Station Name: GOLDSBOROUGH

[Source: Alan Young]


Date opened: By 2.1850 (first appearance in Bradshaw)
Location: On the still-open Harrogate to York line. Close to A59 bridge over the railway. The site is approached via a short lane off York Road to the former level crossing.
Company on opening: East & West Yorkshire Junction Railway
Date closed to passengers:

15.9.1958

Date closed completely: 3.5.1965
Company on closing:

Passenger services: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Goods services: British Rail (North Eastern Region)

Present state:

Station building is in residential use, and adjacent signal box is intact. Up platform survives, but down platform is demolished.

County: Yorkshire West Riding (now North Yorkshire)
OS Grid Ref: SE511546
Date of visit:

August 1961, July 1966, June 1973, March 2008

Notes: Goldsborough station was on the railway between York and Harrogate, standing at the point where there was a level crossing over the York-Knaresborough road (A59); since the early 1970s the road has been diverted to cross above the line by a bridge. The York to Harrogate railway is still open and thriving although it was on the Beeching closure list in 1963 – five years after Goldsborough closed to passengers.

Although the nearest village to the station is Flaxby, half a mile to the north-east, the name of Goldsborough, a village a mile to the south, was chosen. This was probably influenced by the presence of Goldsborough Hall – the stately home of the Lascelles family since the mid eighteenth century – in the way that the neighbouring station of Allerton (later Hopperton) took its name from a nearby stately home; or the choice of ‘Goldsborough’ rather than Flaxby might have been made to avoid confusion with Flaxton, a station on the York to Scarborough line. When the station first appeared in Bradshaw in February 1851 the spelling was Gouldsborough, corrected in 1853, although the Railway Clearing House Handbook persisted with the early spelling until 1899. In the 1904 issue, although more than enough space was available for the full name, it had contracted to Goldsbro’.

The western end of the York - Harrogate route originated on 21 July 1845 when the Leeds & Thirsk Railway (L&T) was authorised to construct a branch from its planned main line at Starbeck (where it skirted the eastern fringe of Harrogate) to Knaresborough. The East & West Yorkshire Junction Railway (EWYJ) – described by Hoole (1974) as a protégé of George Hudson’s York & North Midland Railway (YNM) – was authorised on 16 July 1846 to build from York to Knaresborough. The L&T seemed to be showing excessive interest in the EWYJ in 1847, but Hudson’s influence won the day. At the opening the line from Skelton Junction, where the new route diverged from the Hudson’s York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway, the latter company provided the motive power. The western terminus at its opening on 30 October 1848 was at Hay Park Lane, about a mile east of Knaresborough, and this is where Goldsborough station’s westbound train departures initially terminated. This temporary measure was necessary because the L&T’s viaduct over the River Nidd in Knaresborough collapsed on 11 March 1848 as it neared completion. The successfully completed viaduct over the Nidd was a fine structure notable for its castellated piers complementing the ruins of the nearby castle.

On 21 July 1851 the Leeds Northern Railway (renamed from L&T on 3 July) branch from Starbeck opened to meet the line from York at Knaresborough. What is now Starbeck station was identified in Bradshaw by various names – including Harrogate, Harrogate & Knaresborough, High Harrogate and Harrogate High – until it settled down to be Starbeck in 1857. Trains on the Leeds and Wetherby lines used another Harrogate station (the terminus usually suffixed ‘Brunswick’ in modern literature to distinguish it from the present station which replaced it in 1862).

From 1851 the EWYJ operated its own motive power with the assistance of E B Wilson & Co, locomotive builders of Leeds. On 28 May 1852 the EWYJ was absorbed into the YNM company; the L&T had been renamed the Leeds Northern Railway (LN) on 3 July 1851; and both the YNM and LN companies became part of the newly-formed North Eastern Railway in 1854. The present Harrogate station opened on 1 August 1862; it became the western terminus of the line from York and replaced the Brunswick terminus, as mentioned above.

From the outset, the EWYJ provided intermediate stations between York and Knaresborough at Poppleton, Marston (later Marston Moor), Cattal and Allerton (later Hopperton). Their buildings were surprisingly large given the limited populations that the stations would serve. Within two years further stations were provided at Hessay, Hammerton and Goldsborough level crossings, but it is possible that trains called at these places from the opening of the line; early passenger timetables for North East England are known to have omitted certain stations that were in use. In all three places there were level crossings where the gatekeepers’ houses could be incorporated into a passenger station.

