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The Lynn and Hunstanton Railway and the West Norfolk Branch (Oakwood Library of Railway History)
The Lynn and Hunstanton Railway and the West Norfolk Branch (Oakwood Library of Railway History)
by Stanley C. Jenkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.95

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Norfolk lines for the price of one!, 14 Feb 2014
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Stanley Jenkins is one of my favourite railway authors. He always researches well and writes in a very accurate, detailed but never boring style.
This book is a clear, detailed and interesting account of two Norfolk lines - the King's Lynn - Hunstanton "main line" and the Heacham - Wells "branch" (known as the "West Norfolk branch"). This is good as I doubt that there would be enough material to write a whole book on the Heacham - Wells branch. It is no 70 in the Oakwood Press series and follows the normal Oakwood Press format covering all aspects of the two lines from planning right through to closure. There are many archive photographs of trains, stations, level crossings etc on the two lines.
Sadly, both lines have now been closed for many years. Heacham - Wells closed to passengers in May 1952 and King's Lynn - Hunstanton closed in May 1969 (despite not being listed for closure in the infamous "Beeching Report" of March 1963).
The importance of the two lines during the two World Wars is highlighted as is the connection with the Royal Family at Sandringham House. (Wolferton station on the King's Lynn - Hunstanton line was the station for Sandringham).
As well as the technical details, Jenkins has also included some popular stories about the lines and has raised the possibility that Rasputin (the Russian monk) once arrived at Wolferton station back in the early days of the 20th century!
A very welcome "extra" (in a pouch at the back of the book) is an extract from the 1954 Ordnance Survey map which shows exactly where the two lines went.
As someone who has sat in heavy traffic jams around King's Lynn, trying to get to Hunstanton, I certainly agree with Jenkins' conclusion: "In social terms, the railway should perhaps have remained open, but a nation which spent unimaginable sums on road transport while grudging the railways every penny did not have the political will to implement a properly integrated transport policy, with the result that branch lines survived only in areas where local politicians were prepared to part with hard cash. West Norfolk was not one of those areas, and today, the overloaded A149 is frequently jammed with weekend holiday traffic from the East Midlands to Hunstanton, while the railway that might have afforded some relief languishes disused and abandoned just a few hundred yards to the west."
Makes you think, doesn't it?


Dr Beeching's Axe 50 Years On: Memories of Britain's Lost Railways
Dr Beeching's Axe 50 Years On: Memories of Britain's Lost Railways
by Julian Holland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.29

