Railway rescuers honoured for 120 years service

From left, Hugh Harkett, Neil; Sharpe, Roger Ison, Andy Ison, Andrew Munden. Keith Ashford is in the locomotive.

From left, Hugh Harkett, Neil; Sharpe, Roger Ison, Andy Ison, Andrew Munden. Keith Ashford is in the locomotive. - Credit: Peter Mayne Allen

Two brothers who helped rescue the North Norfolk Railway 60 years ago have paid a visit to the place still close to their hearts. 

Andy Ison, 79, and his brother Roger, 74, who live in Sheringham, have been presented with framed commemorative photographs to honour the work they have done for the heritage attraction, over a combined total of 120 years. 

Neil Sharpe, chairman of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railways Preservation Society - the NNR's major shareholder - said: "Andy and Roger’s contribution to making possible what the NNR is today is very special indeed."

The brothers were part of a small group who wanted to save the railway, which was closed in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts. 

Much of the early planning took place around the dining table of their parents’ home in Buckhurst Hill in Essex, and on trips to north Norfolk made in an old Commer minibus.

Roger said he remembered taking part in decision-making as a 15-year-old and visiting a rail depot in Stratford on a cold January morning in 1962, where they looked at withdrawn steam locomotives that might be acquired.

One of these was the B12 locomotive 8572 which came to Sheringham in 1967 and has been the flagship of the NNR.

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Over the years the brothers - who moved to Norfolk in the 1970s - have seen the society's membership grow and have been there for milestones in the railway’s history including the arrival of locomotives and stock in 1967, the opening of the line first to Weybourne in 1975 and then to Holt in 1989, and dining trains travelling as far as Cromer on the NNR and the National Rail tracks.

A busy scene at North Norfolk Railway Station at Sheringham as passengers board the 10.45 a.m. steam

The Ison brothers have seen many milestones in the history of the North Norfolk Railway. In this file photo from 1982, passengers board a train at the railway's Sheringham station for Weybourne. - Credit: Archant archive

The framed photos they were presented with included the caption: "Marking a combined 120 years’ service and dedication to the M&GNJR Society and the North Norfolk Railway (1961–2021) by Andy and Roger Ison.

"A significant and highly commendable contribution to our work.

Thank you for all that you have done.”

The presentation was made on a significant day, the last day in service of the B12 before a major overhaul.

After the presentation at the railway's Sheringham station, Roger travelled on the footplate of the B12 on a return trip to Holt whilst Andy made the same journey in one of the carriages.