Record Details

NHER Number:13588
Type of record:Monument
Name:Route of Wymondham to Wells Railway, including the Mid Norfolk and Walsingham Light Railways

Summary

This is the route of the Wymondham to Wells Branch line of the Great Eastern Railway, and part of it is under the ownership of the Mid Norfolk Railway. The section from Wells into the parish of Wighton was still in use in 1957, but today it forms part of the Wells to Walsingham Light Railway. Today the Mid Norfolk Railway operates steam and diesel trains on the line between Dereham and Wymondham Abbey, with hopes of extending the line to North Elmham and County School in the future. Stations or halts also survive at Kimberley, Hardingham, Thuxton, Yaxham, Dereham, North Elmham, County School, and Wells. The Dereham to Wells line was opened by the Norfolk Railway in 1849, and the Dereham to Wymondham line for freight in 1846 and passengers in 1847. The Dereham to Wells line closed in 1964 and the Dereham to Wymondham closed in 1969.

Images

  • The railway station at Thuxton on the Wymondham to Wells line  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Location

Grid Reference:TG 01355 22115
Map Sheet:TG02SW
Parish:BARSHAM, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
DEREHAM, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK
FAKENHAM, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
GARVESTONE, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK
GATELEY, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK
HARDINGHAM, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK
HOE, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK
KIMBERLEY, SOUTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
NORTH ELMHAM, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK
PUDDING NORTON, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
RYBURGH, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
WALSINGHAM, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
WARHAM, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
WELLS NEXT THE SEA, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
WHINBURGH AND WESTFIELD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK
WICKLEWOOD, SOUTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
WIGHTON, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
WYMONDHAM, SOUTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
YAXHAM, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

1847 to 1962 (part). Wymondham to Wells line.
Incorporates the Wells and Fakenham Railway.
According to the Norfolk Chronicle, at the opening of the line in 1846 there was a station in Wymondham at Church Lane (presumably what is now Becketswell Road), near the present Wymondham Abbey station where a large crossing cottage remains.
See details in file.
E. Rose (NAU), 4 October 1984.

1939-1945.
A temporary siding, possibly narrow gauge, was laid from Hardingham station to gravel pits.
Information from file.

1968.
A temporary siding was laid to a factory for a short time (from Hardingham station?).
Information from file.

1978. Observation.
Fakenham station still remains and is of timber construction. Wells station is derelict and a road has been built behind it, on the course of the railway. Walsingham station is now an Orthodox monastery (see 2014 below). Information from file.

1978. Observation.
Yaxham station [1] is a brick building with wooden platforms with canopies. There is a wooden signal box at the north end of the east platform. On the south there is a large red brick goods shed with rounded blank arches. It is in fair condition.
E. Rose (NAU), 21 June 1978.

1980. Observation.
The majority of Dereham station remains. It is constructed of red brick in a vaguely Tudor style. The goods shed has a good internal wooden roof structue and is now used by the Holburn tye company. The large goods yard east of the station, behind the maltings (now gone) is not marked on the 1928 25 inch OS map (S5).
Overbridge at Northall Green, East Dereham, has good ironwork balustrades.
E. Rose (NAU).

March 1981.
A three-ton hand-operated winch from the coalyard of the Fakenham railway station has been salvaged. It is now at a private estate at Great Missendon, Buckinghamshire, where it is being used to lift locomotives and rolling stock for a replica railway line.
Information from (S10).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 18 February 2008.

1982. Line re-opened.
A ten and a quarter inch gauge line opened from Egmere Road at Little Walsingham to Wells Coast Road Crossing on the original trackbed. Bridges on the line are still in good order and the station mistresses house at Wighton is still there.
Information from (S12).
See also additional press article (S19).
E. Rose (NAU), 14 April 1982.

March 1982.
The railway bridge that carried the Fakenham to Wells line over the road at East Barsham is being demolished, having become dangerous due to frost damage.
Information from (S11).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 18 February 2008.

