Station Name: FRANSHAM

[Source: Glen Kilday]

Date opened: 11.9.1848
Location: On the west side of Station Road at the west end of the hamlet of Great Fransham.
Company on opening: East Anglian Railways
Date closed to passengers: 7.9.1968
Date closed completely: 7.9.1968
Company on closing: British Rail: Eastern Region
Present state:

Fransham Station is in fine condition, its house, now sympathetically modernised and extended, used as a family home. It has extensive landscaped gardens on former railway land.  The platform survives as does the later addition of waiting room, built by the Great Eastern Railway, the latter in good condition and now used as a summerhouse.  It has a red tile roof.  Several railway artifacts, a barrow and weigh-scales for example, are on the platform.  The main running line of bull-head rail is in place along the length of the platform.  The present owner purchased the rail from London Underground in the 1980s, all the original rail having been removed by contractors after the line closed.  A new 2 foot gauge line runs parallel to the main line for a short distance occupying some of the line of the one-time goods siding.  The garden stretches westwards along the former track-bed but neither standard nor narrow-gauge lines extend far into it.  Two diesel locomotives, one for each gauge, are present on site.  Two unrestored 4-wheel carriage bodies are on wooden sleeper supports on the platform road. One is a GER five compartment third class passenger coach, the other an ex- LMS horsebox.  Two signal telegraph posts, complete with insulators, can be seen.  They are not in their original places:  they were from posts recovered from the lineside further west in the garden and cut down to remove rotten wood.  The level crossing over the minor road and its small signal box are gone without trace and, to the east, there is little evidence that a railway was once there. 

About a half mile east of Fransham station Bridge 2374 in the Great Eastern series survives as abutments only, its span long gone.  It retains its painted distance mark shown as 20 miles 18 chains (from Lynn) and its post-closure maintenance sign MTD2374
County: Norfolk
OS Grid Ref: TF888134
Date of visit: 6.10.2017

Notes: Notes:  Fransham station was just 1 mile and 23 chains east of Dunham and 19 miles 59 chains from Lynn.  It served a very small community in and around the hamlet of the same name (population in 1891 was 315) a few hundred yards to the south-east of the station. 

The station was smaller than others on the Lynn & Dereham.  At first Fransham had two platforms and a passing loop. A short platform lay directly in front of the station building on the up side. There was a longer platform on the down side. These features are shown on the 1884 OS 25inch map. By the time the 1905 map was surveyed the point leading to the loop at the west end had been removed and its line converted to a siding. At the west end of the loop a headshunt was added. The station building was on the up side and was grand if on a small scale!  Its roof-line lay at right-angles to the line.  A slate roof covered a building of knapped local flint with beige brick corners.  A fine 3-facet bay window with intricate glazing panels and its own slate sub-roof looked out over the line.  Entry to the building was through a nicely proportioned porch of beige brick on the east side. On the west side two ornate chimney stacks, one with a single flue the other with three, ended higher than the roof line.  On the same side a flat-roofed portico provided some shelter for passengers.  At some point a canopy was added but that burnt down in the 1960s as a result of a fire in the adjoining lamp shed. When opened there were two boarded crossings to gain access to the platform. 

On 20 April 1886 Saxby & Farmer were contracted to provide a 15-lever signal box at the station. and on 1 March 1887 the contract for a footbridge was awarded to Messrs. Heavyside. The steel footbridge with open diamond-latticed sides that crossed both tracks at the west side of the level crossing.  This was a feature, amongst the smaller stations on the line, that appears to be unique to Fransham.  Why it was built is a mystery.   It was taken down in 1936.  As it had done at other stations, the Great Eastern Railway also provided a waiting room on the platform some time after 1884.  At Fransham it was of red brick with an attractive arched tops over its door and single window: it sported a single chimney stack at the east end.  Its roof was probably of red tiles and the roofline was parallel to the track.  The building was located about mid-way on the platform.  

Goods facilities were limited to one siding on the up side, shunted from the west.  The station handled general goods but not livestock and was not provided with a crane. A headshunt went west and the siding ran through the station and across the road crossing.  As a result there were two lines past the station building.  The siding and headshunt were parallel to the running line.  As the station didn't handle livestock there was no cattle dock nor was there an enclosed goods shed. on 15th July 1857, the 4.0 pm goods from Dereham ran over 17 turkeys at Fransham.

On 10 November 1922 abolition of Fransham signal box, saving £144 per year was approved. When this occurred is unclear as in 1923 the LNER noted Fransham still had a 15-lever Saxby & Farmer box. The 1928 OS map (surveyed in 1926) reproduced below shows the box had been demolished. After closure of the box the level crossing was subsequently protected by a ground frame and the siding unlocked by key attached to train staff issued, probably issued at Swaffham.

Hunt's Directory of East Norfolk 1850 shows Edgar Skeit as a 'railway clerk'. Company minutes for 29 July 1853 record the Fransham stationmaster as being a Mr. E. Street, however White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory, of Norfolk 1854 lists Edgar Skeet (probably the same person) as being station master at Great Fransham, a role he carried out for 30 years.  Other Station Masters include Mr Durrant in 1888, Alfred Page and Richard Jesse Read, both in 1896, William Thomas in 1900 and, later, Harry Youell.  Thomas Newall had charge in 1908 and was still at Fransham at the close of the Great Eastern era in 1923.  The LNER did not consider it necessary to have a Station Master at Fransham and placed the station under the management of Dunham’s incumbent. 

