North Eastern Railway (1854 – 1923)

In 1858 six pairs of workers cottages were constructed on the Whitby branch to the design of Thomas Prosser. Of the southernmost three pairs, built by Henry Creaser of York for £99 each, only one pair survives, at Levisham station. The northern half of this pair of cottages is still in NYMR ownership and is used as volunteer accommodation. It has recently been sympathetically extended (a plan considered, but not carried forwards, by the NER in 1899). Of the three northernmost pairs, one was near the Summit and was pulled down before the NYMR took over, probably by BR. The remaining two pairs stand on the original route through Beckhole (not part of the NYMR) and still exist in private ownership.

In the early 1860’s the NER decided to tackle the problems caused by the Beckhole Incline and obtained powers to build a deviation line, including a new station at Goathland. A copy of the tender document is held in the NYMRarchives . The line was built by the contractor Mr. Thomas Nelson for a tendered price of £56,000 . They same contractors were engaged on building the new line from Castleton to Grosmont at the same time.
The new Deviation line opened for traffic on 1st July 1865 but the cautious NER retained the old route (including the incline) intact until summer 1868.

Goathland station (originally Goathland Mill) consisted of stone buildings to the design of NER architect Thomas Prosser and comprise a classic country station ensemble: Station house with passenger facilities and accommodation for the station master, goods shed, coal and (covered) lime cells, water tank feeding two standard NER water cranes and a wooden cattle dock . The two wooden buildings on the Up platform were added later. A waiting room was authorised as early as 1866, contractor James Kirby winning the tender with a price of £130/6/5. An 1871 petition for a waiting room at Goathland exists in the National Archive ; it was agreed to be built at an estimated cost of £25. The first of these buildings was a combined waiting and ladies room, whilst the second was an adjacent open waiting shed; both still exist, the former waiting room is now the station shop and the waiting shed still serves its original purpose although the side walls have been cut back (in NER days, probably to meet Railway Inspectors requirements for clearance from the platform edge).

A turntable was installed at Grosmont (Deviation Junction); actually at the south portal of the tunnel. This was a 40ft turntable re-located from Potto .
The Deviation also resulted in the building of the earliest signal cabin on the NYMR at ‘Deviation Junction’ south of Grosmont tunnel; unfortunately this structure has been demolished. The original signal cabin at Grosmont station, in the angle of the junction, may also have dated from this time, this structure was replaced, possibly around 1876 although some authorities give 1908 and survived until closed in 1972 and being finally dismantled in 1978.

The Deviation involved construction of four stone overbridges ( Br. 26, 29, 33 & 36), seven stone underbridges (Br. 22, 23, 31, 32, 35, 38 & 39) and one stone viaduct (Br.37), of which three (Br.31, 32 & 39) are now listed. Many of these ‘stone’ bridges have brick arches with the wings, piers and abutments in stone; however Br.31, 32, 35, 38 & 39 have stone arches. There were five wrought iron underbridges (Br. 24, 25, 27, 28 & 30) and one cast iron overbridge (Br.34). Of the metal bridges the overbridge and one underbridge (Br.30) still exist in their original location, although Br.30 was greatly strengthened in 1908 (and subsequently). The other underbridges were replaced in 1908 (see below). The metal bridges were supplied by Head-Ashby & Co of Middlesbrough, correspondence relating to these bridges is held in the NYMR archives.

The NER installed a 42ft turntable at Pickering in 1870 . This turntable was probably installed alongside the engine shed (south of the station). At some time it was re-located north of the station to the same site as the current NYMRturntable. The NER also extended Pickering engine shed in 1875, the contract drawings for this extension are in theNYMR archives (as are similar drawings for extending Whitby shed ).

