Station Name: DRIFFIELD
Still open but included for completeness

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 7.10.1846
Location: North of the junction of River Head and Middle Street South
Company on opening: York and North Midland Railway
Date closed to passengers: Still open
Date closed completely: Still open
Company on closing: Still open
Present state: Still open. The goods depot closed ??????? and has now been redeveloped for housing (Riverhead Gardens). The coal depot is still used by a coal merchant but with no rail connection. The cattle docks can still be seen off Wansford Road, as can the sites of the private sidings into the milk factory and cake mill, as well as the old 'front yard' and wall-top 'goods yards',
County: North Yorkshire
OS Grid Ref: TA027573
Date of visit: Not visited

Notes: The station was opened by the York & North Midland Railway on 7th October 1846, at the same time as the line from Hull to Bridlington. The independent Malton & Driffield Railway Company obtained parliamentary approval to build a branch line between there and Malton in the same year, but more than six years would pass before it was ready for traffic, the first train running in May 1853. This was never more than a rural branch line, but the final route into the town - from Selby via Market Weighton, opened on 1st May 1890 - proved rather more important as it soon became busy with holiday traffic from the West Riding heading for the resorts further up the coast.

Between 1940 and 1945 in addition to the trains on the Hull – Scarborough and Malton lines, they also ran to Market Weighton. Records exist of as many as 125 train movements before lunch!

There were five signal boxes regulating the passage of the trains through Driffield: Wansford Road, Eastgate or Depot crossing, Station, Skerne Road and Driffield West on Beverley Road. All allowed vehicles and pedestrians across as the footbridge at Eastgate had not been built. Each of the boxes was allocated two signalmen, and relief signalmen attended when necessary. The station did not have an engine shed, but there was a turntable adjacent to Driffield Junction signal box, south of the station.

The operation of the railway was divided into a passenger and a goods department, each with its own foreman and clerical staff. They were under the overall control of the stationmaster whose house was on the station platform. This house still exists on the Bridlington platform, which also had a booking office, waiting room with fire, a railway buffet and a branch of W.H.Smith. The booking office contained a parcels office, and the platform was often piled high with parcels received for delivery in the town. The passenger foreman was in immediate supervision, and there was a porter on duty at all times. The architect of the station, G T Andrews, designed many of the stations in the East Riding. A notable feature of his stations serving larger communities (plus the rural junction station at Rillington, near Malton) was the overall roof (trainshed). At Driffield there were partially-glazed vertical roof ends; this roof was removed in 1949 and replaced with awnings which are still there today. 

The goods facilities were spread out. The main area containing the goods office, foreman’s office, men’s lobby, transport department, goods warehouse and a 5-ton crane was situated in the goods yard on the south side of the Eastgate crossing. In addition to the normal clerical support, the business of hiring corn sacks to farmers for the harvest was conducted from here. A siding went directly into the goods warehouse, where goods were unloaded onto lorries for delivery within the town and throughout the huge rural area extending from the coast inland to Thixendale. One lorry was kept going all day just delivering to Woolworths and the Lance’s warehouse in Market Place. The railway had its own lorries and drivers, and the vehicles were maintained at its own garage within the yard. A lot of the drivers lived in railway properties in St Johns Place, off Albion Street.

There were some 7/8 lorries working from the yard. The railway company had the contract to collect milk each day from outlying farms and deliver it to the milk-processing factory on Wansford Road. The factory was situated between Meadow Lane and the railway line, a site now occupied by the housing development including Hudson Drive and Mallard Close. The lorries
would leave in the early morning and go round the farms delivering empty cans (milk churns) and collecting the full ones. A long line of lorries would stretch along Wansford Road waiting their turn to unload, which was normally completed by lunchtime. Each lorry then returned to the goods yard, unloaded the empty churns and loaded with goods for delivery in the afternoon; these included a lot of animal feed sold from depots situated within the railway environs. Drivers would call at outlying country stations to collect goods received there for delivery. When they returned in the early evening, each driver had to load his lorry with the empty milk churns ready for the next morning. Immediately across Eastgate from the entrance was the huge linseed oil and cake mill - later the sugar mill – which is now derelict. The mill had two of its own sidings, one on the outside, and one entering from the Wansford Road end and going into the mill itself. Two other warehouses had their own sidings, one on Beverley Road and one off Skerne Road.

There were four other yards or sidings used regularly and, in general, suited to particular types of goods traffic. Only one was permanently manned; this was the Coal Depot with its vehicular access off Albion Street. A railway house and weigh office were situated there. Between the coal depot and Eastgate was a yard known as Wall Top. The level of this yard was raised so that the railway workers could carry sacks directly into the railway wagons without the need to lift. It was useful to load corn and flour from the flourmills. This yard also had a private fuel facility for the sale of oil products.

