Reedham Junction then and now (2017-2022)

HUGE CHANGES have taken place at Reedham Junction since I spent a wonderful day there exactly five years ago (on 17 March 2017), with a protracted project to re-signal the Wherry Lines finally completed in February 2020, bringing an end to this marvellous outpost of semaphore signalling.

Five years ago Reedham Junction Signal Box controlled the double track Norwich-Lowestoft route and a junction with the single line to Great Yarmouth via Berney Arms. This was shut for almost two years when the signal box here was closed on 22 March 2019 and connection to the Berney Arms route was temporarily severed.

Back in March 2017, before the re-signalling work began, the 60-lever frame in a 1904-vintage Great Eastern Railway signal box controlled a total of 14 semaphore signals and an unusual three-track section of line between the signal box and divergence of the two routes a few hundred yards to the east.

Spending a day at Reedham on 17 March 2017 I had tried to capture the soon-to-be-lost scene here, at a time when there were no less than two loco-hauled “short sets” in service, so five years on seemed like a good time to pay a return visit and show what has changed through a few “then and now” photos. 

Besides the obvious signalling changes, the track layout here has been simplified and the rolling stock in use then, comprising Class 153/156 units along with the Class 37 and Class 68-worked short sets, replaced by the new Stadler Class 755 bi-mode units, which seem to have overcome their problematic entry into service on the Wherry Lines. 

Five years ago the 11.36 service from Norwich to Great Yarmouth via Berney Arms was formed of a single unit 153306, which is seen above passing the signal box. The same service on 17 March 2022 (pictured below) was formed of 755405.

The top photo, taken from Mill Road over-bridge, shows one of the two short sets, powered by DRS 68003/016, departing Reedham with the 12.05 service from Norwich to Lowestoft, with a fine line of telegraph poles on the right. 

A present day view from that bridge (above) shows that service passing the same, rather changed, location exactly five years later, in the hands of 755410, but with the line of telegraph poles still in place.

 For another view of the former lay-out and signalling at Reedham, this view (above) looking east from the Witton Green over-bridge towards Mill Road shows the three track layout and semaphores, with the Reedham Swing Bridge down distant signal below the Reedham Junction down section signal RJ6, just in front of the Mill Road bridge. The rather changed current layout can be seen in the photo below.

Looking west from the Witton Green bridge towards Reedham station, the 2017 view above shows up signals RJ53 before the station and RJ52 beyond, with down home signal RJ3 beneath the bridge, a scene that is also very much changed in the 2022 view below.

Moving on to another great vantage point at Reedham – an over-bridge just north of the swing bridge on Holly Farm Road – the 2017 view above shows 68003/68016 passing Reedham Junction up distant signal (RJ60) with the 14.57 Lowestoft to Norwich, while the view below shows DRS 37425 “Sir Robert McAlpine/Concrete Bob” and 37423 “Sprit of the Lakes” (rear) approaching the swing bridge with 14.55 Norwich to Lowestoft.

While the up distant signal was removed when Reedham Junction Signal Box was closed on 22 March 2019, the Reedham Swing Bridge down home signal seen here survived for almost another year until completion of the Wherry Lines re-signalling in February 2020. Today there is no signalling to be seen as 755405 approaches with 2J76 from Norwich (12.55) to Lowestoft (photo below). 

Another vantage point I visited exactly five years ago was Church Dam Level Crossing, on the Berney Arms route just east of Mill Road, from where 156409 can be seen approaching the junction and up signal RJ55 with the 15.17 Great Yarmouth to Norwich. A current view (below) shows that same service in the hands of 755414.

One final then and now shot from the station platform shows 37423 (front) and 37425 (rear) about to pass Reedham Junction Signal Box with the 15.48 Lowestoft to Norwich (photo above) while the current view (below) shows 755423 arriving with the same service on 17 March 2022, just as 755419 departs for Lowestoft. 

On a gloriously sunny St Patrick’s Day Reedham was a delightful place to re-visit, particularly when I had been able to buy advance singles that got me from Liverpool Street to Reedham for just £15.80 return (with railcard). It is a charmingly quiet and sprawling village to walk around, with the added bonus of some fine local ale from the village’s Humpty Dumpty Brewery at the Ship Inn, very close to the Holly Farm Road over-bridge and adjacent to the famous swing bridge.

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