1982. Observation.
At East Barsham [3], a tunnel through Barsham Hill is marked on the 1838 first edition 1 inch OS map (S7). This was the only standard gauge railway tunnel in Norfolk and was later opened out as a cutting, the spoil being dumped to form an embankment across the valley which had previously been crossed by a trestle viaduct. There is a photo of this in the Walsingham museum.
E. Rose (NAU), 14 April 1982.

1982. Observation.
A signal box from the Norwich Road Crossing at East Dereham is now in use as an office at Mattishall (NHER 18358).
E. Rose (NAU), 7 September 1982.

November 1982 - 1985. Restoration of Hardingham station.
Work to restore Hardingham station and convert it to a rail museum and railway preservation centre began in November 1982 (S13). The work was carried out by the Fakenham and Dereham Railway Society. The station was built in 1847 and at its heyday consisted of a waiting room, a ticket office, a lamproom, a goods shed, yard, signal box, and turntable. The station was important for the transportation of local farmers (S17). The station opened on 31 May 1985 (S18).
Information from (S13 - S15), (S17 - S18).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 20 February 2008.

1984. Observation.
A viaduct across the river Wensum survives, east of Fakenham [2]. It is a squat structure of red brick faced in black brick with low cutwaters of stone. It has three arches, two of which cross the river. Just to the north, the line crosses the track of the M&GNR by a metal bridge with brick abutments. This bridge is narrower than its abutments, showing that the line was intended for double track but built as a single. The viaduct itself has the north arch of crude red brick but the other two are well built of black brick.
E. Rose (NAU), 4 October 1984.

1984.
The Fakenham East rail station was recently demolished to make way for a housing development. Only the level crossig gates on the Norwich Road remain.
Information from (S16).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 20 February 2008.

1987.
A signal box was moved from the former Eastern Union Line (NHER 13578) at Swainsthorpe to the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway.
E. Rose (NAU), 23 February 1987.

November 1988. Fire at Dereham Station.
Dereham station burnt down in November, 1988. However, the goods shed used by the Holburn tyre company survives, as does a stables adjacent to it. This is a very rare example of a railway horse stable. The station was repaired after the fire, using a different roof pattern but retaining its ornate chimneys. In 2002 all of these buildings are the property of the Mid Norfolk Railway, which is to begin restoration. The line is now reopened from Wymondham to Dereham and work is progressing beyond.
Information from (S20).
See also a photo of the station in (S23).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 20 February 2008.

January - September 1989. Re-opening of Fakenham and Dereham line.
Work began in January 1989 on relaying the track from County School station, beginning with the section between North Elmham and Guist. The track is to be operational by the summer. Passenger trains ran on this line until 1964 and the track was scrapped in 1986 (S22). The first locomotive arrived and was laid on the track at County School station on 24 September 1989 (S24).
Information from (S21 - S22) and (S24-S25).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 20 February 2008.

June 1990. Visitor Centre opened.
The County School station has been restored and was opened in June as a visitor centre. This station was added to the line in 1880. County School signalbox had one of the only two Saxby and Farmer frames in Norfolk.
Information from file.

15 October 1993. NLA aerial photography.
The railway line and the station are both visible.
H. Clare (NLA), 16 February 2001.

1995. Observation.
Beyond the overbridge north of the former Fakenham Town station (see 1988 entry), the cutting has been infilled beside allotments. A former overbridge carrying Grove Lane is buried up to the vault on the south side. It is of red brick with a course of blue engineering brick. Its north side remains, but is inaccessible above an overgrown cutting due to houses fencing it in on both sides. The area is planned for redevelopment. To the north again, a modern bungalow garden covers the line. Continuing north, there is another overbridge and then the trackbed is ploughed away.
E. Rose (NLA), 9 November 1995.