On the other side of the coal depot was a large yard going right up to the Driffield main street. It was called Front Yard and had a crane and a ramp for loading vehicles directly onto flat railway wagons. During WW2 long lines of army tanks were loaded from here on to special trains for transporting to the south of England in preparation for the D.Day landings. The tanks had been on the training grounds on the Wolds.

The remaining yard was the Cattle docks, the entrance of which was along a small lane at the rear of the Wansford Road signal cabin. Again this was a raised area, where cattle and sheep could be walked from the cattle market and directly into the waiting cattle wagons. On some market days, two special trains would leave for the west and south Yorkshire conurbations. Railway workers would service these yards from the general pool in the goods yard as the goods traffic dictated. Additional support was provided as and when required from Hull and Bridlington, both in manpower and engines. On several days during the week, for example, a shunting engine would come from Bridlington to be used during the day just moving goods wagons around the various Driffield yards and sidings.

The main goods yard closed c. late 1980s and the site has now been redeveloped for housing as Riverhead Gardens; the coal depot appears still to be in use although there is no longer a rail connection.

Today only the original coast line remains in use. The Malton line succumbed to road competition in June 1950 whilst the Selby line fell victim to the Beeching Axe almost exactly fifteen years later, closing on 14th June 1965.

The station currently has a twice-hourly service in each direction to Hull and Bridlington on weekdays, with nine trains continuing on to Scarborough. Many of the Hull services run through to Doncaster and Sheffield. There is an hourly service each way on Sundays, with a service every two hours to Scarborough throughout the year (rather than in summer only) since the December 2009 timetable change.

Additional notes on Driffield station and goods yards from Trevor Malkin and from Wikipedia reproduced under creative commons licence.

Prior to the building of railways, farmers in the East Riding of Yorkshire had to rely on water transport to get their produce to market.  The rivers Humber and Ouse, linking York and Selby with the docks at Hull, had always been navigable, and the River Derwent was made navigable by an Act of 1701. The Market Weighton Canal, running south from Market Weighton to the Humber estuary, opened in 1778; the Pocklington Canal, running west from Pocklington to the River Derwent, opened in 1818.

It was not long, however, before the arrival of railways would ensure the rapid decline in waterborne transport in the area. The Leeds & Hull Railway Company was formed in 1824 with George Stephenson appointed as engineer. He proposed three inclined planes to be worked by three stationary engines for the hilly route out of Leeds, but the remainder of the line was very nearly level.

This L&HR was one of a number of contemporary projects aimed at linking the east and west sides of northern England. The Leeds & Hull scheme soon stagnated, due in part to the stock market crash of 1825.  In the meantime the Knottingley & Goole Canal opened in 1826, turning Goole into a viable transhipment port for Europe.

The growth of Goole as a port to rival Hull was sufficient to spur the Hull-based shareholders of the Leeds & Hull railway into action. At the end of 1828 they motioned that the railway should be built as far as Selby, with the remainder of the journey to Hull being made by steam packet, most importantly, bypassing Goole. The shareholders passed the proposal at a general meeting in Leeds on 20 March 1829, and the Leeds & Selby Railway Company was formed.

The shortened line from Leeds to Selby was resurveyed by James Walker in 1829; he reported that the stationary engines were not required, with tunnels and cuttings being built in their place. Despite strong opposition from the Aire & Calder Navigation, who had a practical monopoly on transport in the area, a Bill was passed by Parliament on 29 May 1830
allowing construction of the double-track line. By 22 September a single complete line of track had been built, and the railway was officially opened to passengers from a temporary terminus adjacent to the quayside at Selby. Both lines were complete by 15 December 1834, on which date the railway began to take goods traffic.

In 1835 George Hudson formed a committee to promote a line to be known as the York & North Midland Railway, which was incorporated in 1836. This proposed line would join the North Midland at Normanton, a few miles east of Leeds, and it received its Act of Parliament in 1837. The first section of the Y&NMR opened on 20 May 1839 between York and a junction with the Selby line at Gascoigne Wood, with the remaining section to Normanton opening on 1 July 1840. A spur to Methley Junction, giving access to Leeds via a working arrangement with the North Midland, was opened on 27 July 1840, followed by a southbound curve from the Leeds & Selby at Gascoigne Wood. The line was extended southwards to Burton Salmon by 11 May 1840, with another short chord to the junction with the Leeds & Selby opening on 9 November 1840.

