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The North Norfolk Railway (NNR) – also known as the "Poppy Line" – is a heritage steam railway in Norfolk, England, running between the towns of Sheringham and Holt. It cuts through the countryside to the east of Weybourne with views of its windmill and passes through the well preserved country station which also houses a locomotive shed together with a carriage maintenance and restoration centre. The Norfolk Orbital Railway, an independent organisation, has plans to join and link the NNR with the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

North Norfolk Railway
B3 04-09-2009 NNR Gala.jpg
GNR 0-6-2T Class N2 No. 1744 and the Quad Art Set No. 74 at Holt
LocaleNorth Norfolk
TerminusSheringham and Holt
ConnectionsNational Rail (at Sheringham)
Commercial operations
NameMidland & Great Northern Joint Railway
Built byWilliam Marriott
Original gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Operated byNorth Norfolk Railway
Length5.25 miles (8.45 km)
Preserved gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
Preservation history
1965Reopened to Weybourne
1968NNR begins restoration work on the line
1974NNR granted Light Railway Order
1975NNR re-opens to the public, (and Sheringham to Weybourne service officially begins)
1983Kelling Heath Halt opens; NNR extended at the same time[clarification needed]
1989NNR extended to High Kelling near Holt
2010NNR reconnects to the national rail network (towards Cromer)
North Norfolk Railway
Bittern Line
to Cromer
Sheringham National Rail
Level crossing connecting to main line
Church Street bridge (No. 304)
Sweetbriar Lane LC
A149 bridge (No. 303)
Station Road bridge (No. 302)
Kelling Heath Park
Bridge Road bridge (No. 299)
LNER 4-6-0 Class B12 no. 61572 at Weybourne station
Preserved 7MT 70013 Oliver Cromwell approaching Weybourne on the North Norfolk Railway on 11 March 2010. The loco is hauling a train from London to celebrate reinstatement of the link to the national railway system at Sheringham.



The line, which is just over 5 miles (8.0 km) long, once formed part of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway. Work on rebuilding the line started in 1965, and on 4 June 1967, two steam locomotives were delivered. The operating company, North Norfolk Railway plc, was launched in 1965 following the granting of two Light Railway Orders. In May 1973, the railway was the scene of filming for the episode "The Royal Train" of the popular TV programme Dad's Army. The railway won the 'Independent Railway of the Year' award in 2006.

At Sheringham the line has now been reconnected to the National Rail network station via an 'occasional use' level crossing. There are two stops between Sheringham and Holt – Weybourne (about 1 mile (1.6 km) from the village) and Kelling Heath.

The main restoration sheds are at Weybourne. They have room to accommodate four standard length British Railways Mark 1 coaches and six large steam or diesel locomotives. New carriage storage sheds have been built near Holt with Heritage Lottery funding. These have the capacity to store the equivalent of 18 Mark 1 coaches. The railway is operated mainly by volunteers. There is also a Junior club for members who are aged between 10 and 15. Every year there is a volunteer of the year award and also the 'John D Hammer' trophy for the 'Junior volunteer of the year'.


The NNR operates both steam- and diesel-hauled services, and organises a programme of seasonal special events including two steam galas, a diesel gala, Santas, "Day Out With Thomas" and an annual beer festival. A museum has been built at Holt to display artifacts from the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway. The station building at Holt was originally built at Stalham in 1883 and was moved, brick by brick in 2002, to be re-erected in its current location. This project was awarded second place in the 2006 railway buildings competition by the Heritage Railway Association of the UK. The signal box at the station is over 100 years old and was restored on-site. The full signalling system at Holt, with 14 signals as well as the box, was commissioned in 2009 – winning the HRA signalling award for that year. The box was formerly at Upper Portland Sidings in the East Midlands.

The futureEdit

There are several improvements planned for the railway. Now that the level crossing at Sheringham has been reinstated, one of the next projects is to rebuild the demolished buildings on Platform 2 at Sheringham station. The stanchions for the project are at Weybourne. This is seen as a medium to long term project, but a start may be made soon on erecting the stanchions. The project has also seen a footbridge replaced to complement the original station look. The Tourist information Centre and public toilets that sat on the footprint of part of the trackbed between the station and the network rail link have been demolished and rebuilt in the style of the station, releasing the old trackbed alignment for future development.

Holt station is also being developed; its progress has been rapid over the last few years. Projects include installing the weighbridge from Cambridge station, putting up a footbridge, and reconstructing a 'carriage house' (completed late 2009), a relocated example of the houses made with old railway carriages in the war years. Currently awaiting restoration and installation is a 60ft turntable from Hull (Botanic Gardens). This has been purchased from the South Devon Railway.

Norfolk Orbital RailwayEdit

The Norfolk Orbital Line is a long term proposed railway, totally independent of the North Norfolk Railway but of which the North Norfolk Railway would form a significant part. It plans to create a line between Sheringham and Wymondham for regular passenger services, joining up with the Network Rail system at either end. These ambitions were aided on 2 January 2008 with the construction of the limited use level crossing between the North Norfolk Railway and the Bittern branch line.[1]

In 2016 the Norfolk Orbital Railway secured the section of the M&GNJR formation immediately beyond that owned and operated by the North Norfolk Railway.[2] Earthworks have been completed on this section, with the initial goal of laying a display section of track to advertise the project.[3]

Rolling stockEdit

There is a variety of preserved steam and diesel locomotives and diesel multiple units, passenger coaches and goods wagons. Most of these are typical of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) branch lines in Norfolk. Some are owned by the railway itself but most are owned by various individuals or voluntary groups. The line is also regularly visited by locomotives based elsewhere. Some come for a day on a railtour, others for a few days or weeks to take part in a special gala, but a few stay for many months and form part of the stock working scheduled trains.


On 17 November 2018 Great Eastern Railway Class Y14 0-6-0 locomotive 564 was in collision with a car on the level crossing accessing Sheringham golf course, while travelling at about 10mph. The car was badly damaged, but nobody was hurt and the train and rail infrastructure was not damaged. This automatic open level crossing, controlled by lights which were working properly at the time, is the only one in regular use on the railway. [4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Orbital rail route back on track". Dereham Times. Retrieved 11 July 2009.
  2. ^ First section of land for the line to Holt bought
  3. ^ Dream of restoring railway to Holt moves nearer to reality
  4. ^ Daniel Bennett (17 November 2018). "Car collides with train at Sheringham level crossing". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 17 November 2018.

External linksEdit