the construction materials used to build the local airfields.

The 1947 Transport Act
Transport Act 1947
The Transport Act 1947 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Under it the railways, long-distance road haulage and various other types of transport were acquired by the state and handed over to a new British Transport Commission for operation...

 nationalised the "Big Four
Big Four British railway companies
The Big Four was a name used to describe the four largest railway companies in the United Kingdom in the period 1923-1947. The name was coined by the Railway Magazine in its issue of February 1923: "The Big Four of the New Railway Era".The Big Four were:...

" railway companies, and the branch line became part of the Eastern Region of British Railways
Eastern Region of British Railways
The Eastern Region was a region of British Railways from 1948. The region ceased to be an operating unit in its own right in the 1980s and was wound up at the end of 1992...

 on 1 January 1948. The branch line between County School and closed to passengers on 15 September 1952, with the section between and closing to goods as well. A stub of the western section, between County School and Foulsham remained open for goods until 31 October 1964, being busiest in the sugar beet season.


The passenger service between Dereham and Wells ended on 5 October 1964. Dereham became an intermediate station for Norwich to King's Lynn services. In June 1965, the Wymondham to Dereham section was reduced to single track with a passing loop at Hardingham. The passenger service from King's Lynn ended on 9 September 1968, with the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society operating operating the 'East Anglian Branch Line Farewell' DMU special on the final Saturday. The withdrawal of the remaining passenger services, between Wymondham and Dereham, followed in October 1969.

Goods traffic continued after the passenger closure. The 1973 oil crisis
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

 led to a meeting being held at Dereham in 1974 by the Railway Development Society in order to petition for the restoration of passenger services between Wymondham and Fakenham. British Rail gave a price of £247,000 for such a restoration, but this proposal was rejected by Norfolk County Council. This meeting resulted in the formation of the Wymondham, Dereham and Fakenham Railway Action Committee.

In 1977 the Wymondham, Dereham and Fakenham Railway Action Committee presented the Norfolk County Chief Planning Officer with a report putting the case for restoring rail passenger services between Norwich, Dereham and Fakenham East. Complete closure of the line took place in June 1989.

Fakenham and Dereham Railway Society



1978 saw the formation of the Fakenham and Dereham Railway Society, a forerunner of the MNR, hoping to preserve the line between these two towns. In 1983, after the failure of a 1980 attempt to preserve the Ryburgh to Fakenham section of line, the Fakenham & Dereham Railway Society
Fakenham and Dereham Railway Society
The Fakenham and Dereham Railway Society was a heritage railway society in the English county of Norfolk. For a short period of time it operated County School railway station as the Wensum Valley Railway...

 leased Hardingham station and opened a small heritage centre. Track was laid in the former goods yard and a Ruston 0-4-0 diesel locomotive was delivered to the site. Income failed to cover the rent and rates, and the Society was forced to move out when the site was auctioned in 1986 - moving to a temporary location at Yaxham station.

In 1987 the station at County School was purchased by Breckland District Council, and the F&DRS were granted a 999 year lease, invited to lay track and relocate to the site. The intention was to relay track to meet up with the British Rail railhead at North Elmham to connect with charter trains operating over the branch. This plan was abandoned when complete closure of the line from June 1989 was announced.

Mid Norfolk Railway Society and Great Eastern Railway (1989) Ltd.


With the announcement of the closure of the entire branch between Wymondham, Dereham and North Elmham, a new company called the Great Eastern Railway (1989) Limited was formed to save the line. The F&DRS elected to back this scheme, and the lease of County School station was signed over to the GER (1989) Ltd. The F&DRS, changing its name to become the Mid Norfolk Railway Society in 1990, continued to provide financial backing and manpower for the development of the County School site. The running line was extended over half a mile towards North Elmham, and a collection of rolling stock was built up. The first passenger train, a Mk2 brake coach converted to work as a DBSO
Driving Brake Standard Open
A Driving Brake Standard Open or DBSO is a type of railway carriage, converted to operate as a control car. Fourteen such vehicles, numbered 9701 to 9714, were converted from Mk. 2F Brake Standard Open carriages. Modifications included adding a driving cab and TDM equipment to allow a locomotive...

 with an industrial diesel locomotive, operated at the County School site on 2 November 1991.

In 1991 the managing director of the GER (1989) Ltd., Trevor Cleaver, stated that he had raised much of the required finance and that the company intended to provide a regular passenger train service over the line by 1993. About 400 commuters a day were expected to use the service. Plans were also announced for special excursions such as shopping trips to London and summer seaside services. The plans included providing a hotel and conference centre at Dereham, along with a public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

 and shopping arcade.

During the early 1990s the GER(1989), contrary to the earlier announcements relating to the future of the line, announced plans to lift the railway between Dereham and Wymondham. The MNRS withdrew their support for the GER(1989) and made their own bid for the line.

In 1994 the British Railways Property Board granted the MNRS access to the railway line between Wymondham and North Elmham on a temporary 'care and maintenance' basis. This was in response to increasing levels of vandalism occurring at the site, a problem which had worsened after the Great Eastern company had lifted the track between Norwich Road level crossing and a point just north of the Automatic Open Level Crossings. The first working party was held at Dereham station on Saturday 23 July 1994.

In December 1994 Class 20
British Rail Class 20
The British Rail Class 20, otherwise known as an English Electric Type 1, is a class of diesel-electric locomotive. In total, 228 locomotives in the class were built by English Electric between 1957 and 1968, the large number being in part because of the failure of other early designs in the same...

 diesels 20069 and 20206 were moved by road from County School to the truncated railhead at Dereham. On Christmas Eve, with permission from British Rail, both locomotives made their way along the line to Yaxham station. They were driven by Chris Pearson, a main line driver who had been relief driver on the final train into Dereham in April 1989.

1995 saw Yorkshire Bank
Yorkshire Bank
Yorkshire Bank is a commercial bank in England and Wales, a division of Clydesdale Bank, which in turn is a subsidiary of National Australia Bank. It mostly operates in the North of England, especially in Yorkshire. In 2006 underlying profit rose 16.7 per cent to £454 million compared with a...

 call in the receivers
Receivership
In law, receivership is the situation in which an institution or enterprise is being held by a receiver, a person "placed in the custodial responsibility for the property of others, including tangible and intangible assets and rights." The receivership remedy is an equitable remedy that emerged in...

 to solve concerns with the Great Eastern Railway (1989) Ltd. In June 1995 Breckland Council informed the receivers that they wished for the GER (1889) Ltd. to give up the lease for County School station so that they could review their operations in respect of the site. The GER (1989) Ltd., who stated that they were attracting 12,000 visitors a year to the site, announced that they would contest this decision.

