WISBECH AND UPWELL TRAMWAY
The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway was a rural standard gauge tramway in East Anglia. It was built by the Great Eastern Railway between Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and Upwell, Norfolk to carry agricultural produce. Although called a tram, in many ways it more closely resembled a conventional railway line.
Its success was one of the reasons for the Light Railways Act 1896. Competition from motorised buses ended passenger services in 1927, but freight carried on until 1966 when it was cut as part of the Beeching Axe.
Originally the line used GER Class G15/LNER Class Y6 0-4-0T tram engines, which in accordance with Board of Trade regulations had sideplates and cowcatchers. These were replaced by more powerful 0-6-0T GER Class C53/LNER Class J70 and later by Drewry 0-6-0DM (Class 04) shunters. One coach survives.
It ran from the Cambridgeshire town of Wisbech to the Norfolk village of Upwell. Its route carried it close to farms and villages, allowing goods to be shipped into Wisbech where they could be transferred onto the main line and carried to destinations further afield. It was this agricultural trade that caused the line to be constructed in the first place, and what kept it afloat after passenger services ceased in 1927.
Motorists passing through Wisbech along Elm High Road near to the fire station may notice a small stretch of grass and trees, this would have been the canal between Wisbech (River Nene) and the Outwell Creek. The tram however finished off this section of the canal, though Outwell and Upwell still have some of their canals left.
The Rev. W. Awdry drew much inspiration from the tramway for stories in his Railway Series children's books. In the book Toby the Tram Engine the character Toby and his coach Henrietta are introduced, both of whom are based on stock used on the tramway. Toby subsequently appeared in many more of the books and also became one of the main characters in the spin-off television series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.