At Goldsborough the gatehouse was on the up (north) side of the tracks, west of the crossing. Fawcett (2001) notes that it was a modest single-storey house of two rooms (a living kitchen and a bedroom) with a bay window facing the tracks. The building was dignified by chamfered stone quoins and a decorative wooden pendant on the gable. To provide for its new role as a passenger station a waiting room block was added to the west side of the gatehouse, and the house was raised to two storeys. The quoins were not continued onto the second storey and a stone cill-band was carried across instead. Outsized scalloped bargeboards were added which lent a cottage ornée quality to the building, setting it apart from other stations on the line. Why Goldsborough merited this distinction is unclear, although it might have been to appeal to the Lascelles family and their discerning guests. The up platform was built in front of the gatehouse, west of the crossing, but the down platform was ‘staggered’ east of the crossing. Both platforms were given timber waiting sheds by the NER of a standard pent-roof design.

The platform arrangement here was the reverse of the ‘stagger’ at Hopperton. With the up platform at Goldsborough being west of the level crossing the engine would be likely to obstruct it when trains stopped here, requiring the gates to be closed for a considerable time, so causing queues of traffic on the main road.

Although in the earliest days of the York–Knaresborough service there were Sunday trains, the table below for February 1863 indicates only a weekday service, which was to be the normal state of affairs for the route. The Harrogate terminus is the present-day station which, as noted earlier, had opened in 1862.


Up trains: weekdays February 1863

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

9.52am

York

8.04am

Harrogate*

12.23pm

York

10.58am

Harrogate*

4.43pm

York

2.30pm

Harrogate*

7.08pm

York

5.18pm

Harrogate*

-

-

8.17pm ‡

Harrogate*

Notes:    ‡ Approximate time; calls by request   *Timetable heading refers to the station as ‘High Harrogate’ – presumably owing to inertia, as High Harrogate had been named Starbeck since 1857.

Between York and Knaresborough the railway passed through lightly populated countryside with a scattering of villages and isolated farms, and the frequency of train calls at Goldsborough was similar to the other rural stations on the line in the late nineteenth century - with the exception of Wilstrop Siding which had only a Saturday service of one train stopping in each direction. The 1896 table shows the situation shortly before road motor transport began to offer competition to the trains. The Wednesday-only arrival at 3.26pm is for passengers to alight having visited Knaresborough market.


Up trains: weekdays July 1896

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.46am

York

7.56am

Harrogate

11.31am

York

10.49am

Harrogate

1.11pm

York

1.19pm

Harrogate

3.26pm (Wed only)*

York

3.59pm

Harrogate

4.56pm

York

5.39pm

Harrogate

8.01pm

York

8.29pm

Harrogate

Note: *Market Train
NER records show that Mr H Hick was an early stationmaster at Goldsborough who moved to the same post at Marston Moor (then known as Marston) in April 1879.

The NER estimated the population served by Goldsborough station in 1911 to be 374, and in that year 4,405 tickets were issued – a very modest number for that time. NER records for 1913 show that livestock and 251 tons of barley were handled at the station. The goods facilities and coal depot with weigh office were located west of the up platform, together with a small timber-built warehouse beside the crossing.

For much of its length the main road between York and Knaresborough (now the A59) was within a mile of the railway, and after World War 1 road motor services began to offer competition to trains. The local villages, however, with the exception of Green Hammerton, were some distance from this road, and buses would need to make numerous diversions from it to serve them adequately; thus (with the exception of Wilstrop Siding) the wayside stations would survive into the 1950s or, in the cases of Poppleton, Hammerton and Cattal, remain open today. This is in contrast to the lines between Malton and Scarborough, and Malton and Gilling, where all the villages were strung along a parallel main road, and their stations closed in 1930-31.


Up trains: weekdays June 1920

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.41am

York

7.57am

Harrogate

8.53am

York

10.59am

Harrogate

11.15am

York

1.19pm

Harrogate

1.05pm

York

3.56pm

Harrogate

3.35pm

York

5.46pm

Harrogate

5.18pm

York

8.29pm

Harrogate

8.20pm

York

-

-

In January 1923 the NER was absorbed into the new London & North Eastern Railway at the ‘Grouping’. Under this regime the level of passenger train service was maintained at approximately its earlier frequency. The station retained its Victorian atmosphere in its rural isolation and continued to be lit by NER oil lanterns. NER records show that Mr H V Donaldson was stationmaster at Goldsborough until his retirement in August 1922, shortly before the NER era closed.

