Mid Norfolk Railway secures historic turntable for its Dereham station

A turntable similar to the one which has been acquired by the Mid Norfolk Railway.

A turntable similar to the one which has been acquired by the Mid Norfolk Railway. - Credit: Submitted

A bit of East Anglian rail history has been saved and will become the centre piece for a heritage railway museum.

Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR) has acquired a former Eastern Region turntable which is to be installed at its Dereham station.

In the days of steam turntables were a regular feature and were used to turn round trains at major locations like Norwich and Ipswich.

But now there are only a handful remaining on the national line and a number have been rescued by heritage railways.

The one obtained by the MNR, which is hand-operated, used to be in situ at Hitchin, Hertfordshire, before being preserved at a museum in Buckinghamshire.

It was built by Ipswich-based company Ransomes and Rapier, which made many of the tables used around the country, in 1933.

MNR chairman Barry Woodgett said: 'The turntable project will take some time to complete but it will enhance the railway operation at Dereham.

Most Read

'It is quite a big enhancement, some other heritage railways do have turntables but there are not lots of them.

'This one has an East Anglian connection because it was built by Ramsomes and Rapier so we felt from that point of view it was suitable.

'We have secured it which is a good moment for us.'

Once installed the 60ft turntable will have an operational use as well as being an educational tool.

It was last used to turn a steam train in 1967 and the final vehicle it turned was a snow plough in 1975.

It was finally removed in 1978 and stored at the Buckinghamshire Railway Museum.

Last year was a good one for the railway which held a record breaking West Coast Railways steam gala.

It is now looking to build on that success with a number of improvements including the construction of a maintenance and restoration facility.

The main running season for the 12-mile line begins at the end of March with the Spring Diesel Gala and with a summer Steam Gala being held from June 19 to 21.

MNR is holding a volunteer day this Sunday for anyone interested in becoming involved with the railway.

They are looking for people willing to carry out a variety of rolls from drivers to gardeners.

The event will take place at the Dereham station from 10am.

Are you part of a heritage project? Write to doug.faulkner@archant.co.uk