This little village in the Yare valley would have little to contribute to this blog were it not for its railway station on the Wherry Line to Yarmouth. This line is not the original one from Yarmouth to Norwich that was opened in 1844. This, the first railway in Norfolk, went via the Berney Arms Halt, through Reedham, Cantley and Brundall.
The line through Lingwood represents the more direct route through Acle, and now takes nearly all the trains between Norwich and Yarmouth. It joins the other route at Brundall. It was opened some twenty years later in 1883. Lingwood was a busy station dealing with agricultural produce, and possessed a warehouse, sidings and a second platform. The growth of road transport robbed all the small stations across the country of their goods traffic. In the mid 1960s most of these small stations became unstaffed halts, and goods trains no longer called at them. That included Lingwood.
After a period of decline the railway is again growing strongly and in the ten years from 2004 to 2014 passenger traffic at Lingwood has grown from 30,000 by more than 50% to 50,000. This puts it on a par with the town of Acle, the only other station on this section of the line. It is a good figure for a rural village, and it obviously draws passengers in from the surrounding area.
At Lingwood there is a level crossing by the station. This was in the news a couple of years ago when a leaf cleaning train ran through the gate when it was closed to the railway. No one was hurt, and the only damage was to the barrier. When the driver descended from his cab he seemed more interested in the local bird life than the job in hand; at least that was what he wanted to talk about. Perhaps if he had been more interested in the track the incident could have been avoided. You may read about this accident by clicking here. Falling leaves cause chaos on the railways every autumn, when the train wheels slip and become deformed, requiring a visit to the workshops. This was never a problem in the days of steam, when the heavy locomotives, large driving wheels and the clearing of the trackside embankments and cuttings of trees minimised the problem. The trees were cutback to avoid sparks from the chimney cause conflagrations, but this had the other useful effect of keeping leaves well away from the line.
When the station building was closed it was left derelict for a time and then it was then taken over by local organisations, including a hair dresser and a doctors’ surgery. Since 1990 it has been run as a bed and breakfast. This is referred to rather grandly as a hotel on the National Rail website. When he was a schoolboy my son’s best friend was the child of the owners of Lingwood station b & b. The station was a very convenient place from which to catch the train every morning on his way to school in Norwich. My son also frequently went to visit him by train after school.
Lingwood village is the largest in the joint parish which includes North and South Burlingham. Although Strumpshaw is a separate parish, it looks to the adjoining village of Lingwood for its shopping needs and of course the railway. The cricketer Bill Edrich (1916-1986) was born in Lingwood; I do not know how well he is remembered today, but he was a famous sportsman in his time. I don’t suppose his batting average in first-class cricket will ever be equalled today, when there are rather fewer matches played in a season. Aa a child Bill Edrich also took the train from Lingwood station on his daily commute to school in Norwich. The main reason I remember his name is because I was at school with his son. What a lot of connections we have as a family with Lingwood railway station, through school friends!
THE BLOG FOR MEMORIES OF EAST ANGLIA