BOOK IS NOW ON SALE

Following its successful launch on Thursday (19th April), the book is now available for the public to buy. The book may be purchased worldwide direct from the publisher, (post free in the UK) LASSE PRESS, 2 St Giles Terrace, Norwich NR2 1NS (Tel: +44 (0)1603 665843) [www.lasse.press.com], or in Norwich from Jarrold’s Book Department. It can also be ordered from your local book store. Don’t forget the title; St Edmund and the Vikings, 869-1066.

ISBN: 978-1-9997752-1-6

The author signs the book for a customer.

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WORLD WAR ONE POETS

RALPH HALE MOTTRAM and other writers

When we consider the poets of the First World War, it is as a part of history that they are now remembered. All through my school career however, when I was I was studying the poems of Siegfried Sassoon (and others) he was still living. So too was another of his contemporaries, Robert Graves. They remain a part of my literary environment, and are not to me historical figures. The poetry is what first drew the public’s attention to these writers, but it is their autobiographical works that I most remember. In Graves’s case this was Goodbye to All That, and in Sassoon’s it was the trilogy that begins with Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man.

R. H. Mottram

Another trilogy which concerns experiences in France and Flanders during World War One begins with The Spanish Farm. It was written by a local man, Ralph Hale Mottram, who was brought up in Bank House in Norwich. There his father was Chief Clerk and Ralph too began his career as a bank employee. He had already published two books of poems before the war; in 1915 at the age of thirty two he volunteered for Kitchener’s Army.  The Spanish Farm was his record of the war and was published in 1924. It went on to win the Hawthornden Prize* in the same year.  The trilogy was published in single book format in 1927.

Mottram lived into my era, although as a young man I did not appreciate him. His star was no longer burning brightly in the literary firmament compared to other writers of the wartime years.  Everybody has heard of Wilfred Owen, but few beyond Norfolk know the name of R. H. Mottram, and fewer still are familiar with his work. This a great shame because he wrote most engagingly. This lack of recognition may have something to do with the fact that, although he had been friendly with the author of The Forsyte Saga John Galsworthy (and even wrote his biography), he never fully joined the metropolitan literary establishment. He preferred to spend his life involved in the affairs of his native county. He was of the same generation as my great-aunt Ruth, and became Lord Mayor of Norwich four years after her, in 1955. He died in Kings Lynn in 1971.

The Spanish Farm is a novel, although it draws heavily on Mottram’s experiences as an officer in the Great War. There is one small point that would not be worth mentioning, had not the centenary of the Royal Air Force recently been celebrated; he mentioned members of the RAF being among the crowd at horse show held in 1916. He was two years too early. How careful authors must be to avoid these little mistakes! This small error in no way detracts from the pleasure I take in the unfolding story, though pleasure is perhaps the wrong word. With the horrors of war always lying in wait, the proper description would be anticipation, tempered with a sense of dread. (A horse show might seem a strange thing to occur within a few miles of the Front Line in Flanders, but that is to ignore the position held by the horse in the affections of the English Officer Class.)

The three parts of the trilogy begin with the war as experienced by the civilian residents of Spanish Farm, especially the youngest daughter of old Vanderlynden, Madeleine. She was about twenty-one when the war broke out. This volume is grim, but the story is not as awful as that of life and death that occurred on the Front. This forms the plot of the second book. I can relate to a few (very  few) parts of this, as the main character returns home for a week’s leave, after many months in France. The place is obviously Norwich, and home is  the Cathedral Close and the architect’s practice there. A few decades later my cousin was that architect; the frisson of recognition is mixed with a sense of the continuity of life. Wars may come and go, but the architectural demands of the diocesan church buildings will remain.

