Day trip 5 – Wolferton

Morning all. Welcome to another guest post from the fabulous Rambler5319. Enjoy!

This is another of my days out from the holiday. This time it was to Wolferton. Never heard of it? I think most people won’t have. The village is built round a kind of U-shape made by the main route through. The approach roads to the U-shape actually form a X shape (check the satellite view on Google). Imagine the bottom of the X joining the top of the U and you’ve got the idea. You can drive down by turning off the main A149 and just keep on the same road and it will bring you back via the U and the other part of the X-shape to the A149 a little further along.

Why is the place interesting? Well primarily because this is the place which was used by the Royal Family when they travelled by train from London to their Sandringham House about 3 miles away. Apparently Queen Victoria’s son (the future) Edward VII had asked her to buy Sandringham House for himself and his bride to be, Alexandra; and she did! Within 2 years though he decided it wasn’t big enough so had it enlarged.

Wolferton Station is where the train stopped and the Royals and their guests would be picked up either by horse & carriage in the early days or by motorised transport in later years. Those guests included crowned heads of state from many foreign countries. As I walked along the platform I realised I was walking where Queen Victoria had walked (Prince Albert had died the year before it opened). Rasputin also visited on his way to see King George V but the king wouldn’t see him and told the station master to send him away! Other visitors over the years who have walked this platform include: the King & Queen of Denmark, the King & Queen of Portugal, the Emperor & Empress of Germany, the King & Queen of Spain. Just a year after it opened Edward VII (Prince of Wales) married Princess Alexandra (of Denmark) at Windsor and they travelled to Sandringham via the station at Wolferton. When it underwent a reconstruction in 1898, amongst other things, royal waiting rooms were added so that they (and any guests) had somewhere to sit in case transport was delayed getting to them or they needed somewhere to wait for a train if they were leaving the area. (The station closed in May 1969; it had been open for 107 years.)

Around the time the station opened there were about 30 houses in the village and a population of 179. It appears to have peaked around the time of the 1901 Census at 234 (and 46 houses) and is presently around 100 according to a recent press report.

After the station closed the property was split up and sold off as private housing. Initially it was run as a museum but proved financially unviable. It was sold again and the man who now owns the west side platform turned it into a restoration project. It is brilliant! You get a real sense of how much time & effort he’s put into it – and it shows. The place is spotless and a pleasure to walk around.

image

Just along from this is the way in. Note the small sign on the post saying it’s ok to go in and walk around.

Just as I was taking the pics outside a guy had just come out of the gate and stopped to talk to me. Turns out he actually worked on the line back in the 1960s. It was great hearing about the “old days” when he was a guard and especially since the whole line has gone; he really brought the place to life with his stories of how things were.

image

And behind over the road was the signal box also now in private hands.

image

Here’s where the track used to be between the platforms.

image

You can see that the platform on the right belongs to a different owner and is fenced off. Would have been nice to see the whole station refurbished but you have to accept that not everyone likes people walking through their property.

Here is something interesting. In case of fire there were five buckets of water hanging on the wall. The notice, if you enlarge it, simply says that they must be kept full of water and used only in case of fire. I’m thinking you couldn’t do much with 5 buckets but I suppose it depends how big the fire is.

image

And a luggage trolley

image

And a bike

image

A little reminder of how we used to fill our cars with petrol. The pump of course was operated by the garage owner not by you. Self-service petrol was still some way in the future.

image

Check this next sign out.

image

A car cost 1/- (5p) for a day; for a week 2/6 (12.5p); for a month 7/6 (37.5p); for 3 months 20/- (£1); and for 1 year £3. Yes a year’s parking, all day, for £3! Pity it was undated but clearly from a long time ago.

Next is a list of all the companies who have operated trains which called at Wolferton (on the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton line). Check out the note underneath that list – the guy responsible for getting the railway built (Henry LeStrange) died just a couple of months before it opened in Oct 1862.

image

Next are a few signs of railway memorabilia.
image

Note on this display the sign under the Ladies Room – well thought out that one.

On this next one I hope you can see the long narrow sign in the centre. Failure to shut and fasten the gate could cost you a fine of 40 shillings (£2). Now remember the car parking fees. It was only £3 for a year’s parking

image

Even in a fairly small village station like this the Station Master has his own office.

image

But there’s more. A short way from the station was the station master’s house – a substantial detached property! This was definitely THE job to have round here in days gone by. One Master who retired in 1925 had done 40 years in the post!

On the way out of the village I saw the sign. It was donated by George V in 1912. If you enlarge the post in the area to the bottom left of the horizontal bar with “Church” on you can just about see that info. The main part of the sign illustrates the Norse legend of Tyr (a god of war, son of Odin). I’m not sure why. Anyway the story goes that the gods decided to restrain the wolf (Fenrir) by using shackles. However the wolf was too strong and broke every one. Cutting a long story short the gods then got a special shackle of rope made from rather odd ingredients. Fenrir said he would only allow them to bind him if one of them would put their hand in his mouth. Tyr volunteered and after the wolf was bound and couldn’t break free he bit off Tyr’s right hand (although some sources don’t specify which hand). However on the village sign Tyr is shown putting what appears to be his left hand in the wolf’s mouth; so the beast was tamed, but Tyr lost his hand! I’m not sure what the other elements of the sign represent. Interestingly the Anglo Saxons spelling of Tyr’s name is Tiw which led to Tiwesdaeg, and hence to our modern Tuesday.

image

The station has been owned by Richard Brown since 2000 and he’s done a fantastic job of renovation & restoration. It’s really worth a visit.

Oh and as well as my photos I picked up a couple of bookmarks (free of charge).

image

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: