45-year wait - but what a train!
It is more than 45 years since the last train was seen chugging its way through the north Norfolk countryside between Fakenham and Holt. So for villagers in Melton Constable, yesterday's arrival of a 60 tonne steam train of the type once a regular sight in their village was something of a historic event.
It is more than 45 years since the last train was seen chugging its way through the north Norfolk countryside between Fakenham and Holt.
So for villagers in Melton Constable, yesterday's arrival of a 60 tonne steam train of the type once a regular sight in their village was something of a historic event.
The village, once the heart of the Midland and Great Northern Railway - nicknamed the Crewe of north Norfolk - has been cut off from passenger train services for 50 years this month.
To mark the milestone, a 4F type steam train, en-route by road to the North Norfolk Railway (NNR), was diverted to the village.
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It is on loan from the Churnet Valley railway in Staffordshire for a steam gala commemorating the closure of the M&GN in 1959.
About 100 railway enthusiasts and villagers gathered to see spectacle as it was driven through the village and came to a stop outside the former M&GN carriage works, now part of an industrial estate.
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Albert Dent, 77, who has lived in the village nearly all his life and who followed in his father's footsteps to be a driver on the M&GN, said: 'I used to run about in the yard aged eight years old.
'It's nice to see one of the engines back here. You can't explain to people how many lines there were and where they went now.'
From Melton Constable, where the M&GN's workshops were based, you could travel to Cromer, Yarmouth, Norwich and Fakenham. Travellers from the Midlands came through the village by train to holiday in Yarmouth.
The railway's arrival at Melton Constable made it the village it is today - the rows of terraced homes were built for railway workers and engineers, as was a school building and the railway institute.
Now all that is left of the train station are two spandrels used in the village bus stop.
However, the carriage and wagon workshops and a goods shed still stand.
The number 44422 train, which stayed for about an hour, is of the type which would have once chugged along the old M&GN line.
Geoff Gowing, general manager of the NNR, said: 'It is quite probable that it did once travel on the M&GN lines.'
John Abson, a volunteer on the NNR, said: 'It is recreating history. It is a railway town and this is an engine coming home.'
The NNR's steam gala marking 50 years since the M&GN closed is on February 27 and 28 and March 1, 7 and 8. There will be five guest steam trains - all of types which would have served on the railway - and five of the NNR's resident locomotives. For more information visit www.nnrailway.co.uk or call 01263 820800.