Norfolk railway workers invited to meeting in Sprowston

Published:
05h45 11 May 2022



The railroad family is getting together again for the first time in three years on Friday (May 13)…and if you were part of the family, here’s your invitation to join the party.

The Norwich Loco Welfare Fund graciously sponsored the rig staff reunion and colleagues from other grades and depots are all welcome to join former colleagues for a long overdue catch-up.


Norwich Railway Workers.Third Class Ticket Office, Thorpe Station, Norwich.  Dating: 1950s. Photo: E

Norwich Railway Workers.Third Class Ticket Office, Thorpe Station, Norwich. Date: 1950s.
– Credit: Archant


Porters use a trolley called BRUTE ( British Rail Universal Trolley Equipmen

Porters use a trolley known as a BRUTE (British Rail Universal Trolley Equipment) to load freight onto a train at Thorpe station, Norwich. Dated July 1966
– Credit: Archant Library

There has always been a special bond of friendship between all those who worked on the extensive rail network that crisscrossed Norfolk.

Drivers, Drivers, Engineers, Porters, Controllers, Shunters, Flaggers, Caterers, Firefighters, Office Staff, Managers, Cleaners and many more.


The loading of parcels and small goods at Thorpe station, Norwich, was s

The loading of parcels and small goods at Thorpe station, Norwich has been accelerated with the introduction of BRUTES (British Railway Universal Truck Equipment). The photo shows the special trailers being towed by a towing vehicle. Dated January 1967 Photograph C10640
– Credit: Archant Library

From steam to diesel and electric, there have been so many changes – and short-sighted closures – over the years, but the camaraderie remains.

It wasn’t much of a job. More a way of life. Keeping the city and county moving. Passengers, cargo and mail.

One man who did more than most to keep the family together was the late John Pipe who organized the annual gatherings before his death ten years ago and driver Chris Pearson, with Peter Bacon, took the reins.


jeans pipe

jeans pipe
– Credit: Archant

The talented former pilot and boxer John lived in Hellesdon and was married to Jean. He was a great character and a lovely man who became a good friend.

John, a proud father and grandfather, spent most of his career in the railways and was chairman of the Norwich branch of ASLEF and a founding member of the Norwich Loco Welfare Fund.


Railway workers meeting at Arkwright's Social Club, Norwich.Photo:Antony KellyCopy:DEREK JAMES

Meeting of railway workers at Arkwright’s Social Club, Norwich.
– Credit: Archant Library/Antony Kelly


Railway meeting.

Railway meeting.
– Credit: Submitted

“We are all part of one big family and I hope we can do everything we can to take care of each other,” John once told me.

And he reflected: ‘It’s amazing now when you look at Riverside in Norwich, with all the shops and houses, and remember what it was like with all the engine sheds and other railway buildings.


Meeting of railway workers at Arkwright's Social Club, Norwich.  From left to right: Len Sampher, Johnny Pipe

Meeting of railway workers at Arkwright’s Social Club, Norwich. From left to right: Len Sampher, Johnny Pipe, Leo Dugdale, Albert Rackham and Derek Bridges.
– Credit: Archant/Antony Kelly

There was a time when Norwich had three stations, Thorpe, Victoria and City, while Great Yarmouth had Beach, Southtown and Vauxhall.


Old Norwich Victoria Station

Old Norwich Victoria Station
– Credit: Archant Library


Norwich City station in 1906

Norwich City station in 1906
– Credit: Archant Library

Most of our towns and many villages had their own stations…today too many of them are part of local history.

The meeting takes place at Sprowston Sports & Leisure Club, Blue Boar Lane, Norwich, NR7 8RY on Friday May 13 from 5pm to 9pm. There will be a free buffet and a bar is also available. Further details from Chris Pearson on 01362 691045 or 07776 123206.

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