North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire, county (1991 pop. 698,800), 3,209 sq mi (8,313 sq km), N England. The county comprises the districts of Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby, and York. North Yorkshire consists of two upland areas: the Pennines and deep valleys engulf the western regions, while in the east are limestone and sandstone. The above terrain is separated by the Vale of York, a lower land consisting of clay soil. The economy is mainly agricultural. Sheep are raised on the upland hills. There is also some light industry, such as food processing and light engineering. The area was occupied by the Roman military until the 7th cent. York flourished under the Anglians in the 8th cent. until invasions led to occupation by Scandanavians. William I the Conqueror destroyed many settlements there. During the Middle Ages the county was governed by wealthy landowners. It was later ravaged during the 15th cent. (see Roses, Wars of the) and in the mid-17th-century English civil war. Many castle ruins remain. The Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors national parks located within the county attract a growing number of tourists.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) is a heritage railway in North Yorkshire, England.


The railway is the second-longest heritage line in the United Kingdom and runs across the North York Moors from Pickering via Levisham, Newton Dale and Goathland to Grosmont. It is the middle section of the former Whitby, Pickering and Malton line which was closed in 1965 as part of the Beeching cuts. The NYMR is owned by the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust Ltd (a Charitable Trust and Registered Museum) and is operated by its wholly owned subsidiary North Yorkshire Moors Railway Enterprises Plc.. It is mostly operated and staffed by volunteers.

Trains run every day from the beginning of April and the end of October, plus selected dates through the winter. Trains are mostly steam-hauled; however in some cases heritage diesel is used. At the height of the running timetable, trains depart hourly from each station. As well as the normal passenger running, there are dining services on some evenings and weekends. The recent extension of steam operated services to the seaside town of Whitby have proved extremely popular. 'The NYMR . . . has proved to be one of the UK’s most popular heritage attractions in 2007, drawing some 321,986 visitors in the year.'


The North Yorkshire Moors Railway was first opened in 1836 as the Whitby and Pickering Railway. The railway was planned in 1831 by George Stephenson as a means of opening up trade routes inland from the then important seaport of Whitby. The initial railway was designed and built to be used by horse-drawn carriages. Construction was carried out by navvies and coordinated by top engineers. Their three main achievements were cutting a 110 m tunnel through rock at Grosmont, constructing a rope-worked incline system at Beck Hole and traversing the marshy and deep Fen Bog using a bed of timber and sheep fleeces. The tunnel is believed to be one of the oldest railway tunnels in the world. In its first year of operation, the railway carried 10,000 tons of stone from Grosmont to Whitby, as well as 6,000 passengers, who paid a fare of 1 shilling to sit on the roof of a coach, or 1 shilling and 3 pence to sit inside. It took two and a half hours to travel from Whitby to Pickering.

In 1845, the railway was acquired by the York and North Midland Railway who re-engineered the line to allow the use of steam locomotives. They also constructed the permanent stations and other structures along the line which still remain today. The Beck Hole Incline was re-equipped with a steam powered stationary engine and iron rope. They also added the line south from Pickering so that the line had a connection to York and London. In 1854 the York and North Midland Railway became part of the North Eastern Railway. Steam locomotives could not operate on the Beck Hole incline; so in the early 1860s the North Eastern Railway started construction of an alternate route which opened in 1865 - this is the route which is still in use today. The original route is now a pleasant walk named the Historic Rail Trail.

In 1923 the North Eastern Railway was absorbed into the London and North Eastern Railway as a result of the Railways Act 1921. In 1948 nationalisation meant that British Railways took control. During this time, little changed on the line. However, in his controversial report, Dr Beeching declared that the Whitby-Pickering line was uneconomic and listed it for closure, which took place in 1965.

This was not the end for the Whitby to Pickering railway. In 1967, the NYMR Preservation Society was formed, and negotiations began for the purchase of the line. After running various Open Weekends and Steam Galas during the early 1970s (by permission of British Railways} the NYMRPS transformed itself into a Charitable Trust (to ensure the future of the railway) and became The North York Moors Historical Railway Trust Ltd. Purchase of the line was completed and the necessary Light Railway Order obtained, giving powers to operate the railway. The railway was able to reopen for running in 1973 as the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, with much of the traction provided by the North East Locomotive Preservation Group.

Since then, the preserved line has gone from strength to strength, and is now a major tourist attraction, as seen in the awards below.


