The M&GN was formed in 1893 by joining up many smaller local railway lines. It gave the Midland and Great Northern railways access to East Anglian ports and holiday traffic from the Midlands to east coast resorts. The main line ran from Peterborough to Great Yarmouth. Known affectionately as the Muddle and Go Nowhere , its 180 miles made it the longest joint railway in the UK. At the Grouping of 1923 the railway was jointly managed by the LMS and LNER.
The M&GN fell victim to British Railways rationalisation and almost all was closed in 1959, making 2019 the sixtieth anniversary of closure. A small section of the M&GN remains open between Cromer and Sheringham as part of the national network and the North Norfolk Railway has preserved the line from Sheringham to Holt. Many traces of the railway survive, including the swing bridge at Sutton. Much of the Marriott s Way footpath follows the trackbed of the M&GN s Norwich line.
The thriving M&GN Circle has an extensive archive including over 20,000 photographs. Utilising some of these, and more, Steph Gillett offers a fascinating and nostalgic look back at this fondly remembered line.
GUEST REVIEW FROM MARK MAGUIRE
Today I am delighted to be able to hand over my blog to my husband, Mark, and he is going to share with you his review of The Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Through Time:
“The Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway was closed to passenger traffic on the 28th February 1959. At a stroke, 183.5 miles of the most rural of railways, was removed from the network map on the grounds of maintenance costs; duplication of pre-existing routes, and declining revenues.
Whilst the line from Melton Constable to Cromer soldiered on until 1965 and specialist freight traffic continued to be carried into the 1980’s on a limited stretch, most of the former network was lifted and built upon, effectively preventing any future possibility of the reinstatement of the railway network which once connected East Anglia with the industrial Midlands and the Capital.
To the trained eye, traces of the railway can still be discerned despite 60 plus years having elapsed since the initial closure. The railway also lives on in the memories of those who worked; travelled and / or were sufficiently enthused to photograph and document the network for the benefit of future generations too young to have physically experienced the line during its’ heyday. This book builds upon this foundation and benefits from a number of previously unpublished photographs which capture the network from its foundation through to its ultimate closure.
The book starts with a foreword; colour route map, before then moving onto the opening chapter which comprises of a detailed, but accessible, history of the Midland and Great Northern Railway, (M&GN). The Author presupposes no prior knowledge and the tone set by the narrative will act as a ‘refresher’ for those with a working knowledge, whilst encouraging others to commence their own further studies by way of the acknowledgements and sources section at the rear.
Once the introductory section has been completed, the book essentially becomes a photographic record of the M&GN. The standard of photography is generally high, with a mix of colour and black and white photographs documenting the network from Spalding to Lowestoft and everywhere in between. The Author has also included a number of updated photographs of abandoned / derelict remnants of the network, whilst also documenting how certain parts of the infrastructure have been either re-purposed or restored – the North Norfolk Railway being but one example of the latter.
In summary, this is an accessible and evocative review of the M&GN which can be read by either the casual reader, or the enthusiast alike. This book is highly recommended and complements existing works in the field.”