Why was the conflict so prolific in producing great writers? As well as those already mention there was the playwright R. C. Sherriff (Journey’s End), and we should not ignore that great comedic production, written under the appalling conditions of the Front Line, The Wipers Times. They were mostly British authors, but we must not forget Ehric Maria Remarque. This German novelist’s best known work is known in this country by its English title, All Quiet on the Western Front. No war before the Great War had produced anything comparable, nor did the Second World War repeat the example. The poem High Flight by John Gillespie Magee is the aviator’s favourite poem, and that was written in the Second World War, but that was a one-off. Was it the horrors of the trenches or the large number of literate young people who were thrown into them that led to this outburst of creativity? It was certainly both of these things, but it was something else as well. It was the last flowering of the Victorian age, and the war both revealed this great literary tradition in its awful climax, and destroyed it for ever.

*The Hawthornden Prize was established in 1919; authors to have won it include such well-known names as Graham Greene, Vita Sackville-West, Lord David Cecil and Henry Williamson. Both Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon also won the prize, but Mottram was one of the first to do so.

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG FOR THE HISTORY OF EAST ANGLIANS

RAILWAYS: THE MOTIVE POWER

The first kind of motive power to work railways was the horse. Primitive railway tracks were used to transport coal and other minerals by gravity to the harbours on the coast; the empty trucks were returned by horse power. This occurred as long ago as the eighteenth century, but horses were still being used on the sidings at Wells-Next-the-Sea until the track itself was lifted sometime in the twentieth century. The sidings used to run from the station to the docks.

The next form of motive power to appear was the steam locomotive. Puffing Billy and Wylam Dilly were two of the earliest, built over two hundred years ago in 1814. By an extraordinary coincidence both locomotives still survive, one in London and the other in Edinburgh. Steam locomotives survive in large numbers, both in museums and preserved in working order on Heritage Railways. On British Railways the last steam loco to be made was Evening Star, a class 9F freight engine. She was made at Swindon Works and was completed in March 1960, thus bringing to an end more than a hundred and fifty years of development in steam engine production.

LONDON & SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY 0-4-2

Only few years after the steam engine, the next kind of motive power to appear was electric traction. A locomotive powered by Galvanic cells was made in Scotland as early as 1837, and was run on a section of the Edinburgh to Glasgow line in 1841, but the locomotive had far too little tractive effort to have any practical application. The first practical electric railway in Britain was Volk’s Electric Railway in  Brighton, which opened in 1883; it is still running along the beach today. Electric powered railways were given a great boost by the development of the London Underground, where the smoke of steam locomotives filled the tunnels. Electricity was clean, but the use of steam continued on the Underground until some years after the last steam engine had been withdrawn on British Rail. They were used to haul works trains when the current had been turned off at night. Electric traction required an infrastructure of power supply. The most common form was initially third rail; overhead cables would not fit in the tube. These were only used once electric traction became common on overground routes, and even then the first mainline railway (the Southern) to make extensive use of electricity used the third rail system. Overhead power lines are much safer for the public, although visually intrusive; Crossrail (the Elizabeth Line) is underground for its central section, but uses overhead power. Because they require an external power supply electric trains are not prime movers like the other forms of motive power referred to in this article.

Diesel motive power is used where the more lightly used lines do not justify the installation of electric power. The development of the internal combustion engine for use on the railways took place in the inter-war period, as methods of power transmission were improved. For relatively small loads mechanical transmission via a clutch and gearbox was adequate, and was used in diesel shunters and dmu (multiple unit) passenger trains. For the demands of higher speeds and heavy loads diesel engines are used to power electric motors which transfer the power to the wheels. Diesel-electric was the most common form of motive power used in the first generation of locomotives on British Rail in the 1960s. The alternative was diesel-hydraulic power, and this was used on the Western Region in particular. The first diesel-hydraulics had problems in with the transmission oil overheating, but these have been resolved and all three methods of transmission are used today. The use of separate locomotives is however becoming rare in passenger trains, and motors are increasingly located on the axles under the carriages. This method of applying traction has removed the distinction between motive power and other kinds of rolling stock on passenger trains, but is not applicable to freight trains, where diesel-electric or electric locomotives are still used.

