The North Yorkshire Moors Railway ( Golden Jubilee 1 May 1973 - 1 May 2023)

By John Hunt

It is now 58 years since the line closed and the enormous achievements by the railway’s staff and volunteers, from those first small steps right up to the present day, can be clearly seen by anyone who enjoys a ride along this wonderfully scenic 24-mile route from Whitby to Pickering. Could those early preservationists back in 1967 have possibly imagined that their project would evolve into a £6 million business carrying a third of a million passengers a year?

Taking a pictorial journey along the entire original route from Whitby through to Pickering, this book allows the reader to compare the railway of old and the desolation of the early closure period with today’s vibrant heritage line. With the railway celebrating its golden jubilee on 1st May 2023, this book chronicles the remarkable developments and achievements, year by year, over that 50 year period, and concludes with a glimpse of how and by whom this has been made possible. In so doing, it serves as a tribute to half a century of progress and to the many hundreds of people who made it all possible.

Dr Beeching originally proposed that all railways serving Whitby should be closed, the coast line from Loftus having succumbed in 1958. In the event, the lines from Whitby to Scarborough and Grosmont to Rillington Junction did close, on 8th March 1965, but the Esk Valley line was reprieved. The railway from Grosmont to Rillington Junction, serving a largely remote rural area of the North York Moors, closed in 1965, one of the many victims of the infamous Beeching Report, leaving the line from Middlesbrough as Whitby’s only rail link. The closure led to widespread concern in the area, and thoughts turned to the possibility of reopening the line under private ownership. A meeting in 1967 led to the setting up of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Preservation Society (NYMRPS); the following year volunteers were allowed access to what remained of the line, and the first motive power and rolling stock arrived.

In 1972, the NYMRPS evolved into the North Yorkshire Moors Historical Railway Trust, and a Light Railway Order was obtained, allowing the establishment of public services. The line was formally reopened by the Duchess of Kent on 1st May 1973, and eventually trains were running once more throughout from Grosmont to Pickering. In 2007. It at last became possible to run steam trains into Whitby, and the second platform for NYMR use was rebuilt in 2014, and this history is précised in the opening chapter of this book.