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Writer Sheila Hutchinson shines spotlight on lost Norfolk railway

PUBLISHED: 15:26 03 April 2018

Pettitt's poultry goods being loaded on the train at Reedham Station in the 1950s. Photographs supplied by D J Elvin.

Pettitt's poultry goods being loaded on the train at Reedham Station in the 1950s. Photographs supplied by D J Elvin.

Photographs supplied by D J Elvin.

The gal Sheila has done it again... one of our most popular local authors who has written more than a dozen books about the people and places of Norfolk has come up with another cracker.

Norfolk author Sheila Hutchinson whose new book on Reedham & Berney Arms Railway is out this week. Picture: Archant.Norfolk author Sheila Hutchinson whose new book on Reedham & Berney Arms Railway is out this week. Picture: Archant.

Her name is Sheila Hutchinson, who is not only a good writer but a great listener, and thanks to her many yarns, and photographs from private collections, can be enjoyed by the rest of us.

The glorious story of the Reedham & Berney Arms Railway is her latest offering which will be launched at a book signing in the Reedham Ship Inn on Saturday April 7 between 11.30am and 1.30pm.

Her writing career began almost 20 years ago when she wrote a book from the unique place she came from – Berney Arms. It sold out, was reprinted and then again.

Two years ago Sheila appeared on the popular BBC programme Countryfile talking about what it was like living in this Norfolk hamlet with no electricity or running water.

Pettitt's poultry goods being loaded on the train at Reedham Station in the 1950s. Photographs supplied by D J Elvin.

Pettitt's poultry goods being loaded on the train at Reedham Station in the 1950s. Photographs supplied by D J Elvin.

Back in the 1960s her granddad Henry “Yoiton” Hewett was interviewed by the legendary Fife Robertson for the Tonight programme,

“I would not move if you paid me £20 a week and free board,” said Yoiton – so named because when he was a little boy looking after a litter of white pigs he called them Yoiton’s.

In the 1840s, before the railway was built, the people would have to travel by horse and cart, on foot or by river. All that changed with the arrival of the trains.

“When I lived at Berney Arms the doctor would travel from Reedham by train,” said Sheila.

Albert Hewitt, railway ganger in 1953 by the signal box. Photograph by Russell Westwood, supplied by Violet Mace.Albert Hewitt, railway ganger in 1953 by the signal box. Photograph by Russell Westwood, supplied by Violet Mace.

“Churns of water were also delivered by train and my grandfather put his milk churns on the train to be taken to Reedham where they could be collected by the Milk Marketing Board.”

In the summer months the trains also brought the visitors who loved, and still do, love to enjoy this wonderful part of unique Norfolk.

Sheila tells the story of the arrival of the railways at BA and Reedham and has spent a long time talking to the locals.

Their memories, often passed down from one generation to the next, and pictures, make this is an important part of local history and each photograph has a tale to tell.

Mr Williams in the Berney Arms Post Office at the station with Violet Mace in 1953. Both photographs by Russell Westwood, supplied by Violet Mace.Mr Williams in the Berney Arms Post Office at the station with Violet Mace in 1953. Both photographs by Russell Westwood, supplied by Violet Mace.

Apart from the book signing at Reedham Ship on Saturday April 7, the book, costing £10, is on sale at Jarrold and City Books in Norwich and at Reedham Post Office, Music Lovers at Gorleston and Beccles Books.

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