Historic Oliver Cromwell locomotive returns to Norwich

A steam locomotive which revolutionised train travel between Norwich and London 60 years ago made a return to the city at the weekend.

Train enthusiasts, former railway workers and members of the public got the chance to see The Norfolkman, hauled by Britannia Class Steam Locomotive 70013 Oliver Cromwell, as it arrived into Norwich on Saturday afternoon.

The engine Oliver Cromwell first started operating between Norwich and London in 1951 and knocked 20 minutes off the previous journey time.

Its introduction resulted in a journey of just two hours and 10 minutes to reach the capital – stopping just once en route – and later this was reduced further to two hours.

Some 60 years on, the average journey time to London is one hour 50 minutes, despite the line being electrified in 1986.

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And the locomotive Oliver Cromwell's 60th anniversary visit on its old route has prompted fresh calls for a modern day revolution on the main line to the capital.

Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for travel and transport, said: 'As talks regarding the Greater Anglia rail franchise continue, the return of the locomotive Oliver Cromwell to the line that it once revolutionised is poignant, not just for nostalgic reasons.

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'In 1951, it cut the journey time from Norwich to London down, taking 20 minutes off the previous time. Sadly, despite many advances in technology, we haven't come as far as you would imagine in terms of improving our rail service over the last 60 years.

'We want to see enough investment in the new franchise and our local rail infrastructure in order to deliver us a modern service, that is reliable and which can do the journey from Norwich to London in 90 minutes.'

The locomotive's visit to the city, which formed part of a rail tour organised by the King's Lynn-based Railway Touring Company, also gave former train drivers and workers the chance to reminisce.

George Leman, 84, who lives in Keswick, near Norwich, and worked on the Britannia Class trains, said: 'It brings back lots of memories. I enjoyed every minute of working on the trains, it may not have been well paid but I enjoyed it.'

Have you got memories to share about working on The Norfolkman and The Broadsman? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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