- who (and why) we are ...
Norfolk Heritage Steam Railway Ltd. was founded early in 2009.
The Mid-Norfolk Railway is a highly successful preserved line, some 11 miles in length, that runs from Wymondham to its headquarters at East Dereham through delightful unspoilt Norfolk countryside. It runs a regular service from Spring to Autumn using heritage diesel traction, and hires in steam locomotives during the Summer. There is a rail connection to the national network at Wymondham which allows access for visiting locomotives and railtours, and has also made it possible for MNR to establish profitable links with some mainline operators by providing them with storage, maintenance and training facilities.
In its comparatively short history MNR has made great strides and accomplished a number of major projects, the most recent being the installation of a passing loop and signal box at Thuxton which allows two trains to pass and thus doubles the line's capacity at busy times. MNR also owns the trackbed north of Dereham as far as the picturesque County School Station, and plans are well advanced for this section of the line to be brought back to use, making it one of the longer preserved lines in the UK.
MNR provides a valuable service in giving a home to several large preserved diesel locomotives, currently including classes 20, 31, 37, 47 and 50, and these haul the bulk of the trains through the year. However, many of the railway's numerous supporters and volunteer workers (and, indeed, the Trust Council which manages the railway) recognise that in order to attract non-enthusiast visitors and passengers – mum and dad, granny and grandpa and 2.4 children, so to speak – there can be no substitute for the magic of steam. It's no accident that the majority of preserved railways up and down the country use steam haulage most of the time.
MNR recently announced that Dennis Howells and Bruce Murray have been appointed, respectively, Steam Inspector and Chief Steam Engineer. This is welcome news and suggests that MNR are taking seriously the great benefits steam traction can bring to a preserved line. Nevertheless in 2009 a group of MNR members realised that the cost and the task of acquiring, maintaining and operating a permanent resident steam locomotive was likely to be beyond the resources of a railway already heavily committed to diesel traction and to a number of large and vital improvement projects. They therefore resolved to do it themselves, forming a separate company for the purpose.
The company, NHSRLtd., raised sufficient money to acquire the locomotive and to fund its restoration to working order. They found a convenient and welcoming home at the Yaxham premises of engineer and boilersmith Mervyn Mayes and three years later restoration work is progressing well.
All of the funding and most of the hands-on work is being accomplished by the directors of NHSRLtd., by several volunteer “consultants”, and by members of the Norfolk Hunslet Supporters' Club – all in all, a motley crew with an astonishing variety of skills and experience including teachers, administrators, musicians, IT experts, farmers, a lorry driver, businessmen etc., most of them retired. Charlie Cooley is our Chairman, Andrew Murray is Vice-Chairman, Secretary/Treasurer is David Bramhall and Peter Brennan is Publicity Officer.
You can contact NHSRLtd. by clicking the button on the left.
Copyright © 2011 Norfolk Heritage Steam Railway Ltd.
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