History and Heritage
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A Brief History
The WRA was established in 1990 to investigate the reinstatement of a 40 mile rail link between Northallerton (East Coast Main Line (ECML)) and Garsdale (Settle-Carlisle Line), which opened in stages over a 30 year period from 1848 (carrying both passengers and goods) and closed as a passenger service in 1954.
By 1964, only 22 miles of track remained between Northallerton and Redmire; this section continued to support freight traffic (principally the movement of local quarried limestone to Teesside) until 1992.
The WRA's aims were threefold: to provide integrated transport facilities for both residents and visitors; to reduce car dependence and associated congestion and pollution; and to conserve the local rural environment. Over time, the former station sites at Aysgarth, Leeming Bar and Leyburn were acquired and in 2000 an initial agreement was reached with the former Railtrack to transfer the 22 mile residual line to Wensleydale Railway (WR) plc, a company specifically created by the WRA to manage and operate the railway.
In 2003, the line was formally handed over, enabling the commencement of construction works and ultimately the launch, on 4 July 2003, of a 12 mile passenger service from Leeming Bar to Leyburn.
On 1 August 2004, coinciding with the re-opening of Bedale Station, the service was extended westwards by some 5 miles to Redmire. Finghall Station was subsequently re-opened on 23 December 2004.
The two week (15-23 September 2005) trial Parry People Mover (PPM Car 50) 6 mile service from Leeming Bar to a temporary platform at Springwell Lane, Northallerton was a further important milestone in the extension strategy.
It remains the WRA's aim to support the reinstatement of the entirety of the line from Northallerton to Garsdale. At present we are working with WR plc to help make the case for re-building the South Curve into or as near as practicable to Northallerton Station and upgrading the existing track between Springwell Lane and Leeming Bar to passenger train standards.
If a business case can be made, then the whole 5 miles and 70 chains from Northallerton to Leeming Bar could be re-opened to regular service. However, a vast amount of work is underway to make the case and considerable funds are needed both to pay for the necessary studies and to build the link once approved.
The South Curve is included in Network Rail's Business Plan 2007 (Route Plan 9) as a "route enhancement aspiration" to give "new journey opportunities from Wensleydale Railway" to a "separate bay platform at Northallerton". Click here for more details.
November 2009 Update
At the Wensleydale Railway (WR) plc Annual General Meeting on 10 October 2009, the Northallerton Link Project Group (NLPG) delivered the outcome of the study into the technical feasibility of the various options to connect the WR line from the former Castle Hills Inner Junction into Northallerton.
The WRplc Board has accepted the recommendation to pursue Option 4.
The immediate next step will be to find the money for NetworkRail to evaluate the impact that Option 4 would have on them and other stakeholders.
The second step will be to issue an enquiry to various railway design companies to find out in detail what the cost will be to carry out the design.
After that, money would need to be raised to carry out detailed design and get a project cost @+/-10% accuracy.
Click to read the summary report
The WRA Railway Artefacts Collection
By David Gibson
Over the last fifteen years or so the WRA has acquired in excess of one hundred and fifty railway-related items that have either been donated or are on long term loan. All of the items have some connection with the North East’s railways and many originate from the Northallerton to Hawes Junction (Garsdale) route and thus have value in an historical context.
The WRA has a responsibility to future generations to take care of the collection whilst making it available for display and research. Click to read the WRA Collections Policy.
A number of the Artefacts are on display at Leyburn Station the remainder being held in a secure store. All items have been digitally photographed for security purposes this also enables the images to be shared with those who have a bona-fide interest. The whole artefacts collection is recorded and managed on a computerised database.
Artefacts should be deposited only at either Leeming Bar Station or Leyburn Station where their receipt will be recorded on a pro-forma which is then used to update the main database.
In the longer term the WRA hopes to set up a museum facility in association with the WR Trust where items can be suitably displayed and interpreted for the benefit of visitors to the Railway.
Finally, I would like to reassure everyone that even in the short term the Collection’s items will remain accessible and that we wish to encourage members to continue with appropriate restoration work.
