With British Railways’ modernisation programme gathering pace, there were large numbers of steam engines going to the breaker’s yard in the early 1960s. Norwich took its share. Archie King may have retired by then and the business already taken over by Harry Serruys, but we still called it King’s scrap yard. He had some sidings off Hall Road near where Virgin Money opened their offices many years later. The sidings have vanished as utterly as the engines which once (briefly) stood there. They were accessed from the mainline to London a few hundred yards before reaching the Markshall viaduct.

GWR 6100 class Prarie tank for scrap. Aug 63

This part of Hall Road was seeing rapid changes. Only a few years before the appearance of the railway scrap yard the Cattle Market had moved there from the centre of Norwich, into a modern looking area of animal pens and a brand spanking new corn hall. As early as 1943 it was recommended that the Cattle Market should move out to the site on Hall Road. The first factory to occupy the site on Hall Road, just across the Ring Road from the Tuckswood pub, was the works put up by Mason & Gantlett Ltd (see my post of December 12 2011) to manufacture the Versator lens generating machine. This would have been about ten years earlier. Before that this land had been occupied by allotments.

Today the pub has gone, to be replaced by a filing station and a branch of Macdonald’s; Mason and Gantlett’s (later Culver’s) factory has become the car park for Homebase, and the cattle market is a sad shadow of its former self. As for the railway sidings, you cannot now tell even where they once were.

GWR CASTLE at Hall Road

The locomotives came from all over the country. Those in the pictures accompanying this article were GWR engines, but a week or two earlier they had all been ex-LMS locomotives awaiting the attentions of the breakers torch. This batch included everything from small 0-6-0 tank engines from West Country branch lines up to Castle class locomotives of the premier expresses. These latter ones of the Castle class had their distinctive bent blastpipes which you can see illustrated. These were shared with the most powerful GWR class, the Kings.

SCRAP retouched357

A scraper board sketch of lococ being dismantled

All name and number plates which might have identified them had been removed for sale to collectors but painted on numbers remained. There were no painted numbers on the Castle locomotive that I could see although we know from other sources what they may have been.  In the early months of 1963 (when these pictures were taken) these Castle class locomotives were scrapped at Archie King’s yard; Compton Castle, Newport Castle and G. J. Churchward himself. Churchward was the name of the designer of Great Western engines although he had retired by the time the Castles appeared. Why they travelled so far east to end their days I do not know, but at least their demise was quick. At Barry in South Wales their fate would have been dragged out for years, the hulks slowly rusting away before eventually being reduced to pieces ready for the smelter. On the plus side it gave enthusiasts time to raise funds, and many locomotives were eventually saved for preservation from Barry.

Our part of the Eastern Region had been among the first to lose steam traction. By 1963 there was little or none of it left. The only common sight in the way of steam engines was the arrival of a train of derelict locomotives on their last journey. Their piston rods were disconnected to reduce friction from the valve gear, prior to their final passage along the rails to their ultimate fate.





7 responses

  1. By deduction, the 61xx Prairie tank must be 6109. The only other 61xx scrapped here was 6133 in 1964. See http://www.railuk.info/steam/getscrap.php?item=KIN


  2. Can you confirm how many of these locos travelled up the GEML to Norwich as I can recall seeing a class 31 pulling three tender engines through Chelmsford summer of 1964 or 1965 .


    1. I am afraid I can’t help you in your query. I know that when I went there they were all GWR loco that were being broken up, but they also had Eastern Region engines. There was an article in the EDP with a photo some time during 1964. If you could come to Norwich and had masses of time to peruse the files in the Forum you could look this up! But I am sure it would not help answer your question either.


      1. Thank you for your reply I shall have to resume my quest elsewhere .I do travel to Norwich now and again so the forum is another option . Dave Hamilton


  3. many years ago I worked for a company in norwick called “a.king and sons”,they were on the waterfront just down from the Kingsway pub they had shipping and dealt in scrapmetal,do they still exist?it was a long time ago,many thanks


    1. A.KING was Archie King. When his son retired the business was taken over by Harry Seruys, a Dutchman who arrived in Norwich aboard a coaster. He moved to a council bungalow in Old Costessey and worked his way up from there. He died a very rich man. The scrap business survives in Lenwade under the control of his son. It is no longer called A. King but it is the same business. Joe


  4. You are correct that the Lenwade site is still a scrapyard, however, Andre Serruys sold out in about 2007 to Sita. The yard has changed hands again and is now run by European Metal Recycling Ltd.


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