The Railway Station

Train Station

The Breckland Line with through services from Shoreditch (later known as Bishopsgate) to Norwich Thorpe station started on 15 December 1845.

The Railway Station here in Spooner Row was built in 1845, with a signal box (a Great Eastern railway type 2) added in the 1880s and a siding into which a goods yard was placed. This siding, in railway terms a single head shunt, to allow goods to be moved.

The original project was to link up with an existing line from Newport in Essex to Brandon in Suffolk, with the line to be built by the Norwich & Brandon Railway (N&BR).

The land on which it was originally built was owned by John Mitchell, a Quaker and a local solicitor (and the then owner of Wattlefield Hall), along with a group of Quaker Trustees. The trustees were local men, the likes of farmers from Kimberley, Crownthorpe and Tivitshall, a linen draper from Norwich and a miller from Cringleford.

The engineers were Robert Stephenson and George Parker Bidder, whilst the construction company was Thomas Grissell & Samuel Morton Peto. The build cost was £10,000 per mile and the line was completed within a year.

The amalgamation of the railways saw the line fall under the control of Norfolk Railway and in the September of 1847 Spooner Row Station was closed, only to see it reopened again in 1855 when the line became part of the now larger Eastern Counties Railway.

The difficult economic conditions that followed World War 1 saw the Government of the day pass a Railways Act in 1921 that resulted in the creation of 4 large railways companies. The London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) was launched and Spooner Row became an LNER station on 1st January 1923.

And then nationalisation of the complete UK railway system in 1948 saw our station and services transferred to the Eastern Region of British Railways.

In the 1950s and 60s, goods were moved regularly. Up to 200 wagons of sugar beet went to Bury St. Edmunds per season; grain and milk also went out, while in came coal for the coal business of Sid Fickling, later sold to Brikie Morter. Fertilizer for Brooks of Mistley who had a depot at Suton also arived.  The sidings closed in 1964, so goods now only go through the station.

As well as the platform there were 3 railway cottages for railway employees and a station house for the station master, built in 1844.  The Station House was originally a single story flint building and matched the design first seen at Harling Road. A red brick upper layer was added in 1893 and the chimney Mostly the railways were built by contract labour so few records remain.  It was policy to build the cottages at the same time or slightly before the railway, so that they were ready for occupation as soon as the line was ready.

The first diesel train built in 1955, arrived at Spooner Row Station from Cambridge in 1957. 

In 1961 the line was noted as being an important line from Norwich to the vast marshalling yard at Whitemoor, with regular trains passing through Spooner Row back and forth.

The station house burnt down in March 1971. 17 firemen fought the blaze although by then it no longer belonged to British Rail, having been used for storage by a local haulage firm for the previous 3 years.

Today, the Station retains its original semaphore signalling system although the gates are now automatically operated, having originally been manual. The automation occurred in 2012. And a residential house how stands in place of the original station House and Folliards Hydraulics now operate on the site of the original goods yard.

A special thank you to residents Alison Peters and Paul at Railway Cottages for contributing to this page, along with thanks to Dave Stickland, John Illingworth, Andrew Gardiner, Ryan Hayward and John law for allowing use of their train photographs. Copyright remains with the photographer for all train images.