Quirky new holiday let will see people staying in abandoned railway carriage
PUBLISHED: 15:10 28 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:43 28 January 2020
Copyright: Archant 2020
More than 130 years ago steam trains would be a regular occurrence in the village, dubbed 'the gateway to the Midlands'.
Now, a new holiday let in Melton Constable will see passengers resting their heads in an abandoned train, just metres away from the tracks where they once ran.
Lavender Cottage, in the heart of the village, will be adding a new quirky holiday let to their grounds in 2021.
The cottage, which is located adjacent to the dis-used railway line running south from Melton Constable, already lets an old railway signal box throughout the year.
North Norfolk District Council last week unanimously approved plans which mean the train carriage will be allowed to be converted into a holiday let.
At the NNDC meeting, Andrew Brown, the district councillor for the Stody ward which includes Melton Constable, said: "I don't think we have too many concerns about this application.
"The only concern we have is from the parish council about right of way over a public footpath, we need to be very careful about how the work affects that."
Planning officer Natalie Levett advised that the public footpath would not be blocked by the development.
Councillor Gerard Mancini-Boyle spoke of his concern about health and safety and fire risks and the planning officer said BBQs would be allowed at the let.
The carriage is small and would comprise one bedroom, a bathroom, a living/dining area and one parking space.
Chris and Polly Wake, who bought the carriage from a man in High Kelling who used it as an art studio, said: "I believe the proposal will support the local economy by encouraging visitors to the area and that there is a demand for the property.
"The signal box, which is currently used as a holiday let, is very popular and since it was approved has been fully booked for March to November for 2017, 2018 and 2019 and attracts visitors from all over the UK.
"I am expecting that the railway carriage will also be popular as I do not know of any other similar properties in north Norfolk and it will be very attractive to railway enthusiasts as well as many other people."
The couple plan to let the carriage on Norfolk Hideaways and Norfolk Cottages and hope that it will attract more than tourists.
Mr Wake said: "If somebody has a horse show in the area they would be able to rent our the carriage and also house their horse in our stables instead of in a box."
The Midland and Great Northern Railway arrived in Norfolk in 1882 and the village of Melton Constable was built to support the railway.
At a junction between four lines - arriving from Cromer, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, Norwich and King's Lynn - Melton Constable was known as a gateway to the Midlands for many Norfolk towns and villages.
The village population increased from 118 residents in 1881 to 1,157 by 1911.
Locomotives were built and repaired in the village with components being made on site, leading to more housing being built to attract workers to the area.
The terraced houses were supplied with running water and gas from the railway gas works and the rent was taken directly from workers' wages.
The demise of Melton Constable's association with the railway began in 1934 when it was closed.
Between 1959 and 1964 British Railways reduced passenger and freight services and closed lines.
The last passenger train arrived at Melton Constable from Sheringham at 11.04pm on April 4, 1964 and In April 1971 the demolition of the station began.
Two of the spandrels that supported the station roof now frame the front of the bus shelter near the village sign.
The station platform ran for 800 feet and a special waiting room was built for Lord Hastings and his associates.
The Lord of the Manor, Lord Hastings, was keen to capitalise on the coming of the railways and donated 11 acres of land to the project.
There are plans currently in place for the railway to return to Melton Constable.
The Norfolk Orbital Railway would be created by establishing a connection between two existing heritage railways - the North Norfolk Railway which runs between Sheringham and Holt and the Mid-Norfolk Railway which operates between Wymondham and Dereham.