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Marples / Beeching Tragedy 50 Years On, 9 Mar 2013
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March 27th 1963 was a black day for the railways and people of Great Britain. On that fateful day, Dr Richard Beeching, the chairman of the British Railways Board, unleashed his infamous report, "The Reshaping of British Railways" on the nation. The author sums up the consequences of the report and its subsequent implementation as follows: "In total around 4,500 route miles, 2,500 stations and 67,700 jobs were lost." The report and its implementation guaranteed that Britain would never again have a comprehensive and adequate railway network for its people to use and enjoy.
The book is described on the back cover as a "memorial" to all that was lost following the publication and implementation of the Beeching report. This is a fair description. As I ploughed through the lists of closures in every region, it reminded me of the endless lists of soldiers' names we find on war memorials commemorating those who died, especially in the First World War. It should be remembered that some of the lines not listed for closure in the report nevertheless closed in the following years, though a few lines listed for closure in the report were subsequently reprieved.
The content of the book is easy to explain. There is a brief introduction of about six pages explaining the background to the Beeching report, a profile on Beeching, details of the report and a brief summary of its implementation. The remainder of the book is devoted to a brief description of the history (with photographs) of every line listed in the Beeching report (and lines which were not listed in the report but nevertheless were closed) and this is arranged on a geographical basis (Central England, Wales etc). The closures were so extensive that even though the descriptions are short, the book is nearly 200 pages long!
The author correctly places much of the blame on Ernest Marples, the Conservative Minister of Transport, who appointed Beeching and who approved his report in its entirety. The author writes: "Thanks a lot Mr Marples for it is you who should shoulder most of the blame for this senseless destruction of our railway network. Let's face it, Dr Beeching was only doing his job, albeit with a very handsome salary." It should also be remembered that at this time Marples held 80% of the shares in Marples Ridgway, a civil engineering company involved in the building of roads and motorways. Can anyone spot a conflict of interest here? Although history has quite rightly been harsh on Beeching, Marples has escaped lightly - some would say, far more lightly than he deserves.
The author also correctly points out that although the Labour party opposed the report when in opposition, they were only too happy to continue its implementation after winning the general election in October 1964. Therefore, the British people received no help at all from either of the main political parties of the time. One is tempted to comment that 50 years on nothing has changed!
The author also correctly points out that although Beeching's plan was to save money from the public purse, today's privatised railways cost more in real terms to the taxpayer than British Railways did back in the 1960's.
The main bulk of the book - a brief history of every line closed under Beeching - is fascinating. The text is illustrated with some very good photographs, many of them in colour. As it is arranged geographically, the reader can "home in" on their particular geographical area of interest. As each reader studies the text, I am sure they will be thinking of particular lines: "This line should never have closed." From an East Anglian perspective, I would nominate:-
(1) King's Lynn to Norwich (pg 73) - not listed in the Beeching report but nevertheless closed in September 1968
(2) Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft (pg 76) - two important coastal towns and seaside resorts only ten miles apart but now without a railway link between them
(3) Cambridge to St Ives (pg 79) - part of which is now a ridiculous "guided busway."
Each reader will have their own list of "Beeching nightmares" - lines which would have been so valuable to us today but which have gone forever.
Finally, one really nice touch about this book is its presentation. The cover is in identical colours to the Beeching report - dark blue with a white band across the front - and has been discoloured to give it an aged and dog-eared effect. Likewise, the pages have been "aged" around the edges.
Although I agree with the criticisms made by the previous reviewers, especially regarding the slightly "formulaic" nature of the descriptions of the closed lines, I think this is a very valuable piece of work on an important subject. It is especially relevant in 2013, 50 years after Beeching, when Britain's population and road congestion have spiralled out of control. I think that the six page introduction is excellent and the attempt to "codify" all the Beeching closures on a regional basis (with relevant photographs) makes for a very interesting read.
Five stars.


Paul Atterbury's Railway Collection
Paul Atterbury's Railway Collection
by Paul Atterbury
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous book!, 31 Dec 2012
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As soon as you pick up this book, you get a feeling that this is a real quality product. The book is hardback and is covered by a very colourful dust jacket showing a patchwork collection of photographs connected with railways. Moreover, the name "Paul Atterbury" is synonymous with quality on all matters concerning railways.
Some railway books are good on the outside but not so good inside. No such problems with this one! Page after page of interesting photos (in colour wherever possible) along with annotated notes written by the author. The photos are all taken from the author's massive personal collection and he writes in a very personal and yet relevant and accurate style.
The book is divided into sections under relevant themes (often based on geographical areas or the author's personal experiences). However, this is a book which does not have to be read from cover to cover and is a great book just to "dip into." You can open it at any page and find something interesting.
Although it is virtually impossible to pick a favourite from the hundreds of photos featured, I loved the one (on page 172) from the 1950's of the children at Horncastle station, Lincolnshire, waiting for their train to Skegness. They all have their legs dangling over the edge of the platform and one lad is on the track! No problems with over zealous Health and Safety Officers in those days! Sadly, like so many of the locations featured in this book, Horncastle no longer has a railway station.
My interest is primarily in East Anglian railway history and I was interested to read that the author has two separate connections with the area; his father grew up in Suffolk and he studied for three years at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. Perhaps, because of this, East Anglia gets a fair representation in this book.
I do not think I have ever come across a book which gave me a better feel for Great Britain's glorious railway heritage.


