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The Mid-Norfolk Railway or MNR is a heritage railway in the English county of Norfolk. Opening as a tourist line in 1997, it is often referred to as a "New Generation" heritage railway.

The line runs through the centre of Norfolk between the market towns of Wymondhammarker and Derehammarker 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, Fakenhammarker and Wells-next-the-Seamarker line, opened by the Norfolk Railway in 1847 and closed to passengers in stages from 1964 to 1969 as part of the Beeching cuts. 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 Railwaymarker since 1982.

The MNR is owned and operated by the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust (a charitable trust), and is mostly operated and staffed by volunteers. The company owns a further 6 miles of line, as far as County School railway stationmarker, which will make it the third largest heritage railway in England once restoration is complete.


Construction and development

The Lynn and Dereham Railway and the Norfolk Railway both obtained Parliament's permission to build lines to Dereham in 1845, at the height of the so-called "Railway Mania", when railways were being built across the whole country. The Norfolk Railway, building its line from Wymondham, reached Dereham first, and opened its railway to passengers on the 15 February 1847; the line from King's Lynnmarker had to wait until 11 September 1848.

The King's Lynn line was originally operated by the Lynn & Dereham Railway, but in 1848 the Eastern Counties Railway leased the Norfolk Railway and both lines were absorbed. In 1857 the line between Dereham and Wellsmarker opened. The entire line became part of the Great Eastern Railway in 1862. The line between Wymondham and Dereham was provided with double track in 1882, the line north of there remaining single track. The intermediate stations were rebuilt as part of the 1882 doubling scheme, being provided with new up platforms and additional glass-fronted buildings and canopies on the original down platforms.

At Dereham, many trains reversed and headed west to Swaffhammarker and King's Lynnmarker. An avoiding double track line was built to the south of Dereham station, running between Dereham West and Dereham South signal boxes, in 1886. This allowed the Wymondham to King's Lynn line to operate as a cross-country route, with the avoiding line being used by freight, excursion and diverted main-line trains. A further branch, to Wroxhammarker, left the line at County School stationmarker, while a branch from joined at Wells.

Grouping – the London & North Eastern Railway

As part of the Great Eastern Railway, the branch became part of the Southern Area of the London and North Eastern Railway at The Grouping in 1923. At this time the coaches used on the Dereham line were still ex-GER 6 wheelers, although these were gradually replaced with bogie stock. Arguably the most evident change was that the GER Royal blue locomotives and crimson coaches were replaced by LNER black locomotives and brown carriages.

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. In early 1944 Dereham was handling an average of 75 wagon loads of construction material per day. The line was also defended by an armoured train, reporting as Train G, based at Heacham and using F4 2-4-2 tank locomotive 7189 as motive power. The armoured train was frequently used on the Wells line, and once collided with some empty coaches at Wells.

Nationalisation – British Railways

Following the war, the railways were in a very run-down state. The 1947 Transport Act nationalised the "Big Four" railway companies, and the branch line became part of the Eastern Region of British Railways 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. The eastern section of line, between Wroxhammarker and the Themelthorpe Curvemarker, remained open for goods traffic until 1981. 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 1955 Modernisation Plan resulted in the line's last steam passenger services. The final regular steam journey ran on 17 September 1955. Diesel units took over next day, with faster trains and a more frequent service. For the first few weeks, some extra Saturday services continued to be steam-operated. Steam-hauled freight continued into the early 1960s. By 1960 there was an hourly passenger service to Norwich taking between 32 and 40 minutes. Despite this, increased use of road transport led to a decline in passengers, causing the service to became one of many threatened by the "Beeching Report" in 1963. Beeching intended to retain the Kings Lynn - Dereham - Norwich line for express trains and freight: the local stations (that is all but Dereham and Swaffham) however, were recommended for closure.

Decline and closure

Bridge 1692, partially rebuilt for double track, showing 1965 to present day singled line.
The passenger service between Dereham and Wells ended on 5 October 1964. Dereham became an intermediate station for Norwich and 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.

