Earlier this year, we asked for budding storytellers, young and young-at-heart, to write a short story for National Storytelling Week. Each story had to be under 2000 words, in the theme of either, a magical children’s story or a ghostly tale, set on the NYMR and taking inspiration from a selection of images linked to the railway.

We received some amazing entries, with some fantastically vivid story-lines, ranging from international smuggling rings to a ghoulish tale of a 'train made of bones and held together with flesh and blood'!

Many of the short stories also included tales of some of the real-life characters of the NYMR, including Carriage & Wagon Manager Kieran, General Manager Chris and of course, Head of Traction and Rolling Stock Piglet, who's little tram engine 'Lucie', appears in the first of our winning stories, from Holly, Aged 5.

Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to our three winners: 

Up to 10 years old Winner
Lucie and the Unicorn - By Holly Postill, Aged 5

Although it wasn't a requirement of entry, Holly also included the original writing and a book cover drawing for her short story 'Lucie and the Unicorn'.

Once upon a time, there was a green train called Lucie. She decided to go on a test run. On the way, she saw a unicorn. She lived next to the tunnel.

Lucie and the unicorn went to Goathland. Piglet went out on another train. Piglet went on the train to Goathland too. It was snowing. Piglet got stuck in the snow and fell face forward in the snow. Luckily the snow was soft. He shouted HELP!!

Lucie and the unicorn heard him then Lucie and the unicorn rescued him. Lucie took Piglet back to Mallard cottage in Esk Valley. When they got to the cottage the unicorn was there and they lived happily ever after. The End.

11-15 years old Winner
The Ghost of a Memory - By James Luke, Aged 14

The winner for the 11-15 years old bracket is James, with his story inspired by a family visit to the railway, where they 'once got showered in soot' by A4 Pacific No. 60007 'Sir Nigel Gresley'.

Image: Anthony Smith

After walking silently along in the darkness for a considerable amount of silent, over-shadowing time, Albert Thompson reached the great towering swing gates of the level crossing at Grosmont, his clutched lantern illuminating the masterfully built iron gates. He paused here, wrapping his downed jacket tighter around his face, shielding him from the devastating cold. He started thinking back to all the times he had seen all of the trains come thundering across the track on hot summer days carrying passengers or deliveries of cargo, billowing steam and showering him with soot.

Time seemed to slow down now, as he stepped onto the semi-lit platform, illuminated by his late father’s Station Master lantern, which filled the riveting silence and darkness with a steady illumination, and the constant drip, drip, drip of the paraffin. The platform and all of its buildings stood before him, frozen in time in the perfect tranquillity of the night, giving Albert the all too familiar feeling of stealing the perfect peace of the station, and all of its beauty. The train tracks illuminated the night like steely knives in the darkness, casting a blinding shine around the station, reflecting off the signal box, and all of the windows at the ticket office. His lantern cast its eerily glow into the dark tunnel where the roaring trains would burst from, exploding out with steam billowing from their chimneys.

As Albert stood here in the twilight, he saw a pearly white light emanating from the black rift of the tunnel, breaking the blackness and the tranquillity of the station. A pearly white train burst sleekly and silently from the tunnel, which took the stark and unmistakable form of the Sir Nigel Gresley; a majestic and odd sight in the peaceful silhouettes caused by the lantern clutched in Albert’s now shaking and shocked hands. This caused Albert to automatically step back from the platform, thinking to move out of the way of the great thundering brute of a train, but no sound or sign of presence came. The ghost train and its carriages swept past the platform, blinding Albert with the milky white light like the sun on a hot summer day.

But something was wrong, no passengers filled the three carriages being silently carried by the train, and no drivers controlled the steam billowing locomotive, as it journeyed on into the night. As Albert stood and watched the vision fade into the distance, he was suddenly confused at what had just happened. How had this ghost of a train, casting a deafening silence over the world, silently thunder its way through the countryside, propelled by the darkness? After pondering this perplexing question for some time, he was beginning to feel the cold biting malevolently at his hands and legs. Resenting the fact that he had to leave his palace of the night, Albert turned around to leave, but as he did so, he felt the all too familiar sensation of soot, falling from his hair, and all over his jacket.

