Norfolk is traversed in all directions by railways, principally belonging to the Great Eastern system. Under an Act passed in 1862, the Eastern Counties, Norfolk, Newmarket, Eastern Union, East Anglian, Wells and Fakenham, and East Suffolk Railway Companies were amalgamated. Since then the East Norfolk Railway Company has been amalgamated with the Great Eastern.
From Norwich, the capital of the county, are two main lines to London, the one running through Trowse, Hethersett, Wymondham, Attleborough, Eccles, Harling, and Thetford, to Ely and Cambridge; and the other through Swainsthorpe, Flordon, Forncett, Tivetshall, Burston, and Diss, to Ipswich and Colchester. These lines have a separate terminus at Norwich, the one at Thorpe, and the other at St. Stephen's Gate, Norwich, but they are connected by a loop line, running through Lakenham, a mile to the south-east of the city.
From these main lines are several important branches. One from Wymondham to Wells runs northward through Kimberley, Hardingham, Thuxton and Yaxham, to Dereham, a junction station, and thence to Elmham, Ryburgh, Fakenham, Walsingham, and Wells. From Dereham there is a line running westward through Wendling, Fransham, Dunham, Swaffham, Narborough, Bilney, and Middleton, to Lynn. From Lynn, there is a line running south through Watlington, Downham, and Denver to Ely; and from this line on the west is a branch to Wisbech, and on the east to Stoke Ferry. North of Lynn is the Lynn and Hunstanton Line, worked by the Great Eastern, running through N. Wootton, Wolferton, Dersingham, Snettisham, and Heacham to Hunstanton. From Heacham is a line passing through Sedgeford, Docking, Burnham, and Holkham to Wells, where it joins the line from Wells to Wymondham, which in 1880 was put in connection with the Ipswich and Colchester line to London, by the construction of a short line from Wymondham through Ashwellthorpe to Forncett. From Swaffham a line, which has been taken over by the Great Eastern, runs through Holm Hale, Ashill, Watton, and Wretham, to Roudham, where it effects a junction with the main line to London via Cambridge, and with the Thetford and Bury line.
The Great Eastern system has been of late years much extended in East Norfolk, first by the construction of a line from Norwich to Cromer through Salhouse, Wroxham, Worstead, North Walsham, and Gunton; and secondly by a line between this and the Wells and Wymondham line, running from Wroxham through Coltishall, Buxton, Lamas, Aylsham, Cawston, Reepham, and Foulsham to Broom Green, near Elmham. In addition to the old line from Norwich to Yarmouth, through Whitlingham, Brundall, Buckenham, Santley [should be Cantley], and Reedham, the Great Eastern have now just completed another railway branching therefrom at Brundall, and running through Acle and along the Bure Valley to Yarmouth. From Reedham there is a branch line to Lowestoft, by way of Haddiscoe, where it is crossed by the East Suffolk line, which runs from Southtown station at Yarmouth through the Suffolk Hundreds of Mutford and Lothingland to Beccles and Halesworth. From Beccles, along a portion of the southern boundary of Norfolk, is another Great Eastern branch, the Waveney Valley, which passes through Bungay, Earsham, Redenhall, Harleston, and Pulham to Tivetshall, on the main line from Norwich to London, via Ipswich. The number of miles of line in Norfolk belonging to or worked by the Great Eastern is about 310.
During the last few years two other companies have obtained powers to construct lines in Norfolk: the Yarmouth and North Norfolk Light Railway Company, and the Lynn and Fakenham Railway Company. The former constructed a line from Yarmouth to Caister, Ormesby, Hemsby, Martham, Potter Heigham, Catfield, Stalham, and North Walsham; and the other a line from Lynn to Grimston, Hillington, Massingham, Reedham [probably Rougham], Raynham, and Fakenham. In 1880 and 1881 powers were given to the Lynn and Fakenham Railway Company by Parliament to extend their line from Fakenham to Thursford, Melton, Saxthorpe, Aylsham, Felmingham, and North Walsham, effecting a junction with the Yarmouth and North Norfolk Company; from Melton to Hindolvestone, Guestwick, Whitwell, Lenwade, Attlebridge, Drayton, Cossey, Hellesdon, and Norwich; from Melton (northward) to Holt and Kelling, with branches to Weybourne, Sherringham, Runton, and Cromer, and another branch to Salthouse, Cley, and Blakeney. These companies, amalgamated in 1882, as the Eastern and Midlands Company, have 125 miles of line in the county.
The Midland and Great Northern have a joint line running into the county at Lynn from Lincolnshire.
See also White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1883.
Copyright © Pat Newby.