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG FOR THE HISTORY of RAILWAYS

BOOK LAUNCH

KENTFORD, SUFFOLK

This village near Newmarket is well served by transport links, and it has been for thousands of years. In prehistoric times it was served by the Icknield Way that went from Wiltshire into East Anglia. The ancient trackway runs along the edge of Kentford village. The name hints at the Iron Age tribe the Iceni.

In the Middle Ages the river Kennett was a much more substantial waterway than the weed-choked stream that now runs through Kentford. The river was wide enough to require a ferry to aid those who needed to cross it, although (as the name suggests) it was originally traversed by a deep ford. Until the beginning of the 17th century, when the first bridge in Kentford was built, traffic from Newmarket went across the bridge in the adjacent village of Moulton, upstream of Kentford.  This 14th century packhorse bridge (which still exists) has four arches and was, apart from ferries, the most northerly crossing point into Cambridgeshire from East Anglia. The little village of Moulton was historically of major importance; the bridge carried medieval travellers to the great centre of pilgrimage (Bury St Edmunds) from the west. I am sure a toll was payable, and doubtless a chapel too existed to safeguard those who used the crossing. Today it is very near to its modern replacement, the A11/M11, the route from Norwich to London. Those who pass by have no idea of this long march of history as they speed along. It is also close to the A14, a much newer road that runs from Felixstowe to the midlands, built in the 1980s. In the Middle Ages the river Kennett allowed boats to pass up the Great Ouse river basin via the river Lark to Kentford and beyond. The head of navigation on this watercourse is now just above the confluence of the river Lark with Lee Brook, which leads on to the river Kennett.

The village is also served by Kennett railway station with its two hourly service from Bury St Edmunds to Cambridge, via Newmarket. From Kennett station it is under an hour and a half’s journey to London Kings Cross, and the fare to Liverpool Street Station can be as little as £10 one way! It is also on the line from Ipswich to Peterborough via Ely, but trains on this route do not now stop at Kennett; perhaps they should? I am sure there used to be trains to Ely in LNER days. Under the Great Eastern it was possible to catch a train from Kennett to Ely without changing, but you had to call at Newmarket first and then reverse; the short link south of Soham to the Bury St Edmunds line must have been built in the 1930s. You can still trace the old line if you  use the satellite view on Google maps. It is a very basic station today, but back in the nineteenth century it had a resident stationmaster and several staff – a ticket clerk, porter and someone to load the goods vans.  From 1930, until it became an unstaffed halt in 1967, there was just a porter at the station, and a signalman in the adjoining signalbox. The old station has been demolished and the signalbox was removed to the Colne Valley Railway Museum after the semaphore signals were replaced in 2011. Before the days of Dr Beeching it had a freight service, and even after the general cargo of coal trucks and goods wagons was discontinued, it retained a siding and freight service to the adjoining granary store. This continued until the 1980s, and there is still a siding to the east of the station, though I doubt it is much used if at all. It provides access to a facility for aggregate produced from the stones discarded in the processing of sugar beet by the local British Sugar factories.

The Bell, Kennett

Kentford is on that narrow isthmus of Suffolk that is sandwiched between Kennett to the north and Ashley to the south, and both these villages are in Cambridgeshire. The river Kennett flows through the village of Kentford and formed the border here, although the course of the river has varied slightly since the border was fixed. The river gives its name to both villages, Kennet and Kentford (the ford on the river Kennett).

Like the river Kennet that flows into the Thames (and is familiar from the Kennet and Avon Canal) the word is of Celtic origin. However, in the Domesday book the Suffolk village is spelt Chennit, while the Wiltshire river was formerly known as the Cunnit.

Kentford is fifteen miles south of the market town of Brandon, which is on the border of Norfolk and Suffolk, so all three East Anglian counties are close together here. Coming into the 21st century, the most modern form of transport, air travel, is available only 35 miles away at Stansted Airport in Essex. This has services to Europe and the USA. It truly is a transport hub, but that is not the reason why I am writing this blog. Although it is only a couple of miles from the A11, I never even knew that the village existed until this year.