The station enjoyed royal connections in the LNER era. Goldsborough Hall was the first home of Princess Mary, later the Princess Royal (only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary) after her marriage to Viscount Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, in 1922. The following year Goldsborough station welcomed King George V and the young Duke of Kent who arrived for the christening of the King’s grandson, George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, at the local church. The royal train used Goldsborough station once again in 1925. However, royalty usually came to Harrogate on a train from Kings Cross, with a royal saloon attached, which ran not via York or Leeds but via Church Fenton and Spofforth. Rather than change the royal saloon from one train to another at Harrogate, and then motor from Goldsborough station to Goldsborough Hall, it was quicker, and more convenient, for the royal party to drive the short distance directly from Harrogate station to Goldsborough Hall. These visits were private and the royal party simply stepped from the railway carriage into a waiting car and drove off, and vice versa on the return journey. 

The LNER, looking for ways to economise, ceased to provide a stationmaster at Allerton (the neighbouring station, soon to be renamed Hopperton) and brought this station under the supervision of Goldsborough. In August 1924 G Milner, previously stationmaster of Kettleness near Whitby, was appointed to this joint role. In September 1935 S Hill was promoted from goods clerk at York to take on the stationmaster’s role at Goldsborough and Hopperton. He moved on to be stationmaster of Coxwold in June 1937, and his successor at Goldsborough, W Morrill (or Merrill?) moved from his porter / signalman post to be stationmaster of Goldsborough alone; Hopperton had its own stationmaster from this time. It is not known how long Mr Morrill was in post – he possibly stayed at Goldsborough until his death in March 1963.

The 1938 timetable below includes late evening calls by request on Saturdays, presumably enabling local people to return from visits to the cinema in York, Knaresborough or Harrogate. For most of its life the York–Harrogate line had no Sunday service; however Sunday trains were provided in summer 1938, but they did not call at Goldsborough.


Up trains: weekdays July 1938

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.45am

York

7.51am

Harrogate

8.52am

York

1.11pm

Harrogate

12.35pm

York

4.46pm

Harrogate

4.00pm

York

5.54pm

Harrogate

5.34pm

York

8.26pm

Harrogate

8.30pm

York

10.00pm (Saturday only)§

Harrogate

11.00pm (Saturday only)§

York

-

-

Note: § Approximate time; calls by request to set down passengers

The scene at Goldsborough station was to change with the outbreak of World War 2 when a huge brick building was constructed immediately north-west of the station: a refrigerated cold store where the Ministry of Food could house emergency meat supplies. On completion, the cold store was given a rail connection with two private sidings running either side of the brick monolith, and two reception loop sidings. In 1941, identical brick refrigerated cold stores were built in 43 locations by William Douglas & Sons. They were scattered around the country as part of an integrated system of food control, distribution and handling, and all were located adjacent to main railway routes for ease of movement in and out of the stores. The sites selected were away from primary target areas with the exception of Wolverhampton and Aintree.

It was essential that rail access to the Ministry of Food store was secure, and, to this end, Goldsborough’s diminutive timber signal box was replaced with an ARP (Air Raid Precaution) box of robust brick construction, between the station building and the level crossing; it opened on 10 November 1942.  Such boxes were not designed so much to withstand a direct hit in an aerial bombing raid as to survive blast damage. Around 45 ARP design signal boxes were built during World War 2, and the London & North Eastern Railway built about 20. Because many locations that were provided with ARP signal boxes were created specifically for the war effort, quite a number of these boxes had only a very short operational life; however, at Goldsborough the level crossing gates had to be operated and the goods facilities controlled which ensured the survival of the ARP box.

Whilst many lines and stations experienced a markedly reduced train service during World War 2, the relatively infrequent service between York and Harrogate was little changed, and the June 1943 timetable shows five up calls (six on Saturday) at Goldsborough and five in the opposite direction. In January 1948 the route became part of British Railways’ North Eastern Region. The region’s first published timetable shows the following service, with a declining number of calls at Goldsborough station:


Up trains: weekdays May 1948

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.40am

York

7.50am

Harrogate

12.51pm

York

1.01pm (Sat excepted)

Harrogate

4.02pm

York

1.36pm (Sat only)

Harrogate

5.35pm

York

4.55pm

Harrogate

8.32pm

York

-

-

Owing to the decline in use of rural stations, in the early 1950s the neighbouring branch line from Harrogate to Pateley Bridge closed to passengers as did the branch from Knaresborough to Pilmoor on the East Coast main line. On the York–Harrogate route all stations that survived to nationalisation remained open, but in 1952/53 economies were effected by reducing the number of train calls at the quietest stations, making the services less attractive. In summer 1955 the service at Goldsborough was reduced to one train in each direction in the morning; all activity was packed into just six minutes. Workers leaving by these trains would have to make other arrangements for their homeward journey. It is likely that these calls were principally to drop off parcels.

