as the villages of Norfolk reached their most populous heights,
change came. In some, decline was already beginning, when
the first railway in the county was opened on 30th April 1844.
Running from Norwich to Yarmouth. It affected no village east
of Reedham, a large village where the population was noted
as being 614 persons in 1841, but to the west the railway
affected the parishes of Blofield Hundred, along the northern
banks of the Yare. Stations were built at Cantley, Buckenham
Ferry, Brundall and originally at Brandon Junction, where
the line between Brandon and Norwich, via Thetford and Wymondham,
met the first Norfolk railway. The railway to Brandon, which
joined Norwich to London, was opened in July 1845. Early railways
in Norfolk were designed to connect towns not to serve villages.
Hence stations such as Eccles Road and Harling Road are each
distant from the villages to which they refer.
is three kilometres (two miles) from Harling Road Station
to East Harling village. Similarly, the now closed station
at Hethersett is over a kilometre from the main road and a
further two kilometres from the village. Spooner Row alone
seems close to the place which gives the station a name. The
first two railways in Norfolk were designed to link towns:
Norwich to Yarmouth and Norwich to Ely, Cambridge and London.
Another railway from Norwich to London was opened in 1846,
using the route via Ipswich. Stations existed at Swainsthorpe,
Florden, Forncett, Tivetshall and Burston. Many villages did
not have stations and some were by-passed completely. Those
villages without stations were Caistor St Edmund, Stoke Holy
Cross, Newton Flotman, Tharston, Moulton St Michael and Gissing.
Villages completely by-passed were Tasburgh, Scole and Long
Stratton on the old coaching road.
railway was built from the Norwich to Yarmouth line at Reedham
to connect Lowestoft with Norwich. Railways came to West Norfolk
in 1846, reaching Ely in 1847, but again few villages were
affected as the line was designed to connect King's Lynn with
London. Stations were built at Denver, Hilgay and Magdalen
Road. Contemporary with the railway to London was the construction
of a line from King's Lynn to Norwich, joining the Cambridge
to Norwich line at Wymondham. The Lynn and Dereham Railway
Act received the Royal Assent on 21st July 1845. On 27th October
1846 the single-track railway was opened from Lynn to Narborough.
On 10th August 1847 trains ran into Swaffham, and on 26th
October 1847 the line reached Sporle but it was not until
11th September 1848 that the line finally arrived at East
Dereham. Here it joined the line from Wymondham to Fakenham,
opened in 1848, and extended to Wells in 1857. Again towns
rather than villages were served. Middleton, Narborough, Little
Dunham, Fransham and Wendling were the villages on the Lynn
and Dereham Railway. The line to Wells was only double track
as far as Dereham..
were built to serve a number of villages: Kimberley, Hardingham,
Thuxton, Yaxham, North Elmham, Great Ryburgh, Little Walsingham
and Wighton Halt. Only one other line had been opened to serve
Norfolk villages when the Great Eastern Railway was formed
out of the existing plethora of small, inefficient railway
companies, whose reputation was for poor service and slow
trains. This was a line from Tivetshall to Bungay. Stations
were built at Pulham Market, Pulham St Mary, Ditchingham,
Ellingham and Geldestone, the three latter stations being
on the extension from Bungay to Beccles opened on 2nd March
1863. Thereafter the Waveney Valley Railway became part of
the Great Eastern. Another of the constituents of the Great
Eastern was the East Suffolk Railway. This began as the Halesworth,
Beccles and Haddiscoe Railway, authorised on 5th June 1851,
and opened for passengers on 4th December 1854.
villages in the Lothingland area were provided with stations:
Fritton and Belton and Burgh Castle as was the village of
Aldeby. These were opened on 1st June 1859 when the line was
extended from Haddiscoe to Great Yarmouth. A line, the East
Norfolk Railway, was built to Cromer in 1877 with a branch