- Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
name = Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
caption = The train from Wells arrives at Walsingham station
linename = Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
originalgauge = RailGauge|Standard
preservedgauge = RailGauge|10.25
operator = Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
stations = 5
length = 4 miles
originalopen = 1845
closed = 1964
converted to RailGauge|10.25 =
stage = Arrival of Garatt locomotive "Norfolk Hero"
The Wells and Walsingham Light Railway is a 10¼ inch (260 mm) gauge
heritage railwayin Norfolk, England running between the coastal town of Wells and Walsinghamwhich is further inland. The railway occupies a part of the trackbed also used by the Mid-Norfolk Railway.
The line, which is convert|4|mi|km|2 long, once formed part of the
Great Eastern Railwayand is now the longest 10¼ inch gauge railway in the world. It runs from the coastal town of Wells-next-the-Seato the pilgrimage centre at Walsingham. It is the northern section of the former Wymondham, Dereham, Fakenhamand Wells-next-the-Sealine which was closed to passengers in stages from 1964 to 1969 as part of the Beeching cuts.
Construction and Development
The Lynn and Dereham Railway and the Norfolk Railway both obtained Parliament's permission to build lines to Dereham in
1845[http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6jmFq73U91gC&pg=PA341&lpg=PA341&dq=norfolk+railway+act+of+parliament&source=web&ots=XMFG3o9fEW&sig=RokIOwN7YtLPtslxzOElcp7tEXQ&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result#PPA344,M1] , at the height of the so-called " Railway Mania", when railways were being frantically built across the whole country. The Norfolk Railway, building its line from Wymondham, reached Dereham first, and opened its railway to passengers on the 15th February 1847; with the line being extended to Fakenham and Wells-next-the-Seaby 1st December 1857Oppitz, 1989, page 13] .
Whilst the line between Wymondham and East Dereham was later provided with
double track, the line north of there remained single line. A branch to Heacham, and a short spur to the harbour, also ran from WellsOppitz, 1989, page 13] .
Grouping and Nationalisation
World War One badly affected the small railway companies so in 1923 the branch line, along with the rest of the Great Eastern Railway became part of the
London and North Eastern Railway. The Second World War also exacted a heavy toll on the railway network, so in 1947the Labour government of the day, under Clement Atlee, elected to Nationalisethe network and the Wymondham to Wells branch became part of the new nationalised British Railways, ending 100 years of private ownership.
The 1954 Modernisation Plan saw the line's last steam passenger services. The final regular steam journey ran on the 17th September 1955. Diesel units took over the next day, with the line enjoying quicker trains and a more frequent service though, for the first few weeks, some Saturday extras continued to be steam operatedTuddenham, 1965, page 83] . Steam-hauled freight continued into the early 1960s. [http://www.mnr.org.uk/about/history/grouping/]
By 1960 there was an hourly passenger service to Norwich taking between 32 and 40 minutes. Despite this, the increased use of road transport lead to a decline in passenger numbers, which caused it to became one of the many railways to be threatened by the "
Beeching Report" in 1963.Tuddenham, 1965, page 87]
The passenger service between Dereham and Wells ended on 5th October 1964.Tuddenham, 1965, page 87] , with the branch to Heacham having closed on 5th October 1954 Oppitz, 1989, page 13] .
Work on rebuilding the line started in
1979, and on 6 April 1982, purpose built steam locomotive"Pilgrim", an 0-6-0T engine, launched the public service. "Pilgrim" hauled the train until 1987 when the new unique 2-6-0+0-6-2 Garrattlocomotive "Norfolk Hero" came into service. Two extra coaches were added to the train increasing the seating capacity to 76. A redundant signal boxwas moved from Swainsthorpeto Wells, where the ground floor was converted to provide a shop and tearoom.
On 2nd September 2008 vandals blocked the flangeways of Barnard's crossing, near Walsingham and used a level crossing gate to derail "Norfolk Hero". The passengers and train crew were not injured in this attack, and a diesel locomotive was sent from Wells to recover the stranded passenger train - although some passengers chose to ignore advice from train crew and walked to Walsingham. "Norfolk Hero" was restored to service by the end of the month. [http://new.edp24.co.uk/content/news/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&category=News&tBrand=edponline&tCategory=news&itemid=NOED01%20Sep%202008%2020%3A43%3A43%3A840 Press report on derailment] ]
A second diesel locomotive, "Norfolk Harvester", entered service on the line in 2008.
*Steam Locomotives2-6-0+0-6-2 Garratt No.3 "Norfolk Hero"
*Diesel Locomotives0-6-0 diesel hydraulic locomotive "WEASEL" rebuilt to resemble a tram locomotive
0-6-0 diesel locomotive "Norfolk Harvester", rebuilt Wells in 2005
Gallery of trains operating on the line
title=East Anglia Railways Remembered
* [http://www.wellswalsinghamrailway.co.uk Railway Website.]
Other Places in Norfolk
Bressingham Steam & Gardens
Bure Valley Railway
North Norfolk Railway
Yaxham Light Railway
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