Big plans to re-open stretch of heritage railway could be scuppered if ownership remains a mystery

Whitwell & Reepham StationPhoto: Mike Page

Whitwell & Reepham StationPhoto: Mike Page

It is an ambitious vision to relay miles of railway track and rejuvenate an area of mid-Norfolk.

The former Whitwell and Reepham railway station. Picture: ARCHANT

The former Whitwell and Reepham railway station. Picture: ARCHANT

But plans to see the restoration of a former line could be put in jeopardy if the society behind the project is unable to clarify ownership of the land.

Now the Whitwell and Reepham Railway Preservation Society is calling on the public to sign a petition put in to the government, to bring the dream to fruition.

The heritage railway, based at Whitwell between Reepham and Lenwade, has been running for more than 10 years.

Whitwell Station in the early 1980's. PHOTO: IAN BURT

Whitwell Station in the early 1980's. PHOTO: IAN BURT - Credit: IAN BURT

The group's aim is to relay 2.1 miles of track along a former track bed to Lenwade station, while making sure existing users such as walkers and horse riders would still be able to use the land.

Richard Bailey, the society's safety manager, put the petition in on behalf of the group. He has been involved with the project from its beginnings in 2008.

'We want to work with the community and come up with the best conclusion in order to do what we want to achieve,' he said.

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'We want to progress forward but we don't want to do it to the detriment of anyone using Marriott's Way.'

The petition asks for the term 'railway land', within the Lynn and Fakenham Railway Acts 1876-81, the Eastern and Midlands Act 1883-85, and the other railway amalgamations up to Network Rail takeover, to be clarified.

It also calls for confirmation over access preference and whether an act of parliament is still in force requiring the land to be used as a railway if needed.

So far the petition has received more than 600 signatures and it needs at least 10,000 to require a government response.

Although the plans would not benefit the bigger Norfolk Orbital Railway project as far as location goes, Mr Bailey said the society had backing from them.

Longer term plans for Whitwell Station include extending the track by six miles to Reepham, at the former station near Kerri's Farmhouse Pine, Station Road. Mr Bailey said an expansion this big would allow opportunity for more volunteers and employment in the area.

The petition can be found here.