In July 1995, police were called in to investigate the sudden and unauthorised road transfer of two Mid Norfolk Railway Society Mk 2 coaches to a breaker's yard at nearby Lenwade. In July 1996 Breckland District Council issued a threat to stop trains running at County School station, as it was found that someone other than the leaseholder was operating trains at the site; the lease being non-transferable. In November 1996 Breckland District Council brought in 24 hour security guards at the County School site in order to prevent the stripping
Asset stripping
Asset stripping involves selling the assets of a business individually at a profit. The term is generally used in a pejorative sense as such activity is not considered productive to the economy. Asset stripping is considered to be a problem in economies such as Russia or China that are making a...

 of the property after having served an eviction order on the GER(1989) in mid-October.

County School station was boarded up and GER (1989) Ltd rolling stock was concentrated in the isolated yard prior to disposal or scrapping. All track north of the station platforms was then lifted, and, as shown in the photograph, the site was left to become derelict.

Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust





The Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust was established in 1995 to buy and restore the disused line between North Elmham and Wymondham. It was formed through the merger of the campaign groups and organisations that had been trying to restore passenger services over the route since 1974. The aims of the charity are "to preserve and to renovate reconstruct and operate for the benefit of the people of the County of Norfolk and of the nation at large, whatever of the historical, architectural and constructional heritage that may exist of the permanent way, track, buildings (including any building as defined in Section 336(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990), bridges, operating equipment and rolling stock once forming part of or connected with or adjacent to the Great Eastern Railway line running between County School at North Elmham in the County of Norfolk and Wymondham in the County of Norfolk."

In July 1995 two Mk2 coaches
British Rail Mark 2
The Mark 2 family of railway carriages were British Rail's second design of carriages. They were built by British Rail workshops between 1964 and 1975...

 coaches were transferred by road from County School railway station to the truncated railhead at Dereham, where they were placed between the already present Class 20 locomotives. These coaches were then hauled to the MNR's temporary base at Yaxham. A further three coaches were delivered on August 17.

On 29 November 1995 the section of railway between Yaxham station and a temporary halt built beside a footpath crossing on the Rash's Green industrial estate in Dereham was inspected by Chris Hall, H.M. Principal Inspecting Officer of Railways. Permission to operate passenger trains over this section was granted from Saturday 23 December 1995. 63 trains, each composed of the five Mk2 coaches topped and tailed by the Class 20s, were operated between this date and 14 January 1996. In October 1995 Breckland District Council established a rail working party to consider purchasing the line from British Rail, then leasing it out to a rail group - of which the Mid-Norfolk Railway was the preferred lessee.

On 11 April 1998 the sale of the route between Wymondham and Dereham to the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust was completed, with the £100,000 purchase price including Dereham station buildings and the 6.5 acres (26,304.6 m²) of goods yard area. In a related deal the British Rail Property Board also accepted an offer of £25,000 for the 4.5 miles (7.2 km) between Dereham and North Elmham. On 17 March 1998 the MNRPT had signed a Tenancy at Will agreement with Breckland District Council
Breckland (district)
Breckland District is a local government district in Norfolk, England. Its council is based in East Dereham.Breckland District derives its name from the Breckland landscape region, a gorse covered sandy heath of south Norfolk and north Suffolk...

 to take over the station and trackbed at County School. This agreement was to allow the railway to take control of the station until it could afford to buy it outright, and followed on from the removal of the remaining rolling stock associated with the defunct Great Eastern Railway (1989) Ltd from the site.

The original Dereham station re-opened to passengers on Saturday 26 July 1997, with the first services being operated by 1890-built Manning Wardle
Manning Wardle
Manning Wardle was a steam locomotive manufacturer based in Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.- Precursor companies :The city of Leeds was one of the earliest centres of locomotive building; Matthew Murray built the first commercially successful steam locomotive, Salamanca, in Holbeck, Leeds,...

 0-6-0
0-6-0
Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, 0-6-0 represents the wheel arrangement of no leading wheels, six powered and coupled driving wheels on three axles, and no trailing wheels...

T 'Sir Berkeley', hired from the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway
Keighley and Worth Valley Railway
The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is a long branch line that served mills and villages in the Worth Valley and is now a heritage railway line in West Yorkshire, England. It runs from Keighley to Oxenhope. It connects to the national rail network line at Keighley railway station...

. The ownership of the line between Wymondham and Dereham was passed from British Railways Board (Residuary) Limited to the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust by Statutory Instrument 1997 No. 2262 on 23 September 1997. The first preservation-era train to operate between Dereham and Wymondham ran on 8 February 1998, when a works train hauled by 20069
British Rail Class 20
The British Rail Class 20, otherwise known as an English Electric Type 1, is a class of diesel-electric locomotive. In total, 228 locomotives in the class were built by English Electric between 1957 and 1968, the large number being in part because of the failure of other early designs in the same...

 and Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0 'County School ran as part of preparations for a March freight test train. The first commercial freight train operated on 8 July 1998.

Passenger services between Dereham and Wymondham commenced in 1999, with the opening of Wymondham Abbey railway station
Wymondham Abbey railway station
Wymondham Abbey railway station is a railway station in the town of Wymondham in the English county of Norfolk. The station is served by heritage services operated by the Mid-Norfolk Railway between Wymondham and East Dereham.-History:...

. The first passenger train to use the new station, on 2 May 1999, was operated by a Class 108
British Rail Class 108
The British Rail Class 108 diesel multiple units were built by BR Derby from 1958 to 1961, with a final production quantity of 333 vehicles....

 DMU
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

. Thuxton station
Thuxton railway station
Thuxton is a railway station in the village of Thuxton in the English county of Norfolk. The station is served by heritage services operated by the Mid-Norfolk Railway on the line from Dereham to Wymondham....

 opened as a daylight hours only request halt at the same time, although Kimberley Park
Kimberley Park railway station
Kimberley Park railway station is a railway station in the village of Kimberley in the English county of Norfolk.-History:The station was rebuilt by the Great Eastern Railway and provided with a second platform when the line was doubled in the early 1880s...

 and Hardingham
Hardingham railway station
Hardingham railway station is a railway station in the village of Hardingham in the English county of Norfolk. The station is periodically served by heritage services operated by the Mid-Norfolk Railway on the line from East Dereham to Wymondham, but the station is generally closed to the...

 remained closed.

Following the completion of infrastructure work, such as the replacement of the water tower at Dereham and the provision of an inspection pit, steam passenger services returned to the Dereham to Wymondham Abbey section on Sunday 30 April 2006. These were operated by Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
The Great Western Railway was a British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its enabling Act of Parliament in 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838...

 pannier tank number 9466 from the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is a railway museum operated by the Quainton Railway Society Ltd. at Quainton Road railway station, in the far depths of "Metro-land", about 5 miles west of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. The site is divided into two halves which are joined by two foot-bridges, one of...