Up trains: weekdays June 1958

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.41am

York

7.47am

Harrogate

This was to be the station’s final timetable. On 15 September 1958 the North Eastern Region closed a large number of stations to passengers, principally on the East Coast main line in Yorkshire and Northumberland, but Goldsborough and three other York–Harrogate stations (Hessay, Marston Moor and Hopperton) were included in the purge. For no obvious reason, Goldsborough and its neighbours were left intact for over a decade, with platforms, buildings and even nameboards in place, whilst the normal policy in the region was to remove nameboards promptly and demolish the trackside edge of the platforms to prevent them from crumbling and falling onto the rails. The author remembers the remarkably good condition of these stations when travelling between York and Harrogate in 1961 and 1966, and John Mann’s photographs of Goldsborough, 11 years after closure in 1969, are evidence of this unusual situation. The goods yard at Goldsborough station closed in May 1965. At Marston Moor a westbound daily parcels train continued to call until at least 1967 which possibly explains why that station’s down platform was left in place.

The wartime storage facility adjacent to Goldsborough station continued to perform its function during the early years of the ‘cold war’. The storage of food in the UK peaked in 1956 with some 750,000 tons held in various depots including the 43 massive government-owned cold stores. That year, however, their role was downgraded and their operation was handed over to contractors to operate, in the same way as buffer food depots. Although they were now commercial operations, the Ministry of Food rented space in some of the stores.  By 1961 there was seen to be no need to have emergency meat stocks and the sites were rented out as commercial cold stores with no strategic value. In 1985 some of the buildings were considered for use as Regional Government Control Centres. Most however, including Goldsborough, continued in use as a commercial cold store. It was occupied by Manton Transport Ltd but in 2012 Chippindale Foods bought the building; they soon demolished it and built a new distribution depot on the site.

The York-Harrogate route was recommended for closure by Beeching in 1963. As noted earlier, for much of its length the railway runs parallel and close to the A59 road, and the only significant population centre served is Knaresborough, with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants in 1961. On 23 September 1964 official notice was given of the intention to close the line, but on 15 September 1966 Barbara Castle, Minister of Transport, refused on the grounds of hardship that would be caused.

The A59 level crossing at Goldsborough had been replaced with a bridge on 29 January 1971, and on 17 February 1971 the signal box was closed. Economies were exercised by introducing single-line working on 4 June 1972 between Poppleton and Hammerton; the section between Cattal and Knaresborough, through Goldsborough, was similarly downgraded on 16 December 1973, and the removal of the redundant track was completed by 3 March 1974. Some time after 1978 the station house was extended eastwards and the signal box was incorporated into it; the lower floor of the box was converted into a garage.

One of the curiosities of the York – Harrogate line is that in 2016 it remains a stronghold of semaphore signals and manually operated, attended level crossing gates. There are probably several factors at work to explain this. At present there is no problem with availability of staff for these duties. The equipment installed when track-singling was carried out in the 1970s is still serviceable, and with restoration of double track and even electrification in prospect it would make little sense to automate the crossings and train control until it is clear how and when the route will be upgraded – which surely will happen soon. Once considered expendable, the York-Harrogate route has gone from strength to strength with an hourly weekday service operating to and from Leeds and stopping at all stations; a further hourly service runs between Knaresborough, Harrogate and Leeds, and there are also frequent Sunday trains. On a number of recent journeys between Harrogate and York the author has noted that the trains are well-used, sometimes with standing room only, even outside the rush hour. Organised holidays tours based in Harrogate but visiting York for the day provide many passengers for the line during the summer half of the year.

Whatever the future holds for the York-Harrogate line, there can be no justification for reopening Goldsborough station.

