Explore the hidden history of a Norfolk town and its forgotten railway

Happy holidaymakers on the steam railcar “Tantivy.”

Happy holidaymakers on the steam railcar “Tantivy.” Photo: A Look Back at the Old Railway Stations between Stalham and Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Ray Woolston Collection

The bad news was that these wonderful books had sold out… the good news is they are back on the market this week.

Over the last eight years Ray “Mr Stalham” Woolston has written half a dozen local history books which have sold like hotcakes.

A picture of Stalham Station taken from the railway bridge looking towards Yarmouth.

A picture of Stalham Station taken from the railway bridge looking towards Yarmouth. The platform opposite was for trains to North Walsham. From Stalham’s Forgotten Railway. - Credit: Ray Woolston Collection

People have been asking me, and Ray, where they can get copies of the books which feature some wonderful old photographs and stories of a different time.

“They are all gone,” said Ray, a retired printer, who formed and is now chairman of the popular Stalham’s Men Shed project – women are very welcome.

I asked if he would consider re-publishing them… and now he has.

Workers at Bracey’s using a “Strigger” machine used to remove stalks from blackcurrants in 1952.

Workers at Bracey’s using a “Strigger” machine used to remove stalks from blackcurrants in 1952. Left to right are Harry Morgan, Percy Punchard, Maggie Gallant, Reggie Brooks and Terry Punchard. - Credit: Ray Woolston Collection

Farmer and fruit grower Dickie King (with the sacks) and Nicholsons threshing outfit harvesting peas in the late 1940s.

Farmer and fruit grower Dickie King (with the sacks) and Nicholsons threshing outfit harvesting peas in the late 1940s. From Stalham – Glimpses of the Past. - Credit: Ray Woolston Collection

Four of his most popular books – featuring railways of course and more – are back on the shelves this week and they are little gems.

We have:

Most Read

  • A Look Back at the Old Railways Stations between Stalham and Great Yarmouth.
  • Stalham’s Forgotten Railway.
  • Stalham Then and Now.
  • Stalham – Glimpses of the Past.

Take it from me, you don’t have to come from Stalham to enjoy these picture books.

And what makes them special is that Ray, born in the town back in 1953, has done his homework and tells the story behind each photo and names most of the people… many of who he knew.

In his first book in 2014 - Stalham Then and Now - former Stalham High School Headmaster, Roy D Turley, wrote the foreword saying: “I am sure Roy will elicit, ‘I never knew that,’ from many of his younger readers, together with, ‘it was a lot better in those days,’ from those of more mature years.

A steam engine with three trailers taking people on a Sunday School outing to Eccles Beach in around 1910

A steam engine with three trailers taking people on a Sunday School outing to Eccles Beach in around 1910. From Stalham Then and Now. - Credit: Ray Woolston Collection

The wherries moored up at the Granaries at Wayford Bridge on the river Ant.

The wherries moored up at the Granaries at Wayford Bridge on the river Ant. From Stalham Glimpses of The Past. - Credit: Ray Woolston Collection

A 1944 photograph of Wm. Bracey’s many barrels used to send fruit pulp to jam making companies.

A 1944 photograph of Wm. Bracey’s many barrels used to send fruit pulp to jam making companies. Can you spot Harry Nicholls and “Tick” Gallant? - Credit: Ray Woolston Collection

“Whatever the response, I was personally captivated by the words and pictures and would recommend the book to readers of all ages,” he said.

And, as an added bonus, Ray has published a 2023 calendar, Stalham’s Lost Railway Calendar at £5.95. The photographs are great.

Two railway workers pose under the Stalham for Happisburgh & Palling on Sea sign at Stalham Station

Two railway workers pose for the photograph with a boy and his dog under the Stalham for Happisburgh & Palling on Sea sign at Stalham Station. From A Look Back at the Old Railway Stations between Stalham and Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Ray Woolston Collection

The Midland Express from Yarmouth Beach Station steaming through Horning in 1935

The Midland Express from Yarmouth Beach Station steaming through Horning in 1935. From Stalham’s Forgotten Railway. - Credit: Ray Woolston Collection

The books, have been printed by Catton Print, and cost £8.95 each. A £1 donation from each copy sold goes to the Stalham Men’s Shed.

They are available from Forrests in Stalham,  Jarrold and City Books in Norwich, The Museum of the Broads and from Ray at raywoolston@hotmail.com

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