Transport in the 19th and 20th Centuries

For many years, transport into Norwich from the surrounding villages was provided by horse-drawn carriage, and a number of carriers offered such a service from Forncett. The trade directories of the late 19th century show that there was a regular return service on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1850 until the early 1900s.

A rural carrier with his horse and carriage

George Lloyd, who was born in Forncett in 1812, was the carrier from 1850 until his death in 1873. The trade was then taken over by James Williams who ran the service until his death in 1888, upon which his widow Eliza carried it on. When William Knott and his family moved to Chestnut Tree Farm in around 1900, he and his son took over the carrier service. However, in the late 19th century two new developments, the railway and the motorised omnibus, led to the demise of the horse-drawn carrier. 

In December 1849 the Eastern Union Railway opened its extension from Ipswich to Norwich and a station on the line was opened in Forncett. The station at Forncett led to the growth and development of the Old Sale Yard, which handled particularly bulky goods like crops and even livestock like cattle and poultry. In 1851, the Railway Inn public house was also built on the station approach road: it was renamed The Safety Valve in 1861. In 1881 a Great Eastern Railway (GER) branch line (known locally as the "Swedes and Swimmers"), with stations at Forncett and Ashwellthorpe, was opened to connect the main London-Norwich line to the station at Wymondham. So, by the late 1800s Forncett had rapid connections to London and to the rest of Norfolk.

Alongside the arrival of the railway came the development of motorized transport to replace horse drawn carriages. Horse-drawn transport was originally provided at the Safety Valve public house for passengers arriving in Forncett by train. However, around 1912 the publican, Lemon Keeler, started a taxi service with the then new Model T Ford. This service was continued by a later publican, George Young.

Similarly, in the early 1900s local initiative was shown by two Forncett families in establishing regular bus services carrying both goods and passengers from Forncett End to Norwich along the Norwich Road (the present B1113).