History of the M&GN
The Midland Railway and the Great Northern Railway had jointly acquired the Eastern & Midlands Railway in Norfolk in 1893. Along with their previous holding west of Lynn – the Midlands & Eastern, the complete system was henceforward administered by a Joint Committee, made up of Board members from both parent companies. This brought much needed new investment and the Committee promptly set about making the railway a much more viable proposition for both passengers and freight.
It was at this time that Sheringham Station was rebuilt to a very high standard to reflect its new holiday resort status. Weybourne Station was splendidly built in 1900/01, again with an eye to the tourist trade.
Also at this time, the feared Great Eastern Railway became a business partner, with the creation of the Norfolk & Suffolk Joint line (joint ownership between the M&GN and the GER). This line linked Cromer High and Cromer Beach stations, went east along the coast via Overstrand and Trimingham to Mundesley, then inland via Paston to connect up again with M&GN metals at North Walsham.
A further line was constructed from Yarmouth Beach, across Breydon Water and directly south to Lowestoft. The swing bridge across Breydon Water, and the line itself, opened in 1903.
The GER connection through to Sheringham finally opened in 1906, giving Sheringham passengers an interesting option of which London train to take – east via Norwich and the GER, or to the west, via M&GN to Peterborough and the parent GNR.
For the next 30 years the railway served Norfolk very well, conveying much farm produce and fish to London, the Midlands and the North and bringing in holidaymakers every summer. The First World War brought much heavy transport to the region, with consequent wear and tear on the infrastructure. The line was never going to be really profitable, though, due to the mainly agricultural and unpopulated land through which it ran.
There was no heavy industry in Norfolk to give the underlying day-to-day profits – everything was seasonal. Despite this the M&GN plodded on, gaining the affectionate title of ‘Muddle and Go Nowhere’, with its cast offs from the parent companies doing an excellent job, once they had been subject to the careful attentions of Melton Works.