Coughing slightly with all of the soot, Albert walked onto into the night, a knowing smile crossing his face...

16+ years old Winner
Snowed Under - By June Webber, Adult

The final winner is for the 16+ years old age bracket and goes to June, with a short story about the eerie goings-on amid a particularly treacherous snowstorm, high on the North York Moors.

“I don’t like the look of that sky!” exclaimed Ted, gazing at the foreboding, dark grey clouds above the station at Whitby. The abbey ruins, dominating the town were silhouetted black against the sombre sky and a piercing east wind blew in from the sea.

“Do you reckon it’s going to snow then?” asked Andy.
“I hope not. We’ve got to get this train back to Pickering to-night.”
“Yes, and I’ve got a date there.” Andy smiled in anticipation.
“Well let’s hope we beat the snow then lad.”

They climbed into the cab with their mugs of hot tea. Ted was an experienced engine driver, who had worked for British Rail, and Andy an apprentice fireman. It had not been the weather for a trip to the seaside, and there were few passengers for the return journey: a young couple, a family with two excited children, and a middle-aged woman. Bill the guard blew his whistle, waved his flag and the train drew out of the station.

“Get a move on shovelling that coal. We’ll need plenty of steam to get across the moors,” called Ted above the sound of the locomotive.

Rivers of sweat were running down Andy’s brow, as he shovelled coal into the fire box. He had not anticipated that being a fireman was so physically demanding when he had volunteered. As they approached Grosmont, the first flakes of snow were drifting down.

“Not already,” cursed Ted. “I just hope it doesn’t get any worse.”

At Grosmont station, the middle-aged woman got out, scurrying to a waiting car away from the biting wind.

“Not right nice is it,” said Bill with typical Yorkshire understatement.”

The locomotive was working hard on the approach up to Goathland, slipping occasionally on the damp rails, and visibility was obscured by the falling snow. By the time they reached Goathland station, the snow had settled, carpeting the moorland in a white blanket, glistening in the moonlight.

“You did well providing enough steam to get her up that incline from Beck Hole, lad. It’s a good job it’s the S15, or we might not have made it. She’s a good strong engine and sure-footed,” declared Ted. Andy smiled back. Ted was usually very sparing with his praise, but quick to criticise.

The family descended on to the snow-covered platform, and the children chased each other throwing snowballs, whilst their parents tried to hurry them along.

“You’re the last train of the day, so I’m off home now,” said the station master. “You’ve done well to get up here. I hope you get through the snow all right, it’s coming on harder now.”
“Thank you, so do we,” replied Ted.
“Don’t you think we’d better stay here until morning, considering the weather?” suggested Bill.
“No, we’ll make it through all right, and we’ve our passengers to look after. I’ve driven trains in worse snow than this. Remember 1963.” Ted looked at Andy.
“No, I wasn’t born then,” replied Andy.
“I suppose not. We had snow on the ground for three months then. We’ll push on to Pickering.”

As they left Goathland on to the wide, open moor, all they could see was a white expanse. The wind was blowing the snow into deep drifts.

“Look out!” cried Andy as they approached Fen Bog. The snow had drifted on to the track, and ahead of them was a giant wall of snow like a huge iceberg. Ted put on the brakes and the locomotive slowly ground to a halt.

“We’ll never get through this lot. If we don’t do something about it, we’re going to be stuck here all night,” Ted said glumly. Meanwhile Andy was trying to ring his girlfriend on his mobile phone.

“You won’t get a signal here,” Ted told him. “Besides, there’s more important things for you to do. You’ll need to walk back towards Goathland until you can find somewhere with a phone – perhaps the farmhouse at Moorgates, then you can ring Grosmont and ask for a rescue engine.”
“But that’s almost two miles and it’s thick of snow,” Andy protested.
“Hard luck,” Ted replied, “It’s the fireman’s job. The driver has to stay in charge of the locomotive and the guard has to look after the train and the passengers, so it’s up to you!”

Andy groaned and then cheered up as a bright idea struck him. “We can’t go forward because of the snow drift, but we’ve still got plenty of steam so we could reverse all the way back to Goathland” he suggested.”

