NYMR | The North York Moors Railway

The North York Moors Railway

Originally planned in 1831 by George Stephenson as a means of opening trade inland from the then important port of Whitby, the railway was first opened in 1836 as the Whitby and Pickering railway.

The line between Grosmont and Rillington was closed in 1965 and the section between Grosmont and Pickering was reopened in 1973 by the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust Ltd. The preserved line is now a tourist attraction and has been awarded several industry accolades.

The NYMR carries more passengers than any other heritage railway in the UK and may be the busiest steam heritage line in the world, carrying 355,000 passengers in 2010. The 18-mile railway is the third-longest standard gauge heritage line in the United Kingdom and runs across the North York Moors from Pickering via Levisham, Newton Dale, Goathland and terminating at Grosmont.

Trains run daily from the beginning of April to the end of October, and on weekends and selected holidays during the winter, with no service from 24–27 December. Services are mostly steam-hauled; however, heritage diesel power are sometimes used. At the height of the running timetable, trains depart hourly from each station. As well as the normal passenger services, there are dining services on some evenings and weekends. The extension of steam operated services to the seaside town of Whitby has proved popular.

The PIckering to Whitby Line

Originally named the Pickering to Whitby line, this was built to halt the gradual decline of the port of Whitby on the east coast of England. Its basic industries—whaling and shipbuilding—had been in decline and it was believed that opening transport links inland would help regenerate the town and port.

Until the turnpike to Pickering was opened in 1759, Whitby was better connected to the rest of the country by sea than by land; even then the difficult climb over the high moors was an obstacle. Stagecoach services did not start until 1795 and mail coaches (thrice weekly) until 1823.

The Whitby and Pickering Railway opened in stages in 1836 (being one of the earliest railways in Yorkshire) and was worked by a horses until it was absorbed into the York and North Midland Railway in 1845 and was converted into a conventional double tracked steam-worked railway.

Newbridge Crossing

Newbridge signal cabin is the only surviving cabin of the seven which were opened on the North Eastern Railway Line (1854 -1922) to control the single to double track junctions. This type of block signalling was a big change for the railway and came about in 1876.

The crossing is just 50 yards from the cottage at the end of the side garden.

Newton Dale

Newton Dale, a very picturesque section of the line, sits between the stations of Levisham and Goathland. It was carved out by a massive amount of water charging through it during the last Ice Age. At the start of the twentieth century, Percy Kendall suggested that several massive glacial lakes at what is now the watershed between Eller Beck, the River Derwent and Pickering Beck, effectively dammed the water and once released, the torrent carved the dale we see today. It has been estimated that a few decades worth of water running through the dale carved it out, spilling the displaced earth into Lake Pickering.

Kendall’s original theory about massive pre-glacial lakes has been cast in doubt by modern research; many now believe that the ice sheets themselves just melted and released the water rather than the ice sheets holding back water in huge lakes. However, everyone agrees that the dale is an oddity as the water flowing through Pickering Beck down the dale does not have the power needed to carve out the narrow valley, which is 490 feet (150 m) above sea level on the valley floor with steep walls at up to 790 feet (240 m) at the crest. At certain points the narrow valley is only 1,600 feet (500 m) across.

The upper part of the dale was largely untouched by humans until the 1830s when the Whitby to Pickering railway line was built through it. The railway builders used bundles of wood, sheep fleeces and spoil to float the railway across Fen Bog.