Honour for Fenland railway line which gave us Toby the Tram

William Smith creates one of the mementos for the Wisbech to Upwell tramline
William Smith creates one of the mementos for the Wisbech to Upwell tramline

The railway line thought to have inspired the world famous Toby the Tram stories will be remembered with two new statues if new plans are given the go-ahead.

Historian William Smith is looking to commemorate the Wisbech to Upwell Tramline by installing two ‘mementoes’ using original pieces of the railway.

He has applied to West Norfolk Council to site one of the statues in Outwell and there are plans for a second in Upwell.

The trams running along this line are thought to have inspired Thomas the Tank Engine author, the Rev Wilbert Awdry, to create the character of Toby the Tram.

The tram line carried freight and passengers after being founded in 1884, but was axed in the 1960s.

Mr Smith said: “I remember the trams very clearly but there are people who know nothing about it.

“I think it is important that we have something to remind us of what was there.

“There is little left in the villages of this tramline so it would be good to have a memento.

“Toby the Tram was also based on the engines which ran along the line, so it would be good to have a reminder of that.”

Toby was first introduced in 1952 during the seventh Railway Series book, shortly before Mr Awdry moved to the Emneth parish from nearby Elsworth.

Since then Toby has gone on to become a firm favourite with youngsters across the globe.

Mr Smith said: “A little memento like this will inform visitors and remind locals that our history is interesting and worth retaining.”

The tramline linked Wisbech quayside to Outwell when it was first constructed in 1883.

A year later it was extended to Upwell.

During its heyday, the tramline was carrying more than 3,000 passengers a week.

But in the 1920s, passengers were no longer transported along the tramline, which was finally axed in 1966.

Mr Smith has created the mementoes using pieces of the railway he found.

Over the last 15 years he has worked on the project, which costs around £400.