The remainder of the Leeds to Hull route was revived by George Hudson as the Hull & Selby Railway. It received its Act on 21 June 1836 and ran almost directly east from Selby to Hull. A bascule bridge was constructed across the River Ouse at Selby, just north of the jetties at the rear of the original Selby station. A new through station to the north opened with the Hull & Selby line on 2 July 1840, and the old station became a goods shed.

With the successful opening of their line, the Hull & Selby Railway was the promoter of
the Hull & Bridlington Railway; an Act of Parliament was passed in 1845 giving permission to build the line which would run through Driffield and Bridlington and onward to join the York to Scarborough line (authorised by Parliament on 5 June 1844) at Seamer. In the same year the Hull & Selby Railway was leased to the York & North Midland Railway, becoming part of George Hudson's expanding railway enterprise.

The Seamer to Filey section opened on 5 October 1846 with the Hull to Bridlington section opening the following day. The final link between Bridlington and Filey, which had been delayed due to difficult terrain, opened on 20 October.

During this period of 'Railway Mania' there were proposals to build 107 miles of new railway in East Yorkshire, not all of which would come to fruition. One of these schemes was for a line between Selby and Driffield via Market Weighton, while another line from York to Beverley would also pass through Market Weighton.

Although four lines into Market Weighton were eventually completed separately, George Hudson’s York & North Midland held powers for a complete route from York to Hull which was authorised by an Act of 18 June 1846, with a requirement that the line should be completed within five years. On the same date the YNMR (East Riding Branches) No. II Railway Act authorised the building of a 22-mile single-track line from the Hull & Selby line to Market Weighton. Running across flat, open ground with 22 level crossings, the line would have no major engineering features apart from a bridge over the River Derwent at Bubwith,. The contractors for both lines were Messrs. Jackson and Bean, with stations built by Burton & Son. Construction of the line from York started almost immediately with a proposed completion date to Market Weighton of 4 September 1847, the Selby line opening two months later. The latter date soon proved overly optimistic owing to the difficulty in agreeing the siting of Bubwith station and the provision of goods facilities at a number of stations.

The double-track York line opened to Market Weighton on 4 October 1847, and the single-track Selby line from Barlby Junction to Market Weighton eventually opened on 1 August 1848 with intermediate stations at Cliff Common Gate, Duffield Gate, Menthorpe Gate, Bubwith, Foggathorpe Gate, Holme (Yorks) and Harswell Gate. An additional station close to Bubwith – known as Bubwith High Field - first appeared in timetables in January 1859: this finally resolved the lengthy dispute about the siting of Bubwith station.

The exact opening dates of the intermediate stations are uncertain. The August 1848 Bradshaw only lists the Selby line as a footnote to the York - Market Weighton timetable. No details are given until October 1849 when two intermediate stations at Dubwith (incorrect spelling of Bubwith) and Holme are shown. From 1850, footnotes in the timetable refer to a
Tuesday market and Monday fortnightly fair with trains to York stopping at all stations, but without naming them.  These stations might have been provided from the opening of the line as sufficient stopping time was allowed in the timetables; although it is unlikely that any facilities would have been provided at stops used only by market trains. From November 1851 all the stations are shown with no limitations on days. The ‘Gate’ suffix – frequently found in Yorkshire, and referring to the level crossing gates – was later removed from Cliff Common and Foggathorpe, whilst Harswell Gate was renamed Everingham in 1874 and Holme became Holme Moor in 1923.

On the opening of the line eleven permanent way men were employed, plus three coaching department staff, costing a total annual sum of £137.16s. Takings in June 1849 were £2,336, made up of £1,335 goods, £924 passenger, £44 parcels, £30 rents and £3 horse and dog conveyance.  Initially there were only two passenger trains each day between Selby and Market Weighton and three between York and Selby, and it was suggested that by juggling the timetable only one locomotive would be required to run both services - but this could not be achieved.  By 1866 there were four daily trains between Market Weighton and Selby. The route was always used by excursion trains to Scarborough from its opening, with services being provided by the L&YR.

Traffic on the York line did not live up to expectations, and it was listed for singling as early as 1853, while the doubling of the Selby line started in 1889. At this time Duffield Gate station closed as it attracted very little traffic. Once the doubling had been completed an enhanced passenger service was introduced. This comprised twelve down and ten up trains, some not operating over the entire line to Selby, and some being expresses over one of the sections. All trains north of Market Weighton, except for one local each way, ran through to Bridlington, and there were several conditional stops, one at Everingham being to take on passengers for London. The isolated station at Enthorpe at first had trains only on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. By 1899 the service was even better, with two Selby-Bridlington expresses operating between 10.00 and 11.00 with only 20 minutes between them! Enthorpe was also given a regular service of five trains each way, and generally this line was far better served than the Beverley-York line.