For more information or to arrange access to a stored item please contact me (by email or on 01621 893674) or Barry Wetherell at Leeming Bar Station or Sandra Ward at Leyburn Station.
People and Places
We want to hear from you !
The HAUXWELL Family
contributed by Margaret Stoll (Essex)
| || |
My great-uncle Joseph Simpson Hauxwell was born in May 1869, started his career as a railway porter at Leyburn and was Night Stationmaster at Durham at the time of his death in 1919.
Joseph and his wife had two daughters, Violet, a teacher at Darlington, and Winnie, who married Eddie Oakley, an organ-builder in Durham.
Also pictured below are Joseph's sisters :
My great-grandmother was Jane Simpson. Jane never married but had 5 children whom she brought up by hard work and self-reliance. Apart from the workhouse there was no help of any kind, no benefits, no hand-outs. According to Census entries, Jane worked as a charwoman/laundress and in addition brought up her niece Maggie (Margaret Hauxwell) "as one of her own".
Her mother, also Jane Simpson, married Francis Hauxwell and they all lived in one of the cottages in Brook Terrace, Harmby (now Brookside).
Lucy (standing and Hannah)
William and John SWALE
contributed by Marion Moverley (North Yorkshire)
My ancestor Alice Gill married William Swale, then an agricultural labourer. Sadly Alice died and William moved from Harmby to Albert Terrace in Leyburn and became a railway porter (1871 Census). His son, John Swale, was recorded as a railway clerk in the 1881 Census.
The WALKER Family
adapted from Eric Walker's "Memories of the Wensleydale Branch", Relay Number 28
with pictures provided by Eric Walker of New Zealand
Eric Walker, father William Redvers "Reg" Walker (head porter, Crakehall), grandfather John William Walker, great-grandfathers Pearson Walker and George Richardson (guard, Leyburn) and great-great grandfather Henry Walker all worked on England's railways.
(L-R) Eric's mother Jean, Eric (aged 5), his grandmother Lily (daughter of George Richardson)
William Redvers Walker ("Reg") on the
platform at Crakehall in 1938
In 1938 Eric, aged five, went to live at Crakehall Station where his father was in charge until the Wensleydale line closed to passenger traffic in 1954. Eric has particularly vivid memories of the line during World War 2 when it remained open at all times to assist the passage of munitions to Glasgow Docks.
Eric Walker and his father Reg
on the signal lever frame at Crakehall
Station about 1951
| In the then absence of route availability restrictions, all types of locomotives were permitted on the branch but those with large driving wheels appeared to struggle with the gradient.|
Eventually at Eric's father's suggestion, a locomotive was placed at the rear of the munitions train instead of the front. Thenceforth Eric would observe the number of wagons buffered up at the rear - very rarely more than 5 or 6 if a large engine was involved. Troop trains were a different matter as a V2 was frequently called into service.
Reg and wife Jean Walker on the
milk dock at Crakehall Station,
| Eric also remembers the wartime incident when a Teesside limestone train engine (J6 434) ran away between Jervaulx (Newton-le-Willows) and Bedale and collided with the engine (J25) of the Bedale Pickup as it was leaving the Esso siding. Eric and his father were enjoying a day out at the time and although the driver of the J26 gave the appropriate whistle, the person deputising for Reg at Crakehall had not understood its significance. |
From 1944 Eric attended the Northallerton Grammar School, travelling by train, and on leaving school in 1949 started work on the railway at Leeming Bar, helping to shunt the local goods and weighing the stone wagons from Wensley for Sheffield. After National Service,
Eric returned to work at Bedale until the passenger trains ceased.
| Edward ("Ned") and John BROWN|
contributed by Jan Wilson, Hampshire (formerly of Cleethorpes)
My great-grandfather, Edward BROWN was born 12 June 1845 in Hawes, the son of Edward D Brown and Margaret HOLME, and he had siblings Hammond b 1840 and Thomas b 1843. He married Eleanor MUDD on 28 January 1869 at St Oswald's in Askrigg and had 5 children, his third, John b 1875, being my grandfather. I only know about his character from his Obituary :
"DEATH OF A WELL KNOWN STATION OFFICIAL
The death occurred at the Station Cottages, Aysgarth on Monday of Mr Edward Brown, popularly known as "Ned" Brown. The deceased was born at Hawes and during his youth and early manhood he worked as a lead miner at Worton.