An article by E. Tuddenham (S8) states that despite the double width bridges mentioned above (see 1984 note), the line north of Dereham was intended as a single track only. At North Elmham, a horse was kept to shunt wagons at the United Dairies depot. Barsham level crossing retained a bar signal until 1961, intended to indicate to both pedestrians and trains the position of the gates. A temporary station called Slipper Chapel Halt was advertised for pilgrims to Walsingham post World War II, but in fact consisted only of a flight of wooded steps.
Information from (S8).
E. Rose (NLA), 13 January 1997.

Armstrong's Diary for 16 November 1878 states that the railway bridge at Hoe had been washed away in floods. If one assumes he means a bridge over a river, the only bridge near Hoe is that over the Whitewater/Blackwater near Worthing. This, like the others, is of single track deck width on double width brick abutments. It is possible that it was just the deck that was washed away. This metal bridge bears haf a plaque which states "….and Sons ….3 ….London." The three is certainly the final digit of a date, so presumably the bridge has been replaced again since 1978.
E. Rose (NLA), 26 September 1997.

1999-2000. Condition Survey.
A condition survey of a section of the railway on the Holkham Estate, Wells-Next-the-Sea, was carried out as part of a Heritage Landscape Management Plan. This railway was discussed in conjunction with NHER 13590. In the east of the study area, the railway remained in use for the narrow gauge Wells-Walsingham light railway. Over much of the rest of the remainder of the survey area the trackbed remains on its embankement, although some sections are overgrown.
See (S1), filed under NHER 35996.
D. Gurney (NLA), 22 August 2002.

December 2000.
A signal box was moved from Stratford, London, to Dereham in December 2000.
Information from file.

2002. Aerial Photo Interpretation.
Remains of the Wymondham to Wells Branch line (Great Eastern Railway) can be seen on RAF 1946 aerial photographs (S2) and on BKS 1957 images (S3). The section on map sheet TF94SW runs from Wells into the parish of Wighton (to the south). This section of the route appears to still be in use by the 1957 aerial photographs (S4), but today it forms part of the Wells to Walsingham light railway. The line runs from NGR TF9209 4327 (at Wells station/junction), through TF9345 4188, to TF9363 4000. The railway is mapped on the 2nd edition OS map (S5) and this shows the bridges, cuttings, embankment and junction. Sections of this stretch of railway are also shown on the OS 1:10000 map (S6).
An extent of area for Wells station has been included under NHER 13589.
H. Clare (NMP), 21 November 2002.

The bridges at North Elmham Church Lane, and at Hoe south of the level crossing (known locally as the Army Bridge because of the pillboxes at each end) are both standard concrete Melton Constable constructions. The bridge directly east of Hoe Lodge is similar but with an iron arch visible in its north side. Northall Green bridge mentioned above has jack arches underneath. The bridge that carries the drive to Hoe Lodge from the north however crosses at an angle by means of a concrete flat deck on brick piers. This is most unusual. It is shown on the 1928 25" OS.
E. Rose (NLA), 28 April 2003.

2003.
A signal box was moved from Laundry Lane, Lowestoft, to the Dereham Norwich Road crossing.

2005.
There is a brick structure with large, metal framed windows by the crossing of the Walsingham road [4], which is now ruinous. It resembles somewhat a Home Guard structure and may be of wartime origin; but it may simply be a pointsman's cabin.
E. Rose (NLA), 15 November 2005.

2006.
A signal box from Snettisham station on Hunstanton line (NHER 13591) was moved to Hardingham. The top section has been restored. The locking room beneath will be replaced as the original was too rotten to preserve.
E. Rose (NLA), 24 February 2006.

NIAS records:
Google Earth images of the station show that only the north to south line remains from Dereham. Industrial sidings to the east (NHER 55624) were removed and are now open land. The sidings to the west were also removed and are now being redeveloped. The line to Lynn was also taken up and replaced by the A47 road. See (S26)
W. Arnold (HES), 12 April 2011

2014
Walsingham Station closed in 1964 and was converted into a chapel in 1967. In 2014 St Seraphim's Chapel is a centre for Orthodox iconography (S27, S28).
D. Gurney (HES), 06 January 2014.

