Friday, 15 July 2016
Fit For Royalty
I remember the day well. Sitting on the train, next to the window, clutching my bucket and spade, with the harsh material of the seats prickling the backs of my legs. All went well as we sped along towards the seaside. Then, as we pulled out of Kings Lynn station, disaster struck - the train stated going backwards! Tears were averted as Mum explained that this always happened and we were definitely not heading for home.
A little further along we were told to look out for the Queen's station where the Royal Train stopped when she travelled up to Sandringham. I remember a smartly painted station with lots of flowers on the platform.
The section of line from Kings Lynn to Hunstanton closed down long ago and the station's now a private house. But the public are still able to visit and wander the length of the platform, seeing everything much as it was in its royal heyday. There's no admission charge but there's a jar for donations to charity.
In 1862 the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, purchased the Sandringham estate, just 2¼ miles from the projected station at Wolferton. The following year the "wedding special" train for the marriage of the Prince to Alexandra of Denmark used the station. In the following years hundreds of royal trains served the frequent shooting parties and social events hosted by the Prince.
By 1898 it was decided that the little rural station needed to be rebuilt and the Tudor-style buildings we see today were constructed. The royal family continued to use the station till the line was closed in the 1960s.
The station was then sold to Eric Walker, who opened the royal waiting room as a museum to display his collection of royal railway memorabilia. On his death in 1985 it passed to his son who tried to sell the station. Most of the contents were sold off and the buildings were eventually sold to Richard Brown in 2001.
Since then he has carried out extensive renovation and the station now looks as good as ever. So if you're ever speeding along the A149 road, look out for the signs to Wolferton and make the one mile diversion along a narrow road back into history.