. The ownership of the section of railway line between Dereham and North Elmham, part of that originally authorised by the Norfolk Railway Extensions, Dereham
Dereham
Dereham, also known as East Dereham, is a town and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It is situated on the A47 road, some 15 miles west of the city of Norwich and 25 miles east of King's Lynn. The civil parish has an area of and in the 2001 census had a population of...

, Wells
Wells-next-the-Sea
Wells-next-the-Sea, known locally simply as Wells, is a town, civil parish and seaport situated on the North Norfolk coast in England.The civil parish has an area of and in the 2001 census had a population of 2,451 in 1,205 households...

 and Blakeney
Blakeney, Norfolk
Blakeney is a coastal village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. Blakeney lies within the Norfolk Coast AONB and the North Norfolk Heritage Coast. The North Norfolk Coastal Path passes through the village...

 Branch Act 1846, was passed to the Mid-Norfolk Railway in October 2001.

Part of the line from County School to Wroxham is now the narrow gauge Bure Valley Railway
Bure Valley Railway
The Bure Valley Railway is a minimum gauge heritage railway in Norfolk, within The Broads National Park.The railway runs from Wroxham to Aylsham and is Norfolk's longest railway of less than standard gauge. It uses both steam and diesel locomotives. There are intermediate halts at Brampton,...

. The formation between Wells and the religious centre of Walsingham
Walsingham
Walsingham is a village in the English county of Norfolk. The village is famed for its religious shrines in honour of the Virgin Mary and as a major pilgrimage centre...

 now hosts the miniature Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
The Wells and Walsingham Light Railway is a gauge heritage railway in Norfolk, England running between the coastal town of Wells and Walsingham which is further inland...

. Both schemes are independent of the MNR. Another independent scheme, the "Norfolk Orbital Railway" plans to link the MNR to the North Norfolk Railway
North Norfolk Railway
The North Norfolk Railway – also known as the "Poppy Line" – is a heritage steam railway in Norfolk, England, running between the coastal town of Sheringham and Holt, It cuts through the countryside to the east of Weybourne with views of its windmill and passes through the well preserved country...

 and the coast at Sheringham
Sheringham
Sheringham is a seaside town in Norfolk, England, west of Cromer.The motto of the town, granted in 1953 to the Sheringham Urban District Council, is Mare Ditat Pinusque Decorat, Latin for "The sea enriches and the pine adorns"....

. In 2009 the Whitwell & Reepham Preservation Society announced an eventual intention to link up with either the North Norfolk Railway
North Norfolk Railway
The North Norfolk Railway – also known as the "Poppy Line" – is a heritage steam railway in Norfolk, England, running between the coastal town of Sheringham and Holt, It cuts through the countryside to the east of Weybourne with views of its windmill and passes through the well preserved country...

 or Mid-Norfolk Railway.

Present day




The 11.5 miles (18.5 km) line extends between Dereham and Wymondham; and the Trust owns the further 6 miles (10 km) of disused railway to County School station
County School railway station
County School is a railway station approximately one mile north of the village of North Elmham in the English county of Norfolk. The station is part of a line being gradually restored by the Mid-Norfolk Railway from East Dereham to Fakenham.-History:...

 near North Elmham
North Elmham
North Elmham is a village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk.It covers an area of and had a population of 1,428 in 624 households as of the 2001 census. For the purposes of local government, it falls within the district of Breckland....

, although there is a break of around a mile between North Elmham and County School where the track is no longer in situ. This makes the Mid-Norfolk Railway one of the longest heritage railways in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. The track bed is mostly intact from County School to Fakenham
Fakenham
Fakenham is a town and civil parish in Norfolk, England. It is situated on the River Wensum, some north east of King's Lynn, south west of Cromer, and north west of Norwich....

, and is reserved by the council for railway use. Although it is not yet in the Trust's ownership, the railway plans restoration of the line to this third market town.

The line features several preserved stations; Yaxham retaining period features such as the original signal box
Signal box
On a rail transport system, signalling control is the process by which control is exercised over train movements by way of railway signals and block systems to ensure that trains operate safely, over the correct route and to the proper timetable...

 and shelters. Trains run on most weekends from the end of February to December, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays in summer. There are special events throughout the year. Trains are mostly diesel-operated
Locomotive
A locomotive is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. The word originates from the Latin loco – "from a place", ablative of locus, "place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", and is a shortened form of the term locomotive engine, first used in the early 19th...

, however in some cases steam is used.

Guest steam locomotives


Although predominantly diesel-operated, the MNR is not a diesel-only railway. The first train from after preservation, running between Dereham and Yaxham
Yaxham
Yaxham is a village and civil parish in centre of the English county of Norfolk. The parish includes the village of Yaxham, together with the neighbouring community of Clint Green. Together, they lay some south of Dereham and west of Norwich....

, was hauled by Manning Wardle
Manning Wardle
Manning Wardle was a steam locomotive manufacturer based in Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.- Precursor companies :The city of Leeds was one of the earliest centres of locomotive building; Matthew Murray built the first commercially successful steam locomotive, Salamanca, in Holbeck, Leeds,...

 0-6-0
0-6-0
Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, 0-6-0 represents the wheel arrangement of no leading wheels, six powered and coupled driving wheels on three axles, and no trailing wheels...

 tank locomotive "Sir Berkeley", and the railway has always intended to operate both steam and diesel trains.

In 2000 the railway arranged the loan of Barclay 0-4-0
0-4-0
Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, 0-4-0 represents one of the simplest possible types, that with two axles and four coupled wheels, all of which are driven...

 saddle tank 'Little Barford'. Although the locomotive was too small to operate a scheduled service over the line it was used for a number of crew training runs, and, on Monday 12 June 2000, it became the first steam locomotive in preservation to operate over the entire route between Dereham and Wymondham. Steam also visited the line, although not to operate services, in 2001 when LNER Thompson Class B1
LNER Thompson Class B1
The London and North Eastern Railway Thompson Class B1 is a class of steam locomotive designed for medium mixed traffic work. It was designed by Edward Thompson.- Overview :...

 61264 was routed via Dereham for repairs after failing on railtour
Railtour
A railtour is a special train which is run in order to allow people to experience rail travel which is not available using timetabled passenger services...

 at Norwich, 20 November.

The 2006 return of steam-hauled passenger services marked the completion of Dereham Station restoration and the installation of steam infrastructure (such as the water tower).

The first locomotive to haul timetabled steam services over the Dereham to Wymondham section since 1955 was GWR 9400 Class
GWR 9400 Class
The Great Western Railway 9400 Class is a class of 0-6-0 pannier tank steam locomotive, used for shunting and banking duties.The first ten 9400s were the last steam engines built by the GWR. After nationalisation in 1948, another 200 were built by private contractors for British Railways...

 9466. The same locomotive returned to operate the line's steam services in June and July 2007, although Battle of Britain class 34067 Tangmere also visited this year, operating some scheduled trains and hauling the first steam charter from Dereham (to London Liverpool Street), on 5 May.

