It was 60 years ago, January 1963, when British Rail produced an official map showing the network which criss-crossed the eastern region.

This is one of the last official maps to illustrate the way it was before The Beeching Report was published later in the same year…and the 'axe' fell.

Railway author Richard Adderson explains that the stations marked with a white rectangle are those open for passenger traffic at the time, while those with a star were used only for goods traffic.

How times have changed.

It took a while for us to get our railways, but by the 1840s the link between Norwich and Great Yarmouth had opened...the age of the stage coach was coming to an end.

New companies came along to build tracks north, south, east and west, and in 1862 the Great Eastern Railway was formed.

A regular service to and from Liverpool Street opened up and it was the holiday resorts which hit the jackpot, attracting holidaymakers from across the country keen to taste the delights of our county and all that it offers.

We were sharing our favourite hotspots such as Hunstanton, Cromer, Sheringham and Great Yarmouth, and the Great Eastern Railway encouraged locals with off-peak offers on their trains.

It was reported in 1889: “Four days in every week a man may travel from Norwich to Cromer and back, 50 miles by ordinary trains, for one shilling and sixpence. If he will be content to wait till after midday he may go for one shilling.”

The trains carried all kinds of freight in and out of Norfolk and Suffolk, and it was also said barrels of sea water from Lowestoft were sent off to London so people could enjoy a rather special salty bath!

In Norfolk we would have our very own 'Crewe' at Melton Constable - regional HQ for the Midland and Great Northern Railway.

From 1882 until 1964 it was a major railway centre connecting many towns providing much needed services for people and freight.

William Marriott, an engineer played a leading role in the development of the railway and Melton Constable with the population increasing from 118 in 1881 to 1,157 in 1911.

City Station in Norwich became the southern terminus of the MG&N. It was bombed in the Baedeker raids of 1942 and eventually closed to passengers in 1959 and then to goods some years later.

It is long gone, but we have much to thank members of Norwich City Station Preservation Group for…preserving our past for the future.

In March 1963 Dr Richard Beeching published his report on The Reshaping of British Railways. Stations closed and the tracks were ripped up. Sad times.

Beccles & Bungay Journal:

Further reading

There have been many books written about Norfolk and Suffolk railways over the years featuring great stories and photographs.

Look out for Norfolk’s Railways 1927-1966 and the second edition, 1967-1994, by Richard Adderson and Dennis Greeno, with proceeds going to the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway Society.

Then there's Norfolk’s Railway Heritage by Graham Kenworthy and Richard Adderson with aerial photographs by Mike Page, and a great collection of books from Midland Press which are first class.

Plus the wonderful book, and others, about the smallest station halt in the land, beautiful Berney Arms. from our own Sheila Hutchinson.

They are a window on a lost world.