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Travel North - 13: Re-Opened Railways - Halcyon Days for the North York Moors & Wensleydale

Alan has built up a wealth of knowledge on railways in North Yorkshire, and feels he should share that knowledge with like-minded readers

Hard Times...

An apt title chosen by Dickens for one of his works. Hard times this year, 2020, for both the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, the Wensleydale Railway and the Weardale Railway with the Covid-19 'lockdown' and the tourist trade in general hit..

How long it lasts is up to us all, when things can get back to normal? Also up to us. Many of us will suffer from 'Cabin Fever', unable to go anywhere, nowhere open in the UK at least for the foreseeable future. Scroll down the page here and dream, that's all you can do for now. It's something at least, this and YouTube.

"It'll be all over by Christmas..." Now where have we seen that before? On a brighter note, look forward things going back to normal, when I can take this panel down..

On the North York Moors Railway

Pickering Station - a rake of British Railways' Eastern Region C1 carriages in post-1956 maroon livery awaits its locomotive for the next return working north to Grosmont or Whitby

Pickering Station - a rake of British Railways' Eastern Region C1 carriages in post-1956 maroon livery awaits its locomotive for the next return working north to Grosmont or Whitby

Preserved Class B1 4-6-0 61264 simmers at Grosmont's 'Up' platform whilst the crew go for a cuppa (hot work on the footplate!) 26th September, 2016

Preserved Class B1 4-6-0 61264 simmers at Grosmont's 'Up' platform whilst the crew go for a cuppa (hot work on the footplate!) 26th September, 2016

Motive power might be the new-ish A1 60163 'Tornado, seen here' entering Grosmont tunnel on her southward run to Pickering - or Deviation Shed for water and coal replenishment

Motive power might be the new-ish A1 60163 'Tornado, seen here' entering Grosmont tunnel on her southward run to Pickering - or Deviation Shed for water and coal replenishment

80136, one of the new 'fillies' in the 'stable, sister loco to the NYMR's BR Standard Class 4MT 2-6-4 T 80135. These engines were built at Brighton works in the mid-1950s. Some were allocated to the North East, all in black mixed traffic livery.'

80136, one of the new 'fillies' in the 'stable, sister loco to the NYMR's BR Standard Class 4MT 2-6-4 T 80135. These engines were built at Brighton works in the mid-1950s. Some were allocated to the North East, all in black mixed traffic livery.'

There are many preserved railways up and down the UK over England, Scotland Wales and Ireland

One of the best known has its origins in the 1830's, planned and executed by George Stephenson under contract to George Hudson, at the time property owner and budding railway entrepreneur in Whitby. This was the Whitby & Pickering Railway, opened throughout in 1836.

The railway was to carry passengers in horse-drawn carriages, much like those on the post routes, and goods such as fish and Baltic timber for inland destinations, and coal amongst other materials for Whitby. It was not long before the passenger facilities were considered inadequate, and goods movements also needed to be increased. Steam hauled trains could not negotiate the gradients the line was originally built on and a deviation route was created later in the 19th Century. The gradient was still steep, but negotiable by strong engines... Flash forward to 1965, the line was closed under Beeching's plans, just like the nearby Whitby-Scarborough railway opened much later in the 1880's. The line was still in situ, and movements were afoot to restore the line, and in 1975 the line was re-opened by the Duchess of Kent. Developments went apace, but track was lifted by British Rail and much of the line was singled, with passing loops at intermediate stations - Levisham and Goathland.

Since then the company has not looked back. Aside from the outbreak of Foot & Mouth in 2001, when tourist numbers were drastically reduced, visitor numbers have been increasing annually. A share issue was snapped up in the 1990s by an eager public - including myself - and urgent projects were thus financed. Another share issue has been promoted since then, and urgent works have been undertaken after flooding in the Murk Esk valley destroyed civil engineering such as bridge abutments, embankments and trackwork.

Much of Grosmont Station is as it was, but the signal cabin in the junction was replaced in the early days of the NYMR by a ground frame by the crossing gates. This in turn has been replaced by a brick signal cabin in the pattern of of North Eastern Railway Central division, the bricks from Whitby town's three-storey signal cabin. The line from Grosmont climbs steeply past Deviation shed up to Goathland Station three miles away. Here the buildings are as they were in NER days, but the goods shed has been converted into a cafe-cum-museum. The line carries on climbing past where the new line deviated at its southern end near Fylingdales Early Warning Station. The old radomes - the 'golf balls' - have gone now, replaced by something that looks like a square sandcastle, and the A169 Whitby-Pickering road passes close by here as it winds towards the Hole of Horcum. Through Newtondale you see the difficulty Stephenson encountered in building the line, but his experiences paid off in building the Liverpool-Manchester Railway over Chat Moss, and in consultation from the Board of the Midland Railway after their initial failures in the building of the Settle-Carlisle Railway. Near here the Newtondale Halt allows the traveller to alight in the North Riding Forest Park and perhaps walk on to the next station, Levisham. The station house here was a farmhouse before the railway arrived and you can see the original platform height from the 'Up' side. The present height brings the platform to within eighteen inches or so below the window sills. The original signal cabin has been extended to include a booking office, but everything else is pretty much the same as when the North Eastern Railway owned the line. The wooden crossing gates were replaced by a lifting barrier, however, which 'jars' on the eye.

Pickering's overall roof has been replaced, in the manner of North Eastern stations in the area as designed by George Townsend Andrews in the early days of the York & North Midland Railway. A turntable was installed some years ago to turn engines and avoid uneven flange wear and a carriage shed was built about a decade ago on the 'down' side. What has been exciting in its development in the last decade also is the running in to Whitby Town Station of alternate trains with the permission of Regional Railways. Tourism reigns OK! An evening Pullman dining car train, 'the Moorlander' runs from Pickering to Whitby and back, so that diners can enjoy the scenery and relax with a three-course meal. Try it some time!

There is a rover ticket available, with which you can spend all day on or near the railway, alighting as and when you fancy - to rejoin the service elsewhere. In this way you can, for example, leave the train at Goathland and walk through the village. Take the road down to Beck Hole and have a drink at the Birch Hall Inn, then cross the road, open the gate and follow a pathway to the old railway trackbed. Turn right and follow the course through woodland. Cross the Murk Esk close to old ruined bridges and pass the single row terrace at Eskdale. Not far from here you leave the old trackbed where it joins the present one, climb up the footpath and over the tunnel. If you like, enter the Deviation shed and climb to the public viewing gallery where you overlook the locomotives being serviced. A shop on this level sells souvenirs and model railway items, and has a viewing window from where you can see other locos being worked on in the other side of the shed. Beyond Deviation Shed is the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group's workshop. This is open to the public when work is not underway. Walk between some of NELPG's loco stock (the rest is either on loan to other railways or being worked on at the North Road workshop premises they share with the A1 Locomotive Trust in Darlington).

The cafe on Grosmont Station serves hot meals and drinks or snacks and cold drinks. There is a station shop as well as the Co-operative Shop across the road and the Station public house behind the brick signal cabin. A viewing platform next to the line lets you take pictures on a level with the engine cabs (this platform is in the style of token exchange platforms built by the NER and LNER).

Since Platform 2 at Whitby was reinstated for the NYMR's services to Grosmont and Pickering, the turnaround has been a lot quicker. Where previously passengers had to wait on Platform 1 for the train to be pushed out again for the locomotive(s) to be released and push stock back in again for passengers to board, now the stock stays put whilst the loco runs round and is then pushed further when coupled up again for the return journey. This also means NYMR services do not interfere with those of Northern Rail to and from Middlesbrough and Darlington.

Think about it, George Hudson's 1835 railway will have been realised again, with that little hiccup in the sixties leaving just a bad taste in the mouth, courtesy of Dr Richard Beeching and Ernie Marples. From the 2014 season things will look different at Whitby Town station again (I've heard the BR [NE] tangerine nameboard has been found, it's all plusses!) Who knows, NYMR could get the contract to run services between Grosmont-Whitby and back to Battersby. Fancy a ride in a teak carriage on a steam-hauled train between Whitby and Battersby? It might not be a dream for too much longer!