A few years after the lead-mining industry declined, the railway from Leyburn to Hawes was completed and "Ned" joined the railway service in 1877 and continued in that employment uninterruptedly until last May.
| Edward Brown|| The circumstances of his retirement and death are somewhat pathetic. He never had a day's illness in his life; he was in his sixty-ninth year and had a head of beautiful dark brown hair without a single tinge of grey. He had arranged to retire on June 1st and about two weeks before that date he was suddenly seized with a pain in his chest and went to bed with what he thought was a touch of influenza.|
Unfortunately it developed into pleurisy which curiously subsided in about ten days but instead of the the patient recovering, a running sore appeared in his right knee. He gradually grew weaker and on Monday passed away.
|He will always be remembered as "Ned" Brown. He was a Churchman and for many years was a bellringer and a member of the choir. He was always welcome at local concerts, for he sang humorous songs of a superior character with great success. He was an expert hairdresser and possessed a full equipment of up-to-date appliances and served in this respect the principal gentlemen of the locality.|
His remains were laid to rest in Aysgarth Churchyard on Thursday afternoon by the Vicar (the Rev W.K. Wyley) in the presence of a large gathering of sympathising friends. An address of a touching and appropriate character was given in the church by the Vicar and the hymn "Hark my soul, it is the Lord" was sung at the graveside. The deceased leaves a widow and a grown-up family settled in their own homes and several grandchildren. Some beautiful wreaths were sent by friends"
| Eleanor Brown (nee Mudd)|
| I can add slightly to the above with the details that he met his wife Eleanor Mudd when he was still a Lead Miner in Worton and she the grand-daughter of the Landlord of the Victoria Arms in Worton. Apparently it was love at first sight ! |
In 1900 Edward was presented with an Oak Chiming Clock for "his diligence and regular attendance at church as a member of the choir for 22 years".
|He died on 27 October 1913, 20 days after my mother was born and my mother regretted it to her dying day in 2002. She was christened Alma Florence Maud in my grandfather's absence when he was attending Edward's funeral.|
His son, my grandfather John Brown, was a Telegraphist at Aysgarth Railway Station and after serving in the Boer War, moved to Grimsby where he became a Telegraphist at Immingham Docks Railway. He inherited Edward's skill of singing and as a child, I remember his rendition of Grace Darling enthralling myself and the neighbourhood children in Cleethorpes.
Back Row : Thomson Holmes, Edward Brown (Porter)
Middle Row : Ned Raw (Clerk), F Kitching (Station Master), J Wiseman (Signalman)
Front Row: W Percival (Porter), John Brown (Clerk)
Leyburn Station in the 1930s and 40s was a very busy place as everything went by rail. There were two large water tanks and my sisters and brothers and I used to watch the firemen swing the water cranes round to fill the engines. There was a turntable where they used to turn the engines round and we used to ride on it as they turned - no health and safety !
My father was a signalman and if he was at work at mealtimes my mother used to put his dinner or tea in a basket with a can of tea and we used to walk along the trackside with it for him. We watched him pull the levers to change the signals and points. Happy Days !
Madge Bowes (nee Hartley)
One of the signalmen at Leyburn was called Ness Hartley. He had a family of girls and he used to knit. He was a great character and could tell some good tales. When we worked the last train up to Garsdale on a Saturday night, one of Ness's daughters was always asked to get fish and chips for our return to Leyburn as we had about nine minutes recovery time there.
The driver on the Sentinel shunting engine stationed at Leyburn, Ernie Wade, kept pigs and used to cook their food in the Sentinel. There was also quite a bit of horsebox traffic from Leyburn during the racing season, sometimes two or three for Ayr to connect at Garsdale or some for Newmarket. I often took them to York.