Ted snorted “Shows how little you know about it. It’s strictly against regulations to propel a train when it’s got passengers on board. It’s no good, lad, you’ll have to do the walk, and it’s stopped snowing now. On your way you can check on the passengers and let the guard know that we’re going to be stuck here for some while. He’ll need to put three detonators down, one a hundred yards behind the train and then at hundred-yard intervals – but he’ll know all about that.”
“Why does he need to do that?” Andy asked.
“Because the result of your phone call will be that Grosmont will hopefully send a spare loco to pull us back to Goathland and we don’t want him to run into the back of us in the dark, do we? Now will you stop mithering me with silly questions and get on with your walk!”
You’d better check on the passengers first and tell them. Thank goodness we haven’t a train full.”

Andy climbed down from the cab sinking into six inches of snow, and up to the carriage, where the young couple were locked in each other’s arms. “I’m sorry,” he began, “but there’s a big snow drift ahead and we’re stuck. We may be here for quite a long time and there’s no phone signal.”
“We’ll keep each other warm, and we’ve got a flask of coffee,” giggled the young girl.

Andy ploughed on through the snow until he reached the brake coach and then he told Bill they were stuck, and he needed to protect the train in the rear. “Yes, I know that,” growled Bill. “I was working on the rail before your backside was the size of a shirt button! Did Ted tell you to walk back and find a phone?” Andy nodded miserably. “OK,” said Bill, “I’ll walk the first three hundred yards with you as I fix the detonators!”

The sky had cleared, and the full moon was shining on the white wall towering above the train. They had only walked a few yards when Andy shouted, “Look, there’s somebody coming!”
“I can’t see them,” protested Bill. “There won’t be anybody out on a night like this, and there are no houses round here.”
Andy pointed. “Over there, there’s two of them. No, there’s four, six, eight and they are singing.”

Bill squinted into the dark, and saw eight hooded figures wearing black cloaks, walking in pairs on top of the snow. The wind carried the eerie sound of them chanting in unison.
“Blimey, they must be the Black Friars,” Bill declared.
“What Black Friars?” asked Andy.
“From Whitby Abbey.”
“There’s no friars at Whitby Abbey. It’s just a ruin.”
“It wasn’t always a ruin though. There used to be monks there, until Henry VIII got rid of them.”
“Wasn’t he the one with all those wives.? We learned about him at school.”
“Well, there is a story that some of the monks decided to escape over the moor, but it was a snowy night like to-night. They lost their way and fell in Fen Bog and all perished. So, on snowy nights they come back to haunt this part of the moor. I never believed it until now.” Andy shivered and went pale. “You mean they are ghosts!” he cried. “I’m not staying out here.”
“Don’t be so daft! They won’t harm you. Just get on with your walk and get some help before we all freeze to death like them monks.”

Andy peeped through his hands and saw the monks had indeed vanished, leaving no footprints in the snow. Gritting his teeth, he set off to Moorgates and was greatly relieved when he saw the farmhouse. The door was opened by the farmer’s wife who looked him up and down. “Eee whatever are you doing out on a night like this? You’ll catch your death o’ cold. Come and sit by fire and I’ll make some cocoa.”
“Please could I use the phone first? There’s a train stuck in the snow and I’ve got to get help for it.” A few moments later he was on the line to Grosmont loco shed where Jack the foreman had been about to go home.
“It’ll have to be the diesel” said Jack “We’ve already dropped the fires on all the steam locos. I’ll find a driver from somewhere. He’ll pick you up at Moorgates and you can go along as his mate”.

Half an hour later, sat up in the warmth of the Class 37 Andy began to feel quite a hero! Soon a loud bang told them they had reached the first of the detonators and they slowed to a crawl until they reached the stricken train. Andy climbed down into the snow and coupled the diesel to the brake coach of the train and then hurried forward to tell Ted that help had arrived, and he needed to release the brakes.

The diesel took them back to Goathland, from where they got a taxi to Pickering, the road having been gritted. Andy’s girlfriend was waiting anxiously and threw her arms round him, but all he wanted was a warm bath and his bed.

In the local pub after a few drinks, he often told the story of the ghosts of the Black Friars to whoever would listen, but nobody would believe him.