Notes: Narborough was the temporary terminus of the Lynn & Dereham Railway between October 1846 and August 1847. The station was 8 miles 52 chains from Lynn. At this point on its route the railway ran roughly north-west to south-east when coming from Lynn. The station occupied land on both sides of the Narborough to Pentney Road. The passenger facilities were on the north side of the road crossing. Goods sidings and a substantial covered shed were on the east side of the running lines south of the crossing.
The station building was close to the roadside. Its roof-line was at right-angles to the railway. A slate roof was laid to a diamond pattern and covered a building with beige brick corner pieces inset with knapped flint. Close to the platform an ornate 3-facet bay window had its own slate sub-roof. A small door, without a storm-porch, gave access to the building. On the west side a roomy platform canopy fronted a single-storey waiting room. Like the main building it had high ornate chimneys. The other platform had a large heated waiting room, probably, like elsewhere on the route, added later by the Great Eastern Railway. On 18 Feb 1880 an extension to Down platform was approved. A signal box was mounted on the east side platform beside the level crossing. That too was a GER addition: no signal boxes were provided when the line opened. The LNER later recorded Narborough as having a Saxby & Farmer 29-lever signal box.
GER board minutes are quite light on information about Narborough. On 21 July 1858 Mr Marriott applied for land to build a granary. On 16 Sept 1857 a need for a water supply at Narborough station was identified. This tells us the station's water was being delivered by train - a once common situation. 12 Oct 1859 it was noted that lamps required on Up platform, one at each end; this conforms that Narborough was a passing place with two platforms from the outset.
The station loop crossed the road at the level crossing. On the west side a short siding was shunted from the north and ended behind the platform. It was protected by a headshunt. The principal goods facilities lay south of the crossing, dominated by a large goods shed of brick and flint construction. It had one rail line through its length. There were three further sidings, one serving a cattle pen. They came off a goods loop on the east side of the running lines. The loop also provided access to a line on a tight left curve that led to sidings for Vynne and Everett’s large granary and mill close to Narborough village centre a few hundred yards from the station. The business would have provided significant business for the railway requiring extra station staff to be employed during the season in 1861.
As he has done in regard to other stations on the line Stanley C Jenkins notes, in his book about the Lynn & Dereham, some facts about personnel at the station. In its early days Nebuchadnezzar Ayres was Station Master, working for East Anglian Railways. Around 1890 James Smith was in charge, succeeded by Thomas Read Nash. Charles Wilby was a long-serving chief who stayed from Edwardian days through the Great War years. Gabriel Paynter was in charge at the station in 1921 and was noted in the Great Eastern Railway Magazine as having hosted a New Year’s Eve dinner at the Ship Inn, perhaps indicating the importance of the Station Master in local society at the time.
Narborough was an important station and its status was not reduced to that of request stop soon after opening as were other Lynn & Dereham locations. In the 1866 timetable passenger trains began late on most working days with the first departure at 9.24am for Dereham. On Saturdays a market train going to Norwich, which did not appear in the timetable, called at about 8.15am. Its passengers might have returned on the 5.20pm from the city by changing at Dereham where their train waited for the arrival from Norwich. There were two further down trains on weekdays. The station did not see its first up working until 10.40am: it was followed by three more trains and the extra market train on Saturdays. One train in each direction plied the line on Sundays.
When the March 1882 timetable was published it showed a slight improvement in services. On Mondays only a 7.17am departure ran to Swaffham and then by way of Watton to Thetford. The tables create some confusion in its following columns. Not on Mondays an 8.08am Lynn departure called at Narborough at 8.30am bound for Thetford and Bury. However, on Saturdays, the Norwich market train, which by this time appeared in the timetable, left Lynn at 8.08am, occupied a similar but not identical path and served Narborough at 8.38am. Did the train divide at Swaffham on Saturdays? Or, did Not on Mondays also exclude Saturday in this case? For Dereham four further trains paused at Narborough each weekday, the 9.14am shown as Parliamentary. On Tuesdays a train for Norwich called at 8.44pm and finally, on Mondays, a mixed called by at 9.20pm. Up trains began at 8.30am but only on Tuesday. A mixed for Lynn at 9.25am did not run on Tuesdays. At 10.56am an up train connected with a Parliamentary at Lynn, bound, according to a footnote, for St Pancras and Liverpool Street stations in London. Lynn was served by an extra train at 11.43am on Tuesdays and four further weekday trains followed, the last from Bury and Thetford. Sundays trains were no more.
In the LNER’s 1925 timetable Narborough and Pentney as the station was now called (the new name wad adopted from 1.7.1923), saw six up and six down passenger trains on weekdays. Additionally, the longstanding Saturdays Norwich train left at 10.36am arriving back at 5.29pm allowing market-goers almost four hours in the city.
In the 1932 Working Timetable Narborough and Pentney’s down daily goods called from 8.23am to 8.35am. Except on Tuesdays and Saturdays a Class D goods was there from 12.35pm to 1.10pm: on Saturdays it made a briefer stop from 1.35pm to 1.45pm, whilst a Tuesday train called, Class B, only if required and leaving at 6.30pm. The up daily goods called from 10.05am to 10.20am. The 2.15pm from Roudham Junction called at 4.35pm on Saturdays and at 6.35pm, if required, Mondays to Fridays. On Saturday evenings the 12.50pm goods from Norwich paused from 7.08pm until 7.20pm. Other weekdays saw the 2.30pm from Dereham, having taken five and a half hours to reach Narborough and Pentney, arrive at 8.00pm, where it was overtaken by the
7.33pm passenger from Dereham.
Diesel Multiple Units took over all passenger workings from the beginning of the 1955 winter timetable. The line saw a big increase in services: eleven up trains bound for Lynn stopped at Narborough and Pentney, one more ran only from Swaffham where a change from a Dereham train was offered. Thirteen down trains stopped: one came from Thetford via Watton. There was no Sunday service on the line.
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 and closure of Norfolk’s branch lines began with some urgency. Additionally services on the Lynn & Dereham were run down by closure of general goods facilities at intermediate stations from 13 July 1964. At Narborough a private siding remained in use after that date. From 15 August 1966 Narborough and Pentney became an unstaffed halt for the first time - some other stations had been so for some years in the 1860s and 70s. The station’s passing loop was removed leaving only the former up platform in use. Closure notices were served in 1968 and the line, including Narborough and Pentney station, closed to passengers with effect from 9 September 1968, with the last trains running on Saturday 7 September. A private siding did remain in use for a short time after that date.
Route map dawn by Alan Young. Tickets from Michael Stewart. Bradshaw from Nick Catford.
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, Swaffham, Sporle, Dunham, Fransham, Wendling, Scarning & Dereham (EAR Station)