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. The first passenger train since passenger closure, a charter special, ran from Dereham to Norwich in 1978, carrying 330 people. The service was arranged by the Wymondham, Dereham and Fakenham Rail Action Committee, and was the first of several special trains run in the hope of encouraging the restoration of the passenger service. 1978 also saw the formation of the Fakenham and Dereham Railway Society, a forerunner of the MNR, hoping to preserve the line between these two towns. Dereham, North Elmham, Ryburgh and Fakenham remained open to freight, with the section of line between Ryburgh and Fakenham closing on 1 January 1980. The last freight train worked from Ryburgh in August 1981. Complete closure of the line took place in June 1989.

Locomotive sheds

Dereham shed

By 1880 Dereham boasted a two road wooden locomotive shed and a 45 foot turntable believed to have dated from the late 1860s and known to have replaced an earlier structure. The depot operated as an outstation of Norwich. In 1888 three locomotives were based at the depot. In 1926 the engine shed was rebuilt in brick. Dereham depot was closed as a steam shed on 19 September 1955—when DMU stock was introduced to the line. The shed was used to stable DMU stock until 1 September 1968. The shed was later demolished, and the site used for the construction of a rail-served fertilizer depot. This has since been demolished and the site is now the Dereham Leisure Centre.

Wells shed

Wells was provided with a combined engine and goods shed, with the locomotives having use of the whole shed when not required for goods. Wells also operated as an outstation of Norwich depot, and there were up to five locomotives based there. In 1929 the original 42 foot turntable was replaced by a second-hand 45 foot version. The shed officially closed in September 1955 and has since been demolished.


Heritage operations at County School, 1993
Visitor centre at County School, 2008
After attempting to preserve the Ryburgh to Fakenham section of line in 1980, the Fakenham & Dereham Railway Society had opened a heritage centre at Hardingham 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. 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. During the early 1990s, the GER(1989) 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.

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."

Dereham station re-opened to passengers on Saturday 26 July 1997, with the first services being operated by 1890-built Manning Wardle 0-6-0T 'Sir Berkeley', hired from the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. 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 and Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0 'County Schoolmarker ran as part of preparations for a March freight test train. The first commercial freight train operated on 8 July 1998.

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 pannier tank number 9466 from the Buckinghamshire Railway Centremarker. The ownership of the section of railway line between Dereham and North Elmham, part of that originally authorised by the Norfolk Railway Extensions, Derehammarker, Wellsmarker and Blakeney 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 Railwaymarker. The formation between Wells and the religious centre of Walsinghammarker now hosts the miniature Wells and Walsingham Light Railwaymarker. Both schemes are independent of the MNR. Another independent scheme, the "Norfolk Orbital Railway" plans to link the MNR to the North Norfolk Railwaymarker and the coast at Sheringhammarker. In 2009 the Whitwell & Reepham Preservation Societymarker announced an eventual intention to link up with either the North Norfolk Railwaymarker 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 stationmarker near North Elmhammarker, 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 Kingdommarker. The track bed is mostly intact from County School to Fakenhammarker, 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 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, Trains run on most weekends from the end of February to December, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays in summer. There however in some cases steam is used.


The Mid-Norfolk Railway is not a diesel-only railway. The first train from after preservation, running between Dereham and Yaxhammarker, was hauled by 0-6-0 tank locomotive "Sir Berkeley", and the railway has always intended to operate steam and diesel trains. The 2006 return of steam marked the completion of Dereham Station restoration and the installation of steam infrastructure (such as the water tower). Visiting steam locomotives that have operated on the preserved Mid-Norfolk Railway are shown in the following table:

