Work has continued to maintain and renew our railway infrastructure in between running trains. Of course at this time of year it is Santa trains every weekend. This year I took my family, including 5 Grandchildren, to see Santa at Grosmont. I have to say it was absolutely excellent with our volunteers, including a goodly number of Juniors, working very hard to ensure all went well, which it did. Being a sad person I have to say I was noting the ride quality as we went along. 

We passed Martyn and some P Way volunteers at Fen Bog and meant to wave to them coming back but unfortunately I was still with Santa, so sorry to have missed you but for once Santa was more important!

As with everything mechanical, our level crossing gates need looking after and not just repainting. There comes a time when they need some serious attention as seen in photos A & B, which are all part of the crossing gates at Grosmont.

While it helps motorists to drive safely in icy conditions, putting salt onto the road doesn’t help either our track or other items in the roadway. With the salt washing onto the railway, as it inevitably does even on flat roads, at Grosmont the level crossing gate supports at the bottom of the hill stand no chance. They get corroded and in time need renewing. The lower supports have to be in small manholes which of course collect both the salt and well as other sludge as seen in photo A. 

Just in case you may think that all our S&T do is mess about in the muck, photo B shows the rot in the top of a big gate which they are cutting out and splicing in another piece. So one minute up to their ears in it and the next skilfully doing joinery and painting.

Other works our S&T have been doing is welding up the switch blades on the siding traps at Goathland. These progressively wear down with trains running over them so that eventually they don’t meet either the S&T facing point standard or the P Way 053 standard. So we either have to replace them or build them up and grind into the correct profile measured by all our calibrated gauges. In photo C the result is shown, not very exciting but essential to ensure the safety of our train operations.

The turnout near bridge 24 has had the switch drive rodding etc, renewed. This involved digging down between the track timbers as seen in D (below) with Jim from P Way working and being watched by a regiment from S&T. Don’t know what his comments were - will leave that to you to decide.

Martyn and the P Way gang have been laying out sleepers and new rails for the Esk Valley relay that starts after Christmas and New Year running. Much more on this in January.

Last week I had to go with others from the railway to Frank Dean’s funeral in Church Fenton.  Frank was an S&T Lineman who was promoted into the S&T Regional Office in York and we had many happy talks on the train. Frank and his late wife Heather were expert and prolific recorders of the railway scene both in 16mm film and slides. They covered what is now the NYMR before it closed and I can still admire their summer’s evening film of a B1 on the Whitby train passing over Fen Bog with the Rosebay Willow herb growing in the cess.  The best I can do to mimic this idyllic scene is in E taken when working with the National Parks recently. Another scene he took was from Levisham station looking North up the valley. It was a question of spot the tree with only odd ones on the valley horizon. I used it with the Forestry Commission when we were meeting on site to determine the extent of felling they would be doing alongside the railway. They certainly cleared a large area but still not as seen in Frank’s photo in 1965.  The funeral certainly filled the church with I think almost everybody from Church Fenton being there.

It only now remains for me to wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year. Let’s hope 2019 will be an even better year for NYMR, bearing in mind I will be sending out more diaries – you have been warned!


With best wishes
Nigel Trotter
NYMR Civil Engineer