During the war a lot of ammunition trains were stored on the branch in sidings. After Dr Beeching took over a lot of redundant wagons were stored until they were sent for scrap.
W. Simpson (Engine driver based at Northallerton 1947-1955)
I would be about 7 or 8 years old in 1957/8. My friend Lesley and I used to watch the steam trains coming into the station; we made notes of the numbers. Lesley's father worked in the station office. We would go through the archway and wait for the steam trains to pull up. Along the "Flatts Lane" at the bridge we would watch the steam trains go under the bridge and out the other side, smoke puffing up at either side of the bridge.
The station yard was always a busy place - the green BRS vans going in and out delivering goods off the train. Next to the station yard horse boxes were garaged - tall and red and shiny. Race horses went by rail to race meetings in those days. Next to the station was the Express Dairy, which used the railway for taking milk further afield. Dad, who was born in 1912, could remember elephants arriving by train to perform at the circus, which was held in the fields opposite - now Cliff Drive and Harmby Road. On one occasion numerous soldiers alighted and hurried to the shop next to the petrol station to buy ice creams. They didn't have time to eat them before they had to join the train again so my friends and I were handed unwrapped ice creams ! My little red bike came up from Hatfield to Leyburn - my 8th birthday present. It belonged to my cousin who outgrew it.
We lived near the station and as we had a spare room my mother rented it out to each new Station Master until he could move into the Station House. My brother used to travel to Yorebridge Grammar School at Askrigg on the train. One day another boy threw his new leather satchel off the train - he never got it back! On Sundays my mother and sister and I would sometimes walk along the lines and depending on the time of year would pick brambles, primroses, rosehips or just have a walk. We would go either to Harmby or the opposite way towards Wensley and branch off to the right towards the incline which was to do with the quarry, I think.
During the war ammunition trains to the west coast of Scotland ran almost every night; Leyburn signal box was open 24 hours. After the war, trains ran from all over the British Isles to summer camps around Leyburn and Catterick. MOD freight and military vehicles were also transported to Leyburn until 1970.
Some facts and figures .........
|1 Station Master|
3 Passenger Clerks
3 Goods Clerks
3 Engine drivers
The late Arthur Hartley
|3 Waggon Drivers|
5 Horse Box Drivers
3 Garage Fitters
We took over the coal business at Leyburn Station from Bobby and Edna Wilson in 1977. At that time the station yard was owned by British Rail and coal was delivered by rail on a daily basis. The wagons were shunted above the old coal cells below. There was a line behind the cells which was used to unload livestock delivered by rail ; this had finished before our time.
The little stone building was the original weigh-bridge, but was replaced by a newer one in front of the warehouse in the 1920s. The old weigh-bridge office was kept for storing the fish boxes from the early train, hence being known as the "fish house" !
The Station Master's house was tenanted by a Mr and Mrs Bunner in our time. Originally upstairs was a boardroom which was the full width of the house. The house was converted into two in 1995. During the alterations to the entrance in the 1990s, a number of bottles and earthenware jugs were found; it must have been thirsty work building the station!
The wooden crane outside was originally located inside the warehouse. The trains ran into the warehouse where, with the help of the crane, they were unloaded and then distributed around the dales.
We have lots of memories of business and our involvement with the solid fuel trade. I remember anxiously looking down the line desperately wishing a coal train on a freezing snowing day, with a near empty yard !
I am working on the Askrigg Tythe Award dated 1839 (with map) at the moment. I knew that the "Red Lion" was in the lower part of the village but I didn't know it had been called the "Low Inn".
After the arrival of the railway it became the "Railway Hotel" but by the time my Chapman grandparents moved to live there it was "Wharton House". I assume my great grandfather Richard Mason was responsible for that name as when he was ten he was taken from Askrigg to Hull and put on a boat which delivered him to the household of Lord Wharton where he stayed and worked his way up.
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