Open invite: Calling all Norfolk railway employees

Published: 5:45 AM May 11, 2022 The railway family are getting together again for the first time in three years on Friday (May 13)... and if you were part of the family then this is your invitation to join the party. The Norwich Loco Welfare Fund has kindly sponsored the reunion of the footplate staff and colleagues from other grades and depots are all very welcome to join former colleagues for a long overdue catch-up.

Norwich railway workers.Third class ticket office, Thorpe Station, Norwich.
/p
pDate: 1950's. Picture: E

Norwich railway workers.Third class ticket office, Thorpe Station, Norwich. Date: 1950's. - Credit: Archant

Porters use a trolley known as BRUTE ( British Rail Universal Trolley Equipmen

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

There has always been a special bond of friendship between all those who worked on the vast railway network which criss-crossed Norfolk. Drivers, conductors, engineers, porters, controllers, shunters, signalmen, caterers, firemen, office staff, managers, cleaners and many more.

Loading of parcels and small freight at Thorpe railway station, Norwich, was s

Loading of parcels and small freight at Thorpe railway station, Norwich, was speeded up with the introduction of BRUTES (British Railway Universal Truck Equipment). The picture shows the special trailers being towed by a tug 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 comradeship remains. It wasn't so much a job.

More a way of life. Keeping the city and county on the move. Passengers, goods and mail.

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

John Pipe

John Pipe - Credit: Archant Former driver and talented boxer John lived at 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 on the railways and had been chairman of the Norwich branch of ASLEF and founder member of the Norwich Loco Welfare Fund.

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

Railway workers reunion at Arkwright's Social Club, Norwich. - Credit: Archant Library/Antony Kelly

Railway reunion.

Railway reunion. - Credit: Submitted "We are all part of a big family and I hope we can do all we can to look after each other," John once told me. And he reflected: "Its's amazing now when you look at Riverside in Norwich, with all the shops and houses, and remember how it was with all the engine sheds and other railway buildings."

Railway workers reunion at Arkwright's Social Club, Norwich.
/p
pLeft to Right: Len Sampher, Johnny Pipe

Railway workers reunion at Arkwright's Social Club, Norwich. Left to Right: Len Sampher, Johnny Pipe, Leo Dugdale, Albert Rackham and Derek Bridges. - Credit: Archant/Antony Kelly

There was a time when Norwich has 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 are just part of local history. The reunion is taking 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. More details from Chris Pearson on 01362 691045 or 07776 123206. For more old photos and articles about Norfolk history and heritage, subscribe to our fortnightly Through the Decades email newsletter.

Sign up by clicking here.