Have a good day out!

PS: Since that STOP PRESS announcement I've been back to Whitby and walked along the reinstated Platform 2 (this used to back onto the bay platform for Grosmont shuttle services up to the 1960s). It's long enough for the usual NYMR Whitby Pullman diners and alternate tourist trains during the day, and these services can be run more often. There's a locomotive release road that extends between the main rails as there was before..Try a visit, have a day out in Whitby and soak up the atmosphere. Walk across the harbour bridge and up Church Street with all its jet workshops (buy some ornaments or jewellery). Saunter back down for a fish & chip supper (fish landed that morning in the harbour close by, lads'n'lasses!) at any of the dozen pubs or cafes in the town centre before taking the train back to Grosmont and beyond.

One day maybe you'll be able to travel past Pickering to Marishes Road and Malton for York or Scarborough. The plans are there, it's just a matter of time versus funds.

More on the NYMR

Preserved BR Standard 2-6-4 tank 80136 leaves Goathland for Pickering

Preserved BR Standard 2-6-4 tank 80136 leaves Goathland for Pickering

Preserved ex-LMS Fairburn 2-6-4 tank arrives at Levisham with a train for Grosmont on a bright, sunny afternoon

Preserved ex-LMS Fairburn 2-6-4 tank arrives at Levisham with a train for Grosmont on a bright, sunny afternoon

An architect's model of Pickering's station with its roof - now reinstated - see below: 'Pickering, the resurgence' Whitby Town Station had an overall roof similar to this, but wider, to accommodate a slip road between the two main platforms.

An architect's model of Pickering's station with its roof - now reinstated - see below: 'Pickering, the resurgence' Whitby Town Station had an overall roof similar to this, but wider, to accommodate a slip road between the two main platforms.

A schematic map of North Yorkshire's extant railways inland from Whitby and Scarborough

A schematic map of North Yorkshire's extant railways inland from Whitby and Scarborough

Maintenance on the line - Bridge 27 at Goathland, January-February 2020

Work on the bridge deck by Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Ltd (CB&EL) of Darlington. VolkRail cranes took the strain of lifting the old Bridge 27 before CB&EL got to grips...

Work on the bridge deck by Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Ltd (CB&EL) of Darlington. VolkRail cranes took the strain of lifting the old Bridge 27 before CB&EL got to grips...

CB&EL brought in hired VolkRail cranes after a 'dry run', assembling the newly engineered bridge units at their factory before delivering them to Middlesbrough Station. The old sections were taken out - see below - and need to be replaced by Apri

CB&EL brought in hired VolkRail cranes after a 'dry run', assembling the newly engineered bridge units at their factory before delivering them to Middlesbrough Station. The old sections were taken out - see below - and need to be replaced by Apri

The old bridge sections cut up, ready for removal to Teesside

The old bridge sections cut up, ready for removal to Teesside

"Bridge that gap" - concrete emplacements will support the new units - see bridge side, left - with the whole bridge hopefully ready to take the 2020 season's tourist traffic,

"Bridge that gap" - concrete emplacements will support the new units - see bridge side, left - with the whole bridge hopefully ready to take the 2020 season's tourist traffic,

Bridge 27 at Goathland was replaced late January-late February, 2020, the new structure assembled and built by Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Ltd (CB&EL) - the company that assembled the Sydney Harbour Bridge and one of the San Francisco bay bridge in the early 20th Century - across Eller Beck, (that turns and runs northward alongside the back of the station towards the Murk Esk and Grosmont). The new bridge marks the first of a series of engineering repairs on the line for the NYMR's "Yorkshire's Magnificent Journey".

Installing the 84-tonne single span structure included dismantling the old bridge. When made the CB&E engineers trial-fitted the bridge to ascertain the installation would be completed faultlessly. The bridge and components was taken by road from the factory near Darlington to A V Dawson's freight depot in Middlesbrough for transfer to rail wagons for onward movement to Goathland.

Jim Mawson, head of operational delivery for CB&E stated, "Working closely with our transport partners and NYMR we have ensured the delivery of the components has been completed within the project schedule, enabling our engineers to undertake the installation of the bridge in the stunning setting of the North York Moors National Park".

NYMR General Manager Chris Price added, "This investment in the future of our railway paves the way for future generations to enjoy our vibrant rail history. We're pleased to be working with such an iconic bridge manufacturing and installation company who are proud to be from the north of England, just like the railway".

The work is expected to be completed for the beginning of the new 2020 season in April as part of the NYMR's 'Magnificent Yorkshire Journey', for which Heritage Lottery Funding was sought against a 50% outlay by NYMR raised by donations and gifts.


Pickering resurgence

North Eastern Tile network wall map installed at Pickering 2009 is investigated by a group of children. A girl points to her own local station on the western edge of the North Yorkshire Moors (one of many closed in the 1950s and 1960s)

North Eastern Tile network wall map installed at Pickering 2009 is investigated by a group of children. A girl points to her own local station on the western edge of the North Yorkshire Moors (one of many closed in the 1950s and 1960s)

Pickering, the 'down' platform where trains came in for Grosmont and Whitby - with its overall roof, as originally designed by G T Andrews in the mid-1850s

Pickering, the 'down' platform where trains came in for Grosmont and Whitby - with its overall roof, as originally designed by G T Andrews in the mid-1850s

Under the trainshed roof now, a view of the 'up' platform (Malton and York, and at one time Scarborough via Forge Valley and Helmsley via Kirkbymoorside - pron. 'Kirbymoorside)

Under the trainshed roof now, a view of the 'up' platform (Malton and York, and at one time Scarborough via Forge Valley and Helmsley via Kirkbymoorside - pron. 'Kirbymoorside)

Porter's hut on the 'up' platform next to the footbridge the NYMR bought from East Yorkshire

Porter's hut on the 'up' platform next to the footbridge the NYMR bought from East Yorkshire

Behind the 'up' platform you'll find this peaceful little garden with benches to get away from it all - located near the porter's hut above

Behind the 'up' platform you'll find this peaceful little garden with benches to get away from it all - located near the porter's hut above

Looking 'down' along the end of the 'up' plaftorm - across the tracks is a small platform signal cabin that may one day house levers and block instruments for visitors to look into and  understand some of the basics of steam age signalling

Looking 'down' along the end of the 'up' plaftorm - across the tracks is a small platform signal cabin that may one day house levers and block instruments for visitors to look into and understand some of the basics of steam age signalling

A look inside the small cabin seen above on the left. Designated 'Pickering South', there was a full-sized NER Southern Division cabin beyond where the station premises ends...

A look inside the small cabin seen above on the left. Designated 'Pickering South', there was a full-sized NER Southern Division cabin beyond where the station premises ends...

The cabin seen from the platform end, erected to show children how a manually operated signal installation looked and worked

The cabin seen from the platform end, erected to show children how a manually operated signal installation looked and worked

At the end of the headshunt a board shows the scene before closure in 1965. Past the Pickering-Helmsley road a three-way junction led east to Scarborough by Forge Valley, west to Helmsley by Kirkbymoorside, on to Rillington Junction for York/Scarboro

At the end of the headshunt a board shows the scene before closure in 1965. Past the Pickering-Helmsley road a three-way junction led east to Scarborough by Forge Valley, west to Helmsley by Kirkbymoorside, on to Rillington Junction for York/Scarboro

'SCOTSMAN' looked in on the NYMR in March 2016

Scotsman's week on the NYMR, March 12-20th, 2016. Periodically the railway hosts steam and diesel galas. Watch out for future events on the NYMR web-site

Scotsman's week on the NYMR, March 12-20th, 2016. Periodically the railway hosts steam and diesel galas. Watch out for future events on the NYMR web-site

Almost fresh from her £4.2M restoration paint job. Confusing that, isn't it, locomotives are 'she' but her name is 'Flying Scotsman' named after the express working* between Kings Cross and Waverley Station, Edinburgh that pre-dated the engine by several generations. Now in British Railways Brunswick green livery she gleamed and stunned crowds on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (where else?) At Pickering she probably also deafened when she eased forward after releasing her train under the overall roof, rebuilt in 2012.