  • Pickering railway station is the southern terminus of the railway and serves the busy market town of Pickering. The station has recently been restored to its 1937 condition with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Original fixtures and fittings have been installed in the Booking Office and Parcels Office, as well as in the Tea Room. A park-and-ride service is provided to keep traffic out of the town during busy periods. The station is home to the railway's carriage workshops, and there is also a turntable. An authentic G.T.Andrews design overall roof (of the type that existed from 1845 until 1952) will be restored to the station by about 2010 following the announcement of a second HLF grant, other work includes a Learning Centre and a Visitor Centre behind the down platform. . Originally, the line continued south of Pickering to join the Malton to Scarborough line at Rillington Junction but this track has since been lifted.
  • Levisham railway station is a small countryside station set in the scenic Newton Dale valley. The location of the station is notable, as it is nearly two miles from the village which it serves, and whose name it takes. The area is ideal for walking and a wide variety of wildlife and flowers can be found within a short distance of the station. Levisham Station has been renovated and preserved to represent a small NER country station, circa 1912. The station has a traditional camping coach, which is let for holidays. Since 2007 the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s Artist in Residence Christopher Ware can be seen at work in an open studio at the station which is open every day when trains are running, and often when they are not (see the website).
  • Newton Dale Halt is a remote walkers' request stop. There are excellent walks and beautiful scenery within easy reach.
  • Goathland railway station is another typical countryside station, almost unchanged since its construction in 1865. The station has been restored to represent an NER country station post World War 1 circa 1922. The station is popular with tourists due to its appearances in Yorkshire TV's Heartbeat and the first of the Harry Potter films (see below). The station has a newly refurbished Tea Room which is inside a Goods Warehouse. The station also has a traditional camping coach, which is let for holidays.
  • Grosmont railway station is the old northern terminus, and houses the locomotive sheds. The station itself has been restored to the British Railways style circa 1955. The shed area has facilities to provide water and coal for the engines, as well as stabling. The sheds are also used for the maintenance and overhaul of the engines. At Grosmont, the line connects with the Network Rail operated Esk Valley Line, where passengers may change trains to travel to the coast at Whitby, or inland to Middlesbrough and the rest of the national network. Thus platform one of the station is served by Northern Rail services, whilst platforms two, three and four are used by the NYMR.
  • Whitby railway station is the new northern terminus of the NYMR as of 2007. There will now be regular trains to Whitby from Pickering throughout the year.


Steam locomotives

Number & Name Description Disposition Main Line Registered
80135 BR 2-6-4T Class 4MT Stored pending major overhaul. No
30926 Repton SR 4-4-0 Schools Class Operational. No
29 Lambton Collieries 0-6-2T Undergoing Overhaul. No
75029 BR 4-6-0 Class 4MT Operational. Yes (Whitby branch only)
45212 LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT Operational. No
6619 GWR 0-6-2T 5600 Class Operational. No
62005 Lord of the Isles LNER 2-6-0 Class K1 Hauling 'The Jacobite' services in Fort William. Yes
5224 GWR 2-8-0 GWR 5205 Class Operational. No
3814 GWR 2-8-0 2884 Class Restoration underway. No
44767 George Stephenson LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT Undergoing overhaul at Hepscott. (May return in 2008) No
45428 Eric Treacy LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT Undergoing overhaul. No
63395 NER 0-8-0 Class T2/LNER Class Q6 Operational. No
69023 Joem NER J72 Class J72 Undergoing overhaul at Hopetown Carriage Works. No
825 SR 4-6-0 Class S15 Operational. Yes (Whitby Branch Only)
60007 Sir Nigel Gresley LNER 4-6-2 Class A4 Operational. Yes
30830 SR 4-6-0 Class S15 Undergoing restoration. No
30841 SR 4-6-0 Class S15 Awaiting overhaul. Original frames found to be out of line, most of the components can be found on 825. No
34101 Hartland SR 4-6-2 West Country Class Undergoing overhaul. No
3180 Antwerp WD 0-6-0ST WD Austerity Tank At Grosmont in store. No
3672 Dame Vera Lynn WD Austerity 2-10-0 At Grosmont in store (awaiting heavy overhaul). No
5 Lambton Collieries 0-6-2T Steady progress has been made on overhaul. No
2253 USA 2-8-0 Class S160 At Grosmont in store, pending removal by new owner. No

Diesel locomotives and shunters

Number & Name Description Status
DSRM No 1 Ron Rothwell DSRM 0-4-0 Operational.
DSRM No 2 DSRM 0-4-0 Awaiting repairs.
No 2 BR 0-4-0 88D Awaiting repairs.
2207 BR 0-6-0 Class 04 Needs Painting.
D4018 BR 0-6-0 Class 08 Under repair.
08556 BR 0-6-0 Class 08 Operational. RESCO Main Line Registered
12139 Neil D Barker BR 0-6-0 Class 11 Operational.
D5032 Helen Turner BR Bo-Bo Class 24 Undergoing Overhaul.
D5061 BR Bo-Bo Class 24 Undergoing repairs.
D7541 The Diana BR Bo-Bo Class 25 In store, pending removal by new owner.
D7628 Sybilla BR Bo-Bo Class 25 Operational - NWR and RESCO Main Line certified
50027 Lion BR Co-Co Class 50 Operational.

