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Paston & Knapton railway station

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The Station

The pristine brickwork of the station building in the picture on the right, and the fresh white paint on the gates show that the station has only just been built, while the horse and trap in the yard are a sign of more leisurely times.

The Paston and Knapton railway station was the first stop on the Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Railway line after leaving North Walsham for Cromer.   It was built by Cornish & Gaymer of North Walsham in the “arts & crafts” style (similar to the station at Gayton Road) to serve the settlements of Paston and Knapton, though it was nearer to Paston.

The station was originally going to be called Knapton, but after representations from Paston it was decided to add Paston to the name, hence Paston & Knapton.
But there was only one bench on the platform which had already been ordered, and here it is…  the seat back from the only bench on Knapton Station’s platform

Seatback from the only bench at Knapton station

Built with a single side platform and two sidings, passenger traffic was light but truckloads of mangolds, swedes and sugar beet made the station the principle beet-loading centre for the area.  There was a tablet released Ground Frame in a small cabin which the train crew used to operate the points after the station became an unmanned halt.

Knapton Station when new
Paston & Knapton Railway Station
Paston & Knapton Railway Station
The People

From the 1800s until recently, the Station Master was the key authority figure in the railway station, responsible for its smooth running and all of its staff.

Our station had a Station Master from when it first opened and in 1900, that was Arthur H Sayer.

By the following year, according to the 1901 Census, Alfred Harvey had taken over as Station Master.   Alfred was born in Cambridge and started his career as a Railway Clerk at Hindolveston, Norfolk.
By the 1911 Census Alfred had moved to Corpusty in Norwich and was still a Station Master.

The 1911 Census also tells us that there were now several Knapton residents working for the Railway;

  • Aged 25, John Edward Bunting of Grimston, Norfolk was the new Station Master living in the Station House with his young family
  • James Yaxley, also aged 25 and born in Knapton, was the Porter
  • The son of Knapton’s schoolmistress was the Railway Clerk.   Frederick Cooper was 18yrs old and living with his widowed mother, Selina, in the School House in Hall Lane
  • Thomas Coe, aged 55 and his son Elijah, aged 24, both from Saxthorpe, were platelayers
Elijah Coe and father Tom outside the station

Elijah Coe and father, Tom | 1940

After the First World War economies became necessary and it was decided to administer the station from Mundesley and leave a senior porter in charge.

Elijah Coe eventually became the Senior Porter in around 1940.

But things didn’t really improve and following a reduction in rail traffic which was primarily caused by Cromer’s decline in popularity as a holiday destination after the Second World War, Paston & Knapton Station became an unstaffed halt In the 1950s.

a memory…

One of our residents used to catch the train at Knapton station, after it had become a Halt, on his daily journey to college in North Walsham and he remembers hearing the phone ringing in the station building each time he waited, even though the station was unmanned.   The staff at Mundesley station, less than two miles away, would ring the phone in Knapton station just as the train left Mundesley to let everyone waiting know that it was on it’s way and would arrive in a few minutes.

Track side view of Knapton station building.

Paston & Knapton station
as viewed from across the track

Paston & Knapton station viewed from the track

Paston & Knapton station building
as viewed from the track

The Beeching Cuts signalled the closure of the line.    The station closed to passengers on 5th October 1964 and finally closed to goods traffic on 28th December 1964

The last trains…

The last steam engine at Knapton with Richard Wild on the platform and a DMU on 3rd October 1964 – closure day

Within months of closure…

From when it was closed to around 12 months later, the windows are boarded and the tracks have gone

The station since…

All that remains is part of the platform and the station building which is now a private home

Our villager’s memories and recollections

Biddy Fisher :: School Outing

We received an email from Biddy asking if we would like a photo of her class waiting at Knapton station to go on a school trip, taken by her father in around 1958.   If you were there, would you like to share a memory…

Knapton Station 1958
I am fairly certain (the photo) was taken by my Father, Cyril Fisher as we departed for a day trip.  It might have been to Norwich but equally it might have been London.  Maybe some of my school mates will recall  more accurately.
Biddy Fisher
Front row – Biddy Fisher, Mary Steward, Pearl Hicks (RIP), June Wild, Keith Lubbock, John Lubbock
Back row – Linda Fawkes or Mary Puncher, Sylvia White, Gillian Plant (obscured) Dennis Allen, Geoffrey Plant, Nevil Coe, David White
Standing behind us all is Mrs Kathleen Johnson, Headmistress of Knapton County Primary School