Ten years after funds were poured in from commercial and private donors, the engine built as A1 4-6-2 4472 'Flying Scotsman' in the early 1920's (in less than a decade she'll celebrate her centenary) was shown off on Yorkshire's premier preserved railway, the NYMR. I suspect there wasn't a dry eye around amongst the very few left of the generation that saw her first run, or that saw her sold off to Alan Pegler in the early Sixties*, resplendent in Doncaster loco green (a darker shade than A1 'Tornado' was painted, in Darlington apple green).

Were you there?

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Together with several engines of the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) and the A4 'Sir Nigel Gresley', 'Flying Scotsman' was at Locomotion, Shildon for a 'Shed-Bash'. With rides behind J72 'Joem' to and from the Timothy Hackworth museum about a mile away, the event took place Saturday-to-Saturday, 23rd-30th July.

*4472/60103 'Flying Scotsman' operated into Kings Cross until steam was officially excluded south of Peterborough. The train of the same name also ran with other diagrammed Pacifics. The service is still in operation, 10.00 am from 'The Cross', albeit in East Coast livery (now a Virgin Railways undertaking).

North Yorkshire Moors Railway - From the Footplate

See description below

See description below

For steam enthusiasts, a footplate ride on cd with driver John Middleditch - who normally drives Southern electrics out from Waterloo Station, London - and Ian Pearson, a local lad in his middle years. Living history and geography aboard British Railways Standard 2-6-4 mixed traffic tank loco No. 80135 (see the engine in episodes of 'Heartbeat'). A must for atmosphere, everything but the 'creosote' smell!

Remnants - where the branches met south of Pickering Station

One of three cast iron bridges that carried the 'Railway King' George Hudson's erstwhile York & North Midland railway route south from Pickering to his main line at Rillington Junction (York-Scarborough)

One of three cast iron bridges that carried the 'Railway King' George Hudson's erstwhile York & North Midland railway route south from Pickering to his main line at Rillington Junction (York-Scarborough)

Another of the three cast-iron bridges, both now being on privately owned land. This one crosses a stone-built storm drain to a public footpath

Another of the three cast-iron bridges, both now being on privately owned land. This one crosses a stone-built storm drain to a public footpath

One of a pair of concrete stiles either side of the line to Rillington Junction, close to the third bridge that spans the storm drain. The stile on the other side has not fared as well

One of a pair of concrete stiles either side of the line to Rillington Junction, close to the third bridge that spans the storm drain. The stile on the other side has not fared as well

Carriage restoration

Beautifully restored 2nd generation British Railways open carriage with Commonwealth bogies, Timken roller bearings. Vehicle was privately bought, probably brought on a low-loader, liveried 'chocolate and cream' (Western Region) now with 'E' prefix

Beautifully restored 2nd generation British Railways open carriage with Commonwealth bogies, Timken roller bearings. Vehicle was privately bought, probably brought on a low-loader, liveried 'chocolate and cream' (Western Region) now with 'E' prefix

A close-up of the carriage-side roundel transfer showing ownership. This was the 1955 livery after early 1948 crimson and cream (known affectionately by railwaymen as 'blood-and-custard')

A close-up of the carriage-side roundel transfer showing ownership. This was the 1955 livery after early 1948 crimson and cream (known affectionately by railwaymen as 'blood-and-custard')

Restoration work underway at the LNER Coach Association's workshop at Pickering, NYMR

Restoration work underway at the LNER Coach Association's workshop at Pickering, NYMR

Lettering and numbering is a rewarding, if back-breaking job. A restorer works on a restaurant car waist panel

Lettering and numbering is a rewarding, if back-breaking job. A restorer works on a restaurant car waist panel

Work complete on a carriage, the corridor connection sets off the panel work and underframe paintwork

Work complete on a carriage, the corridor connection sets off the panel work and underframe paintwork

Preserved Class V2 4771 'Green Arrow' takes a rake of restored LNERCA Gresley stock for a spin near the highest point of the NYMR line into Newtondale past Fylingdale's early warning station

Preserved Class V2 4771 'Green Arrow' takes a rake of restored LNERCA Gresley stock for a spin near the highest point of the NYMR line into Newtondale past Fylingdale's early warning station

LNER Coach Association, Pickering Station, North York Moors Railway

North of Pickering Station at New Bridge

From the south side of New Bridge signal cabin, built in the style of the North Eastern Railway's Central Division with round-topped windows that hide the store room.

From the south side of New Bridge signal cabin, built in the style of the North Eastern Railway's Central Division with round-topped windows that hide the store room.

The north side of New Bridge crossing signal cabin

The north side of New Bridge crossing signal cabin

On the operating floor, manual signal levers and gate wheel vie for space with 21st Century signalling technology. The volunteer signalman explains the functions to the three of us allowed access at a time (North Eastern Railway Association members)

On the operating floor, manual signal levers and gate wheel vie for space with 21st Century signalling technology. The volunteer signalman explains the functions to the three of us allowed access at a time (North Eastern Railway Association members)

In the permanent way workshop beside the NYMR line north of New Bridge crossing, an Ashford (Kent) built BR standard brake-fitted goods brake van (for fast-running freight trains) awaits parts and restoration

In the permanent way workshop beside the NYMR line north of New Bridge crossing, an Ashford (Kent) built BR standard brake-fitted goods brake van (for fast-running freight trains) awaits parts and restoration

Inside the van cabin, the brake wheel standard can be made out in this view

Inside the van cabin, the brake wheel standard can be made out in this view

At the far side, by the door, is the stove that was meant to keep the guard warm in winter. Wooden, windowed duckets built centrally into the van body sides enabled the guard to see along his train of wagons

At the far side, by the door, is the stove that was meant to keep the guard warm in winter. Wooden, windowed duckets built centrally into the van body sides enabled the guard to see along his train of wagons

A look inside one of the Barnard Castle snow ploughs - the brake wheel with its handle can be seen on the far side of the vehicle floor

A look inside one of the Barnard Castle snow ploughs - the brake wheel with its handle can be seen on the far side of the vehicle floor

NERA Pickering visit, 27th May, 2017

A group of us, North Eastern Railway Association members armed with notes and diagrams, visited Pickering for two reasons, a) to look around the south side of the station where three railway branches met. From Scarborough to the east by way of Forge Valley came one that was closed to traffic early in the 1950s. From Helmsley in the west, by way of Kirkbymoorside, came another that was closed in the mid-1950s. The longest-lasting was the line that linked Pickering with the main line at Rillington Junction. The 'Railway King', George Hudson was the prime mover behind the Whitby & Pickering Railway that opened in 1836, surveyed and built by George Stephenson. Hudson was also the leading light of the York & North Midland Railway, a secondary main line of which ran from York to Scarborough and was opened several years after. The connecting point between both railways lay at Rillington Junction, several miles west of Malton Station. This line is still in use, although the connection to Pickering was finally severed in the late 1960s after services ended in 1965 as a casualty of Dr Richard Beeching's railway rationalisation plans. Not everyone was sad about the closures. There had been several level crossings south of Pickering, and at one time there had been frequent - passenger and goods - services in all three directions. Think of the number of times the gates opened and closed daily, and think also of road delivery drivers who had to pass through Pickering in any one of four directions.

We set about at around 11 am walking southward from the station to locate what could be seen - if anything - of the three branches, taking pictures and rummaging through bushes and nettles etc. In the afternoon we set about going north from the station, looking at the remains of several stone quarries - one of which had been for the building of Pickering Castle by the Normans later in the 11th Century. A look at and into the level crossing signal cabin at New Bridge preceded a walk around the nearby NYMR workshops. We then set out on a track that led past a few points of interest, including where original plans had been made to build the Helmsley branch north around Pickering. This would have entailed a tunnel and may not have ensured the foreseen traffic necessary to keep the branch open. It lasted barely a century, only a little longer than the Forge Valley branch.

