Martin & Marie Edwards
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Various modes of transport have been used throughout history. Researching family trees often throws up a few facts. Some are listed here.

Bedford Railways

A coal dealer and a gas works emphasise the impact of the Railway Age; the LNWR line from Bedford to Bletchley was opened in 1846. The railway came to Cardington in 1857 when the Midland Railway, encouraged by W.H.Whitbread, constructed their link to the Great Northern line at Hitchin to provide a through route to London. This was the main line until 1868 when the Midland Railway opened the London (St. Pancras) to Bedford extension. Another railway, the Bedford and Cambridge (later London and North Western), built their line from Bedford to Sandy in 1861-2, which cut across the northern corner of the Cardington parish. The arrival of the Midland Railway between 1857-1868 brought a firm of Coal, Lime and Salt Merchants to the Railway Station by 1869. Numerous other railway schemes were proposed between 1844 and 1859, but never built.

  Norfolk Railways 1840-1879

Almost as the villages of Norfolk reached their most populous heights, change came. In some, decline was already beginning, when the first railway in the county was opened on 30th April 1844. Running from Norwich to Yarmouth. It affected no village east of Reedham, a large village where the population was noted as being 614 persons in 1841, but to the west the railway affected the parishes of Blofield Hundred, along the northern banks of the Yare. Stations were built at Cantley, Buckenham Ferry, Brundall and originally at Brandon Junction, where the line between Brandon and Norwich, via Thetford and Wymondham, met the first Norfolk railway. The railway to Brandon, which joined Norwich to London, was opened in July 1845. Early railways in Norfolk were designed to connect towns not to serve villages. Hence stations such as Eccles Road and Harling Road are each distant from the villages to which they refer.

It is three kilometres (two miles) from Harling Road Station to East Harling village. Similarly, the now closed station at Hethersett is over a kilometre from the main road and a further two kilometres from the village. Spooner Row alone seems close to the place which gives the station a name. The first two railways in Norfolk were designed to link towns: Norwich to Yarmouth and Norwich to Ely, Cambridge and London. Another railway from Norwich to London was opened in 1846, using the route via Ipswich. Stations existed at Swainsthorpe, Florden, Forncett, Tivetshall and Burston. Many villages did not have stations and some were by-passed completely. Those villages without stations were Caistor St Edmund, Stoke Holy Cross, Newton Flotman, Tharston, Moulton St Michael and Gissing. Villages completely by-passed were Tasburgh, Scole and Long Stratton on the old coaching road.

A railway was built from the Norwich to Yarmouth line at Reedham to connect Lowestoft with Norwich. Railways came to West Norfolk in 1846, reaching Ely in 1847, but again few villages were affected as the line was designed to connect King's Lynn with London. Stations were built at Denver, Hilgay and Magdalen Road. Contemporary with the railway to London was the construction of a line from King's Lynn to Norwich, joining the Cambridge to Norwich line at Wymondham. The Lynn and Dereham Railway Act received the Royal Assent on 21st July 1845. On 27th October 1846 the single-track railway was opened from Lynn to Narborough. On 10th August 1847 trains ran into Swaffham, and on 26th October 1847 the line reached Sporle but it was not until 11th September 1848 that the line finally arrived at East Dereham. Here it joined the line from Wymondham to Fakenham, opened in 1848, and extended to Wells in 1857. Again towns rather than villages were served. Middleton, Narborough, Little Dunham, Fransham and Wendling were the villages on the Lynn and Dereham Railway. The line to Wells was only double track as far as Dereham..

Stations were built to serve a number of villages: Kimberley, Hardingham, Thuxton, Yaxham, North Elmham, Great Ryburgh, Little Walsingham and Wighton Halt. Only one other line had been opened to serve Norfolk villages when the Great Eastern Railway was formed out of the existing plethora of small, inefficient railway companies, whose reputation was for poor service and slow trains. This was a line from Tivetshall to Bungay. Stations were built at Pulham Market, Pulham St Mary, Ditchingham, Ellingham and Geldestone, the three latter stations being on the extension from Bungay to Beccles opened on 2nd March 1863. Thereafter the Waveney Valley Railway became part of the Great Eastern. Another of the constituents of the Great Eastern was the East Suffolk Railway. This began as the Halesworth, Beccles and Haddiscoe Railway, authorised on 5th June 1851, and opened for passengers on 4th December 1854.

The villages in the Lothingland area were provided with stations: Fritton and Belton and Burgh Castle as was the village of Aldeby. These were opened on 1st June 1859 when the line was extended from Haddiscoe to Great Yarmouth. A line, the East Norfolk Railway, was built to Cromer in 1877 with a branch to Aylsham.

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