Artist blacksmith revives old rail track

They are humongous, lumbering pieces of metal which for decades kept the country's vital train network alive.But now a major project commissioned from a Fransham blacksmith means tonnes of previously dormant railway lines are being reincarnated to be given a fresh lease of life-and still spend time by the tracks.

They are humongous, lumbering pieces of metal which for decades kept the country's vital train network alive.

But now a major project commissioned from a Fransham blacksmith means tonnes of previously dormant railway lines are being reincarnated to be given a fresh lease of life-and still spend time by the tracks.

For a new scheme to enhance Marriott's Way, the former railway track running between Norwich and Aylsham which is now a footpath, will see 14 tonnes of disused railway lines forged into sculptures to be displayed along the walk.

And in order to carry out the job a new way of heating the metal to 1200C, then twisting it, had to be created.


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Nigel Barnett, forgemaster and artist blacksmith, whose business is run from Fransham Forge, is designing and making the 26 giant marker posts, 14 village markers and two archways.

He said: “I was approached by artist John Behm who asked me if I would design and make these giant sculptures to be dotted along the footpath.

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“I was chosen because I was the only person who would take the job on. In order to make the lines into sculptures I had to invent new furnace and twisting machinery.

“All the markers will be different and will be placed every mile, for instance one's a giant zipper. It's a lot of work and I've taken on an extra apprentice to help me.

“It's good to see life breathed back into the metal, and they'll be back where they belong. They were railway lines and now they're promoting and keeping railway lines.

“These will be permanent additions. They're long lasting, maintenance free and vandal proof.”

Mr Barnett is halfway through making the sculptures, and the project should be finished in July.

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