Date Number & Name Description Notes
1997 'Sir Berkeley' MW 0-6-0 ST Hauled first passenger services from restored Dereham station.
2000 'Little Barford' Barclay 0-4-0 ST Used for crew training and evaluation.
2001 61264 LNER 4-6-0, B1 Class Routed via Dereham for repairs after failing on railtour at Norwich, 20 November.
2006 9466 GWR 0-6-0 9400 Class First scheduled steam service between Dereham and Wymondham since 1955.
2007 9466 Operated MNR steam services June/July.
34067 'Tangmeremarker' SR 4-6-2, 21C Class Hauled the first steam charter from Dereham (to London Liverpool Streetmarker), 5 May.
2008 9466 GWR 0-6-0 9400 Class Operated MNR steam services July/August.
2009 69621 LNER 0-6-2, N7 Operated weekend services, 25 April – 4 May
70013 'Oliver Cromwell' BR 4-6-2 Standard Class 7 Stabled at Dereham for a week in early May, planned service trains cancelled.
9466 GWR 0-6-0 9400 Class Booked to operate MNR steam services July/August.

Commercial freight

Military vehicles unloading at Dereham
DRS Class 37 and Rail Head Treatment Train at Dereham (2008)
Windhoff Multi-Purpose Vehicle DR98910/60 at Dereham (2008)
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 in late 2007 and 2008 and for Network Rail track plant since 2008.

The line has also been used to carry equipment for army units based at or undergoing training at Robertson Barracksmarker and the Stanford Battle Areamarker, most recently in January 2009. Operation of these trains involves both resident and mainline locomotives.

Date Operator Motive Power Notes
17 June 1998 EWS 47241 'Halewood Silver Jubilee' First trial MOD train, including inspection saloon.
8 July 1998 EWS 37263 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' 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 Centremarker' + 37178 MOD train, composed VGA, Warwell and Warflat wagons.
20 January 2002 EWS 47786 'Roy Castle OBE' Transfer of fire damaged 86252 from Norwich.
26 September 2008 EWS 66105 Trial MOD train.
8 January 2009 DB Schenker 66157 MOD train, composed VGA, Warwell and Warflat wagons.
8 January 2009 DRS 37087 Collecting Network Rail 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 tampers, ballast regulators, stoneblowers and Multi-Purpose Vehicles from companies including Network Rail and Balfour Beatty Rail Ltd. Since 2001 the line has been used annually for low adhesion training, or skidpan training, for crews from Anglia Railways, latterly for One Railway, where a specially fitted Class 153 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

1979 charter DMU at Fakenham
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 and carried over 5,000 passengers. The first of these was a 6-car DMU service between Dereham and Norwich, which operated on April 8 1978. This special carried 330 passengers from the branch and into the city, while the outward journey to Dereham carried 200 people. This included a party of ramblers, who used the service as far as Thuxton. The majority of the passengers were local.

On April 21 1979 the RDS, WyDRAC and the newly-formed Fakenham and Dereham Railway Society chartered a four-car Class 105 DMU set to operate the 'Fakenham Flyer'. This train left Norwich carrying 200 people, picking up a further 40 at Dereham, before heading to Fakenham. The DMU then operated a shuttle service to Ryburgh, County School, North Elmham and Dereham for Fakenham residents before returning to Norwich. 440 people were carried, most of them local people. This was the first passenger train at Fakenham since the line closed, and proved to be the last such train as the line was closed the following year.

A special service, using a 4-car DMU, was operated from Dereham to Lowestoftmarker on July 22 1979 - with tickets being sold from the former bookstall at Dereham station. 260 people boarded the train at Dereham, with 70 more joining at the intermediate stations on the route. The stock movement to Dereham also carried 22 members of a local cycle club and their bicycles. On December 1 1979 a Christmas Shopping special operated from Dereham to Norwich, followed, on April 26 1980, by the 'Breckland Express', formed of a Class 37 and ten coaches, which carried 570 people to Londonmarker. On July 27, the 'Broadsman' carried 250 passengers between Dereham and Sheringhammarker.

