Trades and businesses
By the 19th century and well into the 20th Docking was a large, almost self-sufficient village with a great variety of trades and businesses. It was essentially an agricultural community with several different farms and their supporting trades. These included blacksmiths, carpenters, wheelwrights, saddle makers and harness makers. The corn grown on the farms at one time was milled by windmills in the village, of which there have been four on different sites. More details can be found by going to the links page and following the links to Docking Mills.
The residents’ needs were taken care of by a long list of other businesses which included butchers, general stores, a pharmacy, tailors, dressmakers and boot and shoe makers. Docking has also had its fair share of drinking establishments, with around 11 public houses as well as numerous small beerhouses. Some of the pubs were even able to field their own cricket teams, as could many of the farms. In fact we can list well over 50 different trades and businesses that have existed in Docking. You can find more details of Docking’s pubs on the links page.
The railway station was a source of work in the village, and also brought business to it, and enabled villagers to travel to nearby places on the Heacham-Wells line easily.
Here’s a brief history of the railway, but for lots more interesting detail about Docking station and the West Norfolk Junction Railway go to our Railway webpages.
Started in 1866, in 1890 the 18-mile line became part of the Great Eastern Railway. In 1923 it was absorbed into the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) one of the Big Four railway companies created by the government when it amalgamated the country’s many privately owned networks. The three other big companies created under amalgamation were the Great Western Railway (GWR), London Midland and Scottish (LMS), and Southern Railway (SR).
Finally the line came under British Rail Eastern region when the railways were nationalised in 1948.
Livestock and crops such as corn and sugar beet were transported from Docking by rail, and agricultural equipment brought in. During the Second World War thousands of service personnel passed through the station on their way to and from the two RAF airfields nearby.
The line also carried munitions to the airfields in wartime and fish from the port at Wells. The station served the people of Docking for well into the 20th century although usually only about four passenger trains and one goods train ran each way daily. The passenger service ended after the sea washed out the line between Holkham and Wells in the 1953 East Coast floods.
A goods service continued to run as far as Burnham Market until 1964 when the line was finally closed.