History of the M&GN
From about 1880 the Lynn & Fakenham and the Yarmouth & North Norfolk Railways now conspired to join together to provide an east-west route between the Midlands & Eastern to the west of Lynn and Yarmouth, way over in the east. To this were added lines from Melton Constable, the new headquarters, to Holt, Sheringham and Cromer to the north and south to Norwich itself.
The joined Railway was in business from 1883 and was called the Eastern & Midlands, with William Marriott as its (civil) engineer and Locomotive Superintendent within a year after that. It was hoped in some quarters that the line would be such an attractive link to the new-fangled east coast holiday resorts from the Midlands that the Midland or Great Northern Railway would buy it up.
This was not the case, however; although both companies offered their help, expertise and support, they stopped short of the outright purchase. It would appear that the E&MR directors had little idea as to how the line could be run for a profit and by the early 1890s, after just a few years as the E&M, the line was declared bankrupt, continuing for some time under administration, but now a ready target for the proprietors of the M&E to the west of Lynn.
In 1893, after protracted negotiations, both the M&E and the E&M became vested in a new Railway – The Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway.
This was to be run by its own officers of Engineer, Locomotive Superintendent and Traffic Manager, reporting to a joint committee of board members of the parent railways. William Marriott, of course, after some lobbying of the parent company directors, was appointed Locomotive Superintendent and Resident Engineer, as he had been for the now defunct E&MR
The M&GN, however, did have an idea as to where profits might be made – the late Victorian institution of paid holidays, combined with Thomas Cook’s early rail tours around Leicester showed the way.
Thus was formed a railway connecting a sparsely populated farming area, dotted with the occasional new holiday resort on the coast, with a ready made market for the farm produce and a return trade of holiday makers, eager to enjoy Clement Scott’s famed ‘Poppyland’ for themselves.