Fransham was one of five stations on the Lynn & Dereham that had become request stops soon after opening.  That was the case in 1866 when the timetable showed three trains in each direction at the station on weekdays and one on Sundays.  Passengers wishing to board had to arrive five minutes before the scheduled departure time: to alight the guard had to be notified earlier in the journey.  As at other stations, on Saturdays only, a train catering for Norwich market-goers and not shown in the tables called at Fransham, doing so a few minutes after 9.00am.  Homeward-bound passengers were advised to travel on the 5.20pm from the city and change onto a waiting train at Dereham.

By 1882 several stations on the line had gained status and were no longer request stops.  That was not the case at Fransham.  Several trains passed without calling and five down trains would stop when requested to do so.  Just one train, a mixed, made a definite stop and that was on Wednesday evening only at 9.15pm.  On Mondays only a down mixed stopped on request at about 10.05pm. Towards Swaffham and Lynn passengers were offered just four trains, all calling upon request.  There was no Sunday service.

In the early days of the LNER matters improved a little at Fransham when, in 1925, five down trains called.  Six up trains stopped most days with one more on Saturday afternoons at 5.04pm. Mixed trains had disappeared from the tables.  Again, there were no Sunday trains.

The poor goods facilities at the station reflected in the sparse service offered.  The sample timetable to hand is for 1932 when the only up goods that would definitely stop at Fransham was the 12.50pm Norwich to Lynn.  Running only on Saturdays it would be found at Fransham at 5.40pm.  The 7.40am Dereham to Lynn goods would call on any weekday if there was traffic to be handled.  Towards Dereham no goods trains made a regular stop.  An 11.55am Class D from Lynn would stop if necessary at about 2.40pm: it did not run on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  On Saturdays it left Lynn at 12.45pm and might call, if traffic was available, about 3.00pm.

Diesel Multiple Units took over all passenger workings from the beginning of the 1955 winter timetable.  The line’s stations, including Fransham,  saw a big increase in services: eleven up trains bound for Lynn stopped, one more ran only to Swaffham where a change for Lynn was offered. Thirteen down trains stopped: one came from Thetford via Watton.  There was no Sunday service on the line.  The improvement was not to last.

Despite BR’s modernisation attempts the end was signalled in Dr. Richard Beeching’s report The Reshaping of Britain’s Railways, published in March 1963. Closure of Norfolk’s branch lines began with some urgency.  In addition services on the Lynn & Dereham were run down by closure of general goods facilities at intermediate stations.  In August 1966 Fransham became a request stop once again, but now unstaffed as well.  Closure notices were served in 1968 and the line, including Fransham’s little station, closed to passengers with effect from 9 September 1968, with the last trains running on Saturday 7 September.

Route map dawn by Alan Young. Tickets from Michael Stewart.
Additional source GER board minutes. Additional research by Darren Kitson.

Click here for a brief history of the Lynn & Dereham Railway

See other stations on the Lynn - Dereham line: Middleton Towers, East Winch, Pentney & Bilney, Narborough & Pentney, Swaffham, Sporle, Dunham, Wendling, Scarning & Dereham (EAR Station)

Fransham Station Gallery 1: Before 1936 - September 1964

Fransham Station, footbridge and level crossing, the view looking west along the single main running line.  The edge of the signal box is just in shot. The date is unknown, certainly before 1936 when the bridge was removed by the LNER. The identities of the people are not known: 2nd left is presumably the postman (there was a post box at the station)and two on the right have railway uniforms. The GER signals in the background share a post for up and down directions. By this date the points at the east end of the loop had been removed so the line on the left is a siding.
Photo from Bob Jenkins collection

1884 1:2,500 OS map. The station facilities were probably ‘as built’ with a short up platform in front of the station building and a longer down platform opposite the building. At this time there wasn't a waiting room on the down platform. The road is crossed by two lines with that nearest the building shown as a loop accessible from east and west.

1905 1:2,500 OS map. The former loop has been converted to a siding protected by a headshunt to the west.  A pedestrian overbridge was in place directly to the west of the road crossing - a unique feature at smaller stations on the Lynn & Dereham. A signal box had been built to the east of the road.

1928 1:2,500 OS map. In mapping terms nothing had changed in the near-quarter century since the Edwardian map apart from the removal of the signal box. A post box (LB) is identified at the station; this is visible in a number of the photos.

Three passengers have alighted from a westbound (up) train at Fransham in 1955.  Oil lamps mounted on posts made from modified rail can be seen.  The hedge is clipped and the garden well tended.
Photo from Bob Jenkins collection

The platform, waiting room and name board at Fransham.  The date is the early 1950s - the passenger safety poster is a British Railways product of that era.
Photo from Bob Jenkins collection

Looking to the east at Fransham Station.  The date is after September 1955 when DMUs replaced steam trains on the line.  The garden is well tended and the goods line remains in place.  The oil burner has gone from the platform lamp when compared with the 1955 image. Note the buffers on the far side of the crossing, there used to be points here from the main line and the siding was a passing loop.
Photo from Bob Jenkins collection

Neat and tidy Fransham Station buildings on 25 May 1962.  The running line is in the foreground, the goods siding nearer the building.
Photo from John Watling, Great Eastern Railway Society

posed picture beside Fransham waiting room, date and subjects unknown.
Photo from Bob Jenkins collection

Looking east across the level crossing at Fransham towards a diesel train on the main line.  The goods siding on the right appears little used.  The date is unknown but before 11 September 1964 by which date the lamp-room, Gentleman’s toilet and canopy had burnt down.
Photo from Bob Jenkins collection

Looking west from Fransham level crossing in September 1964, shortly before the fire in the lamp room. Note the gauge over the siding on the left, in the distance the points and the head shunt can be made out. The bungalows on the left are Station Drive, a new housing development in the area.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

Click here for Fransham Station Gallery 2:
September 1964 - October 2017




[Source: Glen Kilday]

Last updated: Tuesday, 11-Sep-2018 18:05:23 CEST
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