Docking was the largest centre of population served by the West Norfolk branch. According to the 1861 census, the total population of the 16 parishes served by the five intermediate stations (Sedgeford, Docking, Stanhoe, Burnham Market and Holkham) plus adjacent parishes was no more than 8000 people. The Docking parish alone accounted for 20% of that total. Its relative importance is demonstrated by the range of facilities here as shown on this 1905 plan of the station.
Opening on 17th August 1866, Docking station was one of the largest stations on the West Norfolk Junction Railway and the only one on the route to have both “Up” and “Down” (westbound and eastbound) platforms.
The railway gave the people of Docking another means of travelling further afield. They had four trains in each direction between Heacham and Wells each day to choose from plus an additional evening train on a Saturday. These trains generally took 45-50 minutes to cover the branch. There were also one or two through trains to and from Hunstanton. There were no Sunday services; in fact Sunday operation never became a feature of branch operations.
A Third-Class ticket for a journey from Docking to Heacham, purchased sometime between 1890 and 1923 when the line was part of the Great Eastern Railway.
Goods traffic was usually taken on one of two regular goods trains. The first service was the King’s Lynn to Wells service which went non-stop from King’s Lynn to Heacham and then proceeded along the West Norfolk branch line, stopping at the intermediate stations on the route as required, before reaching Wells. The return journey was made later the same day. A second goods train ran from Hunstanton, terminating at Docking. Other goods and cattle trains ran as required.
There is little doubt the goods traffic, coal, general goods and agricultural products provided the main sources of income for the line. Livestock and crops such as corn and sugar beet were all transported in and out of Docking by rail.
Another business to use the railway is seen in this view, looking west through the station in 1947. It shows Marsters granary, a long-established local industry producing corn and sugar beet seed, served by its own private siding, prominent beyond the level crossing.