The only reason that I found out about it then is because there is a large veterinary hospital there, belonging to a charity The Animal Health Trust. Our dog Wesley had a slipped disc in March this year, and we had to take him there for surgery to repair it. Wesley was in a bad way, unable to move his back legs at all, and until recently there would have been nothing we could have done for him. Fortunately, modern surgical techniques mean that a remedy is now possible, and he is well on the road to recovery.

There is an attractive looking pub on the corner of the road to Red Lodge; the old half-timbered building (which is in fact in Kennett) also offers accommodation. I would like to sample a pint of beer there, but I doubt I will ever again pass that way, except when Wesley has his check-up, and he will not wish to wait while I indulge myself in this way. Perhaps when we go again in May the weather will be pleasant enough for us to sit outside and take a drink while Wesley sits at my feet.

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG FOR THE HISTORY of EAST ANGLIA

RESERVE YOUR PLACE

Don’t forget your ticket to the launch of the book on St Edmund next week. The event is free but you need to book, to give Jarrolds advance notice of the numbers attending. They may be contacted on 01603 660661. See yo there.
Important info: Date 19th April Time from 6 for 6.30 Place The Book Department

BRITAIN IN EUROPE

A LESSON IN HISTORY

Britannia; a coin of Antononius Pius (138-161) 

You think that we first joined Europe in 1973? Think again. You are out by about two thousand years. Britain was invaded by the troops of the Roman Emperor Claudius in AD 43. Until then we really had been separated from Europe, although the Continent already exerted a strong influence on the offshore island. For example, the advanced technical development of the coinage of the Iceni tribe must have had European assistance in its production. The country was soon incorporated into the Empire of Rome, which stretched across all of Southern Europe and into North Africa and the Middle East. The Pax Romana (the Roman Peace) lasted for hundreds of years, putting the most recent attempt to develop a European Union into the shade. (It has taken us less than fifty years to decide we do not like the experiment.) Latin was the common language of the Western Empire; these were years that saw the creation of a road network that remains the basis of our communications even today.  The towns that still dominate the landscape –  places like Colchester, York, Chester and (above all) Londinium – were first established by the Romans; before that Britain had been almost entirely a rural country. The settlement that formed the centre of the Iceni tribe at Caistor near Norwich is one of the very rare exceptions to this rule. This was later developed into the Roman regional capital Venta Icenorum, and remains as a uniquely preserved reminder of governance in this distant period in history. Eventually the Roman Empire in Europe unravelled, and invaders from Northern Europe took over the island.

A thousand years after the rebellion of Boudicca (the last indigenous attempt to thwart the Romans) another European power took the southern part of Britain again into the European orbit. This part of Britain was by then known as England after one of the races that had invaded this corner of the Roman Empire. This time it was not Rome but Normandy that imposed its will on the land. With the Normans it was not towns and villas that the invaders left behind, but castles and abbeys. The architecture of the Romans has vanished, but many of the Normans’ heavy stone buildings survive. Although not so widespread or unitary in structure as the Roman Empire, the Norman influence extended to Seville in Spain, Malta, Sicily, the Canaries and North Africa.

After this second attempt to set up a united European entity splintered into many competing lands, Britain remained largely detached from most subsequent attempts to re-establish the organisation of a European empire. The time it was known as the Holy Roman Empire, and although it had long before lost any real power, this was only formally abolished by Napoleon.

One way of uniting England and the Continent that might have succeeded was through marriage rather than conquest. Had the union of Philip II of Spain and Mary Tudor produced a male heir the whole future course of Europe would have been very different. Historians don’t work in what might have been, but it is worth considering how England would have been drawn into the orbit of Spain, which was then in a far stronger position than England. The European Catholic Church would have returned to this country; the Puritan settlements in North America would not have happened. The Spanish king was already dominant in the Netherlands and much of Italy, and also had a worldwide empire of colonies to exploit. With the addition of England the creation of a Spanish ruled Europe would have been unstoppable; but as you are well aware, following his English wife’s death, Philip II’s attempted conquest of England by sending an Armada ended in disaster for him, and a new beginning for this country.

