Sir Nigel Gresley steam train in Norwich

Christmas came early for rail enthusiasts from Norwich today as they got the chance to ride in carriages being pulled by a classic steam engine. Enthusiasts watched on in awe as the 1937-built Sir Nigel Gresley, a former London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) A4 Pacific locomotive, pulled away from Norwich station just after 8am. The steam engine, which was designed by Herbert Nigel Gresley, the chief mechanical engineer of the LNER, was pulling the York Yuletide Express – giving passengers the chance to travel to York and back to Ely by steam.

From Norwich the train travelled to Wymondham to pick up more passengers before further stops at Attleborough, Thetford and Brandon.

Santa and his elves handed presents out to all the children on the train during the journey which provided passengers with a rare glimpse of the golden age of steam. The engine, one of many to run between London and Newcastle, was set to be scrapped after being withdrawn in 1966 after the advent of electrical trains.

Suzanne Moore is pictured aboard today's rail excursion.

photo: SONYA DUNCAN