Three trains were operated in 1981. The first, on May 30, was a 9 coach Class 37-hauled special to Yorkmarker which carried 455 people. The second, operated by the Fakenham and Dereham Railway Society, was a DMU special from Ryburgh to the coastal resort of Clactonmarker, which carried 160 people. The third event in 1981 was 'Rail Day' on September 19. The RDS and WyDRAC chartered a Class 101 DMU for the day and operated a four-train service between Dereham and Norwich. All crossings were manned, and tickets were issued on the train by conductor guards. 600 passengers used the service, with even the 07.27 service from Norwich to Dereham carrying 5 passengers. On May 15 1982 a Class 37 and nine coaches left Dereham bound for Matlockmarker in the Derbyshire Dalesmarker, carrying 300 people. On June 20 the Fakenham and Dereham Railway Society chartered a DMU from Ryburgh to Norwich, where it joined a DMU special from Sheringham before continuing together to the Nene Valley Railwaymarker. 200 passengers travelled on this special. The final train of 1982 ran on August 22, and was a Class 105 DMU carrying 170 people to Felixstowemarker.

In 1983 the Eastern Region of British Rail announced that they would ban all special services over freight lines. After a campaign by the RDS they agreed to allow a maximum of two excursion trains per year to use these routes. On October 1 1983 400 people boarded a Class 31-hauled ten coach train bound for Portsmouthmarker. Although the Class 31 broke down at Wokingmarker, the delayed service made the complete journey. In 1984, due to stock shortages and economic factors, only one special was operated, when a four-car Class 101 DMU carried 200 people between Dereham and Clacton. In 1985 a Class 101 DMU carried 100 passengers from Dereham to Cambridgemarker. While the Dereham passengers were in the city, the DMU ran a rail tour to North Elmham, carrying 100 people from Cambridge. In 1986 a 4-car DMU carried 220 people to Cromermarker and Sheringham as part of the Dereham Festival and on June 21 1987 220 people boarded another 4-car DMU bound for Lowestoftmarker, with the train starting from Seaman's grain siding in the goods yard at North Elmham as the station platform had been sold.

2003 charter train at Dereham
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 - King's Crossmarker to Dereham excursion.
20 April 2002 NENTA 47749 'Atlantic College' & 67008 Dereham to Portsmouthmarker excursion.
17 May 2003 NENTA 67006 & 67016 Dereham to Yorkmarker, Durhammarker or Newcastlemarker excursion.
2 August 2003 NENTA - Dereham to Severn Valley Railwaymarker excursion.
9 September 2006 NENTA 47703 & 47709 Dereham to Scarboroughmarker excursion.
5 May 2007 The Railway Touring Company 34067 'Tangmere' & 47812 Norwich to Dereham excursion.
11 August 2007 NENTA 47805 & 47853 Dereham to Weymouthmarker excursion.

Television and film appearances

'Allo 'Allo at County School
After passenger closure, County School station was used as the set for Weavers Green station in the Anglia Television 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!, the comedy series set in occupied France (see picture).

In February 2004 County School stood in for Thetford stationmarker 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.
Dereham station, with the railway's Mark 2 coaches, featured in a minor film and the line has also appeared in documentaries for local and national television.

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 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.

Route details

Wymondham Abbey
The section of line under the ownership of the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust starts in the Wensum valleymarker, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Candidate Special Area of Conservation, 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 Tudmarker, then dropping down to pass through the head of the Yare valleymarker near the village of Thuxton. After passing Kimberley Park, the restored windmill at Wicklewoodmarker can be seen to the west of the line, before the line drops into the Tiffey valleymarker and most services terminate at a halt close to the Grade I listed Wymondham Abbeymarker, a former Benedictine 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 stationmarker.