Along the way north to Grosmont

Goathland Station seen from across Goathland Beck - the village is worth a couple of hours' visit, the centre stage of 'Heartbeat' country

Goathland Station seen from across Goathland Beck - the village is worth a couple of hours' visit, the centre stage of 'Heartbeat' country

Along the original trackbed constructed by George Stephenson is this plaque put here by the National Park authority to commemorate this historic landmark

Along the original trackbed constructed by George Stephenson is this plaque put here by the National Park authority to commemorate this historic landmark

Distance post near Deviation Shed measures 24 miles from Rillington Junction between Malton and Seamer, Scarborough - harking back to pre-Grouping days

Distance post near Deviation Shed measures 24 miles from Rillington Junction between Malton and Seamer, Scarborough - harking back to pre-Grouping days

Late LNER Bracket Post with signal arms to warn of shed movements and possible obstructions through the tunnel - 10 mph speed restriction and 'Whistle' board positioned ahead of triple doll post.

Late LNER Bracket Post with signal arms to warn of shed movements and possible obstructions through the tunnel - 10 mph speed restriction and 'Whistle' board positioned ahead of triple doll post.

Locomotive coaler at Deviation Shed - supplies these days tend to be of a lower calorific value from Eastern Europe.

Locomotive coaler at Deviation Shed - supplies these days tend to be of a lower calorific value from Eastern Europe.

BR Midland Region Class 5 4-6-0 awaits repair in the workshop at Deviation Shed - nicknamed 'Black Five', these Stanier locomotives were the LMS version of the LNER B1 4-6-0 nicknamed 'Bongos' (mostly named after African antelopes)'

BR Midland Region Class 5 4-6-0 awaits repair in the workshop at Deviation Shed - nicknamed 'Black Five', these Stanier locomotives were the LMS version of the LNER B1 4-6-0 nicknamed 'Bongos' (mostly named after African antelopes)'

Looking down from the catwalk beside the shed shop, here's a visitor from another preserved railway, a US Transport Corps' Baldwin 2-8-0

Looking down from the catwalk beside the shed shop, here's a visitor from another preserved railway, a US Transport Corps' Baldwin 2-8-0

Looking around the back of the US 2-8-0 you see NELPG's Q6 63395 from the tender end

Looking around the back of the US 2-8-0 you see NELPG's Q6 63395 from the tender end

A few steps further along the catwalk you get this view through Deviation Shed. Near the doors is another BR Standard, this one a  Mixed Traffic Class 4 2-6-0

A few steps further along the catwalk you get this view through Deviation Shed. Near the doors is another BR Standard, this one a Mixed Traffic Class 4 2-6-0

A look back through the southern mouth of the original tunnel - now pedestrians only - back towards Deviation Shed

A look back through the southern mouth of the original tunnel - now pedestrians only - back towards Deviation Shed

Using recycled bricks from Whitby Town's three-storey signal cabin, Grosmont's 1990 built brick signal cabin controls the crossing gates as well the NYMR signals to the new gantry on the Whitby end of the station

Using recycled bricks from Whitby Town's three-storey signal cabin, Grosmont's 1990 built brick signal cabin controls the crossing gates as well the NYMR signals to the new gantry on the Whitby end of the station

Enclosed platform shelter built in North Eastern Railway style on the former 'Up' platform, painted in British Railways' North Eastern Region blue and white as are the stairs on the signal cabin.

Enclosed platform shelter built in North Eastern Railway style on the former 'Up' platform, painted in British Railways' North Eastern Region blue and white as are the stairs on the signal cabin.

The four 'doll' bracket signal on the 'Up' platform with the signal cabin behind to the left.

The four 'doll' bracket signal on the 'Up' platform with the signal cabin behind to the left.

...And Falsgrave's signal gantry from Scarborough with a few less 'dolls' guards the northern exit from the NYMR towards Whitby

...And Falsgrave's signal gantry from Scarborough with a few less 'dolls' guards the northern exit from the NYMR towards Whitby

Not a lot of people know this, there was an iron works on the other side of the line from Whitby to Battersby was an iron works. Here's a section from the Ordnance Survey of the 1890s, the land now occupied by the overflow car park

Not a lot of people know this, there was an iron works on the other side of the line from Whitby to Battersby was an iron works. Here's a section from the Ordnance Survey of the 1890s, the land now occupied by the overflow car park

The iron works, commemorated by this plaque,  opened late1830s to process ironstone mined nearby in Eskdale after iron was found during digging the original tunnel bore. The site is north of the line to Whitby

The iron works, commemorated by this plaque, opened late1830s to process ironstone mined nearby in Eskdale after iron was found during digging the original tunnel bore. The site is north of the line to Whitby

When you think you've seen everything - and before you go to the platform buffet - there's the shop to lose yourself in. Cartloads of merchandise including dvds, books, calendars, edibles...

When you think you've seen everything - and before you go to the platform buffet - there's the shop to lose yourself in. Cartloads of merchandise including dvds, books, calendars, edibles...

Grosmont Track& Signalling, NYMR

Grosmont track plan and signalling diagram, shows the national network's line from Whitby-Battersby-Middlesbrough. The original through line was Whitby-Pickering. Gradient profile bottom left shows Grosmont-Goathland section

Grosmont track plan and signalling diagram, shows the national network's line from Whitby-Battersby-Middlesbrough. The original through line was Whitby-Pickering. Gradient profile bottom left shows Grosmont-Goathland section

From a meeting of the two Georges...

George Hudson would become known as 'The Railway King', George Stephenson the railway builder who outlasted his namesake and lived on through his son Robert. Hudson as landowner in Whitby would bring trade to the town from inland. He would also be responsible for the York & North Midland Railway as well as being elected Lord Mayor of York for two terms, and Member of Parliament for Sunderland - County Durham - before 'creative accounting' and political disgrace saw him flee to France. Subsequent imprisonment for debt on his return to England left him ruined, although many friends helped him through to his release.

His heritage would see amalgamation with the York & North Midland via Rillington Junction on the York-Scarborough line, later inauguration into the North Eastern Railway, the London & North Eastern Railway and British Railways before closure early in 1965. The 'phoenix' would rise from the ashes in the form of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, opened in the early 70's by the Duchess of Kent and re-opened soon after between Pickering and Grosmont. Newer developments have been the restoration of Pickering's overall trainshed roof and the dedicated platform at Whitby Town station for through trains. Ongoing services are unlikely, between Pickering and Malton, as the legal and physical disturbance would be too great south of Pickering Station, and the conditions of the railway's operating license would be affected by outside (national railway) involvement.

See it all here, above and below in all its glory, one of the most famous preserved lines in the UK and the world with steam and diesel workings, and see where it came from.

'Here lies the 'Railway King'

The small church of St Peter and Paul at Scrayingham  near Stamford Bridge in East Yorkshire where the Hudsons and their inlaws lie buried close to the nearside wall, left of the porch

The small church of St Peter and Paul at Scrayingham near Stamford Bridge in East Yorkshire where the Hudsons and their inlaws lie buried close to the nearside wall, left of the porch

George in his heyday as Lord Mayor of York -twice elected!

George in his heyday as Lord Mayor of York -twice elected!

George Stephenson came from much humbler beginnings, west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and achieved much, with a son - Robert - who was equally respected for his engineering prowess

George Stephenson came from much humbler beginnings, west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and achieved much, with a son - Robert - who was equally respected for his engineering prowess

The two Georges hit it off famously from first meeting at Whitby...

... George Hudson had gone to visit his inheritance, estate passed to him by a barely-known uncle. The roads around Whitby are famously steep, taxing in places even for a modern vehicle (I've driven it several ways, and know well!) and George Stephenson didn't have to try hard to persuade the town's elders about building a railway into the interior along the River Esk to Grosmont and south to Pickering.

An authoritative work that fully describes George Hudson's rise and fall and meeting with George Stephenson is "The Railway King - A Biography of George Hudson" by Robert Beaumont, published by Headline Book Publishing, a division of Hodder Headline Ltd., ISBN 0-7472-3235-0 and describes Hudson's relationships with the railway fraternity of York, his dreamlike rise, ultimate downfall and 'crucifixion' at the hands of his fiercest critics. Described by Andrew Roberts as, "... A passionate yet meticulously researched work of genuine scholarship".