Diesel multiple units

Number Description Formed of Disposition
101680 BR Class 101 51511 + 59539 + 53204 Not in use.
205205 BR Class 205 60110 + 70547 + 60810 Wheel set found. Requires fitting. This unit is now for sale.

Visiting Locomotives

Number & Name Description From Whitby Compatible(Mainlined)
49395 LNWR 0-8-0 G2a National Railway Museum No
D6700 BR Co-Co Class 37 National Railway Museum NO
45231 'The Sherwood Forester' LMS 5MT 'Black 5' Private Owner YES
71000 'Duke Of Gloucester' BR Standard Class 8 71000 Trust YES


The possibility of reopening the 'missing section' between Rillington Junction (on the York - Malton - Scarborough line) and Pickering has often been discussed. This might allow the running of steam services from York to Whitby again (or even Scarborough to Whitby, if the short lived curve towards Scarborough were reinstated too). To achieve this would require considerable engineering work, not least in getting out of Pickering where a new road and several houses have been built on the track bed.

Reinstating this missing rail link was adopted as a policy objective by the North Yorkshire County Council some years ago; the NYMHRT board agreed to support this policy in principle, whilst having reservations about its implementation.

A more detailed discussion of this topic, with some of the possible advantages and disadvantages from the NYMR point of view can be found in the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Conservation Management Plan (available from the NYMR).

Special events

The NYMR runs several special events through the year, usually revolving around a particular theme.

  • Steam and Diesel Galas are weekend events (sometimes extended to Friday and/or Monday) popular with heritage railway enthusiasts. On these days, a full timetabled service is run alongside extra trains, such as local shuttle services and demonstration freight trains. The last steam gala (LNER Gala April 2008) pulled in over 12,000 visitors from across the globe.
  • The War-Time Weekend is a demonstration of the operation of railways in the UK during the Second World War. The stations are decorated to appear as they would in war time: sandbags are used around entrances, windows are taped up and station names are covered. Many period re-enactors attend in military or civilian costume to add to the authenticity. Periodic entertainment takes place, and there are events such as mock air-raids. Usually a period dance and a military parade will take place; also a wreath is laid in memory of those railwaymen who have died in service as a result of war.
  • Santa Special trains are run in the Christmas period, complete with Elves, Santa's Grotto, presents and mince pies. The winter scenery of the North Yorkshire Moors adds to the charm of these events.

Other special events include a Vintage Vehicle Weekend, Music on the Moors and a Wizard Weekend.

TV and film appearances

The railway has been seen both on television and in film. The station at Goathland has been used as both Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter films, and Aidensfield in the popular sixties drama Heartbeat. Pickering Station was used in the film Possession. Other appearances include Casualty, Brideshead Revisited, All Creatures Great and Small, Poirot and Sherlock Holmes television series. The railway has also featured in a documentary series for local television.


  • 1990 Ian Allan Railway Heritage Awards, Commendation for the wooden Waiting Room / Booking Office, re-located from Sleights to the extended down platform at Grosmont.
  • 1995 Visitor Attraction of the Year (Yorkshire and Humberside Tourist Board)
  • 1999 National Railway Heritage Awards, Railway World category, Commendation for the renovation, almost amounting to rebuilding, of Levisham waiting and ladies room, including the provision of a completely new ‘period’ interior with in-style ladies toilets
  • 2000 National Railway Heritage Awards, Ian Allan Publishing Award, for the renovation of the Goods Shed and the coal and lime cells at Goathland in 1999, including the conversion of the Goods Shed into a café using restored open wagons to provide seating.
  • 2001 National Railway Heritage Awards, Westinghouse Signalling Award, for the new signal box at Grosmont built to an 1870’s design.
  • 2006 National Railway Heritage Award, for the provision of staff, public and disabled toilet facilities adjacent to Goathland Goods Shed in a converted goods van; thus providing these essential facilities in a manner that blended in with their surroundings.
  • 2007 Best Visitor Attraction of 2007 (in the '50,000 visitors and over’ category), awarded by the Yorkshire Moors & Coast Tourism Partnership – a consortium of tourism expertise from across the districts of Hambleton, Ryedale and Scarborough. 'what really impressed the judges was the consistently high standard of customer service which was in evidence when his Members carried out ‘mystery shopping’ visits during the year'.
  • 2007 Large Railway of the Year, awarded by members of the Heritage Railway Association, the umbrella body for over 250 heritage railways and museums from across the United Kingdom. 'The association praised NYMR for the way in which it successfully pioneered the operation of regular steam-hauled services on Network Rail’s Esk Valley route between Grosmont and Whitby, using volunteer crews. The judges also acknowledged the contribution (in excess of £15,000) made by the Railway following the holding of a Gala in support of the Severn Valley Railway following their devastating flood damage, especially as the NYMR also suffered from flooding but not to the same degree'.


External links

Station Sites


  • NYMR Guide to the Line Booklet
  • NYMR Press Release of 21 November 2007, giving details of 2007 awards.
  • NYMR home page

(Registered No.290)

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