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 has a car park, picnic area, toilets, and tea room. It serves as the focus for several footpaths in the Wensum Valleymarker. 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.
County School station from the southern end of the platform
Closed / Private 20 March 1849 5 October 1964 Building and platform unrestored and in private ownership.
North Elmham in 2007
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.
Dereham station - main building and canopy
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 Railwaymarker and a local boiler engineering company.
Yaxham station, 2009
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.
Thuxton station, 2008
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.

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.
Hardingham station, 2009
Open 15 February 1847 6 October 1969 The station building is a private home, but the platforms have been restored for local use.
Kimberley Park station, 2008
Open 2 May 1999 - The station is a basic platform close to the original Wymondham Abbeymarker. MNR trains do not serve the main Wymondham railway stationmarker, which is served by trains on the Breckland Line of the National Rail network. Wymondham and Wymondham Abbey stations are one mile apart.
Wymondham Abbey station, 2007

There have been plans to create additional stations at Hoemarker, Garvestonemarker and Wymondham Junction railway stationmarker on the boundary between MNR and NR, allowing a short walk from branch to main line.

Engineering projects

Re-laying track at Dereham
The under-restoration section of the Mid-Norfolk Railway, near Hoe level crossing
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

One project is to open the line north of Dereham to (a hamlet near Gressenhall) and to build a platform there 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 repairs and vegetation clearance is currently ongoing. This is the first phase of work on the non-operational extension north towards County School.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway has long-term aims to restore the railway as far as Fakenhammarker, 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 mile-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 Sheringhammarker and Wymondhammarker for regular passenger services, joining up with the Network Rail system at either end. These ambitions were aided on 2 January 2008 when Network Rail announced it was giving consideration to allowing limited use of a crossing between the North Norfolk Railwaymarker and the Bittern branch line.

Thuxton loop and signalling works

During 2008, the Trust backed a long standing proposal to construct a 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. Phases 2 and 3 are now underway, with panels of track for the loop itself being laid out in place and the northern turn out installed. The final major task on the track work will see the level crossing widened to accommodate the double track.

Full signalling will be included as part of the 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 Lynnmarker 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

Steam locomotives and shunters

A Hunslet 'Austerity' 0-6-0 of the same type as 68012

A steam locomotive is a locomotive powered by steam. Steam locomotives dominated railway operations from the start of the 19th century, until the mid 20th Century. From the world's first ever railway journey in Wales Great Britainmarker in 1804, Steam locomotives were gradually improved and developed in their over 150 years of development and use. Starting in about 1930 other types of engines were developed and steam locomotives were gradually superseded by diesel and electric locomotives.

Number & Name Description Livery Status
68012 Hunslet Engine Co. 0-6-0 (Class J94) - Under restoration (at private site at Yaxham).

Diesel locomotives and shunters

A range of heritage diesel locomotives (Classes 37, 47, 31, 20 and 56) at Dereham
Class 73 electro-diesels at Dereham

A diesel locomotive is a type of railway locomotive in which the primary power source is a diesel engine. Several types of Diesel locomotive have been developed, the principal distinction being in the means by which the mechanical power is conveyed to the driving wheels (drivers).
Number & Name Description Livery Status
08631 'Eagle' BR 0-6-0 Class 08 Network SouthEast Operational.
D8069 BR Bo-Bo Class 20 Rail blue Operational.
31235 BR A1A-A1A Class 31/1 Rail blue Under Repair.
31438 BR A1A-A1A Class 31/4 Rail blue Operational.
31530 'Sister Dora' BR A1A-A1A Class 31/5 Civil engineers Under Restoration.
37003 BR Co-Co Class 37 Rail blue Under Repair.
47596 'Aldeburgh Festivalmarker' BR Co-Co Class 47 Rail blue Undergoing Engine Overhaul.
50019 'Ramillies' BR Co-Co Class 50 Large logo blue Operational.
56040 'Oystermouth' BR Co-Co Class 56 Railfreight grey Operational.
73210 'Selhurstmarker' BR Bo-Bo Class 73 Gatwick Express Operational. Primarily designed as an electric locomotive.