I second that.

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Meanwhile, across the other side of the East Coast Main Line ... Wensleydale's railway beckons

Members of the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) rest beside J72 69023 'Joem' for a group shot - loco was among last batch built to Wilson Worsdell's drawings of the 1890s - currently undergoing work at Hopetown

Members of the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) rest beside J72 69023 'Joem' for a group shot - loco was among last batch built to Wilson Worsdell's drawings of the 1890s - currently undergoing work at Hopetown

Here's another of NELPG's engines, back on the line since August 2018. See also below

Here's another of NELPG's engines, back on the line since August 2018. See also below

Northallerton West's temporary platform. There are thoughts on extending to Northallerton's Low Level platforms, where there is at least a road link

Northallerton West's temporary platform. There are thoughts on extending to Northallerton's Low Level platforms, where there is at least a road link

The railway - opened eastward at present to Northallerton West, westward to Redmire with plans to go further by a couple of miles or so at either end.

The railway - opened eastward at present to Northallerton West, westward to Redmire with plans to go further by a couple of miles or so at either end.

Tribute from the regional press, 'Yorkshire Post' announces a farewell to Tornado fighter bombers in North Yorkshire, and pairs them with A1 60163 'Tornado. The locomotive visited the Wenleydale Railway in mid-February, 2019 - see below for images'

Tribute from the regional press, 'Yorkshire Post' announces a farewell to Tornado fighter bombers in North Yorkshire, and pairs them with A1 60163 'Tornado. The locomotive visited the Wenleydale Railway in mid-February, 2019 - see below for images'

See description below

See description below

A photographic record of the Wensleydale Railway by Christine Hallas is a must for the bookshelf of anyone interested in the resurrection of regional railways. There are tables of figures, gradient profiles, historical reminiscences, personal reminiscences (including some of former NUR General Secretary Sid Weighell, who worked on the footplate down the branch from Northallerton) and pages of black & white images as well as colour views in the centre of the book.

Permanent way work, 1: Through the cutting under the bridge at Leyburn West (November, 2018)

The way west - at the other side of the bridge work is underway to install pointwork at the western end of the Leyburn Station passing loop

The way west - at the other side of the bridge work is underway to install pointwork at the western end of the Leyburn Station passing loop

Under the bridge, the trackbed has been prepared to lay the pointwork

Under the bridge, the trackbed has been prepared to lay the pointwork

West from Northallerton, and not far from the A1(M),

George Hundson proposed a line south from Catterick - already linked to the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway by a line from Darlington to Richmond via Eryholme - to Hunton and westward through Wensleydale to Hawes and on to Ribblehead. Needless to say, this plan came to nought. The Lancashire and North Yorkshire Union Railway (L&NYUR) proposed a line eastward from Skipton amongst its other hare-brained ideas. Next the Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne Junction Railway (LM&NuTR) deposited similar plans but common sense and economics won out and lengthy talks were entered into with the L&NYUR. In early 1848 the authorised line of the LM&NuTR was abandoned and the company dissolved for lack on cash. The survival of another company, the Northern Counties Union Railway, was also in doubt. The directors hoped to restore plans for a Wath to Leyburn section out of earlier plans, but was also abandoned.

In 1853 the Bedale & Leyburn Railway Company was formed, gained support from the newly-formed North Eastern Railway (York, Newcastle & Berwick - YN&B - amalgamated with York & North Midland and Leeds Northern), and opened their line from Bedale to Leyburn in 1856. This line connected with the 1846 authorised YN&BR branch from Northallerton that was completed in 1855. The NER took over the ailing B&LR in 1858, speculative schemes were put forward by different companies, and with an upsurge of railway development in the 1880's NER proposed a more modest plan to link Leyburn with Hawes and onward to the Settle & Carlisle Railway(S&CR) at Garsdale and the Act was passed in July, 1870. A joint Midland-NER station was built at Hawes and a link laid in to Garsdale. With due pomp and celebration the Leyburn to Hawes section was opened with NER Engine No. 588 and a train of five six-wheeled coaches on October 1st, 1878.

Leyburn traffic receipts from 1868 to 1939 show a healthy rise from 1868-1888, then a slight drop in 1908, recovering by 56% to an all-time high in 1928 of £4,416. The last year, 1939 saw a drop again to 43% of the 1928 figure. The total, with non-passenger receipts included, saw a staggering increase in 1928 from the 1908 figure of £8,023 was about 165%, to £21,274, rising by about 31% to £28023. With divers coaching traffic the figure came to £32,905.

That couldn't hold and post-war traffic dropped until British Railways decided to close the line to passengers in 1954, the last day being Saturday April 24th. Good and mineral traffic continued for another decade. Askrigg, Aysgarth and Hawes seeing their goods depots closed on April 27th, 1964. Wensley's goods facilities survived until July 3rd, 1967 and at Leyburn in 1969. Leyburn and Redmire kept open public delivery services, Leyburn's until 1982. In 1965 track west of Redmire had been removed, the rest of the line being kept open for Teesside limestone traffic and the military. Redmire station offices were demolished, but the other buildings down the line were kept in situ, deteriorating gradually.

Excursion trains went down the branch apart from the daily limestone traffic, and the reprieve of the S&C line provided impetus for a dedicated group of people to seek a solution for the restoration of the line. Hawes businesswoman Ruth Annison organised an exploratory meeting in March, 1990. The Wensleydale Railway Association was formed with county council officers presiding, Ruth Annison as secretary, Irene Bergerud as membership secretary and Stan Abbott as press officer. Over the years people with particular railway skills were recruited. When British Rail (BR) offered the line @ £1.1m the Association saw no way out but to buy the line, valued independently at half the figure BR identified. A campaign was launched to issue track units in March, 1993. A Pickering businessman put in a bid, saying he had backers and just before bidding closed a third - anonymous - party put in a bid. By September 1993 the WRA had raised over £75,000. Then BR said it was withdrawing the line from sale. The reprieve came from the Ministry of Defence (MdD), expressing interest in keeping the line open to run tank transporter trains to Redmire for Catterick Camp near Richmond.

The MoD ran a trial train in November, 1996 and invested £750,000 in upgrading the line between Northallerton and Redmire. Events rolled on with Railtrack (the maintenance arm of Britain's privatised railways) granting a 99-year lease for the line. Railtrack's license to operate was rescinded due to their mishandling of part of the network, and there was a delay in the signing until their successors, Network Rail took over, documents were.exchanged and progress was made - the line opened with razzmatazz on July 4th, 2003 with County Council, regional Rail and government officers attending. Patrons include actors Robert Hardy, Christopher Awdry, the Lord Bolton and Michael Palin. The local Member of Parliament (now Foreign Secretary) William Hague also attended.

The future? As a shareholder (£150 worth) of the plc and member of the WRA I hope ever upward and onward. I took my first trip up the line last summer, Leeming Bar to Leyburn and back gave me enough time ro look around Leyburn Station before my return journey. I was impressed at progress made. The association has regular meetings in London, York and Northallerton as well as a number of other locations. See the link for details, timetables etc. .

A temporary platform has been opened at Northallerton West as an eastern terminus, and Scruton Station (between Northallerton and Leeming Bar) has seen renovation work as well as platform lengthening to take a three car diesel multiple unit (dmu). I've added a batch of pictures (below) taken on 4th November, 2016 to show progress.

Here's a battery of useful connections for North Yorkshire:

www.yorkshiretravel.net,

www.dalesbus.org/planner.html,

www.northyorks.gov.uk/

www.weatheronline.co.uk/

And now for something slightly different:

Throughout the year the Wensleydale Railway also organises walks, some non-railway orientated, within the Dales around Wensleydale. A brochure is available from the WR that outlines the walk themes, length and route. Contact by e-mail: admin@wensleydalerailway.com or call 08454 50 54 74. The address to write for the brochure, GUIDED WALKS & EXCURSIONS, 2012 is: Wensleydale Railway plc., Leeming Bar Station, Leases Road, Leeming Bar, Northallerton DL7 9AR.