Monument Types

  • RAILWAY (Post Medieval to Modern - 1846 AD? to 2050 AD)
  • RAILWAY BRIDGE (Post Medieval to Modern - 1846 AD? to 2050 AD)
  • RAILWAY CUTTING (Post Medieval to Modern - 1846 AD? to 2050 AD)
  • RAILWAY EMBANKMENT (Post Medieval to Modern - 1846 AD? to 2050 AD)
  • RAILWAY JUNCTION (Post Medieval to Modern - 1846 AD? to 2050 AD)
  • RAILWAY TRANSPORT SITE (Post Medieval to Modern - 1846 AD? to 2050 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1987. New home for rail signal box. 23 February.
---Photograph: Photographs of railway buildings (signal box and station house) on the route of wymondham to wells railway. Colour.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Fiche: Exists.
---Photograph: CPN 9.
<S1>Unpublished document: NAU. 2000. NAU Report No. 532. Holkham Estate Survey.. Pp. 14, 20.
<S2>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1701 3144-3145 07-JUN-1946 (Norfolk SMR TF 9241D & TF 9341B).
<S3>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1430 3085, 4042 16-APR-1946 (Norfolk SMR RAF TF 9242A & TF 9243B).
<S4>Vertical Aerial Photograph: BKS. 1957. BKS 517059-60, 77 19-APR-1957.
<S5>Map: Ordnance Survey. OS 25 - 2nd edition (1902-7) - Sheets VIII.3, VIII.7, VIII.11.
<S6>Map: Ordnance Survey. 2000. OS 1:10000 (revised 2000).
<S7>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1824-1836. Ordnance Survey First Edition 1 inch..
<S8>Article in serial: Tuddenham, E.. March 1965. A Journey to Wells-next-the-Sea.. Railway World. pp 82-7. Pp 82-7.
<S9>Article in serial: 1974. From Fakenham with the grain train.. Railway World. September.
<S10>Newspaper Article: 1981. Eastern Daily Press. 13 March. 13 March.
<S12>Newspaper Article: 1982. Eastern Daily Press. 10 April. 10 April.
<S13>Newspaper Article: 1983. Eastern Daily Press. 17 January. 17 January.
<S14>Newspaper Article: 1983. Eastern Daily Press. 24 January. 24 January.
<S15>Newspaper Article: 1983. Eastern Daily Press. 17 October. 17 October.
<S16>Newspaper Article: 1984. Eastern Daily Press. 14 November. 14 November.
<S18>Newspaper Article: 1985. Eastern Daily Press. 30 May. 30 May.
<S20>Newspaper Article: 1988. Eastern Daily Press. 7 December. 7 December.
<S22>Newspaper Article: 1989. Eastern Daily Press. 13 January. 13 January.
<S23>Newspaper Article: 1989. Eastern Daily Press. 23 June. 23 June.
<S24>Newspaper Article: 1989. Eastern Daily Press. 25 September. 25 September.
<S25>Newspaper Article: 1989. Eastern Daily Press. 30 September. 30 September.
<S26>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Infoterra and Bluesky Ltd. 2011. Infoterra and Bluesky Ltd 12-MAR-2011 (Google Earth TF 9936 1310)..
<S27>Website: St Seraphim's Trust. 2014. St Seraphim's Trust.
<S28>Leaflet: St Seraphim's Trust. 2014. Friends of St Seraphim's.

Related records

55398Parent of: East Dereham Railway Station (Building)
48620Parent of: Nos 15, 16 and 17 Railway Cottages, Cemetery Lane (Building)
41226Parent of: Old Goods Shed, Cemetery Lane (Building)
45620Parent of: Wymondham Railway Station (Main Building) and north platform, Cemetery Lane (Building)

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