During the first half of the 17th century the continent of Europe was torn apart on religious grounds by the Thirty Years War. The religious conflict extended to England too, as we were racked by Civil War. First Oliver Cromwell and then James II tried to pull the country in opposite directions, while any thought of uniting the continent seemed utterly futile. The marriage of the Dutch King William to the English Princess (later Queen Mary II) was another childless attempt to produce an heir, so the union of the two Protestant crowns was only temporary. By the 18th century the strength of Britain made the union with the Electors of Hanover a one-sided affair and, in spite of this connection, the British turned their backs on Europe and looked to overseas conquest instead.

Following the French Revolution Napoleon made another attempt at creating a European Empire, with himself at its head. It was only the opposition of Great Britain (with some help from Russia) that prevented this empire from becoming permanent. Invasion from across the Channel became a real possibility. The loss of most of our North American colonies (finally acknowledged in 1783) and the major distraction of the Napoleonic War brought our attention back to Europe, but this was only temporary. Another British Empire, this time including India, Africa and Australia, again concentrated our gaze across the world and away from our own backdoor.

The creation of a united Germany in 1871 brought a major new player into the Balance of Power in Europe.  Even before its formal creation, Germany’s initial bid to push back the power of France ended in success in the treaty that ended the Franco-Prussian War. The German Army’s mobilisation in 1914 seemed set to establish that country’s hegemony in Europe. A united opposition defeated this German effort to rule Europe, but within a generation the country had  re-emerged to try again. The whole of Europe would have fallen under Hitler’s spell had it not been for the resolute opposition of Britain, which stood alone against the power of the Nazis in 1940. Had we given in after the Dunkirk fiasco the whole might of Germany  would then have been directed against the Soviet Union, and they too would have fallen to the Nazi onslaught.

It is nasty picture, and it is no wonder that following WW2 the principal countries of Western Europe made the attempt to create a different kind of union, one based on consent rather than conquest. In spite of our technical victory in the Second World War, our overseas empire and influence was completely destroyed by the cost of Total War in Europe. It took only three years for India to be granted Independence, followed by the disaster of Suez and our divestment of our colonies in Africa.  With no Empire to look to, it was inevitable that our thoughts should turn again to Europe. However, the inclusion of Great Britain in this growing superpower of the Common Market was problematic from the start. Unlike the rest of Europe, which was just emerging from years of German domination, the UK had not been occupied for nearly a millennium. To put ourselves voluntarily under the yoke of Brussels was irksome to say the least; even those politicians who were basically in favour of the EU were reluctant to follow most of Europe into the common currency; nor did we join the open borders policy of Schengen.

While Europe was divided between the European Community to the West and the Communist Bloc to the East, the economies of the EC could co-exist without any becoming overly dominant. The reunification of Germany, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, raised the spectre of the German nation finally establishing that overwhelming power that it had been moving towards for 150 years.  In the popular mind it is the immigration from Eastern Europe that has driven Brexit, but we and the rest of Europe have never been threatened by Poland. How far has it been the growth of Germany that has pushed us out of Europe? From a feeling of European unity that was evident in this country in 1975, we have lost confidence in the direction in which Europe is taking us. Whether we have the unity of purpose to re-establish ourselves as an independent nation is a matter of debate. If history tells us anything, it is to expect the unexpected; nobody expected the result of the Referendum for one thing. These are exciting, if rather disconcerting times; I for one anticipate great changes in the future. Whether they will be for the better or worse remains to be seen, but whatever happens, our complicated relationship with Europe will continue.

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG for the LESSONS OF HISTORY

St ALBAN

St Alban is Britain’s protomartyr, that is the first Christian in Britain to be killed because of his faith. The period was around 270 AD, and at the time the whole of the Roman Empire worshipped pagan gods. Although Christian missionaries were operating throughout the Empire, they were routinely persecuted. Several of the early popes were martyred. This persecution was ended in 313 by the order of the Emperor Constantine, and thereafter he progressively introduced the Christian religion into the Roman Empire. He was himself baptised shortly before his death in 337.

