The Waveney Valley Railway - Beccles to Tivetshall
|Wed, 2 Dec 2009 16:24
|A gallery of the history and what remains of the Waveney Valley Railway which ran through South Norfolk and North Suffolk along the Waveney Valley.
I recommend borrowing the book "Tivetshall to Beccles" by middleton press (ISBN: 1904474411) from Norfolk Library service. It has a few Comparison shots to the ones I am about to show you.
Me and Evelyn http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/14840 have lately been trying to fill in the missing gaps of what survives today, especially on the Western section.
The Waveney Valley stretches inland from the ports of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth for over 30 miles. It was very promising route to put a railway, no major bridges, tunnel or earthworks needed. It was one of the first routes considered for a mainline linking these two ports with London in the 1840s. However other lines completed and objections by landowners lead to the mainline idea being thrown out by the end of 1849.
An better proposal was put through by the Eastern Counties Railway and authorised in July 1851, this act was for linking the Eastern Union Railway at Tivetshall to the Suffolk Town of Bungay, later an extension to the East suffolk line (then the Halesworth, Beccles and Haddiscoe Railway Company) at Bungay was put through in August 1853.
Construction was similar to closure, it opened in three parts. First Tivetshall to Harleston in December 1855, then Harleston to Bungay in November 1860 and after that Bungay to Beccles in March 1863. The railway was 20 miles long.and had 14 stations (inc Tivetshall and Beccles)
The Great Eastern Railway company had formed in August 1962, absorbing the railway even before it was completed.
Later sidings were added for the War effort, the first in 1915 for Pulham Airship base and the second at Earsham during the second World War for bomb delivery to local airfields.
A third was at Tivetshall, again added during the second world was for bomb traffic to the nearby American airfields. Lastly a fuel siding to serve the war fuel depot was built 1943/44 at Ellingham.
At the start there where 4 trains in each direction on weekdays although this had doubled to 8 in October 1915.
In August 1912 the line was severely damaged in many places around Homersfield with bridges being washed away by the famous floods.
The GER was later absorbed into the London and North Eastern Railway company on the 1st January 1923.
Train services switched to the brand new "British Railways" in 1948 and thus the decline began.
Services remained the same for much of the lines life, still remaining at 6 in each direction (3 went to Norwich Thorpe) by 1953.
The first closures were early Redhall and Starston closing in 1866 with Wortwell going in 1877. Although these stations remained as Crossing keepers houses.
The next to go was passenger services after 98 years in 1953 after they became
After passenger closure freight continued to use the line. Freight like sugar beet,fertiliser, airfield services and fitted goods from Lowestoft all the way to Wells next to the sea. The last whole train to use the complete railway was an M&GN society special with J15 65469 (the one they wanted the preserve) on the 8th October 1960 ,this was under a Light Railway order.
The section between Harleston and Bungay was closed in 1960 after Homersfield closed to goods.
The next bit to be cut off was the Ditchingham to Bungay section in August 1964 followed by Beccles to Ditchingham in August 1965. Ending the life of the Eastern section.
The downfall of the Western section from Tivetshall to Harleston ended with the withdrawal of goods facilites at harleston as Agrucultural machinery could no longer sustain it.
A few stations were demolished after use including Bungay in 1966, Pulham St Mary in 1976 due to dereliction.
Ditchingham, Wortwell, Redenhall and Homersfield went with the construction of Bungay Bypass from Redenhall to Ditchingham in the 1980s.
This was the junction between the WVR and the Eastern Union Railway, it opened 12 December 1849.
Situated next to large maltings facilities included a Hotel, 3 platforms, signal box, water tower along with carriage sidings.
looking north to Norwich and the site of the station buildings and platforms.
looking South towards Diss with the signal box site on the right and the WVR would of gone off to the left after the plate layers hut.
the hut is still there, a few meters to the right the line passed this feature.
A view from the site of the water tower and level crossing
the maltings were served with several sidings , this one retained its buffer stop as a reminder.
This is roughly the site of the 1943/44 built war sidings and then carriage sidings North east of the station.
Crossings East of Tivetshall
There were 4 level crossings for the first two miles most being converted to housing.
The A140 (now due for much alteration)
From the other side
The trackbed between these crossing cottages has been plowed back and is non traceable
West of the station the trackbed is visible again then we hit the station.
Originally Pulham st Magdalene "Market" was later adopted. A small station with cattle dock, goods sidings and signal box.
Most of the smaller stations had the beautiful Italianate design
Lifting began in 1968
The trackbed continues in a reasonable state down to Pulham st Mary
Pulham st Mary
The small country station, to the same design was very similar.
Also boasting goods siding and a signal box for the crossing.
The site of the line and signal box to the right with the station to the left.
The old gate
Here are some pictures to relate to.
A level crossing house survives east of Pulham St Mary, the trackbed is also in good condition with the cuttings all in place if not a little boggy.
looking towards PSM
The trackbed east of the crossing
quite a bit of ash and coal can still be seen around here
Then the trackbed runs out...
Closed in 1866 after 15 years the station is now a house, to a smaller design to the Pulham stations with no sidings or goods facilities.
The trackbed west is now a footpath for a short distance.
A house at the end of the trackbed path
an old crossing post
To the west of Harleston the trackbed has been plowed up again, heading into a filled up bridge before entering the town. The trackbed has been lost in housing until the station.
Going from West to East there were maltings and mills served before the level crossing, these have been demolished and housing built. Then the Level crossing passed over the road.
