Discover the history of the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway which provided the inspiration for much loved engine characters in the classic children’s stories of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Orchards - there was a phenomenal expansion of orchards in the fens from the mid nineteenth century often on County Council smallholdings. These orchards were an important part of the Norfolk economy and mainly produced cooking apples and plums either for local jam making or export to the north of England. Orchards are an important habitat and there is a Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan devoted to them. In recent decades, there has been a significant decline in orchards leading to loss of habitat as well as the disappearance of many traditional varieties of apples, pears and other fruits.
The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway was a small railway built in the 19th century to carry agricultural produce in the Wisbech area of East Anglia. The Tramway closed on 23 May 1966. Thomas the Tank Engine The Tramway was the inspiration for "Toby the Tram Engine" and later "Mavis" the Drewry Shunter in W. Awdry's "Thomas the Tank Engine". Awdry lived near the tramway and incorporated both the J70 tram engine and diesel-operated Drewry Shunter into his stories much loved by children all over Britain.
The villages of Outwell and Upwell run together along the line of the A1101 but retain separate parishes.
Church of St Clement’s, Outwell The Church of St Clement’s dates back to the 13th century. The 13th century tower and nave west wall remain today. The body of the church dates back to the 14th century although it underwent some remodelling in the 15th, 16th and 19th centuries. The exquisite hammerbeam chapel roof is one of the best in Norfolk with the roofs of both the aisles and nave being original.
The tower of St Peter’s Church is 13th century, the nave early 14th century and was altered when the chancel was built mid-15th century. The church was subject to Victorian restorations throughout the 19th century. There are nearly 60 important memorials in the churchyard dating from the late 17th century to the early 19th century.