A big day out on the world’s smallest public railway
Take a journey on this 10¼” gauge miniature railway from Wells-next-the-Sea to the historic village of Walsingham, with its famous Abbey and shrines. Relax and enjoy the nostalgic sights and sounds of steam travel on the 4 mile journey through the beautiful Norfolk countryside, clanking over and under bridges, surrounded by wildflowers & butterflies.
The Wells and Walsingham Light Railway is a 10¼” gauge miniature railway running between Wells-next-the-Sea and the village of Walsingham, famous as a centre of pilgrimage. The railway occupies a four-mile section of the trackbed of the former Wymondham to Wells branch line which was closed in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts.
The line starts at Wells Station, on the A149 coast road just south of the town, passes the villages of Warham and Wighton, and terminates at Walsingham Station, just west of Little Walsingham village. The scenic journey takes in five bridges, and stops at Warham St. Mary and Wighton on request.
The line is the longest 10¼” (260 mm) gauge railway in the world, taking 30 minutes each way. Trains run daily between March and November, with additional services over the Christmas holiday and February half term.
The railway uses a variety of carriages – enclosed, semi-open and fully open designs – with both forward and backward-facing seats. Payment can be made by card, cash or cheque, and fares are paid to the guard once you’re seated on the train.
Dogs are welcome to travel on the train. Pushchairs and folding wheelchairs can be accommodated, although please check in advance in you have any special mobility needs or questions.
There’s free parking at Wells Station, with Wi-Fi, toilets, a tearoom and gift shop, and a new gallery and crafts studio. The railway organises childrens’ activities during school holidays with a variety of events to choose from.
Wells & Walsingham Light Railway has two primary stations, Wells Station and Walsingham Station. There are three request stops at The Midden Halt (serving a CL caravan and motohome park), Warham and Wighton Halt.
The Wells terminus is located on the A149 coast road, approximately ½ mile (0.80 km) south of the original Wells railway station. There’s a large car park with free parking.
The restored station signal box – a redundant signal box relocated from Swainsthorpe to Wells – houses the Signal Box Café, a small shop and a waiting room on the ground floor, with an office and staff rooms above.
An old railway carriage in the process of restoration contains a second-hand bookshop and small seating area, and there’s further seating dotted around beside the station platform.
Next door to the signal box is Studio-Line Designs, a new gallery and gift shop showcasing handmade homeware and gifts by local artist Debbie Fisher. Also on offer is a range of gifts by Norfolk born straw artist Sarah Bell. The studio runs workshops throughout the year, including short workshops for children during school summer holidays.
The Walsingham terminus is located on the Egmere Road, opposite Sandy Lane, approximately 250m (800ft) from Little Walsingham village centre.
There are no facilities at the station itself, however it is within easy walking distance of cafés, restaurants and the Bull Inn. The Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and Walsingham Farms Shops are also just a short stroll away.
Wells & Walsingham Light Railway currently operates four locomotives.
Weasel is a brown, tram-style 0-6-0 diesel hydraulic locomotive powered by a Perkins three cylinder diesel engine. Built by Alan Keef, originally in a red, steam outline design, he commenced service in 1985 and is primarily used for off-season, engineering and reserve work.
Norfolk Hero is a navy blue 2-6-0 and 0-6-2 Garratt superheated steam locomotive, named after Admiral Lord Nelson. Built by Neil Simkins in 1986, he entered service in 1987 and is one of the principal engines.
Norfolk Harvester is a navy blue diesel outline Bo-Bo locomotive, powered by a Perkins marine engine. Built by A Mills in 1986, he entered service in 1987, and underwent a rebuild in 2005. He is one of the principal engines.
Norfolk Heroine is a dark red 2-6-0 and 0-6-2 Garratt superheated steam locomotive, named after Edith Cavell. Built by Richard Coleby, she entered service in 2010 and is one of the principal engines.
Having previously built the mile long Wells Harbour Railway which opened in 1976, Lt. Cmdr. Roy Francis set his sights on a new, grander scheme: construction of the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway on four miles of old Great Eastern track bed. He started work on the project in 1979.
The railway was completed in 1982 and on 6th April services began on schedule making it the longest 10¼” narrow gauge steam railway in the world.
Initially “Pilgrim”, an 0-6-0 side tank engine, was the railway’s sole locomotive. In 1985 the 0-6-0 diesel engine “Weasel” entered service as reserve engine.
In 1987 they were joined by the new unique 2-6-0 + 0-6-2 Garratt engine “Norfolk Hero”, and a Bo-Bo diesel powered engine, “Norfolk Harvester”. A second Garratt locomotive “Norfolk Heroine” entered service in April 2011.
Swainsthorpe’s redundant signal box was relocated to Wells in 1987, where the ground floor was converted to provide a shop and café.
A complete history of the railway can be found in the guidebook, available to purchase from the station shop.
Wells & Walsingham Light Railway holds the Guinness World Record – jointly with the Wells Harbour Railway – of the narrowest gauge on which a public railway service is operated, at 260mm (10.25 inches.)
|Children 4 & under travel for free|
|OAP Friday||£2.00 Off Over 65s|
Payment by card, cash or cheque