Multiple units and railcars

Class 101 DMU at Dereham

The term multiple unit or MU is used to describe a self-propelling train unit capable of coupling with other units of the same or similar type and still being controlled from one cab. The term is commonly used to denote passenger trainsets that consist of more than one carriage, but single self-propelling carriages, or railcars, can be referred to as multiple units if capable of operating with other units.

Number Description Formed of Livery Status
- BR Class 100 56301 Rail blue Static Display.
L836 BR Class 101 51434 + 59117 + 51503 Blue Grey Under Repair.
101 695 BR Class 101 51499 + 51226 BR green Operational.
P109 BR Class 122 55009 Green Under Restoration.
9004 BR Class 419 68004 Green Operational - Hauled Only.

BR Mk 1 standard carriages

Mk1 coaches 95228 and 99163 on the MNR

British Railways' first design of railway carriages were given the designation Mark 1. These were intended to be the standard carriage design for use across all lines, incorporating the best features of each of the former companies' designs. They were also intended to provide better protection for passengers in the event of an accident.

Built for Number Type Designation Livery Notes
British Railways 93226 Mk1 GUV Rail blue Vacuum brake, Static/Stores, formerly 86226
80020 'Booth Car' Maroon Under restoration, unique vehicle
94320 PCV Royal Mail Stores, ex-75120, Class 307 DTCOL
95228 BG Carmine and Cream Dual braked, under restoration
99163 SK Carmine and Cream Unbraked, Static/Dormitory, ex-Travelling College, formerly 25994
1984 RU SR Green Dual braked, under restoration at private site

BR Mk2 carriages

Prototype Mk2 13252, April 2009
The air braked Mk2 set
Interior of Mk2 FK compartment with Edward Pond mural.

British Rail's second design of carriages were designated Mark 2. The Mark 2 has a semi-integral construction, giving it more strength than a Mark 1 in the event of an accident, although a key driver of the changed construction method was to overcome the serious corrosion problem point in the Mark 1 at the base of the body, where it was attached to the underframe.

The Mark 2 coaches of the Mid-Norfolk Railway are divided into two sets. One rake of vacuum-braked maroon liveried coaches, and another of air-braked stock in blue-grey livery. The project to create a complete set of coaches in the blue-grey livery introduced in 1964 was a first in preservation. Several of the coaches feature Edward Pond murals fitted during refurbishment when in Network SouthEast service.

Built for Number Type Designation Livery Notes
British Railways 13252 Mk2 Prototype FK Maroon Vacuum brake, part of National Collectionmarker
5211 Mk2 TSO Maroon Vacuum brake
5219 TSO Maroon Vacuum brake
5255 SO Blue Grey Air brake
9409 BSO Maroon Vacuum brake
5265 Mk2a TSO Blue Grey Air brake
13446 FK Maroon Vacuum brake
13447 FK Maroon Vacuum brake
17079 BFK Blue Grey Air brake
5446 Mk2b TSO Network SouthEast Air brake, Stored
5480 TSO Network SouthEast Air brake, Stored as spares vehicle
5482 TSO EWS Air brake
6356 Mk2c FO Brown Air brake, for restoration.
6357 BSO Blue Grey Air brake, Stored
9448 BSO Maroon Air brake, Stored
13573 Mk2d FK Blue Grey Air brake, air conditioned
3521 Mk2e FOT Blue Grey Air brake, air conditioned, formerly 3571
1218 Mk2f RFB Blue Grey Air Brake, air conditioned, formerly 3332

Pre-Grouping carriages

GER 1380, November 2008
Pre-Grouping carriages refers to vehicles built prior to the Railways Act of 1921, also known as the Grouping Act. This was an enactment by the British government of David Lloyd George, intended to stem the losses being made by many of the country's 120 railway companies, move the railways away from internal competition, and to retain some of the benefits which the country had derived from a government-controlled railway during and after the Great War of 1914–18.

