Work on the Barton House Railway began in 1960 when the first straight sections of track were laid and the engine run after its rebuilding. The circular track was completed during 1962, and the railway officially opened by Mrs Howlings (grandmother of the writer) on Sunday, April 28th, 1963. The first public running was held in July of that year, and the first full season operated during 1964. Until 1970, all money raised was in aid of Wroxham Church Restoration Fund, a total of £600 having been reached. From 1971 all receipts have been in aid of charities. On Easter Monday 23rd April 1973, a 10th Anniversary Ceremony was performed by Mr William Mervyn.

During 1979 the first section of the new 7 1/4-inch gauge Riverside Railway was laid, from the riverside terminus to the Wroxham Station near the Signalbox, 300 feet in length. On Easter Monday 7th April 1980, the line was officially opened by Mr Paul Barnes of Anglia TV. after a short service of blessing by Reverend Henry Stapleton,

During the winter of 1980/81 , the line was extended by a further 200 feet to a second riverside terminus. The new extension was officially opened by Michael Chapman of Radio Norfolk on Easter Sunday 19th April 1981 , after a short service of blessing by Revd. Cedric Bradbury. In 1988 we celebrated our Silver Jubilee, with several special events taking place during the year, including an anniversary ceremony on Sunday 21 st August performed by Mr John Timson of Radio 4.

After the 1992 season, the 3 1/2" gauge line was 'temporarily' closed for repair, and efforts were initially concentrated on improving the Riverside Railway, Wroxham Station was rebuilt. enabling trains to pass in the station, Riverside East was given an extra platform and signalled, and we commenced running the steam loco from 1998 onwards. And from 1999 a huge amount of work was done on the 3 1/2" line. enabling it us to reopen it as the Mid-land Railway at the start of the 2001 Season. That year we also celebrated the centenary of the opening of Honing East Signalbox on 23rd June 1901 , with invited guests including relatives of those who had worked the box in M&GN/BR days, former BHR signalmen and former staff and friends who helped move the box in 1967, We were also able to affix the superb Honing East name-boards made by Stan Gardner. In the 2003 season we celebrated our 40th Anniversary, with Helen McDermott, Paul Bames, and Richard Bower taking part in a ceremony on Sunday 20th April, and special events at runnings. We also opened the M&GN Museum for the first time.

In 2007 we had another Signatbox event, celebrating its 40th Anniversary of being at the BHR. We were also offered a building that was in the garden of a neighbour's house. Underneath a tarpaulin and mock thatched roof was a Boulton & Paul sectional building in excellent condition. It was dismantled by BHR staff, re-erected here on a new concrete base, and with a new partition fitted opened as our new booking office in 2008. In August 2008 we celebrated the completion of the refurbishment of Dickerson's Diner, known as Project 4; as well as much improved catering facilities it has given us storage space for carriages (doubling as Santa's Grotto once a year), a room that can be used for events for up to 50 people and an excellent staff mess room complete with Stations Master's Office. In 2009 the new Platform Canopy was erected, using original cast iron posts from Yarmouth Beach Station, with woodwork to the original design. 2010 saw the Riverside West building opened for ticket sales, and in 2012 we re-built the platform at Wroxham Station. We also replaced the Signalbox steps, for the 3rd time - hopefully being oak they should last longer.

In 2013 we celebrated our 50th Anniversary with a ceremony attended by Carol Bundock in April and other events during the year, including the naming of one of our electric locos 'Paul Bower' by his sister Mary Cobb. Paul Bower was one of the cofounders of the BHR, having re-built the original 3 1/2 'Gauge steam loco, and his sister used to ride behind the loco during its previous existence at Earlham House in Norwich during the 1930s. We also embarked on another ambitious project, to build a new passenger line up the garden. and the Joint Friends started raising money specifically for the track. The old booking office had been moved to the proposed Museum Station site, where it is hoped to build eventually a small Signalbox alongside with a ID-lever frame we already have from Oulton Broad.

During 2014 one of our keen young helpers, Jake Afford, died suddenly. The BHR staff decided to raise money for a new 7 1/4" steam loco in his memory and a year later we were able to dedicate the new Stafford steam loco, now driven by his father, and the mainstay of the Riverside Railway. Around this time Steve Purcell joined our staff and one of his first tasks was to re-build the Midland Railway track with new rails on top of the old concrete supports. He also introduced a new standard of track work for the Riverside Railway, with new concrete foundations and concrete pavers to hold the ballast in place. Half of the Riverside Railway has been rebuilt on this principle, and the new line as well.

In 2015 we introduced a new feature — 'Drive the Engine' — on a separate section of 7 1/4" track youngsters (of any age!) can drive one of our small electric locos entirely on their own, under strict supervision of course. It has proved to be extremely popular and perhaps unique! We also had a grant from the local council which enabled us to produce 15 information panels to affix to our BHR buildings explaining their history.

One of our members, Ted Yates, brought his amazing model railway to the BHR, and it is now an important feature in the Museum. Based on Honing M&GN Station it features our signalbox in its original site corhplete with M&GN engines and carriages. Visitors can then walk down the garden and see the box in all its glory! In 2019 We took our portable 7 1/4" railway to the site of Honing Station which has been restored by an enthusiastic group, running a steam loco between the platforms, by the foundations of Honing Signalbox.

With our normal monthly runnings and special events with our portable railway we were able to give E2500 each year to various local charities, as well as funding maintenance and improvements on the BHR. We were also able to incorporate the BHR in the Wroxham Railway Heritage Trust, a registered charity which also cares for the restored signalbox at Wroxham (National Rail) Station.

Then Covid 19, with no public runnings in 2020 and only 3 in 2021, virtually nil income for 2 years. With some help from our volunteer staff Steve managed to rebuild half of the Riverside Railway, and make huge progress with the new line, which might see a train at some stage during our Diamond Jubilee Year!

60 years and still moving forward!

Peter Bower

Barton House is situated on the bank of the river Bure in Wroxham in Norfolk,

The railway is running on the third Sunday of each month of April to October, also an evening in September and a Christmas special in December. Please visit our Web site for more information