Wells-On-Sea railway station

Wells-On-Sea railway station

Infobox UK disused station
name = Wells-on-Sea
gridref = TF920433


caption = The former Wells-on-Sea station in 2007.
manager = Wells & Fakenham Railway
Great Eastern Railway
owner = London and North Eastern Railway
Eastern Region of British Railways
locale = Wells-next-the-Sea
borough = North Norfolk, Norfolk
platforms = 3
years = 1 December 1857
events = Opened (Wells)
years1 = 1 July 1923
events1 = Renamed (Wells-on-Sea)
years2 = 1 January 1957
events2 = Renamed (Wells-next-the-Sea)
years3 = 5 October 1964
events3 = Closed [Butt, R.V.J. (1995). "The Directory of Railway Stations", Patrick Stephens Ltd, Sparkford, ISBN 1-85260-508-1, p. 243-244.]

Wells-on-Sea was a railway station which served the small seaside port of Wells-next-the-Sea in North Norfolk, England. It was opened in 1857 by the Wells & Fakenham Railway, later part of the Great Eastern Railway, and became a junction in 1866 with the arrival of the West Norfolk Junction Railway. It closed in 1964.

Opening

Wells was first linked with the railway in 1857 when the Wells & Fakenham Railway opened a line to Fakenham, largely driven by the efforts of Lord Leicester and the directors of the railway company. They hoped that the railway, to be worked by the Eastern Counties Railway, would help reverse the declining fortunes of the town whose inability to take ships of increasing size saw it overtaken by other ports. In the event, the decline continued notwithstanding the construction of a short branch line to Wells Harbour in 1860. [Cite book | author=Joby, R.S. | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=Forgotten Railways: Vol. 7 East Anglia | date=1985 | publisher=David & Charles | location=Newton Abbott, Devon | isbn=0-946537-25-9 | pages=p. 43] In 1862, the Wells & Fakenham Railway became part of the Great Eastern Railway, a move which brought greater importance to the Wells line by providing a north-south connection with London's increasing food markets. [Cite book | author=Oppitz, Leslie | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=Lost Railways of East Anglia (Lost Railways) | date=1999 | publisher=Countryside Books | location=Newbury, Berkshire | isbn=1-85306-595-1 | pages=p. 17]

The West Norfolk Junction Railway was the next to come to Wells in August 1866. The line came from Heacham on a 18½ mile single track aimed at exploiting the great arc of coastline between Hunstanton and Yarmouth. [Cite book | author=Jenkins, S.C. | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=The Lynn & Hunstanton Railway and the West Norfolk Branch | date=1987 | publisher=Oakwood Press | location=Headington, Oxford | isbn=0-85361-330-3 | pages=p. 34-35] This line entered Wells on a sharp curve, turning through a full 180 degrees before converging with the Wells & Fakenham branch from Dereham for the final approach. West Norfolk services used the outer face of a sheltered wooden island platform to the south of the station, with the inner face being set aside for services to Dereham and Wymondham. The Dereham side was unusual in that there was a platform on either side of the train, allowing the passengers the choice of which side to alight from, much the same as Ventor and Ulverston stations. [Jenkins, S.C., op. cit. p. 103.]

Station building

The main red brick two-storey 'L' shaped Georgian-style station buildings were constructed at right angles to the platform ends and incorporated a stationmaster's residence. A goods shed and two-road engine shed adjoined the main station building on the West Norfolk Junction platform side. Just to the north lay a 45ft diameter turntable which was capable of accommodating the Great Eastern's Claud Hamilton locomotive and other 4-4-0 classes, but not the B12s or other large engines. [Jenkins, S.C., op. cit. p. 105.]

Operations

Wells was a busy terminal station for almost 100 years, with a dozen or so passenger trains calling each day as well as goods trains from the harbour. Messrs Dewing & Kersley had opened a corn mill adjacent to the station in 1904, and the smell of animal feedstuffs often wafted into the station to mix with the smoke, steam and hot oil odours given off by the locomotives, as well as the fishy smells coming from the 'Stiffkey Blues' cockles loaded into the guards' vans of trains. [Joby, R.S., op. cit. p. 44-45.]

The post-war boom experienced by the King's Lynn to Hunstanton line was not felt on the West Norfolk Junction Railway whose inconveniently-sited stations contributed to declining passenger traffic. Passenger services from Wells were eventually withdrawn from 31 May 1952, but the line remained open to freight. However, following the North Sea flood of 1953, the track between Wells and Holkham was so severely damaged that British Rail considered it not worth repairing and the line was closed completely between these two places. [Jenkins, S.C., op. cit. p. 112-113.] The station itself closed a little over ten years later when the line from Dereham to Wells closed to passenger traffic on 5 October 1964.

Present day

The station building is, as of 2007, a second-hand bookshop and pottery, with the site of the platforms now an industrial estate know as Great Eastern Way. The old corn mill was used as a furniture warehouse, before being converted into flats. Part of the ground floor is occupied by Wells Antiques Centre and Glaven Veterinary Centre.

Since 1982, there has been a second station at Wells - the terminus of the narrow gauge Wells and Walsingham Light Railway. This station is sited to the south of where the original line formerly crossed the main coast road on the level.

References


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