Railway Recollections

Wensleydale Railway Reborn, a dvd that tells of the re-emergence of this great scenic railway from an idea to what it is today - and may be tomorrow. Contact Wensleydale Railway Assoc. (Trust) Ltd.

Wensleydale Railway Reborn, a dvd that tells of the re-emergence of this great scenic railway from an idea to what it is today - and may be tomorrow. Contact Wensleydale Railway Assoc. (Trust) Ltd.

Wensleydale Railway

  • Home - Wensleydale Railway
    Re-opened 2001 after 47 years without a passenger service, the Wensleydale Railway is operated largely by dedicated volunteers. In just under 20 years, despite multiple setbacks, there is an air of optimism along the line

'Tornado' also visited the Wensleydale Railway, arriving mid-February 2019 for three days - back in May for three weeks

Mid-February, 2019: regional and national press covered the visit paid by 'Tornado' to the Wensleydale Railway

Mid-February, 2019: regional and national press covered the visit paid by 'Tornado' to the Wensleydale Railway

'Tornado' on her second return from Redmire on one day during her mid-February visit - see also the following pair of views

'Tornado' on her second return from Redmire on one day during her mid-February visit - see also the following pair of views

'Tornado' enters Leyburn from the west (Redmire)

'Tornado' enters Leyburn from the west (Redmire)

... And takes on water at Leyburn on her next trip up the dale from Leeming Bar and Bedale - check for trains on the line and special events on the web link above

... And takes on water at Leyburn on her next trip up the dale from Leeming Bar and Bedale - check for trains on the line and special events on the web link above

Wensleydale Railway information

Scruton - an essay in pictures

A view through the ornate booking office window into the general waiting room

A view through the ornate booking office window into the general waiting room

The replacement crossing gates at Scruton Station - hand-built, using hardwood

The replacement crossing gates at Scruton Station - hand-built, using hardwood

A look along the platform, west-to-east, shows the old platform signal cabin in line with the station building (SM's office, booking office, waiting rooms)

A look along the platform, west-to-east, shows the old platform signal cabin in line with the station building (SM's office, booking office, waiting rooms)

One of the WR volunteers kindly dons a British Railways station staff cap with tangerine 'British Railways' badge over the peak

One of the WR volunteers kindly dons a British Railways station staff cap with tangerine 'British Railways' badge over the peak

A look inside the old signal cabin reveals a jumble of assorted material awaiting attention

A look inside the old signal cabin reveals a jumble of assorted material awaiting attention

This looks cosy - first class waiting room, western end of the building (access through general waiting)

This looks cosy - first class waiting room, western end of the building (access through general waiting)

General waiting room, first class beyond, booking office window this end...

General waiting room, first class beyond, booking office window this end...

Public building, waiting rooms (1st and rest), booking office, ladies' room - gents round the back at this end, turn right.

Public building, waiting rooms (1st and rest), booking office, ladies' room - gents round the back at this end, turn right.

Framed and glazed public information poster shows daily pick-up goods service provided by the railway company (the caption just tells you the scene is Glaisdale on the Whitby-Middlesbrough route)

Framed and glazed public information poster shows daily pick-up goods service provided by the railway company (the caption just tells you the scene is Glaisdale on the Whitby-Middlesbrough route)

And outside, an enamelled wall advertisement for Redferns' rubber heels and soles

And outside, an enamelled wall advertisement for Redferns' rubber heels and soles

In this picture, that shows where the extension began, just in front of the old platform signal cabin.

In this picture, that shows where the extension began, just in front of the old platform signal cabin.

The platform is almost finished, the edging stones in place, back fencing and asphalt surface. Just this section needs the finishing touch.

The platform is almost finished, the edging stones in place, back fencing and asphalt surface. Just this section needs the finishing touch.

A pigsty in the course of completion behind the station. I'm told the station master here kept pigs. Most SMs in the region also had a coal concession, income from the 'black stuff' often amounted to more than their salary

A pigsty in the course of completion behind the station. I'm told the station master here kept pigs. Most SMs in the region also had a coal concession, income from the 'black stuff' often amounted to more than their salary

Work on the sty roof has just been started...

Work on the sty roof has just been started...

"Here piggy!" A stylishly constructed archway to the porkers' des. res. accommodation. The roof will be slate-covered

"Here piggy!" A stylishly constructed archway to the porkers' des. res. accommodation. The roof will be slate-covered

31st August, 2018 - On the way back from the Wensleydale Railway's upper reaches t stopped off at Scruton and took another few pictures, this is the pig sty complete with name plate - 'Percy Pig' eh? How long before a tenant takes up the lease?

31st August, 2018 - On the way back from the Wensleydale Railway's upper reaches t stopped off at Scruton and took another few pictures, this is the pig sty complete with name plate - 'Percy Pig' eh? How long before a tenant takes up the lease?

The rest of Scruton's 'back yard shows why the station restoration has received accolades from various bodies

The rest of Scruton's 'back yard shows why the station restoration has received accolades from various bodies

Thanks go in part to the Heritage Lottery Fund, as displayed on the wicker gate at the crossing (above)

Thanks go in part to the Heritage Lottery Fund, as displayed on the wicker gate at the crossing (above)

A last look back before setting off back for Pickering, where I was staying (to attend the NYMR Shareholder AGM - I've got shares in both)

A last look back before setting off back for Pickering, where I was staying (to attend the NYMR Shareholder AGM - I've got shares in both)

Permanent way work, 2. Ballasting the railway

The ballasting wagons are out - to be able to increase train speed ballasting needs to be kept up-to-date with new chips bought in. The permanent way is like painting the Forth Bridge, a never-ending job. Another aspect is the clearance of vegetation

The ballasting wagons are out - to be able to increase train speed ballasting needs to be kept up-to-date with new chips bought in. The permanent way is like painting the Forth Bridge, a never-ending job. Another aspect is the clearance of vegetation

The ballast wagons were out again, to update ballasting along the branch - not done before the Wensleydale Railway (WR) took over in the early 2000s for many a year. The stone wagons that ran between Teesside and Redmire on the WR took a heavy toll on old raíls that hadn't seen work sínce closure to traffic in the mid-1950s. The Army also used the branch to bring in heavy armour to Catterick for training and manoeuvers on the ranges north of Leyburn. Lineside vegetation clearing has been another long task needed to be undertaken in order to be able to raise the speed limit placed on the branch from re-opening.

Steam on the Wensleydale Railway

From time to time we see preserved steam and diesel locomotives in action on the Wensleydale Railway, almost as much as on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. A regular visitor is NELPG's J72 0-6-0 65894 tank locomotive known affectionately as 'Joem'. Before being snapped up from British Railways' almost indecent haste to rid itself of steam locomotion in the 1960s. Larger steam locomotives have been, such as NELPG's Q6 0-8-0. Bigger still was preserved LNER A4 4464 'Bittern' in late May, 2014 (see picture below) fresh from a 'reunion' with other preserved LNER A4 4-6-2 Pacifics 4468 'Mallard', 4496 'Dwight D Eisenhower' (originally 'Golden Shuttle'), 4489 'Dominion of Canada' (orig. 'Woodcock'), 4488 'Union of South Africa' and 4498 'Sir Nigel Gresley'. 'Dominion of Canada' was brought from Canada and 'Dwight D Eisenhower' from the USA. When I saw them at Shildon just after storage they were in a parlous state with bits missing, rust an dirt. When they were returned months later they'd been cleaned up and partially restored (although not in running order).

August, 2018 saw NELPG's six-coupled tender locomotive J27 65894 visited the line as the J72 was out of action, receiving much needed attention at Hopetown, Darlington. On August 31st I caught up with her at Leyburn whilst dropping off a couple of HORNBY magazine binders to the shop to help with proceeds. See below.

The Wensleydale Railway has its own stud of locomotives, diesels of different classes and vintages. See the link for further information.

