Melton Constable Trust Update – December 2022

Dear Supporters,

Whilst you may be forgiven for thinking that not a lot has been happening with Norfolk Orbital Railway since we completed the purchase of the land at High Kelling last year – essential for getting the railway back into Holt – behind the scenes, Melton Constable Trust has been extremely busy.

In this Update we will tell you about our work, including:

HOLT NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN – our input into this important local document.

MELTON CONSTABLE TWIN TRACKS PROJECT – an exciting new joint community project highlighting the history and culture of Melton Constable – ‘the Crewe of Norfolk’.


What is a Neighbourhood Plan? Introduced in 2011 to enable communities to play a stronger role in shaping the area in which they live and work, they provide the framework for communities to set out a vision for how they want their community to develop over the next 20 years in ways that meet identified local need and make sense for local people.

Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group comprises twelve members including Town Council Members, the Town Council Clerk and residents representing a cross-section of the community

Melton Constable Trust has been involved through our aim of extending the railway line back into Holt, from its current terminus at North Norfolk Railway’s ‘Holt’ station at High Kelling, which has been included in the draft plan produced by Holt Town Council for public consultation.

Holt Neighbourhood Plan has just completed the final consultation stage before adoption and MCT has made contributions to the Plan which have been well received.

For more information, visit: https://www.holt

David Bill writes: Over the past year we have been meeting with various civic leaders and the responses have been encouraging. In the photograph taken at the offices of the Holt Town Council we see Rodney Smith, the Mayor of Holt, Duncan Baker MP and County Councillor Eric Vardy looking at Joe Penfold’s model of a possible station nearer to the centre of Holt. Mr Baker later told the Eastern Daily Press “It would be absolutely phenomenal and I will be more than supportive to see their plans progress.” Earlier we had had an equally encouraging meeting with the leaders of the North Norfolk District Council at their offices in Cromer.


As you may be aware, the Melton Constable Trust (MCT) is responsible for the Norfolk Orbital Railway (NOR) project, to which many of you have donated and for which we are so grateful.

Without your support we could not have secured two vital areas of land without which the NOR could never become a reality:

  • The Three Brick Arches Bridge site (Bridge 1714) over the River Wensum at Fakenham.
  • The land at High Kelling between North Norfolk Railway’s current terminus at their ‘Holt’ station and the A148 Holt Bypass – former route of the M&GN line to Holt, Melton Constable and thence Fakenham.

NOR is an enormous, complex undertaking that we must look at in stages, working in partnership with many different organizations and groups at each stage.

This summer we took time to look at what the Trust needs to do to, and have broken it down into different areas or ‘strands’.

Alongside this we also looked at how we can preserve the Melton Constable Trust Archive; largely but not exclusively documents, photographs and other artefacts relevant to the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GNJR), which was centered at Melton Constable and operated the lines that made up the route of the NOR.

This we have documented in our Strategic Plan (SP), a PDF copy of which is included as an attachment to this Update (if you receive it by email) or you can read it here:  Melton Constable Trust Strategic Plan – November 2022

The SP tells you what the Trust’s priorities are; alongside this will be our Action Plan showing the work that needs to be done – and the funds needing to be raised! – to help us achieve each step. We are currently working on the Action Plan and hope to have it ready in the Spring. This will very much be a Plan that changes as each stage is reached, and of course we have to recognize that, from time to time, a change of direction will be needed to ‘swerve’ round an unexpected obstacle!

The Plan is a ‘living’ document and will be updated as things are achieved or situations / priorities change, so please bear in mind that you should always refer to the latest edition, which will be housed on this website in the About Us page.


If you have any thoughts on what you’ve read in this Update; if you’d like to suggest how we can raise funds towards our projects; if you’d like to send us any photos or information you have, then please email us at

We look forward to hearing from you.


This is at a very early stage; the project is looking at the heritage, culture and community of Melton Constable – of which, of course, the railway played a vital part and leaves its legacy today.

The turntable at Melton Constable, when it was the headquarters for the M&GN railway. Photographer David Bill.

Derek Haynes, one of MCT’s Trustees, is on the steering group and we will report as the project develops.

The Long Shop still standing after all these years. Much of the main works at Melton Constable is still intact – could these magnificent buildings be restored to a railway heritage use? The Twin Tracks project will be looking at the whole of Melton Constable including its heritage and architecture.


We’re so grateful to all our current supporters – without your long-term support we would never have achieved so much.  It doesn’t matter where you live; a lot of what we do is online so whether you’re in Norfolk, UK or Norfolk, Virginia, we welcome your support:

  • We are keen to recruit new volunteers to help with the Trust’s work. We are looking for an extensive range of skills and some higher level ones: g.  Railway and other engineering and design, legal skills including knowledge of Transport & Works Order processes, surveying, local government senior officer experience, land purchase negotiation. Just contact us by email for an informal chat.
  • You can support the work of Melton Constable Trust by making a donation, whether one-off or a regular standing order. MCT is registered for Gift Aid too, so if you complete a Gift Aid Declaration we can claim an extra 25p for every £1 you donate from HMRC – it’s not often you get something for nothing from them! A donation/Gift Aid form accompanies this Update. Please go to the Join Us page on this website.
  • You could hold a fundraising/awareness raising event to raise money for the Trust’s work; maybe hold a coffee morning or an evening talk; we’ll help by providing publicity materials and advertising.
  • If you receive this Update by post and now have an email address, please could you email us to let us know – this will save the cost of postage when we contact you!
  • You can follow us on Facebook – Norfolk Orbital Railway – where you’ll find lots of interesting posts and photographs relating to Norfolk’s railways – both present and in the past, as well as learning more about projects going on in the area.

You may have another idea of how you can help – we’d love to hear from you, just email us to start the conversation:

Cover photograph of Bridge 1714 – courtesy of Hollie Underwood taken in December 2022.