Once Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway starts to manifest there will be two stations – Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid – plus Lavender Halt in between, where passengers can alight for the Eaton Lavender Experience.
A future extension is planned to the Sandy Cove Sand Co museum, near Friars Ambling, where a two-foot gauge railway is already taking shape.
Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway's Eaton St Torpid station provides convenient access to the Queen Alexandra Arts Centre. Alongside the platform are Sal T. Marsh's Wonky Pots Emporium and the Railway's own giftshop. The Jackdaw Works is also near the station.
Eaton St Torpid station will also have trains running to St Torpid's Bay in addition to Whittlecreek, although through-running is unlikely to be possible because of weight restrictions on the reversing loop at the bay.
Those who know the twelve inches to the foot management of Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway (though some might say he's more fourteen inches to the foot… ) will know that there is an indefinite hiatus before tracklaying work can commence.
The management are keen for the railway, as and when things shape up, to bear as little resemblance as possible to the sort of scenery devised by Rev Peter Denny for his justly-famous Grandborough Junction layouts, and the countless imitators since the 1940s (and the management was most certainly one of those imitators in the 1960s, with his father's complete run of Railway Modeller magazine to hand to check on the finer details of every version of Denny's layouts).
Not a railway building. But this stunning woodcut by Eric Ravilious, one of a set of illustrations for an edition of Gilbert White's Natural History of Selbourne published in 1938, suggested the idea of an eventide 'ambience' – although Ravilious seems to have intended to depict a stormy day, with rainbow.
Eric Ravilious (1903–1942) was a close contemporary of Rowland Emett (1906–1990) but sadly went missing in action over the North Atlantic while serving with an RAF search-and-rescue squadron during the Second World War.
So, in the meantime, sketches of the station buildings have been commissioned. These are inspired by some of Eric Ravilious's woodcuts, and adapted to suggest a crepescular ('dim' or 'indistinct') time of day. More prosaically, it is dusk, coming after twilight when the light comes from the sky after the sun has gone below the horizon. T.S. Eliot, in The Waste Land, deemed it 'the violet hour' while a Gothick novelist might deem it 'darkrise'.
This is not an arbitrary whim, as most times the Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway rolling stock is actually rolling is quite late in the evening and most of the vehicles already have some sort of lights.
Early sketches (not reproduced to the same scale) for (top to bottom):
To provide temporary backdrops to the current track arrangement these sketches, when finalised, will be printed out to suggest 1/20 scale buildings, and augmented with working lamps on the lamp posts and behind the windows of the booking offices and waiting rooms. The management have yet to determine whether smoke-and-mirrors can be used to create the illusion of a ghostly station master haunting the platform.
How the real Whittlecreek station looked in October 2018. The signal box on the left is not in the original location, and much larger than would have been needed when the line was operational.
How the real Whittlecreek station looked in 1937. Note the smaller signal box on the right, adjacent to the level crossing.
The inspiration for the fictional Lavender Halt. An early 1960s postcard of the hexagonal kiosk by a layby on the main road past Heacham to Hunstanton. This was the start of the retail activities for Norfolk Lavender, the inspiration for the Eaton Lavender Experience.
And could almost be Whittlecreek – although the river in this illustration runs much closer than the Heacham River does to Sedgefield station. Emett riffing off the blacking out of place-names on all signs during the Second World War when there was a risk of the Germans invading.
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Text and previously unpublished images copyright Bob Trubshaw 2018–2019