More steam on the WR....NELPG's J27 65894 and USA Baldwin 2-8-0 1225

NELPG's J27 0-6-0 visits the line, August 2018 and again 2019 to replace J72 'Joem' whilst she is worked on at Hopetown, Darlington

NELPG's J27 0-6-0 visits the line, August 2018 and again 2019 to replace J72 'Joem' whilst she is worked on at Hopetown, Darlington

Driver Terry Newman looks along the platform from the back of the tender as 65894 receives water from the new crane at Leyburn

Driver Terry Newman looks along the platform from the back of the tender as 65894 receives water from the new crane at Leyburn

A footplate visitor is shown around - there's a lot to take in, with levers, dials and brakes (both on the locomotive and tender)

A footplate visitor is shown around - there's a lot to take in, with levers, dials and brakes (both on the locomotive and tender)

As I said, there's a lot to take in - the view through the fireman's side window

As I said, there's a lot to take in - the view through the fireman's side window

 The day before I was there, another crew mans the footplate on 65894

The day before I was there, another crew mans the footplate on 65894

Back at Leeming Bar, 65894 arrived 25th July, 2019 for another holiday season to stand in for J72 69023 whilst she undergoes restoration

Back at Leeming Bar, 65894 arrived 25th July, 2019 for another holiday season to stand in for J72 69023 whilst she undergoes restoration

August 2019 saw her in service again between Leeming Bar and Redmire - here she awaits 'the off' bound for Redmire at Leyburn

August 2019 saw her in service again between Leeming Bar and Redmire - here she awaits 'the off' bound for Redmire at Leyburn

Headed for Redmire again, 65894 waits for the signalman at the crossing cabin to pull off the down starter

Headed for Redmire again, 65894 waits for the signalman at the crossing cabin to pull off the down starter

Santa Specials made way this year - 2019 Christmas season - for Polar Express hauled by USA wartime Baldwin S160 2-8-0 No.1225

Santa Specials made way this year - 2019 Christmas season - for Polar Express hauled by USA wartime Baldwin S160 2-8-0 No.1225

A close-up of USA 1225 - 1940s UK crews in the North East claimed they could have held a tea dance on the footplate, they were that expansive

A close-up of USA 1225 - 1940s UK crews in the North East claimed they could have held a tea dance on the footplate, they were that expansive

The Baldwin 2-8-0 at Crakehall with its 'Polar Express' - another couple of months and they'd have had the snow for effect!

The Baldwin 2-8-0 at Crakehall with its 'Polar Express' - another couple of months and they'd have had the snow for effect!

Return of an old favourite and surge of the giant newcomer on the WR's 'Polar Express'

NELPG's Class J27 (NER P3) 0-6-0 65894 returned in the summer of 2019 after a successful debut on the Wensleydale Railway to a huge welcome from regulars and tourists alike. I managed to catch her at Leyburn on the last day of August 2018 before her return to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for a spot of maintenance and the Steam Gala in September.

The Santa Expresses made way for a season of Polar Expresses in 2019, hauled by a mighty USA Baldwin 2-8-0 No.1225, renumbered to suit the occasion.

Briefly the design of the US Army Transport Corps (USATC) Class 160 was a continuation of the Class 159 of WWI.with modifications. Major J W Marsh of the Corps of Engineers. The design showed development on Austerity principles, ruggedness of purpose at speed on shell-damaged railway routes. Frames and wheels were cast steel, the forward pair of axles independently sprung from the rear pair. The larger ternder was an idea adopted from Robert Riddles' WD 2-8-0, the coal bunker inset over the water tank.

Eight hundred locomotives were built 1942-43 in thirteen batches, consignments divided between Alco, Baldwin and Lima Locomotive works. The locomotives were landed at Newport, Monmouthshire in South Wales and distributed around the British mainland railway network from the Great Western Railway depot at Ebbw Junction. An initial 43 went to Doncaster 'Plant' for completion. These would operate on the East Coast Main Line.on munitions and troop transport. Between them the British railway companies took delivery of 400 for 'running in', effectively replacing war damaged locomotive stock, augmenting their traffic capacity. In all 174 went to the GWR, 168 to the LNER, 150 to the London Midland & Scottish Rly (LMSR) and six to the Southern (SR). A second consignment of 400 was stored at Ebbw Jct before D-Day. After the Normandy invasion the locomotives already deployed were assembled at Ebbw Jct, ready to be sent to Europe.

Preservation:

Several were preserved, some Baldwin, some Lima, and several of these are only extant as part-locomotives (chassis, boilers, frames, spares). One is undergoing restoration.on the Great Central at Ruddington in Nottinghamshire, several of the operational USATC 160 locomotives are Baldwins', some Lima and Alco. One full restoration took place by Steam Powered Services at Stockton-on-Tees and returned to service on the North Yorkshire Moors Rly (Baldwin 2253), its owner Pete Best. The locomotive was named 'Omaha Beach' to honour the US forces involved in the D-Day assault on 'Fortress Europe'. A former owner of this locomotive was Polish State Railways after WWII.

The particular US 1225 Polar Express locomotive saw little of the war itself, being built 1945 and sent via England to Europe, from where she was returned to these shores. Restoration took place on the Churnet Valley Railway of this fine specimen that brought visitors to the WR in droves - you lucky people helped make history!


*Ref: Wikipedia; Wikimedia Commons also has information that relates to USATC Class 160.

Giant in our midst

Wreathed in atmospheric smoke, S-160 No. 1225 on the Polar Express bound for the furthest reaches of Wensleydale (Redmire)

Wreathed in atmospheric smoke, S-160 No. 1225 on the Polar Express bound for the furthest reaches of Wensleydale (Redmire)

6046 at Orton Mere on the Nene Valley Railway near the East Coast Main Line at Peterborough

6046 at Orton Mere on the Nene Valley Railway near the East Coast Main Line at Peterborough

USATC Class 160 Works photo

USATC Class 160 Works photo

USATC working diagram

USATC working diagram

West along the branch - Leeming Bar, Bedale, Leyburn and Redmire

Leeming Bar Station, the portico faces the road, at the right is the platform, left is the station yard and car park. A recent restoration project gave the building a welcome 'facelift' and interior rejuvenation.

Leeming Bar Station, the portico faces the road, at the right is the platform, left is the station yard and car park. A recent restoration project gave the building a welcome 'facelift' and interior rejuvenation.

Bedale's signal cabin at the level crossing. Picture taken from station approach road

Bedale's signal cabin at the level crossing. Picture taken from station approach road

Bedale station, platform frontage - there are several workshops on the yard side, including White Rose, who produce model railway layouts and sell products in the adjoining shop; there's also a reasonably priced cafe

Bedale station, platform frontage - there are several workshops on the yard side, including White Rose, who produce model railway layouts and sell products in the adjoining shop; there's also a reasonably priced cafe

Preserved LNER A4 4464 'Bittern' heads a train of WR carriages out of Bedale in late May, 2014 (picture by Stuart Boulton) after the 'A4 Reunion' at 'Locomotion' Shildon

Preserved LNER A4 4464 'Bittern' heads a train of WR carriages out of Bedale in late May, 2014 (picture by Stuart Boulton) after the 'A4 Reunion' at 'Locomotion' Shildon

Leyburn Station's public entrance with (privately owned) station house. There's a souvenir and gift shop within to the right and another cafe to the left

Leyburn Station's public entrance with (privately owned) station house. There's a souvenir and gift shop within to the right and another cafe to the left

What was once one of the doorways to the goods shed now gives access to a motor workshop. The other one (left) leads to a garden centre

What was once one of the doorways to the goods shed now gives access to a motor workshop. The other one (left) leads to a garden centre

This goods crane was one of two that was set within where a track ran through behind the platform wall. The doors (above) gave access to the goods platform

This goods crane was one of two that was set within where a track ran through behind the platform wall. The doors (above) gave access to the goods platform

One of two platform luggage barrows that provide atmosphere for passengers awaiting their train from Redmire or Constable Burton

One of two platform luggage barrows that provide atmosphere for passengers awaiting their train from Redmire or Constable Burton

Weigh office in Leyburn's yard stands beside the gate - no longer in use as a weigh office, but provides atmosphere and is useful for those modelling this type of NER building

Weigh office in Leyburn's yard stands beside the gate - no longer in use as a weigh office, but provides atmosphere and is useful for those modelling this type of NER building

Redmire Station is currently the end of the line - kept open by stone traffic for Teesside chemical and steel processing. Here NELPG's 1951-built J72 69023 rests awaiting departure for Leeming Bar near the A1(M)

Redmire Station is currently the end of the line - kept open by stone traffic for Teesside chemical and steel processing. Here NELPG's 1951-built J72 69023 rests awaiting departure for Leeming Bar near the A1(M)

Leeming Bar station has enjoyed a 'spring clean, wash and brush-up'

Recently, early October 2021, Leeming Bar station's upgrade was well on its way to completion, the station house itself given the 1930's treatment, its interior cleaned and painted upstairs and downstairs. The booking office was taken back to its heyday, the walls and flooring given a thorough scrub, the latter given a natural wood finish. The building will be given the green light soon, when the toilet block is completed. The current 'facility' will be removed - maybe used elsewhere for upgrades on other stations such as Leyburn.