The introduction of block signalling in the 1870’s brought the next change with the building of signal cabins (only later were they called signal boxes) at Pickering (Mill Lane, Hungate, Bridge Street and High Mill – all now demolished), Newbridge, Farworth (demolished late 1920’s), Levisham, Newtondale (demolished 1995), Summit (demolished 1970’s), Goathland and Grosmont (probably a replacement or extension of an earlier cabin). To accommodate the signalmen twelve cottages were agreed to be constructed on the Whitby branch at a total cost of £2,177/6/4. The locations are uncertain but the standard NER cottage on the Up side at Farworth is probably one such.

After the mid 1870’s there were few major changes on the NYMR, there were minor improvements at Levisham (wooden waiting rooms (1876), brick waiting shed (1880) and wooden warehouse(c 1881; described as ‘a small Lock-up Shed for the storage of goods at an estimated average cost of about £25’). Wooden buildings on the Up platform at Goathland in 1871, at Grosmont a ‘lock-up cabin’ in 1875 and wooden buildings on the down platform in the first decade of the twentieth century, finally at Levisham a new brick built booking office built onto the signal box in 1926 – to allow the signalman to issue tickets and thus save on staff (the stationmasters post had already been combined with that of Goathland c. 1925).

Farworth signal box was closed due to the wartime temporary singling of the line between Levisham and Newbridge in 1918; following the failure to find finance to replace the second track in 1926 it was presumably demolished. Only one photograph of Farworth signal box is known . Deviation Junction was closed as a signal box in 1930 (at an estimated saving of £133 pa) but continued as an unmanned ground frame until the final stub of the original W&P route via Beckhole was closed in 1952. Newtondale signal box was last used in 1930 but remained ‘switched out’ until 1952 when the equipment and signals were removed. The cabin remained in use as a firewatchers post for some years but following the line’s closure the shell of the building was vandalized and the chimney pot fell through the roof. This allowed severe erosion of the brickwork of the rear wall to the point where in 1995 the NYMR were obliged to demolish the cabin for fear of it collapsing. Summit cabin, the only all timber cabin on the NYMR – so constructed because of its location on the side of a steep embankment, closed in 1964 and by early NYMR days was derelict; it was dismantled after 1970, useful timber being saved for building restoration at Levisham. The signal boxes in Pickering were demolished as part of the BR demolition contract that included removal of the remaining second track between Grosmont to Pickering and all track south of Pickering station. Grosmont signal box originally stood in the angle of the junction of the Whitby Malton line and the branch up the Esk valley to Middlesbrough. This box closed in 1972 (when the remaining double track to Whitby was singled) but being located so close to a (then) BR running line was not available for the NYMR to use (on safety grounds) and so was dismantled in 1978 The present signal box at Grosmont although to a design from the 1870’s was actually built by the NYMR, being brought into use in 1996.

In 1908 the NER carried out a major programme of bridge improvement on the Whitby branch. All the small, presumably still timber, bridges south of the Deviation were replaced with riveted steel bridges using timber waybeams to support the running rails. On the Deviation the four wrought iron (WI) bridges were much changed, the highest and most remote at Thomason Force was strengthened by a massive fabricated steel girder being inserted under the centre of the bridge, thus giving new support to the WI cross-girders. The bridge at Darnholm was replaced in brick – the only entirely brick bridge on the NYMR. The bridge at the south end of Goathland station was completely replaced by a new three track riveted steel bridge by ? of Stanningly, Leeds, thereby improving access to the Goods shed and coal cells. Finally the two river bridges south of Goathland were rebuilt utilizing the WI main girders from themselves and both Darnholm and Goathland station bridges to build pairs .

All the 1908 metal bridges were approaching the end of their life when the NYMR took over; some were strengthened whilst the worse of the larger bridges were replaced in concrete. Now the remaining metal bridges as well as some of the stone bridges on the Deviation require major attention. The stone bridges will be repaired but it seems inevitable that the remaining metal bridges will have to be replaced by modern concrete beam bridges over the next few years, however it is hoped to retain some of the 1867 WI girders as non structural components of the new bridges on the Deviation.