History of the Society
As both organisations entered the 1990s the North Norfolk Railway project was punching below its weight compared to other similar organisations. The J15 was in need of an overhaul but the Society had no funds to undertake this work and after a number of false dawns the B12 overhaul was proceeding only at a very slow pace, dictated by the limited financial and human resources available to the Society. The Quad Articulated set of coaches – unique in Railway preservation and adjudged by the National Railway Museum to be of national importance – languished in a siding, again with no resources to restore them. The dream of a permanent museum facility remained just that.
Things started to look up in mid-1990s with the return to traffic of the B12. Much of the technical work on the mechanical side had been completed by Bill Harvey and his small but professional and dedicated team at Weybourne – often they worked out in the open with little in the way of machinery and tools. To give the locomotive the final push to get it back in traffic it was sent to Germany for re-assembly and returned to NNR metals in 1994. Sadly Bill Harvey died the year before the B12 returned to traffic but is fondly remembered by all in the Society for the contribution that he and his small team made towards the locomotive’s restoration.
The success of the B12 restoration acted as a catalyst for improvements and investment:
A project to restore the Quad Articulated set was launched and with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and sponsorship by a number of generous supporters, the Quads were returned to the NNR fully restored in 2007.
Further support from the HLF saw the construction of a carriage shed to store both these and other historic vehicles away from the elements of a Norfolk winter.
The J15 was overhauled again – and this time acquired a virtually new boiler in the process.
A main line diesel (Brush Type 2/Class 31) was acquired – typifying the early diesels that were used in the East Anglian area and even on the M&GN in its later years.
The Joint Heritage Coach Fund was set up under the Society's umbrella to provide a dedicated fund to acquire and restore historic rolling stock. A vintage Victorian passenger train has been painstakingly constructed from the most derelict of vehicles. A freight train is gradually being put together and the ultimate dream of a main line set of teak carriages is the next challenge.
Thanks to the generosity of a benefactor the Society acquired a further main line locomotive - ex-War Department Austerity 2-10-0. This locomotive is currently the subject of a major overhaul.
In 2005 the Society secured a permanent home for its museum collection – in a replica Goods Shed based at Holt. The William Marriott Museum has won many accolades for its displays and layout which tell the story of the M&GN and include items of further railway interest.
The launch of the Loco Club in March 2011 has led to the Society's fastest growing support group. The club supports all the Society's locomotives and has allowed greater investment in their maintenance and overhaul.
Wissington – An 0-6-0ST of Hudswell Clarke origin was fully restored and returned to traffic in 2012 by a small but dedicated team of volunteers – over 30 years after its arrival on the NNR in 1978.
And the B12 has been overhauled again returning to the NNR fleet in 2012 resplendent in LNER Apple Green livery.