Orbital railway loses out - on a whim!

A speculator 'on a whim' has unwittingly dealt a blow to campaigners' plans to create an orbital railway around Norfolk. Members of the Norfolk Orbital Railway company had appealed to anyone interested in the former-railway land at Pudding Norton, near Fakenham, not to bid on it at an auction in Norwich on Tuesday.

A speculator 'on a whim' has unwittingly dealt a blow to campaigners' plans to create an orbital railway around Norfolk.

Members of the Norfolk Orbital Railway company had appealed to anyone interested in the former-railway land at Pudding Norton, near Fakenham, not to bid on it at an auction in Norwich on Tuesday.

The group had got together �7,500 to buy the 3.5acre site with former track bed and two railway bridges, valued at �3000-�5,000.

It forms part of their plans for an orbital railway, joining the main lines with the Mid Norfolk Railway and North Norfolk Railway, which would connect through Holt, Melton Constable, Fakenham and North Elmham.


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But Giles de Lotbiniere, who was unaware of the group's plans, beat the group and other bidders with a final �12,000 bid.

David Rees, chairman of the Norfolk Orbital Railway project, said: 'I'm flabbergasted, we never thought it would go for that sort of money, it has no access and cannot be developed.

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'It is unfortunate and to buy it on a whim is a pity after all the studies we have done.

'But it is not the end of the world. As far as our railway project is concerned it is protected in the local plan for railway use.'

Mr Lotbiniere, managing director of Lignacite, a concrete and masonry manufacturing company in Brandon, said he is a 'bit of a sucker for buying stupid things at auction'.

'I only saw it yesterday,' he said. 'I just like the look of something because it is quirky and different. I just tend to turn up and buy things. It's mad but it seems to work.'

Mr Lotbiniere, who lives at Brandon Hall, near Brandon, said �3,000-�5,000, the guide price, looked good for a 3.5acre site sitting on the edge of a town.

He added he had no plans for the site yet and had not been to visit it yet.

Auction surveyor Robert Hurst said: 'A number of individuals were bidding on the land. I thought it would go for under �10,000. In the end three people were fighting it out for it.'

He said other interest for the land came from a scout group and the railway enthusiasts.

The previous owner bought the site for �2,500 25 years ago and sold the ballast left by the railway line. Since then nothing has been done with the land, except use by dog walkers, said Mr Rees.

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