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Part of bygone rail network up for sale

PUBLISHED: 09:30 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:36 07 July 2010

Three Brick Arches bridge, part of  old railway land near Fakenham that is to be auctioned next month.

Three Brick Arches bridge, part of old railway land near Fakenham that is to be auctioned next month.

Railway enthusiasts are expected to lead the bids when part of Norfolk's bygone Victorian transport network goes under the hammer next month.

A 3.5-acre plot of land near Fakenham is up for sale which includes 440m of dismantled rail line and two bridges.

Railway enthusiasts are expected to lead the bids when part of Norfolk's bygone Victorian transport network goes under the hammer next month.

A 3.5-acre plot of land near Fakenham is up for sale which includes 440m of dismantled rail line and two bridges.

The overgrown, wooded area is part of the former Great Eastern Railway, built in 1849, which carried passengers between Wymondham and Wells until its closure in 1964.

Included in the sale will be a railway bridge known as the Three Brick Arches, advertised with “some particularly attractive views of the River Wensum.”

Surveyors said the guide price of between £3,000 and £5,000 was sure to tempt anyone with a fondness for the steam age to snap up their very own piece of rail history.

Robert Hurst, of Tops Auction House, said: “The land has only got pedestrian access, you can't grow anything on it and I cannot see anyone getting planning permission to build on it, so the buyer is very likely to be a railway enthusiast.

“The tracks and the sleepers have gone, but the ballast and the stones are still there. A lot of it is overgrown but it still has the feel of the railway.

“The price is cheap for 3.5 acres - a lot of people want to own a bit of England and at that price we are going to have a lot of interest.

“I think it is a good long-term investment. It will become increasingly rare to find such a peaceful location for this money.”

Mr Hurst said railway land was a rarity in the auction market, but the company had also been involved in the 2007 sale of the derelict Whitwell and Reepham station to Mike Urry.

Last night Mr Urry said a lack of potential to run trains on the new auction site meant he was unlikely to add to his investments.

He said: “Being a railway enthusiast myself and having done it, I don't know if I would be interested, but if I had some money spare I would certainly go there out of curiosity. If it was accessible and if there was a possibility of putting some track down and playing with 440m of rail line I might be interested, just to run a train on it as a piece of history.”

But sadly it looks as if it may only be of use as grazing land.

The Great Eastern Railway was formed in 1862 from several smaller subsidiaries after the Eastern Union Railway completed the route from London to Norwich, via Ipswich, in 1849.

The line was closed following British Transport Commission chairman Dr Richard Beeching's sweeping reforms in 1964, but continued running freight trains until the 1980s.

The auction plot at Pudding Norton includes another bridge across the former Midland and Great Northern Line, which closed in 1959.

The site will be auctioned at Dunston Hall near Norwich on February 17.

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