Artist captures halcyon days of steam at Sheringham station

Sheringham station in 1953, by Wrenford Thatcher.

Sheringham station in 1953, by Wrenford Thatcher. - Credit: Archant

Smoke towers above a steam loco sitting at Sheringham station back in 1953.

Artist Wrenford Thatcher. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Artist Wrenford Thatcher. Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

The train is set to chuff away from the glass-canopied platform on a routine journey from the halcyon days of Norfolk branch lines.

It is a scene captured in minute detail by Sheringham-based artist Wrenford Thatcher, who uses old photos and maps to ensure his paintings accurately capture the bygone scenes.

His work is part of a exhibition running at Holt's Picturecraft gallery until Christmas eve.

The Sheringham picture took three months to complete, and is set around the time the Cromer to Mundesley branch line further down the track closed due to a decline in passenger numbers - a sign of things to come for many doomed rural lines a decade later.

Mr Thatcher, who works from his Sheringham studio, consulted railway historians Graham Kenworthy and Richard Addeson, of the Norfolk Railway Society, while working on the painting, using old photographs they provided for reference.

'I also used maps, which gave me a chance to work very accurately, even down to the signal box and notice on the wall warning passengers of the branch line closure,' he explained.

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Mr Thatcher developed a passion for steam trains growing up at Cromer, where both grandfathers were engine drivers.

He studied maths and physics at university, later gaining a PHD and chartered physicist status, before going on to carve a career as an inventor in the electronics industry, later working as a university lecturer.

He opted for semi-retirement a few years ago to enable him to pursue his childhood dream of becoming an artist and now works part-time as a consultant.

His steam railway paintings, which fetch four-figure sums, have become much sought after, with Mr Thatcher attracting commissions from all over the UK and America.

They are part of an exhibition featuring the work of more than 20 artists, along with jewellery and sculpture.

His works also show freight trains at Edgehill, Liverpool, a busy Paddington station in the 1950s, and a passenger train passing over a snow-covered Ribblehead viaduct in north Yorkshire.

The exhibition is at Picturecraft Gallery, 23 Lees Yard, Holt, until Christmas Eve. For more information, phone 01263 823862, or visit www.railwaypaintings.co.uk, or www.picturecraftgallery.co.uk.

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