9466 returned in 2008, operating the line's steam services in July and August. In 2009 LNER Class N7 69621, based on the nearby North Norfolk Railway
North Norfolk Railway
The North Norfolk Railway – also known as the "Poppy Line" – is a heritage steam railway in Norfolk, England, running between the coastal town of Sheringham and Holt, It cuts through the countryside to the east of Weybourne with views of its windmill and passes through the well preserved country...

, operated weekend services between 25 April and 4 May. BR Standard Class 7
BR standard class 7
The BR Standard Class 7, otherwise known as the Britannia Class, is a class of 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive designed by Robert Riddles for use by British Railways for mixed traffic duties. Fifty-five were constructed between 1951 and 1954. The design was a result of the 1948 locomotive exchanges...

 70013 Oliver Cromwell
BR standard class 7 70013 Oliver Cromwell
70013 Oliver Cromwell is a British Railways standard class 7 preserved steam locomotive. The locomotive is notable as one of the four steam locomotives which worked the last steam railtour on British Railways in 1968 before the introduction of a steam ban.-Career:One of 55 of the "Britannia"...

 was stabled at Dereham for a week in early May, although the advertised service trains were cancelled. GWR 9466 then returned to operate the July and August steam services, and, just before departing, became the first steam locomotive to work over the section of line between Dereham and Hoe in preservation.

9466 was booked to operate the 2010 MNR steam services in July and August. 9466, 6023 King Edward II and LMS Fowler Class 3F
LMS Fowler Class 3F
The London Midland and Scottish Railway Fowler 3F 0-6-0T is a class of steam locomotive, often known as Jinty. They represent the ultimate development of the Midland Railway's six-coupled tank engines.- Introduction :...

 47406 operated the line's first steam gala on 16th-17th July 2011 along with Beavertail observation saloon E1719 from the Great Central
Great Central Railway (preserved)
The Great Central Railway is a heritage railway split into two adjacent sections, one in Leicestershire and the other Nottinghamshire.The Leicestershire section is currently Britain's only double track mainline heritage railway, with of working double track, period signalling, locomotives and...

.

Commercial freight




Mid-Norfolk Railway facilitates commercial freight trains, using its connection with the National Rail network at Wymondham. Dereham yard was used as a servicing depot by Direct Rail Services
Direct Rail Services
Direct Rail Services is a freight operating company created by British Nuclear Fuels Limited. The company started rail operations in 1995 using five heavily refurbished Class 20/3 diesel locomotives. Since then it has expanded greatly, and has acquired many more locomotives, most bought...

 in late 2007 and 2008 and for Network Rail
Network Rail
Network Rail is the government-created owner and operator of most of the rail infrastructure in Great Britain .; it is not responsible for railway infrastructure in Northern Ireland...

 track plant since 2008.

The line has also been used to carry equipment for army units based at or undergoing training at Robertson Barracks
RAF Swanton Morley
The former Royal Air Force Station Swanton Morley, more commonly known as RAF Swanton Morley, was a Royal Air Force Station in Norfolk, England, located near to the village of Swanton Morley...

 and the Stanford Battle Area
Stanford Battle Area
Stanford Battle Area, better known as the Stanford Training Area , is a British Army training area situated in the English county of Norfolk. The area is approximately in size; it is some north of the town of Thetford and south-west of the city of Norwich...

, most recently in January 2009. Operation of these trains involves both resident and mainline locomotives.
Date Operator Motive Power Notes
17 June 1998 EWS
EWS
DB Schenker Rail , before 2009 known as English, Welsh and Scottish Railway is a British rail freight company. EWS was established by a consortium led by Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation in 1996 by acquisition of five of the six freight companies created by the privatisation of British...

47241 'Halewood Silver Jubilee' First trial MOD train, including inspection saloon.
8 July 1998 EWS 37263
British Rail Class 37
The British Rail Class 37 is a diesel-electric locomotive. Also known as the English Electric Type 3, the Class was ordered as part of the British Rail modernisation plan....

First MOD train, composed VGA wagons.
9 July 1998 EWS 47298 MOD train, composed Warwell and Warflat wagons.
17 July 1998 EWS 37707 MOD train, composed VGA, Warwell and Warflat wagons.
5 October 1998 EWS 47200 'Herbert Austin
Herbert Austin
Herbert 'Pa' Austin, 1st Baron Austin KBE was an English automobile designer and builder who founded the Austin Motor Company.-Background and early life:...

'
MOD train, composed VGA wagons.
8 October 1998 EWS 47312 'Parsec of Europe' MOD train, composed Warwell and Warflat wagons.
15 October 1998 EWS 47316 MOD train, composed Warwell and Warflat wagons.
23 April 1999 EWS 37248 'Midland Railway Centre' + 37178 MOD train, composed VGA, Warwell and Warflat wagons.
20 January 2002 EWS 47786 'Roy Castle
Roy Castle
Roy Castle OBE was an English dancer, singer, comedian, actor, television presenter and musician. He attended Honley High School, where there is now a building in his name...

 OBE'
Transfer of fire damaged 86252
British Rail Class 86
The British Rail Class 86 was the standard electric locomotive built during the 1960s, developed as a result of testing with the earlier Classes 81, 82, 83, 84 and 85. One hundred of these locomotives were built from 1965-1966 by either English Electric at Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows, or...

 from Norwich.
26 September 2008 EWS 66105 Trial MOD train.
8 January 2009 DB Schenker
DB Schenker
DB Schenker is a logistics company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG. The company, created by reorganisation and rebranding of various Deutsche Bahn subsidiaries, comprises a logistics division encompassing air, land and sea freight, and a rail division made up from a variety of...

66157 MOD train, composed VGA, Warwell and Warflat wagons.
8 January 2009 DRS
Direct Rail Services
Direct Rail Services is a freight operating company created by British Nuclear Fuels Limited. The company started rail operations in 1995 using five heavily refurbished Class 20/3 diesel locomotives. Since then it has expanded greatly, and has acquired many more locomotives, most bought...

37087 Collecting Network Rail
Network Rail
Network Rail is the government-created owner and operator of most of the rail infrastructure in Great Britain .; it is not responsible for railway infrastructure in Northern Ireland...

 stoneblower.
28 November 2009 DB Schenker 66201 MOD train, composed VGA, Warwell and Warflat wagons.


