Record Details

NHER Number:13580
Type of record:Monument
Name:Route of Wymondham to Forncett Railway Line


Wymondham to Forncett Railway Line was built to enable trains to reach the north coast without entering Norwich. It was constructed by Great Eastern, and opened in 1881. It had a short operating life, closing in 1939 to passengers and in 1951 to goods. Today the only surviving track is a stub at the west end, which is used as sidings. Ashwellthorpe Station is now used as house, and at least one farm bridge, milestone and the piers of a viaduct remain.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TM 1465 9778
Map Sheet:TM19NW

Full description

To enable trains to reach north coast without entering Norwich. Great Eastern, opened 1881, closed 1939 (passengers) 1951 (goods). Only stub at west end remains, used as sidings.

Ashwellthorpe station used as house. Turntable pit at Forncett.
Earthworks and abutments.
A farm overbridge at 170 968 bears a GER weight plaque.
The pillars of Hapton Viaduct (concrete) remain dated 1920 (see (S1)).
Bricks were made on site of Ashwellthorpe station and 'a bridge' still has one stamped LO MAY I 1881 JBA ('Line opened May 1 1881 James Barber Ashwellthorpe') - see newspaper cutting in file (S2).
A good brick (yellow) underbridge survives at 1640 9758, isolated at end of small stretch of surviving embankment.
May be the bridge with the inscribed brick.
E. Rose (NAU), 23 November 1984.

Southwest of Penny's Green, Wreningham, the cutting is used as a nature reserve and footpath. A milestone remains stating 108 miles (from London?).
E. Rose (NLA), 5 October 1998.

Where the line crosses over Long Lane at TM 176 953 a tall overbridge remains with red brick arch and yellow brick abutments. On the central brick of the north abutment (amongst much modern graffiti) is a copper plate inscription 1880 G L J M 1882 V which may perhaps refer to the start of construction and the end of works. To the north on the far side of the river is a brick abutment, then all trace of the line has gone up as far as Bayes Lane where an underbridge remains, and a cutting beyond.
It is noteworthy that a farm bridge across the main Norwich line at TM 1750 9455 which had an extra arch for the diverging Wymondham line, was rebuilt in this fashion at electrification around 1990, even though both railway and overbridge are disused.
E. Rose (NLA), 24 May 1999.

2 July 1996. NLA aerial photography.
Negative cropmark visible along line of old railway embankment to the west of Loughen Common, near Hapton.
S. Massey (NLA), 23 July 2001.

September-October 2011. Geophysical Survey.
A magnetometer survey was carried out over two fields. Evidence of the dismantled Wymondham to Forncett railway line was present in the form of a large strip of strong magnetic debris and associated areas of scattered magnetic debris.
See NHER 56292 and NHER 60533 for full details of other features of possible archaeological origin.
See report (S3) for further information.
H. Hamilton (HES), 06 August 2013.

Remains of the line still visible are the bridge abutments at Ashwellthorpe, the station yard industrial
estate and some of the bridges (S4).
D. Gurney (HES), 28 January 2015.

Monument Types

  • BRICKWORKS (19th Century to Mid 20th Century - 1881 AD? to 1951 AD?)
  • BRIDGE (19th Century to 21st Century - 1881 AD? to 2100 AD)
  • RAILWAY (19th Century to Mid 20th Century - 1881 AD? to 1951 AD?)
  • RAILWAY TRANSPORT SITE (19th Century to Mid 20th Century - 1881 AD? to 1951 AD?)
  • VIADUCT (19th Century to 21st Century - 1881 AD? to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TG1300 A,B; TG1598 A,B; TM1697 A; TM1795 M-R; TM1796 C,D.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TM 1795S - U.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1990. Old railway lives again. 10 November.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1996. Old railway line is now a haven for wildlife. 8 November.
<S1>Article in Serial: 1968. [unknown]. NIAS Journal. Vol II, no 3.
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1981. 'Swede and swimmer' diet for navvies of the line. 2 July.
<S3>Unpublished Contractor Report: Biggs, M. 2011. Geophysical Survey Report. Hall Farm, Stanfield Road, Wymondham. Stratascan. J2967.
<S4>*Verbal Communication: James Oxley Brennan. 2015. Verbal communication. Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society.

Related records - none

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