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The past

Middleton Towers was the first station on the Lynn and Dereham railway, which closed to passengers in 1968.

The line ran from King's Lynn to Dereham, originally calling at eleven stations on the way in its heyday.

 

Swaffham station had an interchange for the Crab and Winkle line (Swaffham branch line) to Roudham Junction. At Dereham, the line had connections to Wymondham (now the Mid-Norfolk Railway) and

north towards Wells-next-the-sea via Fakenham East.

 

King's Lynn had connections to Hunstanton on the Norfolk coast via the Great Eastern Railway and to Spalding via the Midland & Great Northern line via South Lynn station, which closed to passengers in 1959.

In the 1990s, there was a brief but ultimately unsuccessful proposal to restore passenger services to Middleton Towers following the construction of a housing development at Leziate.

The main station building is situated next to the station's level crossing and has a slate roof.

The platform boasts a covered shelter. The platform was raised in 1882 and may have been extended from its original size. The area of the platform near the booking office was retained to prevent having to move the door, with a ramp added up to the new level. It is assumed there was a general waiting room, that the GER (Great Eastern Railway) referred to as a 'Ladies Waiting Room'.

A Stephen's 21 lever signal box was installed to the west of the level crossing on the down side. This was removed after the station's closure.

 

In 1883, authorities granted permission to load and offload horses at the station and cattle pens were eventually built. As the coal and sand industries developed, a siding was built for Bagge, a local merchant and this featured a siding and head-shunt. There was a sandpit which was believed to be connected by a 2 foot narrow gauge railway. Joseph Boam & Sons dominated the sand traffic trade in the area.

The future

Our aim is to fully restore the station and repurpose it, to be used as a tea room and museum to pay tribute to the former Lynn and Dereham railway.

On 7th September 1968, the Lynn and Dereham railway closed to passengers, ending over 120 years of use and marked the end of what is now a much-needed rail connection between King's Lynn and Norwich, via Dereham.

Middleton Towers served as the first station on the line and remains to be the only station to have retained some track. The station now serves as a freight-loading point for silica sand from the local Leziate quarry run by Sibelco UK Ltd.

I founded the Middleton Towers Restoration Group in July 2021 with one initial aim; to fully restore the former railway station site to be used by the local community. As of early 2024, we are a group of over 800 supporters, consisting of railway enthusiasts, engineers and tradespeople who want to see our community effort come into fruition.

The former ticket office and platform access room are in dire need of repair and these buildings are owned by Network Rail. The station house however is in great condition, but this privately owned by Sibelco. We are currently in discussions with Network Rail to obtain permission to renovate their portion of the site.

A consensus amongst our members is that under our plans, the site would serve as a public tea room and as a museum for the former King’s Lynn to Dereham railway. However if the site is not able to support such a function, then other options will be explored.

 

Our ambitions cannot end here. While we focus on our current plans for the time being, we must be ready to campaign for reinstatement of a passenger service at least as far as Middleton Towers or East Winch.

A substantial amount of potential rail users reside in this area and it would certainly relieve some pressure on our roads.

We must not let central or local Government make knee-jerk decisions to develop on any portions of the line or, worst of all, tear it up entirely as regrettably done in the 1960s.

Alex Brammer

Group Founder

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