Training and testing

The Mid-Norfolk Railway is also frequently used by mainline companies for crew training and the storage and testing of recommissioned and new on-track plant, including ballast tamper
Ballast tamper
A ballast tamper or tamping machine is a machine used to pack the track ballast under railway tracks to make the tracks more durable. Prior to the introduction of mechanical tampers, this task was done by manual labour with the help of beaters...

s, ballast regulator
Ballast regulator
A ballast regulator is a piece of rail transport maintenance of way equipment used to shape and distribute the gravel track ballast that supports the ties in rail tracks. They are often used in conjunction with ballast tampers when maintaining track....

s, stoneblowers and Multi-Purpose Vehicles from companies including Network Rail and Balfour Beatty
Balfour Beatty
Balfour Beatty plc is a British construction, engineering, military housing, rail and investment services company. It is one of the largest construction companies in the UK, and the 15th largest in the world...

 Rail Ltd. Since 2001 the line has been used annually for low adhesion training, or skidpan training, for crews from Anglia Railways
Anglia Railways
Anglia Railways was a British train operating company, owned by GB Railways, which between 5 January 1997 and 31 March 2004 operated mainline trains out of London Liverpool Street station and a number of local rail services in East Anglia....

, latterly for One Railway, where a specially fitted Class 153
British Rail Class 153
The British Rail Class 153 Super Sprinter is a single car diesel multiple unit converted from British Rail Class 155s.-Description:These units were originally built as two-car Class 155 units by British Leyland from 1987–88, but were converted by Hunslet-Barclay at Kilmarnock from 1991-92...

 treats the track with a slimy solution before the crew practices stopping in a virtual station. The line has also been used for training exercises by Norfolk Police and the Fire Brigade, including major incident training.

Charter trains




Before the preservation of the line a number of special trains and demonstration services were operated over the line by the Wymondham & Dereham Rail Action Committee (WyDRAC) and the Railway Development Society (RDS) to help maintain pressure for the restoration of passenger services over the line. By the line's closure, twenty special trains had operated, carrying over 5,000 passengers.

The junction with the main line at Wymondham has allowed the Mid-Norfolk Railway to continue to be used by a number of charter and excursion trains, which operate over the line as part of the wider rail network.
Date Operator Motive Power Notes
8 May 1999 Hertfordshire Rail Tours
Hertfordshire Rail Tours
Hertfordshire Rail Tours was a company that ran charter trains for enthusiasts, named as they were originally based in Hertfordshire. Most of its trains started from London Terminals, although most from London King's Cross. A fair proportion of charter trains used the "Pride of the Nation" dining...

- King's Cross to Dereham excursion.
20 April 2002 NENTA 47749 'Atlantic College' & 67008
British Rail Class 67
The Class 67 locomotives are a class of Bo'Bo' diesel electric mainline locomotives which were built for the English, Welsh and Scottish Railway between 1999 to 2000 by Alstom at Meinfesa in Valencia, Spain with drive components from General Motors Diesel.Rail enthusiasts have nicknamed the class...

Dereham to Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

 excursion.
17 May 2003 NENTA 67006 & 67016 Dereham to York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

, Durham
Durham
Durham is a city in north east England. It is within the County Durham local government district, and is the county town of the larger ceremonial county...

 or Newcastle
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

 excursion.
2 August 2003 NENTA 47778 'Duke of Edinburgh's Award' Dereham to Severn Valley Railway
Severn Valley Railway
The Severn Valley Railway is a heritage railway in Shropshire and Worcestershire, England. The line runs along the Severn Valley from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster, following the course of the River Severn for much of its route...

 excursion.
21 August 2004 NENTA 47703 & 47832 Dereham to Chester
Chester
Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is home to 77,040 inhabitants, and is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 328,100 according to the...

 excursion.
9 September 2006 NENTA 47703 & 47709 Dereham to Scarborough excursion.
5 May 2007 The Railway Touring Company 34067 'Tangmere' & 47812 Norwich to Dereham excursion.
11 August 2007 NENTA 47805 & 47853 Dereham to Weymouth excursion.
14 May 2011 UK Railtours / East Midland Trains 43075/43082 'The Railway Children' London St. Pancras to Dereham via the Leicester Peterborough, Ely and Wymondham.


Television and film appearances



After passenger closure, County School station was used as the set for Weavers Green
Weavers Green
Weavers Green was a British television soap opera, made in 1966 for ITV by Anglia Television. It was notable for being one of the first television programmes to be shot on location using videotape and outside broadcast equipment, rather than film, as had usually been the case for non-studio...

 station in the Anglia Television
Anglia Television
Anglia Television is the ITV franchise holder for the East Anglia franchise region. Although Anglia Television takes its name from East Anglia, its transmission coverage extends beyond the generally accepted boundaries of that region. The station is based at Anglia House in Norwich, with regional...

 soap opera of the same name. The same station, heavily disguised, featured as "Gare de Nouvion" (Nouvion railway station) in the penultimate episode  of 'Allo 'Allo!
'Allo 'Allo!
'Allo 'Allo! is a British sitcom broadcast on BBC One from 1982 to 1992 comprising eighty-five episodes. It is a parody of another BBC programme, the wartime drama Secret Army, and was created by David Croft, who also wrote the theme music, and Jeremy Lloyd. Lloyd and Croft wrote the first 6...

, the comedy series set in occupied France (see picture).

In February 2004 County School stood in for Thetford station
Thetford railway station
Thetford railway station is a railway station serving the town of Thetford in the English county of Norfolk. It is served by local services operated by National Express East Anglia on the Breckland Line and Long distance East Midlands Trains services. It lies 49 km west of Norwich on the line to...

 in a documentary about the arrival of American troops in World War II, and in September 2005 the same location was used by Capriol Films for the film "Peter Warlock, Some Little Joy" about composer Philip Heseltine
Peter Warlock
Peter Warlock was a pseudonym of Philip Arnold Heseltine , an Anglo-Welsh composer and music critic. He used the pseudonym when composing, and is now better known by this name....

.
Dereham station, with the railway's Mark 2
British Rail Mark 2
The Mark 2 family of railway carriages were British Rail's second design of carriages. They were built by British Rail workshops between 1964 and 1975...

 coaches, featured in a minor film and the line has also appeared in documentaries for local and national television.

In 2010 former Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 cabinet minister turned broadcaster and writer Michael Portillo
Michael Portillo
Michael Denzil Xavier Portillo is a British journalist, broadcaster, and former Conservative Party politician and Cabinet Minister...

 visited the railway to film material for an episode in the second series of the BBC series Great British Railway Journeys
Great British Railway Journeys
Great British Railway Journeys is a BBC travel documentary television series presented by Michael Portillo. The series premiered on 4 January 2010 on BBC Two, running for 20 half-hour episodes....

. The filming used the Mid-Norfolk's green liveried 1957-built two carriage Class 101 Diesel Multiple Unit.