Built for Number Type Designation Livery Notes
Great Eastern Railway 1380 Diagram 421 TY GER crimson Body only, exhibition coach (under restoration)

Former Mid-Norfolk Railway rolling stock

Since the preservation reopening of the line, several items of rolling stock have worked or been based on the Mid-Norfolk Railway, but have since departed. This section details those items (excluding visiting charter and freight locomotives).

Diesel locomotives and shunters

Number & Name Description Notes
1 'County School' Ruston 0-4-0 Now Bressingham Steam Museummarker.
20206 BR Bo-Bo Class 20 Scrapped, Booth's of Rotherham (2004).
37099 'Clydesbridge' BR Co-Co Class 37 Now Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railwaymarker.

Multiple units and railcars

Number Description Formed of Notes
- BR Class 108 51572 + 56224 Now Wensleydale Railwaymarker / Ecclesbourne Valley Railwaymarker
- BR Class 117 51360 Now Ecclesbourne Valley Railwaymarker
L409 'Fran' BR Class 117 51386 Scrapped, Dereham (2003)
- BR Class 119 51073 Now Ecclesbourne Valley Railwaymarker
P106 BR Class 122 55006 Now Ecclesbourne Valley Railwaymarker
141108 BR Class 141 55508 + 55528 Now Colne Valley Railwaymarker
5176 BR Class 415 14351 + 15396 + 14351 + 15354 Now Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway Trustmarker / Coventry Railway Centremarker
9003 BR Class 419 68003 Now Eden Valley Railwaymarker


Built for Number Type Designation Notes
British Railways 5267 Mk2a TSO Purchased as donor vehicle. Broken up for spare parts early 2009
5497 Mk2b TSO To Great Central, August 2009
5536 Mk2c TSO Broken up for parts, Spring 2009
6356 BSO Broken up for parts, Summer 2009

Funding and associated bodies

The Class 50 Locomotive Association's 50019 on a ballast working at Danemore, June 2009.
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 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, 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 Ramillies in September 1991. Originally on the Spa Valley Railwaymarker, it moved to the Mid-Norfolk Railway in May 1999.

The Class 56 Group was formed in 1992. They purchased 56040 Oystermouth in December 2005, the locomotive arriving at Dereham in June 2006.

The Stratford 47 Group formed in 2001 to save a Class 47 diesel formerly at Stratford depot in East London. It now owns three locomotives, with 47596 Aldeburgh Festivalmarker 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 0-6-0 saddle tank, works number 3193, now being restored at a private site at Yaxham for use on the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

See also

Other Railway Preservation Society in Norfolk:


  1. Oppitz, 1989, page 41
  2. MNR history of the line
  3. Jenkins, 1999, page 50
  4. Oppitz, 1989, page 14
  5. Jenkins, 1999, page 51
  6. Oppitz, 1989, page 45
  7. Oppitz, 1989, page 13
  8. Jenkins, 1999, page 69
  9. Jenkins, 1999, page 70
  10. Jenkins, 1999, page 87
  11. Jenkins, 1999, page 86
  12. Jenkins, 1999, page 88
  13. Oppitz, 1989, page 45
  14. British Railways Atlas.1947. p.18
  15. Joby, 1975, page 43
  16. Tuddenham, 1965, page 83
  17. Tuddenham, 1965, page 87
  18. Tuddenham, 1965, page 87
  19. Railway Magazine, 1968, page 662
  20. Railway Magazine, 1977, page 38
  21. Jenkins, 1999, page 167
  22. Breckland Local Area Framework - A Delivery Plan for Breckland’s Objective 2 Programme…
  23. Geograph photo of the box
  24. North Norfolk District Council Strategic transport network
  25. Keith Parkin British Railways Mark 1 Coaches, Pendragon/HMRS ISBN 1-899816-07-0
  26. Michael Harris British Rail Mark 2 Coaches - the design that launched InterCity Venture Publications ISBN 9781898432487


External links

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