William Marriott and The North Norfolk Railway (Poppy Line)

William Marriott and The North Norfolk Railway (Poppy Line)


The Poppy Line is a remnant of the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GN), established in 1993 when the Eastern & Midlands Railway was jointly purchased by the Midland Railway and the Great Northern Railway. At this time, the Locomotive Superintendent of the Eastern & Midland Railway was William Marriott (1857-1943), who had taken on the role in 1884, making him one of the youngest ever engineers of a public railway. He retained this position until 1919, when he was promoted to Traffic Manager. He retired on the last day of 1924.


The North Norfolk Railway runs between Sheringham and Holt – a 10 ½-mile round trip through lovely Norfolk countryside, stopping at Weybourne Station along the way. At Holt Station, you can visit the William Marriott Museum and learn some of the history of the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway. Also at Holt Station, there’s the super 300 square-foot model railway, Broad Sidlinch, which has been featured in numerous modelling magazines. In June 1999, it was named Model Railway of the Month.


The North Norfolk Railway offers more than just a ride in a steam train – although that, in itself, is very exciting! You could enjoy a four-course meal and licensed bar on an Evening Dining Train (hauled by an engine named The North Norfolkman) on Saturday August 19th or Friday August 25th. The North Norfolkman will be hauling the dining coaches on Saturday August 12th for a 1970s-theme murder mystery, including a three-course meal and coffee; on Saturday September 30th, another mystery will be played out in the style of the 1940s, as part of the annual 1940s Weekend.


The North Norfolk Railway’s 1940s Weekend is one of the biggest and most popular event of its kind in the country. People return year after year to this event, booking accommodation for the following September as they leave. This year, the event will be held on Saturday and Sunday September 16th and 17th, with music and dancing from the era, re-enactment groups, and an exhibition of vehicles from the 1940s.


If you fancy a Driver Experience Steam Day, hurry up and book your place for either October 6th or 13th – both Fridays. Enjoy a whole day’s work preparing, driving, and firing the train, guided and instructed by qualified railway personnel. There are also four Signalling Experience Days; these are: Friday August 18th, Saturday August 19th, Sunday August, and Friday September 15th.


William Marriott was a very influential man in Norfolk, and he is still held as a figurehead of our all-but-extinct steam railway network. Marriott’s Way, a 24 ½-mile-long footpath, bridleway and cycling path, is the track-bed of the Norwich to Themelthorpe and the Themelthorpe to Aylsham lines. The path passes through a residential development called Thorpe Marriott, which was built in the latter half of the last century; both Thorpe Marriott and Marriott’s Way were named, of course, after that great Norfolk railway man.


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