Suffolk's Lost Railways
Suffolk's Lost Railways
by Neil Burgess
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.36

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some very interesting photographs., 26 Dec 2012
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As soon as I saw the photograph on the front cover of this book, I was intrigued. It shows some platelayers on their trolley at Brockford station (Mid Suffolk Light Railway). Although I have two books specifically on the Mid Suffolk and several other books containing chapters on the Mid Suffolk, I had never seen this photo before.
Not all the photos in this book (some of which are taken from old postcards) are as good as this one but many of them are very interesting.
The photo on the inside front cover shows the bustling concourse of Lowestoft station back in 1961. Under a fine overall roof, the station is full of life and is clearly meeting people's needs. It makes me sad when I compare this scene to the sorry state of Lowestoft station today.
The basic format of this book is a large photo (8.4 inches x 5.3 inches) on each page along with an annotated note on the scene or line underneath. There is also a short summary on each line - name of line, original railway company, distance, date closed to passengers, names of stations in Suffolk etc.
Some of the most fascinating photos do not show any trains at all. For example, the one of Lowestoft station (mentioned above) and the one on the back cover of Marlesford station (on the Framlingham branch). This shows a crowd of people, several Union Jack flags and an early motor vehicle with a sign on the back encouraging enlistment into "Lord Kitchener's New Regular Army." Sadly, the photo is untitled and undated but presumably shows a visit by Lord Kitchener to Marlesford during the First World War.
My main criticism is that some of the photos are not dated (not even approximately). Also, at the full price of £9.00 for only 48 pages in paperback format, the book might be considered a little expensive. However, when I bought it, Amazon was offering a generous discount.
Enthusiasts of Suffolk's railway history will enjoy this book but anyone who remembers and loves the old Suffolk (the way it used to be) will also find this book very interesting.


The Mellis & Eye Railway (Locomotion Papers)
The Mellis & Eye Railway (Locomotion Papers)
by Peter Paye
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book about a lovely branch line., 13 Oct 2012
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Most lovers of East Anglian railway history will know that the Mellis to Eye branch line in Suffolk was the shortest in East Anglia. The line measured only 2 miles 71 chains (2.89 miles) and originally had no intermediate stations.
The line was sadly one of the first East Anglian railway closures, succumbing to bus competition in February 1931. The branch continued as a "freight only" line until July 1964.
I had previously noticed a real dearth of information and photographs about this line but this is superbly corrected by Peter Paye's book.
Some readers may have read Peter's earlier books on the Hadleigh and Framlingham branches in Suffolk. This book follows the same format and covers all aspects of the line (planning, building, operation, locomotives, rolling stock, timetables, bridges, level crossings etc) in considerable detail. As usual, Peter has researched carefully and written well. There are also lots of archive photos, many of them supplied by Peter and others from contributors such as Dr Ian Allen who worked as a GP in Framlingham.
Finally, spare a thought for the villagers of Yaxley. From the time the line opened in 1867 they had to endure trains running through their village without stopping. In December 1922 they were finally granted a halt, only for the line to close to passengers in February 1931.
The text will tell you everything you want to know about the Eye branch and the photos will give you a real feel of what it was like to travel by train to Mellis, Eye and Yaxley Halt in Great Eastern / LNER days.


Branch Lines Around Wroxham: Norwich to North Walsham and the Bure Valley Eastwards
Branch Lines Around Wroxham: Norwich to North Walsham and the Bure Valley Eastwards
by Richard Adderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Norfolk Railway Heaven!, 8 Oct 2012
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This book is brand new and follows the usual Middleton Press "Main Lines" and "Branch Lines" format of lots of archive photographs with annotated notes. I feel sure that this is the best format for a book on railway history.
The book is divided into two parts:-
(1) Norwich to North Walsham (photos 1-46) - still open today, of course, and
(2) Wroxham to County School (photos 47-120) - closed to passengers in 1952 (60 years ago this year).
I had previously found there to be a shortage of photos and information about the Wroxham to County School branch line so this book is particularly welcome. There are even some archive photos of the Themelthorpe curve.
The notes are written by Richard Adderson and Graham Kenworthy, two Norfolk men with an infinite knowledge of the county's rich railway history. They have also supplied some of the photos. Both the photos and notes are "spot on".
A "must" for all lovers of East Anglian railway history.


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