From its opening Market Weighton had been a terminus, but it was always intended that the York line should be extended south to Beverley, and the Selby line east to Driffield. The extension to Beverley proved problematic due to the routing of the line across the Dalton Holme Estate.  By this time the Y&NMR was in financial difficulty, and they argued that there was now little public demand for the line.  This view angered local people and, when the Y&NMR became part of the North Eastern Railway in 1854, the company found itself under local pressure to complete the line.

There was much debate, which included a proposal to build a completely new line from Market Weighton to Brough. In 1860 the NER eventually agreed to build the line to Beverley as originally planned, and an Act was granted on 30 June 1862, with work starting in September that year.  The single-track extension opened on 1 May 1865.  

At this time the NER had no plans to extend eastward from Market Weighton to Driffield. In 1884 an independent company, the Scarborough Bridlington & West Riding Junction Railway, projected a route from Seamer; this would bypass Bridlington then pass through through Driffield and Market Weighton, from where it would turn south-west to reach to Howden.  This proposal was not greeted with much local enthusiasm and, when the company dropped the west end of the route between Market Weighton and Howden, the NER offered to operate the remaining section of line, but only between Market Weighton and Driffield.

Construction started in 1888, and the line opened on 21 April 1890 with intermediate stations at Enthorpe, Middleton-on-the-Wolds, Bainton and Southburn. From the outset the Driffield line had a good service, with most trains running on to Bridlington. There were, however, only three through trains between Selby and Bridlington, two morning (down) trains with one in the evening from Selby and one mid-morning up train and two in the evening; this could hardly be described as a regular service.The Scarborough Bridlington & West Riding Junction Railway was purchased by the NER in 1914. By 1922 the line had settled down to a more regular service with five through down trains and four up trains, and an additional short-running service between Bridlington and Market Weighton.

On 29 May 1899 there was a meeting between the Escrick and Flaxton rural district councils and the NER to apply for a Light Railway Order for a line to run from Foss Islands, York, to Cliff Common on the Selby and Driffield line.  There were no objections from NER, and the Board of Trade granted the Derwent Valley Light Railway Order in 1902. Four parish councils were against the new line as were 260 individual landowners and ratepayers, and the two councils who had originally promoted the line were now deterred by the high cost, so the powers were allowed to lapse. A new order was granted in 1907, and a new company was inaugurated with capital of £81,000 in £1 shares.

This time the councils supported the line, as did local farmers who were eager to use the new facility to get their produce to market. The line opened in stages with the first section between Cliff Common and Wheldrake opening to goods traffic on 29 October 1912; it was an immediate success. The whole line, 20 miles and 19 chains in length, opened to passenger traffic on 21 July 1913. The northern terminus at Layerthorpe connected into the NER's Foss Islands branch, and was also the administrative headquarters of the DVLR.

At Cliff Common the DVLR ran into its own platform on the north side of the Selby and Driffield down platform.  At this time there was a direct connection with the Selby – Driffield line, which was to prove useful during WW1 when the NER ran some of its Selby - York trains to Cliff Common and then onto the DVLR to York instead of using the East Coast main line.

During the 1920s, however, passenger numbers on the DVLR dropped rapidly from 49,000 at the end of the First World War to just 18,000 in 1925 as bus services spread into the countryside. In 1926 passenger services ended, although special excursions did run from time to time. Goods traffic, however, continued to prosper. By BR days this direct connection at Cliff Common had been removed, with a convoluted route through sidings now providing the only connection between the two lines.

Following the 1923 general grouping, the LNER improved the service on both the York and Selby lines, with a fast service provided for commuters between Bridlington and Leeds which was achieved in 1 hour 35 minutes. The LNER also experimented with a petrol/electric railcar between Selby and Market Weighton.  The 1903-built railcar and its shed at Selby were destroyed in an accidental fire in 1926.  A number of steam railmotors were then acquired, and in 1932 two of these were shedded at Selby with another at Bridlington; they made two daily return trips, one mid-morning and the other mid-afternoon.

WW2 brought a reduction in the service, with three daily trains in each direction calling at all stations between Selby and Driffield, and different stops for each service between Driffield and Bridlington. At this time the railmotors were also still in use. After the war there was little improvement to the service; in 1950 there were three through trains in each direction with
some short running services between Bridlington and Market Weighton, and no Sunday service.  The line was still well used by excursion traffic to Scarborough, especially on summer Saturdays, with up to 17 excursions using the line.