Then the station, one of the largest and the only one boasting a footbridge. It had a large 42 lever signal box on the platform, goods yard with wagon turntable, cattle pens and coal yard.
The station was of a different design t0 the rest.
it is now listed and used by Blackburns the builders
the second platform was demolished and the back has been extended onto.
the goods shed is also extant being used by the builders for storage the railway passed to the right of the building
the goods shed showing the bricked up rail entrance.
After the goods shed the line passed over a road bridge (now demolished) and onto an embankment (removed)
Moving north east towards Redenhall
Another one of the early closures going in 1866 this was again back to the Pulham design of red brick but to a much much smaller scale. It had one small platform and no goods facilities. After closure it guarded the crossing.
It was demolished and this is now the site (roughly)
Starting from here the trackbed is now the A143 bypass
This station lasted a bit longer, until 1877. Of the same design to Redenhall but it was extended in 1874 at the cost of £55. After closure it guarded the crossing. This was too washed away with road improvements.
The next station was large Homersfield, this was a square design difference from the Pulhams. The large goods shed was next to it. lots of the track was washed away in the 1912 floods but the damage was swiftly repaired.
Goods carried on until the 1st February 1960, thus ending the need for the middle section of line. The signal box had already been demolished by then.
the site today, the station was demolished but the goods shed is now used by a garage. The track going where the white lines are today on the road.
Trackbed west of Earsham
The trackbed is now a road but there is still reminders like these gateposts.
A siding was built, with a concrete loading bay and cranes for the United States Air Forces to help unload bombs and supplies to drop on Germany. The bombs and supplies came here from the ammunition factories for transportation to the airfields or Earsham bomb dump at Earsham hall. Then they were dropped by the Americans on Germany. The local airfields are Flixton/Bungay and Seething. 625 trains with 21,038 wagons and 200,000 tones of freight used the line in a period of 3 years.
After the war excess bombs were loaded up for dumping at Sea and the siding was still in place up to 1960 when this section of the Waveney Valley Railway was closed and lifted.
Some of the Embankement
Earsham station again was of a unique design, this though was because it was constructed much later than the others in 1844 at a cost of £350. The station didn't have any sidings but did have a signal box with crossing.
It was forced to close for three years during world war 1, thankfully reopening.
The station master of Bungay lived here between 1953 and 1956 as there was no accommodation at Bungay.
The station remains along with the platform
The Suffolk station started its life as a wooden building but after years of use was upgraded to Brick. A passing loop was placed here with water tower, two platforms with waiting rooms, brick bridge, signal box and generous goods yard.
here is the site of the station, with a comparison view http://alanmoore353.blokes.org.uk/p48363441.html
I was standing on the site of the brick bridge.
with a comparison view
The line then passed a crossing before going over the Marshes to Ditchingham.
The water tower was saved by the North Norfolk railway and is now at Weybourne.
Before crossing the level crossing a small concrete bridge of LNER date is crossed
Then the site of the crossing keepers hut and GER carriage which went in the 1980s.
Towering over the site is the maltings which are being demolished.
The trackbed then enters the site of the station.
Ditchingham went back to the Pulham design but this time had a goods shed along with loop, sidings and a signal box. It was actually next to the village it served unlike many railways in other parts of the country.
The station was victim to the roads and was demolished in 1982.
http://www.chickenroundabout.co.uk/ (click history)
To the east the trackbed survives as a footpath seen here
The track is then cut by the bypass before heading off the Ellingham
(on the other side of the bypass the walk continues)
A concrete bridge is reached looking onto farmland
Ellingham station was again to the Pulham design, it had a signal box and goods sidings, including one off for the fuel depot nearby. Ellingham station house survives however it is much altered.
is the site of the USAAF sidings serving the war time fuel depot it had 148 trains in 1944.
Here is the signal box foundations
The railway entered a cutting before going under bridge 1197 which still survives
Not much between Ellingham and Geldeston, the trackbed is intact but overgrown
This crossing house is now a house
The final Pulham design station at Geldeston, for such a small village it had a goods shed signal box and of course the station. During WW1 closure was needed during 1916 it didn't get staff back until 1922. Now both the station and goods shed survive into the 21st century as a house and business.
A concrete bridge remains east of the station
Trackbed from Geldeston to Beccles
The trackbed is walkable as a farm track. It even retains a few bridges crossing the marshes.
From the Bell tower
The final crossing over the River Waveney was a large steel bridge with c0ncrete supports at the edges and middle. The bridge was demolished in 1966 but the concrete supports survive.
A level crossing passes the old street, there was even a subway here.
It then enters Beccles Railway station and the junction for the East Suffolk Line.
This was a very large station from the beginning with branch lines to Lowestoft, the WVR and a mainline from Great Yarmouth to London. Facilities included a turntable, 4 platforms, station buildings, goods shed, lots of sidings, many staff, footbridges ,an engine shed plus watering points.
Today most has gone and derelict, the engine shed was sadly demolished in 2006 before I could get a photo. Only one of the four platforms is in use on this unstaffed station.
These show the filled in WVR bay platforms
This locomotive is the only J15 left running and has a good history
In October 1947 LNER 5462 was transferred to Lowestoft (32C), where it stayed for the next thirteen years, often stationed at Beccles for use on the Waveney Valley line. (Due to a weak bridge between Geldeston and Beccles, the J15s were the largest locos normally allowed on the branch).
So there we have it, hope this has worked and you know alot more about the line.