Community railway



The Mid-Norfolk Railway was established as a multi-functional line, with an intention to operate a community service in addition to tourist and freight services. The railway has also stated their belief that a commuter service between Dereham and Norwich remains a viable proposition, with the MNR either running the service themselves or working with an existing train operator. In June 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies
Association of Train Operating Companies
The Association of Train Operating Companies is a body which represents 24 train operating companies that provide passenger railway services on the privatised British railway system. It owns the National Rail brand. The Association is an unincorporated association owned by its members...

 published a document calling for the restoration of services on a variety of former branch lines, including the Dereham branch. This £30m proposal would see regular services restored between Dereham and Norwich, operated subject to agreement with the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust.

In another role within the community, the railway has become a focus point for vintage rallies and other special events. On 19 April 2007 a special reenactment of life in the World War II era was organised by the Mid-Norfolk Railway and hosted at County School station. On 22 June 2009 over a hundred road vehicles from origins of the 70s and earlier were hosted by the railway for a special event.

Accidents


On 20th March 2011 a car collided with the level crossing gates at Kimberley Park station, demolishing the south gate.

On Wednesday 7th September 2011 a loaded passenger train collided with a lorry on the Greens Lane un-gated level crossing
Level crossing
A level crossing occurs where a railway line is intersected by a road or path onone level, without recourse to a bridge or tunnel. It is a type of at-grade intersection. The term also applies when a light rail line with separate right-of-way or reserved track crosses a road in the same fashion...

 in Dereham. Nobody was injured in the collision and the train was able to complete its journey after a 45 minute delay.

Route details



The section of line under the ownership of the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust starts in the Wensum valley
River Wensum
The River Wensum is a chalk fed river in Norfolk, England and a tributary of the River Yare despite being the larger of the two rivers. The complete river is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation ....

, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest
Site of Special Scientific Interest
A Site of Special Scientific Interest is a conservation designation denoting a protected area in the United Kingdom. SSSIs are the basic building block of site-based nature conservation legislation and most other legal nature/geological conservation designations in Great Britain are based upon...

 and a Candidate Special Area of Conservation
Special Area of Conservation
A Special Area of Conservation is defined in the European Union's Habitats Directive , also known as the Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora...

, taking a roughly southerly direction. The line soon climbs out of the valley and enters the town of Dereham, passing two of the towns former maltings, including the Grade II* listed Crisps Malting buildings.

Leaving Dereham the route runs roughly southeast, passing over the River Tud
River Tud
River Tud is a tributary of the River Wensum, Norfolk in the East of England. The Tud's source is just south of East Dereham and it flows in an easterly direction for to its confluence with the Wensum below Hellesdon mill.-Course:...

, then dropping down to pass through the head of the Yare valley
River Yare
The River Yare is a river in the English county of Norfolk. In its lower reaches the river connects with the navigable waterways of The Broads....

 near the village of Thuxton. After passing Kimberley Park, the restored windmill at Wicklewood
Wicklewood
Wicklewood is a village and civil parish in the South Norfolk district of Norfolk, England. It is located west of Norwich next to the Market town of Wymondham, neighbouring the villages of Deopham, Hackford and Kimberley...

 can be seen to the west of the line, before the line drops into the Tiffey valley
River Tiffey
The River Tiffey is a small river in Norfolk, England and a tributary of the River Yare. It rises near Hethel and passes through Wymondham before flowing generally north-eastwards passing through Kimberley, Carleton Forehoe, Wramplingham and Barford before joining the River Yare at Swan's Harbour....

 and most services terminate at a halt close to the Grade I listed Wymondham Abbey
Wymondham Abbey
Wymondham Abbey is situated in the town of Wymondham in Norfolk, England.-Background:It is the Anglican parish church of Wymondham, but it started life as a Benedictine priory....

, a former Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 priory founded in 1107 and now serving as the Parish Church. Although not open to regular services, the line continues a further mile before joining with the main line at Wymondham railway station
Wymondham railway station
Wymondham is a railway station in the town of Wymondham in the English county of Norfolk. The station is served by local services operated by East Midlands Trains and National Express East Anglia on the Breckland Line 17 km west of Norwich to Peterborough and Cambridge.Wymondham station is...

.

The route of the MNR includes the following stations, listed from north to south:

Under restoration
Location Status Opened Closed Notes Photograph
Visitor Centre 1886 5 October 1964 Restored to LNER World War Two condition with help from European funding, the station was presented as a museum memorial to the contribution of railways to modern warfare until it was repainted in a different colour scheme in 2010. The station has a car park, picnic area, toilets, and tea room. It serves as the focus for several footpaths in the Wensum Valley
River Wensum
The River Wensum is a chalk fed river in Norfolk, England and a tributary of the River Yare despite being the larger of the two rivers. The complete river is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation ....

. The station's unspoilt isolation has seen it used as a film location on several occasions.

The station was presented with a Highly Commended certificate in the 1990 Ian Allan National Heritage Railway Awards.
Closed / Private 20 March 1849 5 October 1964 Building and platform unrestored and in private ownership.

Operational
Location Status Opened Closed Notes Photograph
Open 15 February 1847 6 October 1969 The headquarters of the railway, and has been restored to 1950s condition with help from European and Government funding. The station has a large car park, and is situated close to the town centre.

The line continues northwards to North Elmham, but is not yet in passenger use.
Open 15 February 1847 6 October 1969 The station retains many of its buildings, including the signal box, in private ownership. It is also the home of the Yaxham Light Railway
Yaxham Light Railway
Yaxham Light Railway is a narrow gauge light railway situated adjacent to Yaxham railway station on the Mid-Norfolk Railway. It is located in the village of Yaxham in the English county of Norfolk.- History :...

 and a local boiler engineering company.
Open 15 February 1847 6 October 1969 Thuxton's waiting rooms are, as with all the intermediate stations, private. The waiting room has been restored as holiday accommodation.

Work to complete a passing loop at this site, provide operational signalling and lengthen the up platform to accommodate longer and more frequent train services was completed in 2010.
Closed / Private 15 February 1847 6 October 1969 Hardingham station is restored and is passed between Thuxton and Kimberley Park. However this station, apart from the platforms, is private and no scheduled trains stop there. In 2001 the station was awarded the Ian Allan Heritage Award.

The station yard, also in private ownership and not connected to the main line, is equipped with two maintenance sheds. A variety of mainline and industrial rolling stock is maintained on site.
Open 15 February 1847 6 October 1969 The station building is a private home, but the down platform has been restored for local use.
Open 2 May 1999 - The station is a basic platform close to the original Wymondham Abbey
Wymondham Abbey
Wymondham Abbey is situated in the town of Wymondham in Norfolk, England.-Background:It is the Anglican parish church of Wymondham, but it started life as a Benedictine priory....

. MNR trains do not serve the main Wymondham railway station
Wymondham railway station
Wymondham is a railway station in the town of Wymondham in the English county of Norfolk. The station is served by local services operated by East Midlands Trains and National Express East Anglia on the Breckland Line 17 km west of Norwich to Peterborough and Cambridge.Wymondham station is...

