Platform 2 – History
The Final Piece of the Jigsaw
‘Demolished to prevent vandalism’ that was allegedly British Railways’ excuse for the demolition of the Platform 2 building at Sheringham in the mid-1960s shortly before the North Norfolk Railway took over the site.
Now after fifty years the NNR are planning to correct that official act of vandalism with a project to reinstate the missing building as a last part of the jigsaw to restore Sheringham station to its 1950’s condition.
Until the railway arrived, Sheringham was a very small fishing village on the north Norfolk coast. The Eastern and Midlands Railway opened the extension from its temporary terminus in Holt through to Cromer on 16th of June 1887. Sherringham (as it was spelt until 1897) was the larger of two intermediate stations (Weybourne came later in 1901). The directors of the E&M (later Midland & Great Northern) had high hopes for tourist development on this section of the coast having changed their plans of taking the line to Blakeney harbour due to the popularity of Cromer as a result of Clement Scott’s popular writings about ‘Poppyland’. They set up the Sheringham Development Corporation to maximise the potential of the town.
Sheringham was initially a small station with a simple ‘hall & cross wings’ as the main building, typical of the E&M at that time, and a small brick waiting shelter on platform 2.
Sheringham grew very rapidly and by 1896 the M&GN needed to expand the facilities on Platform 1 significantly to cope with the large number of well-heeled passengers using the station. Additional luggage and waiting facilities were built and finished off with a large glazed canopy that fronted all of the buildings and covered a huge luggage storage area. This is the configuration we currently have to this day with the addition now of a station buffet under the canopy.
The following year the M&GN authorised the significant enlargement of the facilities on Platform 2 with waiting rooms and a large glazed canopy to match that on Platform 1.
Sheringham was further enlarged in 1906 in preparation for the opening of the Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Railway linking the M&GN and GE lines in Cromer and the branch to North Walsham via Mundesley. This entailed replacing the original tall signal box that had been on Platform 2 with new East and West boxes, the widening of Church Street Bridge to enable a new Platform 3 to be used by passenger trains, and the provision of office facilities for GER staff in a separate building. With this the station was complete and remained in this form virtually unaltered for nearly half a century.
Fast forward to the 1960s – the line from Sheringham to Melton Constable, having survived the closure of most of the M&GN in 1959, was closed on 4th of April 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts. Sheringham station was quickly rationalised to a single platform, the footbridge was removed and the building on platform 2 demolished. The site looked very sad. The M&GN Society had been formed in 1959 to preserve all or part of the M&GN and by the mid-1960s had limited their ambitions to preserving the section from Sheringham to Melton Constable. Sadly a County Council road scheme prevented the retention of the section westwards beyond where Holt station is now located next to the A148. In 1966 they managed to buy the land from Sheringham golf course crossing to the A148 bridge at Holt and the track from just west of Sheringham to just east of Weybourne, and set up the North Norfolk Railway. BR moved to a new halt on the east of Station Road in Sheringham on 2nd of January 1967, the NNR taking over the station on that date. The first rolling stock (B12, J15, LNER Quad Art Set, GER Bogie Brake Third and 2 Diesel Railbuses) was delivered on 4th of June 1967.
Sheringham station was initially leased from BR then from a property company until finally acquired by the NNR in 2001 after a long battle with the landlords and with the help of a local supermarket chain. This enabled the full restoration of the Platform 1 buildings with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Over the years the NNR has gradually rebuilt the railway to the wonderful state it is today. We now run over the full 5.25 mile length to a recreated station at Holt. There are excellent loco and carriage works at the beautifully restored Weybourne station. However until now we have yet to complete Sheringham station. A lot has happened since the 2001 HLF funded work to rebuild the glazed roof on platform 1. In 2010 the NNR reinstated the level crossing linking with Network Rail’s station in Sheringham enabling through working. In 2016 a new shop and tourist information centre was added to the station in the original E&M style thanks to Coastal & Communities funding. That year a replica footbridge was also installed which was funded by public donations. Currently the west end of the Sheringham yard is undergoing a major re-signalling project that is due to complete in 2021.
This just leaves the one major missing piece in the Sheringham station jigsaw – the gap that remains is the missing Platform 2 building and canopy. However, we are looking to put that piece in place and we are now seeking public donations to help do this.
We would be grateful for any assistance you feel able to give to help bring this project to fruition.
Article by Steve Allen, NNR Chairman, published courtesy of Steam Railway magazine.
The Building Arriving on Platform 2
55 years on, what exactly will this look like?
The original construction drawings were signed by William Marriott at Melton Constable on January 26th 1897 and have formed the basis of our planned restoration.
The original building contained a ladies waiting room, 12’ x 16’ 9”, a general waiting room, 12’ x 20’ 6”, and a booking office, 12’ x 10’, at the Cromer end. Our restored building will externally replicate this, although internally this will be laid out so that it can be used for a variety of purposes; as a waiting room, a reception area for dining trains, as a function room, or as the venue for the beer festival, 40’s events and so on.
To each side of the original building were screen walls matching the length of the canopy, a long one at the Cromer end and a short one at the Holt end. These contained windows looking out onto the approach road and goods yard. These had a dual function, they let light onto the platform and from the coast road made the station buildings appear more extensive and impressive. Our walls will be slightly different. At the Holt end the battery store would obstruct the original window and, in our design, has been replaced by a door leading to steps down to the car park.
The brickwork type and detailing of the restored structures will match the buildings on Platform 1 and the shop and tourist information centre built in 2015-16.
The planned platform elevation (top) and car park elevation (bottom)
The canopy was a glazed structure much the same in appearance as the one on Platform 1. Traces show that the canopy was not exactly opposite the other though. This was probably influenced by the position of the original high signal box. The metalwork for the canopy has of course long gone, but we have in store columns and M&GN spandrel pieces from Yarmouth Beach Station. We will need some new pieces cast using the old as patterns, but this part of the project should look very impressive.
The columns and M&GN spandrels were recovered during the demolition of Yarmouth Beach station.
The first stage of this exciting project, during 2020, will be the building, the screen walls and the erection of the columns and skeletal canopy steelwork. The second phase, which we hope will follow on very soon, will be completion of the canopy and its glazing.