The Bure Valley Railway
Photo Courtesy of the BVR
The Railway Today
The Bure Valley Railway is a modern 15" gauge passenger railway built with
tourist traffic in mind. It is remarkable for being by far the most ambitious
project of this kind in post war Britain. Modern locomotives, both steam and
diesel, haul trains of comfortable modern rolling stock some of which has
electric heating for use during the colder parts of the season.
Having been built so recently the Bure Valley Railway obviously lacks the
fascinating history in which so many other lines are steeped. None the less
it remains a railway in it's own right and at nine miles length it has to be
seen as one of the countries major narrow gauge lines.
The railway runs through the pleasant Norfolk countryside, well known for its
pastoral tranquillity and for the Broads, a picturesque series of lakes which
are the remains of ancient peat cuttings. The line's headquarters is located at
the old market town of Aylsham which is, in itself, well worth a visit.
Nine miles from the Aylsham terminus lies Wroxham station on the edge of
the Broads. Many a boating holiday starts from Wroxham, as do a variety of boat
trips. A special rail and boat ticket is available for one of these combining
the return rail journey with a broadland boat ride.
|A high level of passenger comfort!|
The line is extremely well equipped in all respects with modern track, locos,
rolling stock and buildings. Most passengers board the train at Aylsham Station
where the large modern buildings include cafe, shop, museum and workshop.
The permanent way is to a standard not often seen on the British narrow gauge
with rails bought new in 1989 mounted in chairs with Pandrol 'e' clips (smaller
versions of the ubiquitous pandrol system used by Railtrack) on wooden sleepers.
Amongst the locomotive stock "Blickling Hall" and "Spitfire" are outstanding.
These two are real departures from the 15" scale model concept. Although based
on larger narrow gauge locomotives they are first and foremost purpose designed
15" gauge engines. With their tall funnels and large cabs they offer comfort for the
driver, these elegant machines may be considered the pinnacle of the British 15"
Another outstanding feature of the Bure Valley Railway is the solidly constructed
and comfortable passenger accommodation. The carriage doors shut with a satisfying
clunk and all the seats are comfortably upholstered. The loading gauge of the line is
large by 15" standards and so the accommodation is spacious too.
All in all the Bure Valley Railway provides a very comfortable ride through
countryside which is green and pleasant in an area where narrow gauge railways are
all too scarce.
|The entire loco stud at the BVR|
Photo Courtesy of the BVR
History and Origins
The current narrow gauge railway is built on a part of the track bed of the
Midland and Great Northern Railway which closed through lack of traffic in the
1950's. The track bed ultimately fell into the hands of the British Rail
Property Board who sought to dispose of this surplus asset. Many miles of
disused railways in the UK have been converted into footpaths and this is
indeed what happened to much of the M&GNR track. The stretch from Wroxham to
Aylsham however was to have a slightly different fate.
The Aylsham to Wroxham section was acquired by The Broadlands District Council
in 1987 and half it's width converted to a footpath, the remainder of the land
was leased to the Bure Valley Railway company. In 1989 the company began
construction of the first new narrow gauge passenger railway of it's size built
in the UK for at least fifty years. The projects £2.5 million cost was part
funded by the English Tourist Board and the DOE and the railway opened to
passengers in July 1990.
Even in it's short history the railway has been through the periods of
financial uncertainty which seem always to be a part of the narrow gauge story
but in the hands of the current owners, Westernasset Limited, the future seems
Comments on this Railway
Add your comment on this railway.
Jayne and Peter Boulton 03 Dec 2013
Took my two Rottweilers and Jack Russell for the trip from Aylsham to Wroxham and back a couple of summers ago ... they loved it. If you see a Rottie head with ears flapping in the wind with her head out of the window say hello to Willow. Unfortunately, my old boy has passed now, but it was a lovely memory we have of him looking out of the window, watching the countryside rush by. Wasnt cheap taking the dogs on, but worth every penny. Lovely lunch in Wroxham, then back again. Tourists take advantage, its a wonderful way to get into Wroxham for shopping.
David 25 Dec 2011
What size is the rail and what Pandrol clips did the Burr use for its impressive track?