What made this Roman Emperor so well disposed towards the new faith? It was the influence of his mother Helena. Helena must have been very attractive as a young woman, because, in spite of her lowly birth (by later report she was a stable-maid), she became enamoured of a senior Roman officer, who became Emperor in 293. It is doubtful that they were formally married, but that so humble a woman should have achieved the position of being mother to his successor is remarkable enough. That she was also a member of that persecuted minority, a Christian, was hugely significant. The fact that his consort was a Christian had little or no effect on her husband, who allowed the persecution of her coreligionists to continue, but with her son things were different. When his father died in 306 he was serving in Britain, together with son Constantine, who was acclaimed Emperor in succession to his father by the legions in York. It is immensely satisfying that such an epoch-making occurrence should have happened in this country.

In his early years his hands were tied by having to share power with two other emperors, but once he had defeated his rival in 312 he became sole Emperor. He was able to introduce his toleration of Christianity.

Roman glassware (found in Colchester).

Having given you some of the historical context of the death of St Alban, let me fill you in on some of the less contentious details of the story. (I will omit the more miraculous parts which inevitably crept into the story.) A Christian priest was being hunted down in Britain, and on his travels he came across Alban, who was living in Verulamium (now St Albans), to the north-west of London. Although not at that time a believer, Alban was well disposed to fugitives from persecution, and took the priest into his house. Being impressed by the sanctity of the man Alban became a convert. On hearing that a Christian priest was in hiding with Alban, the local magistrate sent a party of soldiers to arrest the priest. Alban dressed himself in the priest’s cloak and presented himself in his place. On discovering that Alban had enabled the priest to escape, the court imposed the same penalty on Alban that had been intended for the priest. He was whipped, but on refusing to indulge in a pagan sacrifice he was taken outside to be beheaded.

Within a few years the whole environment of the Empire changed, and a shrine to St Alban was established at Verulamium once Christianity emerged from the shadows. This first period of St Alban’s veneration was interrupted by the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons who destroyed the shrine in 586. Once the newcomers were themselves converted, a church was built near the place of his martyrdom. This is referred to in the History by Bede, from which book I take the story of St Alban. Bede died in 735 and King Offa II of Mercia founded an abbey in St Albans in 793. Less than a hundred years later the shrine was again destroyed by the pagan Danish invaders. It re-emerged when the Danes were pushed back from the London area. The Abbey’s high point came with the Norman Conquest, but hundreds of years of decay and destruction began even before dissolution of the monasteries, and continued up until the 19th century. Major repairs were then carried out to the Abbey, and the Bishopric of St Albans were created in 1877. Its constituent parts, Essex and Hertfordshire, were previously in the Diocese of Rochester south of the Thames; Essex was split off when the Diocese of Chelmsford was created in 1914.

So there you have the story in short of who St Alban was.  Considering the importance of Alban in the story of the Church in Britain, the long history of the settlement on the river Ver has been a chequered one. [Don’t forget to learn more about another local martyr, St Edmund. My book on this King of East Anglia will be published on April 19th at Jarrold’s shop in Norwich. Arrive at the Book Department from 6 p.m. for the presentation at 6.30: attendance and refreshments will be free. Enquire may be made at Jarrolds on 01603 660661.]

 

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG FOR HISTORY

THE WISBECH AND UPWELL TRAMWAY

It was an extension of the Great Eastern Railway along the rich agricultural land from Wisbech to Upwell. Opened in 1883, the line was built to standard gauge and powered by steam locomotives; in 1952 it became the first line in the country to be entirely diesel hauled. The wagons that brought the produce from the market gardens and fruit farms of the Fens were then dispatched to the towns and cities of the East of England. It ran largely along the A 1101 road and was unfenced, so it had to be restricted in speed. It was limited by law to 12 mph; there frequent stops on the journey from Upwell to Wisbech. The distance of just seven miles included five stations and took an hour to accomplish.

