Norfolk County Council is looking for people who have memories of the railway line that ran between Norwich, Reepham and Aylsham.
Oral history recordings are being made as part of the Marriott’s Way Heritage Trail project, which is focused on the former railway route, now a public footpath.
The recordings will be archived and preserved at the Norfolk Record Office and made accessible for everyone.
Marriott’s Way follows two former railway lines: the Midland & Great Northern line, which was completed in 1882 and ran from the Midlands to Norwich via Melton Constable, and the Great Eastern line, completed in 1883, from Aylsham, linking Wroxham to the County School at North Elmham.
The lines closed to passenger traffic in 1959 and 1952, respectively. In 1960, the Themelthorpe Curve was constructed to link the two lines to enable rail transportation of concrete from Lenwade to the Midlands.
The line finally closed to all rail traffic in 1985, and was converted into a long-distance walking and cycling route.
One of the nine long-distance Norfolk Trails, the Marriott’s Way was named after William Marriott, who was the chief engineer and manager of the Midland & Great Northern Railway for 41 years.
The recordings are part of a £670,000, two-year project, with £455,000 coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the rest from developers through planning obligations, from Norfolk County Council, fundraising, donations and volunteer time.
The project will see a host of activities, events and work taking place. These will document and preserve the industrial heritage of the former railway line and encourage more people to use the 26-mile route, which already attracts more than 100,000 cyclists, walkers and horse riders every year.
Not only is there a call for people to share memories of how the railway touched their lives, but also for volunteers to come forward and help record those recollections for current and future generations.
Volunteer training will take place on 10 and 17 October at the Norfolk Record Office.
Cllr Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee, said: “We’d be particularly keen to hear from potential volunteers who already have experience of working on oral history projects and making these audio recordings as some of the work can start straight away and they’ll be able to hit the ground running.
“And we’d also love to hear from anyone who is new to this type of project and wants to learn a new skill as there’s hopefully going to be plenty to do.
“I’d urge anyone who remembers living or working near the stations, goods yards, track and level crossings where steam and diesel locomotives once ran to get in touch.
“Or if you don’t remember the line yourself, but know someone who does, it would be great if you encourage them to share those vital memories of the line with us.”
- To book a place on the training course or to share memories, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01603 224287.
Pictured above: Great Eastern Railway Station, Reepham. On each weekday the 6 pm from Wroxham and the 6.05 pm from Dereham met briefly at Reepham at 6.38 pm. This photograph probably dates from the early years of the 20th century. Photo: Reepham Archive