The railway development of north-east Norfolk, 1874-1914
North east Norfolk was the last large area of lowland England to have a network of railways constructed. It was an area over 100 miles from the nearest industrial conurbation, lacking in natural resources and also in modernised industry. The construction of the railways in north east Norfolk was a lengthy and difficult process, with many false starts, yet eventually producing two competing systems. The background to these events is examined both for its local impact and for the national implications of railway construction in this remote part of East Anglia. Financial help from outside north east Norfolk had to be sought in order to complete the railways. The development of resorts and the Broadland boating villages, the relocation of local industry, changes in population and employment, in the marketing of produce and in the relative importance of settlements all occurred in the half century after the opening of the first railway in the district. The extent to which these changes could be attributed to the railways is examined, using a variety of assessment techniques. The absence of railways in north east Norfolk fossilised the economy of the area for several decades at a time when railway building elsewhere was promoting growth and change. However, within a decade of the initial opening in 1874 of lines in north east Norfolk, railway mileage had achieved a density greater than the national average. Such intensive railway construction and other consequential developments brought a period of high investment and growth in this hitherto neglected district.