Video and gallery: Mid Norfolk Railway evokes the spirit of the 1940s

The Mid Norfolk Railway hold a 1940s weekend along the route from Dereham to Wymondham. Dereham Station, Dylan Bonnick. The Mid Norfolk Railway hold a 1940s weekend along the route from Dereham to Wymondham. Dereham Station, Dylan Bonnick.

Saturday, August 2, 2014
7:38 PM

The patriotic spirit of the 1940s – including its dramas, fashions and hardships – are being recalled during a nostalgic weekend on the Mid Norfolk Railway.

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Travellers on the heritage line between Dereham and Wymondham today were joined by about 300 costumed characters, including evacuee children, British soldiers, German officers and US airmen.

At Dereham station, a noisy mock skirmish ensued after Nazi officers attempted to arrest a French resistance fighter – prompting a gunfight on the platform with arriving US troops.

Further down the line, Kimberley Park station was “occupied” by enemy forces and Wymondham Abbey became a base for some vintage military vehicles and jeeps, and a US army encampment.

Steam trains added to the 1940s ambience, with the stations’ tea rooms selling snacks and drinks which would have been popular during the Second World War.

Among the uniformed “officers” was Charles Warren, smartly attired with a paratrooper’s red beret. The 44-year-old, from Easton in Norwich works at RAF Lakenheath, but in his spare time he is a member of the Norfolk Military Vehicle Group, which added to the realism of the weekend alongside the re-enactors of the Real Allied History Group.

Mr Warren said: “The railway would have looked very much the same in the 1940s – there may have been an ARP (air raid precaution) warden or perhaps members of the Home Guard protecting vital resources like coal, so they wouldn’t get stolen and sold on the black market.

“Dereham was very famous at the time because troops would often move through here, with all the army camps and the US Air Force camps at Shipdham and Wendling. They would all have been mixing with each other, and sometimes fighting over the same girls.

“At Wymondham, you would have had mostly American air force personnel coming from the nearby Hethel aerodrome. In fact, one of the bombers at Hethel was named after one of the local pubs where the airmen would meet and drink, called the Green Dragon. When US servicemen come back to visit Wymondham, they still make a beeline for that pub.

“We are blessed with so much history, and old airfields and old railway stations, which are always struggling for funding to evoke these memories so other people can enjoy them for years to come.”

Brian Gratton, a director of the MNR and station master at Dereham, said: “This is the second year we have run the event - we have taken it on and improved it, but we want to build on it and make it even better for next year’s event, which will be on August 1 and 2.”

The event continues for the rest of this weekend.

4 comments

  • Also, other scenes show British Railways carriages, one in Inter City livery, and a 1961 built main line diesel locomotive. It is a pity that these could not have been moved and enhance the mock battles the "Americans" are fighting on Dereham station. Strangely timed this event, when most people are thinking of the terrible losses between 1914-1918 during the Great War, this railway seeks to play war games.

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    Port Watcher

    Monday, August 4, 2014

  • Also, other gallery scenes show 1960s British Railways carriages, one in Inter City livery, and a 1961 built main line diesel locomotive. It is a pity that these carriages could not have been moved out of view and hence enhance the mock battles the "American" troops are fighting at Dereham. Strange to hold a 1940s war weekend at this time, when most people are thinking of the millions of dead killed in the terrible happenings of the Great War between 1914 - 1918.

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    Port Watcher

    Monday, August 4, 2014

  • I thought the Second World War was from 1939 - 1945, not the 1950s when that diesel railcar was built. Why not use the steam engine the Mid Norfolk has on hire for this photograph? Quite a poor show.

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    Port Watcher

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

  • I like the 1940's DMU !

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    crunchy dick

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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