Great Yarmouth's Quay Railways

Great Yarmouth once had an extensive network of rail lines linking the Vauxhall and Beach stations at Vauxhall stations with the quays so that fish and other freight traffic could be easily transported to and from the river.
In 1880, Great Yarmouth's three main termini were completely isolated from each other and on August 26th of that year the Yarmouth Union Railway was authorised in an attempt to remedy the situation. The Y.U.R. was a short line, just over a mile long and went from a junction just outside Beach station, west across Caister Road, then due south back into the town following the backs of the houses in Alderson Road. It then went on to the street by the White Swan Inn and finally made a junction with the Great Eastern tramway line from Vauxhall station just east of the bridge over the Bure. The joint line then continued on to the principal quays alongside the Yare.
The lines to the quays were worked by tramway engines which were kept at the Great Eastern engine shed at Vauxhall station when not in use. These engines clattered their way through the streets of Yarmouth for many decades and during the final years of use were frequently held up by cars parked across the lines. Throughout the whole life of the quayside lines the main traffic carried was "salt and coal in and loose fish out".
The lines were finally abandoned during the 1970s and the bulk of them were lifted in 1985 although it is still possible to see a few stretches in the road along the south quays.

"YARMOUTH UNION LINE: Before any shunting is performed in the White Swan Yard "No Mans Gates" must be locked against the public. The Tram Foreman will be held responsible for securing the gates, and Guards must not commence shunting until the Foreman arrives and the gates are locked." (LNER General Appendix to the Rules and Regulations and Working Timetables with Sectional Appendix for Southern Area, 1st November 1947, p205)

  Picture Gallery (Click on picture for larger view)
    Working on the quays
BR Drewry Diesel-Mechanical engine no. 11103 works on Great Yarmouth's south quay. This engine had fully enclosed working parts and a 'cow-catcher' at the front to allow it work the quays in safety. It arrived new at Yarmouth Vauxhall in 1952 where it was housed in the GE engine shed.
(1955 - Arnold Blake)

Crossing the Bure, Vauxhall bridge
Vauxhall bridge, close to Vauxhall station, carried the railway over the River Bure to the working quays. The main tramway line can still be seen in the road.
(January 29th 1985)

    Vauxhall bridge, looking west
The tramway lines, now within the timbers of the bridge which is shared by road traffic to and from the station.
(January 29th 1985)
    Vauxhall bridge, looking north
Looking north, with St. Nicholas' church in the background.
(December 29th 1987)

Vauxhall bridge, looking south
The main railway route to the quays still stands even now in the year 2001 where it is used primarily as a pedestrian walkway to the station.
(December 29th 1987)


Buffer stops
Prior to the recent improvement of the quays close to the Town Hall the railway lines could still be seen in the roadside as in this view near the Haven bridge.
(December 1st 1985)

    South Quay
Further south the extent of the quay railway network can be seen.
(December 1st 1985)
    Tramway lines
Close to Havenbridge House, the railway lines made their way through the streets to connect to Vauxhall station via the Bure bridge and to Beach station via the Yarmouth Union Railway.
(January 29th 1985)
    White Swan Yard
The "Hole in the Wall" and the gated line of the Yarmouth Union Railway can be seen in this view of the White Swan yard.
(1958 - C.W.Moore, M&GNC copyright)