Between the closure of the main part of the M&GN in 1959 and the nipping off of most of the remaining section (the line from Melton Constable to Sheringham) in 1964 , Cromer Beach Station remained manned. It was obviously much reduced from its heyday but things were still going on. Access to the trains was through the main railway building and there was still a canopy over the platform. A signalman could be seen at the levers in the signalbox. It was nothing like as busy as it had been when there was an engine shed at Cromer; the turntable remained although by the end there were no steam engines to use it. But a heart was still beating.
There was a goods depot more or less where Argos now stands, and it included Travis and Arnold’s timber yard, though whether the timber still came by rail I rather doubt. There was however a community of maintenance workers based on site. As a rest-room they had a fine old Pullman carriage painted civil engineering grey and with ” PAINT AND MESS VAN” painted on the side. My photo shows a worker about to climb the ladder into the carriage. Is that a flask of tea he is holding?
My visit to Cromer was en route to Melton Constable, a sadly diminished station from the days when William Marriott ran it as the Crewe of East Anglia. That too was a manned station and remained so until closure shortly afterwards. When I arrived there with my father in the spring of 1963 I was gratified to find the Restaurant Room still open and serving drinks and snacks. Lord Hastings’s own station building on its very own platform stood abandoned but intact. The lines to Yarmouth, Norwich and Lynn were bleak open spaces, the metals lifted and grass reclaiming the impermanent permanent way. We made a second visit in the summer by which time the restaurant at Melton had closed.
My friend Ian, the Drayton postman, lived at Melton Constable until he was 10, when the major part of the M&GN system was closed. His dad was a guard on the railway and he continued to be employed in the same capacity by British Railways. He moved from the depths of rural Norfolk to the bustling metropolis, a great change but at least he was at an age for such an alteration. Nevertheless, the call of his childhood home must have lingered, because he returned to Norfolk after many years as a Londoner.
JOSEPH MASON firstname.lastname@example.org
THE BLOG FOR MEMORIES OF EAST ANGLIA