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Steam heritage book by north Norfolk railway enthusiast and artist

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 November 2014

Sheringham artist Wrenford Thatcher, who has become known as the

Sheringham artist Wrenford Thatcher, who has become known as the "Railway Man" for his paintings depicting the glory days of steam. Photo: Karen Bethell

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A north Norfolk artist who has become known as the “Railway Man” for his paintings harking back to the “golden days” of steam and diesel engines is writing a book charting his 20-plus years of capturing the country’s historic trains on canvas.

Cock o' the North, by Sheringham artist Wrenford Thatcher.Cock o' the North, by Sheringham artist Wrenford Thatcher.

Wrenford Thatcher, who developed a passion for steam trains growing up at Cromer, where both grandfathers were engine drivers, gave up his childhood dreams of becoming an artist to study maths and physics at university.

He went on to gain a PHD and chartered physicist status, before carving a career as an inventor in the electronics industry, and later as a university lecturer.

After opting for semi-retirement a few years ago, Mr Thatcher was finally able to devote more time to his twin passions of railways and art, and his paintings have become much sought after, often fetching four-figure sums.

Since early spring, he has been spending around five hours a day painting, dividing his time between his Sheringham studio and the North Norfolk Railway stations at Sheringham, Weybourne and Holt in preparation for a one-man show and book launch at Picturecraft Gallery, Holt, next year.

Melton Constable station, by Sheringham artist Wrenford Thatcher.Melton Constable station, by Sheringham artist Wrenford Thatcher.

Entitled Caught on Canvas, the book will tell the story of Mr Thatcher’s lifelong passion for railways, also featuring nearly 100 paintings.

Subjects will range from the record-breaking Cock o’ the North, which is shown making its inaugural journey out of Kings Cross yard in the mid-1930s, to the Record Breaker, depicted speeding through the artist’s former home town of Hatfield at more than 100mph, and Melton Constable station, shown in 1947, during the last days of steam before nationalisation.

“It has been an extraordinary year for me in terms of painting,” Mr Thatcher said. “I seem to have become known as the “Railway Man” and I rarely go to Weybourne station without being asked about my work. The encouragement from the North Norfolk Railway staff has been very much appreciated too.”

A selection of new paintings by Wrenford Thatcher will be on show at Picturecraft Gallery and Exhibition Centre, Lees Yard, Holt, until Christmas as part of a mixed winter exhibition. Opening times are Monday to Saturday, 9am – 5pm, (Thursdays 9am – 1pm). For more information, phone 01263 711040 or visit www.railwaypaintings.co.uk

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