, which is served by trains on the Breckland Line
Breckland Line
The Breckland Line runs from Cambridge in Cambridgeshire to Norwich in Norfolk, in East Anglia, England. It is so called because it runs through the Breckland region of Norfolk. The line also passes through Thetford Forest. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 5, SRS 05.09 and part...

 of the National Rail
National Rail
National Rail is a title used by the Association of Train Operating Companies as a generic term to define the passenger rail services operated in Great Britain...

 network. Wymondham and Wymondham Abbey stations are one mile (1.6 km) apart.


There have been plans to create additional stations at Hoe
Hoe, Norfolk
Hoe is a village situated in the Breckland District of Norfolk and covers an area of 925 hectares Acres) with an estimated population of 219 as of UK census 2001....

, Garvestone
Garvestone
Garvestone is a village and civil parish in the Breckland district, in Norfolk, England. It is between the towns of Dereham and Wymondham. In the 2001 census the parish, which also includes the villages of Thuxton and Reymerston, had a population of 606.Garvestone lies on the upper reaches of...

 and Wymondham Junction railway station
Wymondham Junction railway station
Wymondham Junction railway station is a proposed station on the Mid-Norfolk Railway, in the English county of Norfolk. The station is planned to be constructed just south of the Cemetery Lane level crossing, close to the Network Rail station....

 on the boundary between MNR and NR, allowing a short walk from branch to main line.

Engineering projects




Large projects have been completed with help from European and Government funding, including restoration of Dereham station building, construction of a locomotive pit and provisions for steam working.

Present projects include improving facilities and siding space in Dereham Yard, reconstruction of Dereham North signal box (ex-Laundry Lane, Lowestoft) restoring the ex-Halesworth signal box at County School. Almost all the work, including maintaining the track and locomotives, running the trains and working the crossings, is by unpaid volunteers.

Route extension


This project entails reopening the line north of Dereham to in stages, initially to (a hamlet near Gressenhall), and to build a platform at Hoe using components from the former St Ives branch. The level crossing there has been replaced to accommodate widening of the road. Gradual sleeper replacement, drainage repair and vegetation clearance is currently ongoing.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway has long-term aims to restore the railway as far as Fakenham
Fakenham
Fakenham is a town and civil parish in Norfolk, England. It is situated on the River Wensum, some north east of King's Lynn, south west of Cromer, and north west of Norwich....

, and has held talks with North Norfolk District Council and Fakenham Town Council about restoring the route to a proposed new station close to the town centre. This would result in a 23 miles (37 km)-long route through the centre of Norfolk. The former railway route has been protected from development that would be prejudicial to the creation of railway transport links by North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk Orbital Railway


The Norfolk Orbital Line is a long term proposed railway of which the Mid-Norfolk Railway would form a significant part. It is an ambitious plan to form a line between Sheringham
Sheringham
Sheringham is a seaside town in Norfolk, England, west of Cromer.The motto of the town, granted in 1953 to the Sheringham Urban District Council, is Mare Ditat Pinusque Decorat, Latin for "The sea enriches and the pine adorns"....

 and Wymondham
Wymondham
Wymondham is a historic market town and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It lies 9.5 miles to the south west of the city of Norwich, on the A11 road to Thetford and London.- Before The Great Fire :...

 for regular passenger services, joining up with the Network Rail
Network Rail
Network Rail is the government-created owner and operator of most of the rail infrastructure in Great Britain .; it is not responsible for railway infrastructure in Northern Ireland...

 system at either end. These ambitions were aided on 2 January 2008 when Network Rail
Network Rail
Network Rail is the government-created owner and operator of most of the rail infrastructure in Great Britain .; it is not responsible for railway infrastructure in Northern Ireland...

 announced it was giving consideration to allowing limited use of a crossing between the North Norfolk Railway
North Norfolk Railway
The North Norfolk Railway – also known as the "Poppy Line" – is a heritage steam railway in Norfolk, England, running between the coastal town of Sheringham and Holt, It cuts through the countryside to the east of Weybourne with views of its windmill and passes through the well preserved country...

 and the Bittern branch line.

Thuxton loop and signalling works



The Mid-Norfolk Railway's 2001 Bearer Bond
Bearer bond
A bearer bond is a debt security issued by a business entity, such as a corporation, or by a government. It differs from the more common types of investment securities in that it is unregistered – no records are kept of the owner, or the transactions involving ownership. Whoever physically...

 issue proposals included £60,000 for the provision of a passing loop
Passing loop
A passing loop is a place on a single line railway or tramway, often located at a station, where trains or trams in opposing directions can pass each other. Trains/trams in the same direction can also overtake, providing that the signalling arrangement allows it...

 at Hardingham. With this station being in private hands this proposal was abandoned in favour of a loop at Thuxton.

During 2008, the Trust began construction of the passing loop at Thuxton station to allow hourly departures from Dereham and Wymondham. Preparatory works were carried out late in 2008 and the first phase of work; installing the southern turn out commenced during January 2009, this was completed on schedule during February of the same year. Panels of track for the loop were laid, levelled and ballasted and the both turn outs installed by the end of 2009. The final major task on the track work will see the level crossing widened to accommodate the double track.

The loop was declared operational in September 2010, although with limited signalling working from a covered ground frame and part of the restored up platform remaining out of use. The first scheduled passenger trains to pass at Thuxton did so during the 2010 Autumn Diesel Gala, which saw the most intensive service levels ever operated by the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

Full signalling
Railway signalling
Railway signalling is a system used to control railway traffic safely, essentially to prevent trains from colliding. Being guided by fixed rails, trains are uniquely susceptible to collision; furthermore, trains cannot stop quickly, and frequently operate at speeds that do not enable them to stop...

 will be included as part of the final project including five semaphore and two colour light signals along with two point motors to operate the turnouts. These will be controlled from a new signal box on site sourced from on the former King's Lynn
King's Lynn
King's Lynn is a sea port and market town in the ceremonial county of Norfolk in the East of England. It is situated north of London and west of Norwich. The population of the town is 42,800....

 line. This project has also made the commissioning of the currently dormant Dereham Central signal box a priority for the Trust. As of 29 January 2009, over £25,000 has been raised towards the new works taking the appeal over half way.

Rolling stock


The Mid-Norfolk Railway owns a large collection of heritage rolling stock.

Funding and associated bodies



The Mid-Norfolk Railway is owned and operated by Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust, a registered charity, with finance for the development of the line coming through the commercial operation of the railway and specific funding appeals. The opening of the line was partly funded by a loan from Breckland District Council
Breckland (district)
Breckland District is a local government district in Norfolk, England. Its council is based in East Dereham.Breckland District derives its name from the Breckland landscape region, a gorse covered sandy heath of south Norfolk and north Suffolk...

 of £50,000, repayable over 20 years commencing April 2003 and a loan of £25,000, repayable over 18 years commencing June 2001, from South Norfolk District Council
South Norfolk
South Norfolk is a local government district in Norfolk, England. Its council is based in Long Stratton.-History:The district was formed on April 1, 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, as a merger of Diss Urban District, Wymondham Urban District, Depwade Rural District, Forehoe and Henstead...