While the Market Weighton to York service still carried a reasonable number of local passengers, many of the stations on the Selby line were little used: in 1940 Menthorpe Gate took only £17 in passenger fares while Foggathorpe and High Field generated only £29 and £43 respectively. Only Southburn (£477 P/A) and Middleton-in-the-Wolds (£1,615 P/A) were taking more than £1 a day!

It therefore came as no surprise when closure of the intermediate stations was announced. Menthorpe Gate was the first to close, losing its passenger service on 7 December 1953, with the rest of the intermediate stations closing on 20 September 1954. All the stations closed to goods traffic on 28 January 1964, except Enthorpe (where the small yard had closed on 14 September1959) and Holme Moor and Everingham, which handled goods traffic until 1965.

A limited passenger service between Selby and Bridlington was retained, with one morning train from Selby returning from Bridlington in the evening. There was an additional morning train from Bridlington to Market Weighton with a connection for York, but this was withdrawn before the line closed. Final closure of the line to all passenger traffic was proposed for 15 June 1964. There was an appeal, but it only delayed the inevitable as the Transport Users' Consultative Committee said that they could see no way of alleviating hardship for the very small number who would be affected. The end came on 14 June 1965, and, with the closure of Holme Moor and Everingham goods depots on 2 August 1965, the whole route was completely defunct. Summer excursions which formerly used the line would in future be diverted via Hull.

The closure of the Selby - Driffield line meant that the DVLR had now become a dead-end branch from York with the result that the section from Wheldrake to Cliff Common, which had opened first of all, was abandoned from 9 February 1965. Elvington to Wheldrake followed on 19 June 1968 and Dunnington - Elvington on 19 January 1973. The DVLR closed completely on 27 September 1981, but the station buildings and sidings at Layerthorpe came into the hands of British Rail who owned the Foss Islands Branch. This ensured the survival of the station until 1989 when the branch line closed.

On the York - Beverley line, the position was rather different. The introduction of diesel multiple units saw a general acceleration of the service which proved popular, but this line too was to fall under the Beeching Axe.Some stations had closed before the 1960s, but passenger services on this line were withdrawn on 29 November 1965, and the remaining stations at Earswick, Stamford Bridge, Pocklington, Londesborough, Market Weighton and Kipling Cotes closed.

Today most of the Selby route is traceable, with a 13-mile section between Bubwith and Market Weighton now reopened to cyclists and pedestrians as the Bubwith Rail Trail. There is some evidence to be seen at all of the stations and at some of the goods yards.


Tickets from Michael Stewart, Bradshaw from Chris Totty, route map drawn by Alan Young.

To see other stations on the Selby & Driffield Railway click on the station name: Selby (still open), Cliff Common, Duffield Gate, Menthorpe Gate, Bubwith, High Field, Foggathorpe, Holme Moor, Everingham, Market Weighton, Enthorpe, Middleton-on-the-Wolds, Bainton & Southburn


Looking north at Driffield station early 20th century.

1910 1:2500 OS map

Beneath the trainshed at Driffield station, looking north before 1905.
Photo from John Alsop collection

Driffield station forecourt before 1910.
Photo from John Alsop collection

Driffield station looking south c.1920s.
Photo from John Mann collection

A train departing from the up platform of Driffield station c.1935.
Photo from John Mann collection

Driffield station looking south c. early 1950s, not long after the overall roof was removed.
Photo from John Mann collection

Northbound train approaching Driffield station c.1960s. 67663 is a V3 tank, a rebuild of the V1 tank designed by Gresley with highter boiler pressure. It was built principally for suburban services in the North East and Scotland.
Photo from John Mann collection
The 11.06 DMU service arrives from Bridlington in July 1968
hoto by Alan Brown

The approach to Driffield station from the north in September 1973. The main goods station is to the left. To the right is the walltop with the awning at the front;  the coal depot is behind that with the front yard at the top to the right of the main station.  The photograph was probably taken from the Eastgate crossing with the cattledocks behind the photographer.
Photo by M A King

Driffield station looking south in April 1976
hoto by Alan Young

Driffield station looking south in May 2008
Photo by Paul Glazzard. Reproduced from Geograph under creative commons licence

Driffield station looking south in May 2008
Photo by Paul Glazzard. Reproduced from Geograph under creative commons licence

Click here for more pictures of Driffield station.




[Source: Nick Catford]

Last updated: Wednesday, 17-May-2017 10:04:12 CEST
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