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The Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway to Poppyland (ePub)

From the Midlands to Norfolk & Norwich

Colour eBooks P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 19th Century Photographic eBooks Transport > Trains & Railways

By Rob Shorland-Ball
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
File Size: 135.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 120
Illustrations: 95 colour illustrations & a system map
ISBN: 9781526790101
Published: 2nd February 2023


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M&GNJR was a Midlands to East Anglia railway linking towns and villages like a patchwork knitted together by clever business entrepreneurs. It started in the 1850s when there was intense rivalry between railway companies and two rich and powerful companies – MR and GNR – were behind the project. ‘Joint,’ added by a Special Act of Parliament in 1893, confirms this patchwork was the amalgamation of several small independent railway companies plus the MR and GNR. The company was especially interested in stealing a march on the Great Eastern Railway (GER) which believed it was the principal railway serving East Anglia. Poppyland was the nickname created for the Cromer area of the Norfolk coast by Clement Scott, an influential poet, author and drama critic of The Daily Telegraph who first visited in 1883. He claimed that ‘. . . clean air laced with perfume of wild flowers was opiate to his tired mind.’ Scott publicised his delight and many rich families, and their servants, visited too; the railway business entrepreneurs saw a growing market for their patchwork. The M&GNJR grew eastwards to Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and attracted passengers from the Midlands and London. The M&GNJR grew – then withered as cars, buses, overseas travel offered new holiday options. Closure came on 28 February 1959 but North Norfolk Railway – the Poppy Line – has survived as a heritage line so the Joint is not forgotten!

"...this is a specialist book..."

The Journal of the Friends of the National Railway Museum - Autumn 2023, Issue 185

This is an elegant production too, well put together as would be expected from Pen & Sword and extensively – and appropriately – illustrated by both maps and pictures in colour and black and white.

This is an engaging book which is an enjoyable and satisfying read. It takes a different approach from the existing more formal histories and acts as a complement to them . . .

Backtrack Magazine - September 2023

As featured by

Railway and Canal Historical Society

. . . this is a fresh view through the eyes of a teacher, geographer, and railway social historian who addresses the subject in 21st century language.

With this understood, we now learn why the M&GN was once so important, weaving a pathway from the East Midlands to the far side of Norfolk via Norwich, with tentacles to Leicester and Peterborough. It tapped the docks trade, tourism, the abundant supply of farm produce, and carried a few local passengers into the bargain. All of this was easy prey for road competition, and almost all the M&GN was shut on February 28th 1959. How much was BR mismanagement to blame?

....it does put an impassioned perspective on the life and times of a network that did it's job well for almost 70 years, and then disappeared off the map.

Steam World, June 2023

As featured in

The LNER Society Newsletter

Review as featured in

Highlight: '... a book that draws attention to this fascinating and mostly lost system...'

Best of British

"A book that draws attention to this fascinating and mostly lost system has to be a good thing."

Best of British Magazine - May 2023

Review as featured in

Rail Express

Article: "Railway bringing holidaymakers to Poppyland".

Eastern Daily Press - Tuesday March 21, 2023

As featured in

Suffolk and Norfolk Life

As featured in

The Bookseller, Jan 23

About Rob Shorland-Ball

Rob Shorland-Ball is a former teacher, deputy head of the National Railway Museum, railways and industrial heritage consultant. In this book he explores a cross-country railway patchwork from the Midlands to Lowestoft, and Norfolk seaside resorts en route. Rob’s books always explore connections – knitting a railway patchwork together and how it worked. And people stories too. M&GNJR was much loved and is recalled today by a preserved station at Whitwell & Reepham and the North Norfolk Railway at Sheringham.

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