. A grant of £50,000 was made by Norfolk County Council, £25,000 from Breckland D.C. and £12,500 from South Norfolk D.C.

In 2001 the railway launched a Bearer Bond
Bearer bond
A bearer bond is a debt security issued by a business entity, such as a corporation, or by a government. It differs from the more common types of investment securities in that it is unregistered – no records are kept of the owner, or the transactions involving ownership. Whoever physically...

 issue of up to £300,010, offering annual interest at 4% per annum as well as capital repayment after ten years. The nominal value of the Bonds will be payable on 31 October 2011. The capital projects proposed for this scheme were:

1. Part restoration of the Victorian station buildings, goods shed and stables at Dereham, along with the provision of sidings and maintenance facilities. Dereham was also to be provided with watering, coaling and disposal facilities for steam services. (£150,000)

2. A runround facility was to be provided at Wymondham Abbey. (£20,000)

3. A passing loop was to be provided at Hardingham. (£60,000)

4. Essential preparatory work on track restoration on the Northern Section, towards North Elmham. (£25,000)

5. Additional passenger rolling stock was to be purchased. (£25,000)

The MNR also has several supporting bodies based on the line. The majority are locomotive or rolling stock groups. Private owners have based their stock or locomotives at the line.
The Class 37 Locomotive Group formed in 1984. The group maintains and operates 37003
British Rail Class 37
The British Rail Class 37 is a diesel-electric locomotive. Also known as the English Electric Type 3, the Class was ordered as part of the British Rail modernisation plan....

, which arrived at Dereham in February 2009, and are custodians of 37175, which is owned by one of their long-standing members and kept at the Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway.

The Class 50 Locomotive Association bought 50019
British Rail Class 50
The British Rail Class 50 is a diesel locomotive built from 1967-68 by English Electric at their Vulcan Foundry Works in Newton-le-Willows. Fifty of these locomotives were built to haul express passenger trains on the, then non-electrified, section of the West Coast Main Line between Crewe,...

 Ramillies
HMS Ramillies
Five ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Ramillies after the Battle of Ramillies :*HMS Ramilles was 82-gun second-rate launched in 1664 as HMS Royal Katherine. She was renamed HMS Ramillies in 1706, and was wrecked in 1760. was a 74-gun third rate launched in 1763. She was damaged in a...

in September 1991. Originally on the Spa Valley Railway
Spa Valley Railway
The Spa Valley Railway is a standard gauge heritage railway that runs between Tunbridge Wells, High Rocks, Groombridge, and Eridge railway station, where it links with the Oxted Line. En route it crosses the Kent and East Sussex border, a distance of 5 miles , along the former Three Bridges to...

, it moved to the Mid-Norfolk Railway in May 1999.

The Class 56 Group was formed in 1992. They purchased 56040
British Rail Class 56
The British Rail Class 56 is a type of diesel locomotive designed for heavy freight work. It is a Type 5 locomotive, with a Ruston-Paxman power unit developing 3,250 bhp , and has a Co-Co wheel arrangement...

 Oystermouth in December 2005, the locomotive arriving at Dereham in June 2006. The C56G are also custodians of 56101 which is currently at the railway.

The Stratford 47 Group formed in 2001 to save a Class 47
British Rail Class 50
The British Rail Class 50 is a diesel locomotive built from 1967-68 by English Electric at their Vulcan Foundry Works in Newton-le-Willows. Fifty of these locomotives were built to haul express passenger trains on the, then non-electrified, section of the West Coast Main Line between Crewe,...

 diesel formerly at Stratford depot in East London. It now owns three locomotives, with 47596 Aldeburgh Festival
Aldeburgh Festival
The Aldeburgh Festival is an English arts festival devoted mainly to classical music. It takes place each June in the Aldeburgh area of Suffolk, centred on the main concert hall at Snape Maltings...

operational on the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

The Class 73 Locomotive Preservation Company, formed in 2004, manages electro-diesel locomotive 73210 at the Mid-Norfolk and 73136, based at Stewarts Lane Depot.

Norfolk Heritage Steam Railway Ltd, formed 2009, own Hunslet
Hunslet Engine Company
The Hunslet Engine Company is a British locomotive-building company founded in 1864 at Jack Lane, Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England by John Towlerton Leather, a civil engineering contractor, who appointed James Campbell as his Works Manager.In 1871, James Campbell bought the company for...

 0-6-0 saddle tank, works number 3193, now being restored at a private site at Yaxham for use on the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

The Southern Preservation Group purchased 1497 'Freshwater'
British Rail Class 421
The British Rail Class 421 electrical multiple units were built at BR York Works between 1964 and 1972. Units were built in two batches, and were initially introduced on services on the Brighton Main Line. Later units were introduced on services to Portsmouth. These units replaced older Southern...

 from South West Trains
South West Trains
South West Trains is a British train operating company providing, under franchise, passenger rail services, mostly out of Waterloo station, to the southwest of London in the suburbs and in the counties of Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Berkshire, and Wiltshire and on the Isle of Wight...

 in August 2010, bringing it to the Mid-Norfolk Railway in September 2010 for use with 73210.

See also


Other Railway Preservation Society in Norfolk:
  • Bure Valley Railway
    Bure Valley Railway
    The Bure Valley Railway is a minimum gauge heritage railway in Norfolk, within The Broads National Park.The railway runs from Wroxham to Aylsham and is Norfolk's longest railway of less than standard gauge. It uses both steam and diesel locomotives. There are intermediate halts at Brampton,...

     – built on part of the former County School to Wroxham branch.
  • North Norfolk Railway
    North Norfolk Railway
    The North Norfolk Railway – also known as the "Poppy Line" – is a heritage steam railway in Norfolk, England, running between the coastal town of Sheringham and Holt, It cuts through the countryside to the east of Weybourne with views of its windmill and passes through the well preserved country...

     – may be connected to the MNR through the Norfolk Orbital Railway
  • Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
    Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
    The Wells and Walsingham Light Railway is a gauge heritage railway in Norfolk, England running between the coastal town of Wells and Walsingham which is further inland...

     – built on the northern section of the Wymondham to Wells line.
  • Whitwell & Reepham railway station
  • Yaxham Light Railway
    Yaxham Light Railway
    Yaxham Light Railway is a narrow gauge light railway situated adjacent to Yaxham railway station on the Mid-Norfolk Railway. It is located in the village of Yaxham in the English county of Norfolk.- History :...

    – situated at Yaxham station, beside the MNR.

External links