And finally, when the bark of a hard-working steam locomotive fades into the distance, peace reigns again

The view south across the dale from Redmire to Pen Hill

The view south across the dale from Redmire to Pen Hill

Ghosts from another era... The Weardale Railway as was , and as has been resurrected... again

Etherley Station after line closure in the 60's

Etherley Station after line closure in the 60's

Steam at Stanhope - a crowd has turned out for a visiting locomotive in 2019

Steam at Stanhope - a crowd has turned out for a visiting locomotive in 2019

A Heritage Diesel railcar stands at Stanhope's main platform. Most of the branch is single track except for some stations

A Heritage Diesel railcar stands at Stanhope's main platform. Most of the branch is single track except for some stations

I have to inform you that the Weardale Railway has resumed operations.

Not until November, 1843 was the Bishop Auckland and Weardale Railway opened from Shildon Junction (north-west of Darlington) to Crook, the first tentative step to bring the two mining districts together. The line was leased and worked by the Stockton & Darlington Railway. In 1845 the line was extended from Crook to Waskerley to give the Derwent Iron Company of Consett a connection. This section was first known as the Weardale Extension but later became the Wear & Derwent Junction Railway under a merger with the line from Stanhope to Consett.

A scheme to enter Upper Weardale itself was covered by the Wear Valley Act of July, 1845. This would provide a link from Witton Junction (Wear Valley Junction) on the Bishop Auckland & Weardale Railway to Frosterley with a connecting spur to Bishopley. Opened 3rd August, 1847, it was a prelude to a more ambitions plan to extend the line up the dale and on via Alston to Carlisle by the Wear Valley Company, but this never came to fruition due to a lack of funds. The Frosterley and Bishopley areas were acknowledged as rich in limestone deposits and large quarries were up and running on both sides of the dale. On the north side were the Rogerley and Frosterley quarries, to the south the Bishopley Branch served the Bishopley Quarries. Limestone quarried here would be used by the new iron foundries on Teesside.

In 1862 the Wear Valley line was extended to Stanhope by the Frosterley & Stanhope Railway, to reach the Newlandside Estate on the south side of the town where large quantities of limestone were known to lie below the surface. The boom period for the quarries in the Frosterley and Stanhope districts was the 1870s, when they were either in the throes of extension or new ones were being opened. An extension of the Bishopley Branch brought into play the workings of Fineburn and Bishopley Crag, and a siding from the station yard at Frosterley crossed the river by the 'fly bridge' to serve as another outlet from the extended Bishopley Quarry at North Bishopley. Parson Byers Quarry near Stanhope, established in 1872, was located high on the south side of the dale, connected to the Wear Valley line by a self-acting incline and due to its great size had its own internal railway network. There were around thirteen miles of quarries in Weardale, most concentrated around Frosterley and Stanhope. Quarrying declined quickly after WWI and through the 1920s. Some survived until recently, such as Newlandside and Parson Byers.

A final extension of the wear Valley line to Wearhead was opened on October 21st, 1895. A new one had to be laid because it would have been impossible with the technology of the time to extend the line from the existing station at Stanhope. Within this section the Greenfoot Whinstone Quarry had its own narrow-gauge system. On the northern hillside was the plant of the Weardale Lead Company at Rookhope, linked with the railway in the dale by an aerial ropeway. Between Eastgate and Wesgate at Cambokeels were sidings to serve the Weardale Iron Company's Heights limestone quarry. This quarry is still operational.

Passenger services survived until June 29th, 1953. Until closure four trains per day served the stations of Witton-le-Wear, Harperley, Wolsingham, Frosterley, Stanhope, Eastgate, Westgate-in-Weardale, St. John's Chapel and Wearhead. The goods service to Wearhead continued until 1961, when the line was cut back to St. John's Chapel. West from Eastgate - the current terminus - followed in 1968.

Easfgate Cement works were set up in 1964, bringing new life to upper Weardale. Using purpose-built container wagons, the cement was moved largely by rail from the plant to Teesside, Tyneside and Scotland. These works closed in March, 1993.

The line in existence until 2004 was singled throughout between Eastgate and Shildon, with a connecting spur laid in at Bishop Auckland, the terminus of the 'Heritage Line' from Darlington. A summer-only Sunday passenger service to Stanhope operated as an extension to the Darlington service between 1988-1992. The success of this service was vital in the re-opening of the station at Etherley (re-named Witton Park) in August, 1991. A campaign to save the line west of Bishop Auckland known now as the Weardale Railway began in 1993 with the threat of closure. Track-lifting was a real possibility after the last cement train left. Until 2004 the line was 'mothballed', but the line was bought by Weardale Railways Limited and the first works trains began running in 2004 to ready the line for the re-opening to the public of the first section between Stanhope and Wolsingham.

There are movements afoot to re-establish a passenger service on this line. Watch this space.

Weardale Railway

See description below

See description below

From looking at a railway map of County Durham you'd never know public railways began here. There was a network of branch and main lines that criss-crossed the county from the inauguration of the Stockton & Darlington Railway onward. There are less than a third of the original lines as built still operational. Compare a map of the NER with a current line diagram and see what I mean.

Railway map of County Durham, England, before closures from the 1950s-1960s and after

Railway routes of County Durham in the North East of England, the birthplace of public railways and industrial hub, with extensive coal mining in the high ground to the west of the county

Railway routes of County Durham in the North East of England, the birthplace of public railways and industrial hub, with extensive coal mining in the high ground to the west of the county

Other useful web addresses for preserved railways and tourism in County Durham

Tanfield Railway: www.tanfield-railway.co.uk

Friends of Darlington Railway Centre and Museum links: www.friendsofdrcm.org.links.html

Beamish, Living Museum of the North: www.beamish.org.uk/


A final 'shout' for the railway that wouldn't die...

A 'bubble' crosses the River Wear (pron. as 'weir'). One of the 'Heritage Diesels', these vehicles originated on the Western Region, British Railways. They were nicknamed 'bubbles' and some have been bought by several preserved railways.

A 'bubble' crosses the River Wear (pron. as 'weir'). One of the 'Heritage Diesels', these vehicles originated on the Western Region, British Railways. They were nicknamed 'bubbles' and some have been bought by several preserved railways.

© 2012 Alan R Lancaster

Comments

Alan R Lancaster (author) from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on October 29, 2018:

I visit both, Liz. The railway stations and sheds were the 'castles' of the railway age after the canal age. We've been through lots of revolutions in the UK, the later ones being industrial and agricultural before the transport one. Technology doesn't change things too much, and still relies on the 'human touch' to get things moving.

The railways saw the North East emerge from the backwoods, namely because the aristocratic 'nimbys' didn't want industry near them. They enjoyed the fruits of the combination of industrial and transport revolutions.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 28, 2018:

Some people have a tendency to visit castles wherever they go. My Dad's fascination was with the steam trains of his youth. North Yorks Moors railway in the mid 1970s made an outing with his father-in-law more bearable and, as kids, we got taken too.

Alan R Lancaster (author) from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on June 11, 2012:

Thanks Debbie. There's more to come yet on this Hubpage... Keep your eyes peeled!

Debbie Pinkston from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas on June 08, 2012:

Thanks! I enjoyed riding the trains in the UK and look forward to more travels there! Your photos are lovely.

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