Norfolk Orbital Railway project gets closer to reviving old link to Fakenham

One of the bridges at the former railway at Pudding Norton, Fakenham. A section of the railway is up

One of the bridges at the former railway at Pudding Norton, Fakenham. A section of the railway is up for sale for the second time and could be an important factor in the future restoration of rail services to Fakenham. - Credit: Archant

Dreams of restoring a long-closed rail route have moved a step closer to reality, after train enthusiasts managed to buy a 'missing link' section of the line, at the second time of asking.

Members of the Melton Constable Trust, the registered charity behind the Norfolk Orbital Railway project, which aims to revive a rail link to Fakenham, have bought the land at Pudding Norton, near the town. They secured the site at an auction on Wednesday for £24,000.

As reported, the group was left disappointed after its previous attempt to buy the land, which includes two bridges, derailed five years ago.

Members said they were determined not to miss out this time around and through donations and loans were able to make a strong bid for the site, which went under the hammer with a guide price of £10,000.

David Bill, from the trust, said: 'It's been a tremendous bit of news. We failed about five years ago and that was a disappointment.

'This time we just threw the kitchen sink at it.'

He said after they announced they were going to bid for the site for a second time, a number of people up and down the country came forward to make donations.

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'We have achieved it,' he said. 'It's a wonderful stretch of line in itself, there are two iconic bridges, including one which was built in 1849 over the River Wensum, and it's symbolic because this could pave the way at some time for the return of a railway line to Fakenham.'

The long-term vision is to re-link the Mid Norfolk Railway line from Wymondham to Dereham further north to Fakenham. Under the plans, the new station stop will be near to the Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History.

Earlier this year, the prospect of bringing the railway back to Holt moved a step closer after campaigners behind the Norfolk Orbital Railway scheme bought 50 yards of the former track bed from the North Norfolk Railway (NNR) stop at High Kelling, just outside the town, for £75,000.

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