Thursday, 4 August 2016

Drewry Class 04 Diesel Locomotives

(All pics sourced via Internet)

In 1952 the steam locomotives on the Wisbech and Upwell were replaced by two Drewry diedel shunters, the very last steam service being scheduled for 4 July 1952. At this point the Wisbech and Upwell became the first fully dieselised line on British Railways! The line would be exclusively diesel hauled until closure in May 1966.

The diesels were classified class 04 and were fitted with cowcatchers and side skirts, in keeping with the tramway's tradition. 

One of the class 04s which worked on the Wisbech and Upwell (number D2203) is now at the Embsbay and Bolton Abbey Railway and is being restored.

Monday, 23 May 2016

A surviving building


Outwell in tramway days

The goods depot in recent times

The goods depot at Outwell is now preserved and work has been done by local people to restore it. This was on one of the most picturesque parts of the line and is a wonderful asset to the village!


List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
List entry Number: 1077680


The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: Norfolk
District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk
District Type: District Authority
Parish: Outwell
National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.
Grade: II
Date first listed: 02-Oct-1990
Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System: LBS
UID: 221867

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Goods Office of TF 50 SW former Wisbech and 9/81 Upwell Tramway II Tramway goods office. Circa 1883. Red brick in Flemish bond slate hipped roof with deep eaves. Small rectangular plan, probably single cell, building with entrance in the south end from the road. Single storey. No windows on north end but central doorway with segmental arch and C19 4-panel door. Two segmental arch window openings on west side with stone cill and 16-pane metal frame windows. The north end and east side are blind. Interior not inspected. Note The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway, authorised in 1882 and built by the Great Eastern Railway was the last section to survive of a larger system. It provided a rail link between Wisbech and the Outwell-Upwell area. This section of 7 3/4 miles runs along the Wisbech to Outwell Canal. The Tramway has been described as a "cross between the railway proper and ordinary Tram" with wagons and small screened-in locomotives, running across and alongside roads and canals. The coaches were provided with gangways and end steps because the stations did not have platforms; but the main purpose of the line was agricultural. The line was closed to passengers in 1929 and closed altogether in 1966. Reverend W Awdry, the author of 'Toby the Tram Engine' was for a time the vicar of Emneth, a parish through which the tramway ran. This goods office at the Outwell Village Depot is the last survivor of a series of offices on the tramway. Sources: C Hawkins and G Reeve, The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway (Wild Swan Publications). D I Gordon, A Regional History of The Railways of Great Britain, The Eastern Counties, Vol V, page 224.

Listing NGR: TF5132003668

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Hawkins, C , Reeve, G , The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway
Gordon, D I, 'A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain' in Eastern Counties, , Vol. 5, (), 224
National Grid Reference: TF 51320 03668

Sunday, 22 May 2016

1956 Railtour

9.9.1956 Both pics copyright Mike Morant Collection

Just five weeks after I was born, on 9 September 1956, the RCTS Fensman No 2 tour visited the Wisbech and Upwell tramway, the trip being made in open wagons behind loco 11102.

These pics capture the atmosphere of both the line and the experience of a trip along the line in the most basic of accomodation!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Heyday of the Line

An old postcard of the Upwell Tram - dated 1907 - heading towards Wisbech by Blands Trees in front of Inglethorpe Manor, Emneth.

A wonderful postcard shot of the tramway in its heyday, long before the First World War or much in the way of motorised traffic, and 20 years before closure to passengers. It was this shot that first got me interested in this fascinating line, seen in a book in the early 70s.

This may of course become a common sight in the future when oil has vanished, along with road traffic, and many rural and minor lines revert to steam haulage. Whether these future steam trams and tramways will recreate the charm and rural perfection of this scene is anybody's guess ...

Friday, 20 May 2016

50 years on


It is the 20th May 1966 and the last tram from Upwell trundles alongside Elm Rd towards Wisbech East Station and the goods yard. Despite the uniqueness of this tramway and its connection with the Rev Awdry and Toby the Tram engine etc. the Wisbech Town Council seems to have no interest at all in this part of its heritage. This will be the only commemoration of its passing in Wisbech today - how sad.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Upwell station


Upwell station 1900s PC.

Upwell station with G15 127 pre 1913.

UPWELL STATION 1973. Photo by Peter Howie.

Info (from Wikipedia)
Upwell railway station was a station in UpwellNorfolk on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway. It was opened in 1883 to carry passengers and agricultural wares to Wisbech where they would go to market, or be shipped off to other towns or cities. It remained open to passengers only till 1927, when competition from motorised buses forced this service to end. It carried on with the goods, carry produce from the surrounding farms.
It was finally closed in 1966 as part of the Beeching Axe and shortly afterwards the line to Wisbech was taken up. The village signs inUpwell still bear a picture of a tram recognising the heritage of the settlement. It was during several visits that the Reverend .W. Awdry, author of the Railway Series, was inspired to come up with the character of Toby the Tram Engine modelled on the trams that worked the line.
Today not only is the Upwell Tramway gone, but so are the main lines that used to serve Wisbech. Today the farm produce travels almost entirely by road.
The site of the former station has recently been converted into a car park for the health centre (doctors' surgery) in Upwell.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Class G15 Wisbech and Upwell Steam Trams

The classic Wisbech and Upwell tram engine, which later gained worldwide fame as 'Toby' in Reverend Awdry's Railway Stories, was class G15, ten of which were built between 1883 and 1897. Designed by the GER's Locomotive Superintendent T W Worsdell they resembled a goods brake van, fitted with skirts and cowcatchers, condensing apparatus, spark arrestors, automatic governors and warning bells, to make them safe on the line's mainly roadside track. They were also fitted with controls at both ends and sliding windows all round. 

The locos were rebuilt in the early 20th century, where they were fitted with the 140 psi boilers that were used on the later J70 locos, The last G15/Y6 was withdrawn in 1952 and survived in the Stratford paint shop for another year, before being scrapped.