Photographs published for the first time show life on the railway in Norwich in the 1950s

The The "East Anglian" express setting out for London past the signalbox at Norwich Thorpe Junction, around 1950.

Derek James
Monday, March 24, 2014
1:27 PM

From steam to diesel and then electric, railway workers have seen so many changes over the years but there is one thing that never changes... the bond of friendship between all the workers.

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Flashback to 2008, as Johnny Pipe, right, greets Dick Mulliner from Australia as he meets up with former railway colleagues
Photo: Bill Smith
Copy: Derek James
For: EN
Archant © 2008
01603 772434Flashback to 2008, as Johnny Pipe, right, greets Dick Mulliner from Australia as he meets up with former railway colleagues Photo: Bill Smith Copy: Derek James For: EN Archant © 2008 01603 772434

Drivers, conductors, engineers, porters, office staff, plus all the others, working on the railway was a way of life for so many. Especially in Norwich, such a busy place, as these old photographs taken by Roger Harrison in the 1950s and published for the first time, illustrate.

You can almost taste the coal and the steam as the men and the locomotives went about their business – keeping the city and county on the move. Passengers, goods and mail.

Over the years the railway workers, past and present, have got together for annual reunions. The next one will be taking place at Arkwrights in Norwich on Friday April 11 – and this is your invitation to attend. The chances are you will meet up with some dear old friends

For years the annual gatherings, which so many looked forward to, were organised by the much-loved former train driver and boxer John Pipe. He helped to re-unite so many former colleagues, not just from this country, but from across the world.

Norwich turntable, next to Carrow Road, 1950s.Norwich turntable, next to Carrow Road, 1950s.

Back in 2008 former Norwich train driver Dick Mulliner turned up from his home in Australia to meet his mates back in his home city.

John, who lived at Hellesdon and was married to Jean, died before the reunion last year but new organisers stepped forward to make sure it carried on – and still is.

“It is important that we continue and that’s just what we are doing so we would like you to spread the news,” said train driver Chris Pearson who took over organising the event with Peter Bacon.

Many of the former workers are not getting any younger. These can be tough times and it is more important than ever that the workers, past and present, keep in touch with each other.

Another view from Carrow Road, with engines in the shed yard, probably taken in the late 1950sAnother view from Carrow Road, with engines in the shed yard, probably taken in the late 1950s

Former driver John, a devoted husband and proud father and grandfather, spent most of his career on the railways. He had been chairman of the Norwich branch of ASLEF and founder member of the Norwich Loco Welfare Fund.

“If any of your readers worked or work on the railways in Norwich and Norfolk then we would love to see them at the reunion,” said Chris.

It has been a privilege and honour to write about the reunions over the years and John Pipe would be so thrilled to see they are carrying on. I am sure those present will raise a glass in his memory.

The party is taking place at Arkwrights, in Hobart Square, off Hall Road, Norwich, on Friday April 11 from 8pm. More details from Chris Pearson on 07776 123206.

2 comments

  • Ah, the great time when public transport still existed. Bring back the tram!

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • .....spent a little time 'working' in the loco...names that come to mind....Percy-Polo-Ted...can't remember the different codes that were used with those white discs on the front of the engines...any able to explain!.....

    Report this comment

    Stew Pydsodd

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

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