It was designated a tramway when it was opened. It was very well used for the transport of vegetables and fruit from the area, and, rather surprisingly for a rural line, it was also popular for bring the local population into Wisbech. The coming of the motor bus destroyed this side of the business, and it closed to passengers in 1927, but a coach was retained for use on trains as a mobile office for the fruit trade. A coach from the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway survived to be used (and then destroyed) in the making of the Ealing Comedy film The Titfield Thunderbolt.  The goods traffic continued for nearly another forty years after the loss of the passenger traffic. The line was closed in 1966 as part of the Beeching Axe, and even the fact that it paid its way was not enough to save it. Upwell is in Norfolk and Wisbech is now in Cambridgeshire, although in the for all the tramway’s existence the town was still part of that mini-county, the Isle of Ely. It was definitely an East Anglian line.

By the time the line closed I was 17 years old, and during its final years our occasional visits to stay in Kings Lynn (West Norfolk) to see family members meant my father could drive me out to see the tramway.  Nothing was moving on the occasion that we were there, as this at Easter and the traffic was highly seasonal. However the permanent way and rolling stock were visible alongside the road. During the winter months the traffic was reduced to one train a day by the sixties, and by then the train had to make frequent halts to accommodate buses stopping and the parked cars that blocked the line.

Tram at Upwell

The steam-powered tram engines have become a popular example of railway history, out of all proportion to their number in real life. As a teenager I had a loco (made from a kit) on my model railway, and Toby the Tram Engine even features in one of the stories that the Revd W. Awdrey published in 1952. These J70 locomotives were built at Stratford Works in East London by the Great Eastern Railway. Designed by James Holden, these verticle-boilered double-ended locomotives had cow catchers and side skirts to protect people and livestock. The fuel used was coke to emit no smoke, and the steam was condensed to emit no water vapour. The wooden cladding of the upper part was painted brown. This type of engine was also employed on the docks around the East Anglian coast, where the railway also ran along public roads; although I remember seeing wagons being pulled across the square outside the town hall at Great Yarmouth, I cannot now recall the type of motive power. I know from old photographs that ordinary steam shunters were used on this dockside railway, but so too were J70s.

The carriages used on  the line were originally four wheelers, but a bogie coach (no. 7) survives and now forms part of the Vintage Set of coaching stock on the North Norfolk Railway. The coaches were low and squat looking to make access from the stations possible, as some of them had no platforms. The remaining carriage is now painted in GER vermilion, which is the authentic livery used until World War I.

[This FENLAND TRAMWAY video may be viewed if you click here.]

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

HAVE A DRINK ON ME!

Come to the launch of my book St Edmund and the Vikings on April 19th at Jarrold’s shop in Norwich. Arrive at the Book Department from 6 p.m. for the presentation at 6.30. Have a glass of wine (or a soft drink) with me; both attendance and the refreshments will all be completely FREE.

This will be a great opportunity for so many of my readers to meet me. My book will be available to purchase for the first time. I will say a few words about how I came to write the book. Don’t forget to book your place; enquire may be made at Jarrolds on 01603 660661.  I want to see as many of you as possible. I really do hope to see you there!

HAVE A DRINK WITH ME!

Come to my book launch on April 19th at Jarrold’s. You can drink a glass of wine (or a soft drink) with me, and it will all be completely FREE. I will be delighted at this opportunity to meet so many of my readers. The book will cost you a little of course, but only if you intend to buy one, and there will be no pressure exerted. Even if you have no interest in Anglo-Saxon history, I will be speaking more widely of my interests.

For some reason Jarrolds say you have to book your place, so don’t forget to do so. I suggest there is no better way to spend a lovely spring evening (which I am sure it will be) than to attend this book launch. Arrive from 6 p.m. for the presentation at 6.30. I will say a few words about how I came to write my book. I want to see as many of you as possible in Jarrold’s Book Department. I really do hope to see you there!

JOE MASON

If you want to contact me with any queries please email me on:

joemasonspage@gmail.com