Tickets from Michael Stewart. Route map drawn by Alan Young

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

GOLDSBOROUGH ONLY:

To see other closed station on the York - Harrogate line click on the station name: Hessay, Marston Moor, Wilstrop Siding, Hopperton & Knaresborough (Hay Park Lane)

Goldsborough Station Gallery 1 c1925 - June 1973

Goldsborough station is seen c1925, looking north. The up (York-bound) platform is ahead, on the opposite side of the double-track railway, adjacent to the station building. This was built as accommodation for the crossing-keeper and was originally (1848) a modest single-storey house of two rooms, with a bay window facing the tracks. The building was dignified by chamfered stone quoins and a decorative wooden pendant on the gable. To provide for its new role as a passenger station (1850) a waiting room block was added to the west side of the gatehouse, and the house was raised to two storeys. The quoins were not continued onto the second storey and a stone cill-band was carried across instead. Outsized scalloped bargeboards added a cottage ornée quality to the building. A small, timber lean-to porch can be seen to the right of the forward-thrusting gable. The entrance to the goods yard is in the foreground. The timber building is a small warehouse. The down platform is out of sight, east of the level crossing.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection


1909 1:2,500 OS map. Goldsborough station’s name has as much prominence as the nearby bridge over a stream (White Rail Bridge). The up (York-bound) platform and the station building are on the north (up) side of the tracks, west of the level crossing. ‘LB’ indicates a letter box, while ‘SB’ is signal box. A further building stands on the platform west of the station building. The goods yard is on the down side, facing the up platform, with two sidings, and the weigh office (with ‘WM’ = weighing machine) adjacent to the more southerly siding which also serves a goods dock. The building adjacent to the level crossing on the south side is a small warehouse, and a cottage is located at the southern end of the site, close to White Rail Bridge. The down platform is east of the crossing, and its waiting shed is shown about midway along it.

1965 1: 2,500 OS map. Goldsborough station is still named although it has been closed to passengers for several years; its goods facilities were probably still open as the survey will have been carried out prior to 1965, the year when the station closed entirely. The station remains intact, as shown by John Mann’s photographs from 1969. The principal change since the 1909 map is the appearance of the Depot and its attendant tanks and sidings. This was constructed during World War 2 by the Ministry of Food as a cold store. By the time of this survey the depot is no longer government-owned.

Goldsborough station, looking east c1930 from the up platform. The station building on the left was originally the crossing keeper’s accommodation, but it was raised from one to two storeys when the station opened at this point. The small timber signal box is beyond. On the far side of the level crossing the down platform can be seen with its distinctive NER timber waiting shelter. The oil lanterns are also distinctive NER features.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

This unusual, but delightful fenced garden with a bench (and ‘Goldsborough’ seat-back sign) is behind the up platform. The photograph is dated 1935, taken from the station building.
Photo from Jim Lake collection

On 16 August 1958 No.62753 ‘The Belvoir’ is hauling the 8.20am ex-Harrogate through Goldsborough station; it has not called here. The photo is taken from the down platform, looking west. Closure of the station to passengers is just one month off, but it is still well maintained. The garden on the platform is tended, and the hand-painted nameboard as well as the waiting shed and oil lantern – both of North Eastern Railway vintage – are still in place. Beyond the level crossing, on the up side of the line, are the station building and, in the distance, the MOD cold store. The locomotive is one of the ‘Hunt’ class (D49), a Gresley-designed 4-4-0 built at the LNER Darlington works in July 1934. Originally allocated number 217, she was subsequently renumbered 2753 by the LNER and the ‘6’ prefix was added after nationalisation. Just over a year after this photograph the loco was withdrawn from 50A, York North shed, on 22 September 1959 and cut up at Darlington Works, North Road the following month.
Photo by Mike Mitchell

Goldsborough station is now closed to passengers, on this photograph from July 1959, but the line remains open. Diesel Multiple Units were introduced on the York – Harrogate line in 1958, and one of them, a Metro Cammell (later Class 101) is passing through the station on the way to York. Beside the DMU is the austere brick-built signal box, of a blast-proof Air Raid Precaution design, installed in connection with the provision of a Ministry of Food depot – seen beyond the box – during World War 2. The station building and the up platform can also be seen on the far side of the tracks.
Photo by Peter Sunderland

In July 1959 a DMU, later to be Class 104, is passing Goldsborough station on its way to Harrogate. The station was closed to passengers in 1958 but is still handling goods traffic at this time. The platforms are staggered, and the up platform, north of the tracks, is seen on the left, complete with station building, an NER timber enclosed waiting shed and the hand-painted nameboard; on closure it was normal practice to remove nameboards, but three of the York – Harrogate stations which closed in 1958 retained the boards for many years. The coal yard siding is in the foreground with a timber-built warehouse adjacent to it.
Photo by Peter Sunderland

In August 1969 Goldsborough station is seen looking west from the down (Harrogate-bound) platform. Although closed to passengers since 1958 both platforms survive, and on the up platform the waiting shed and nameboard are in place. The signal box, a wartime blast-proof replacement of the old timber box, was commissioned in 1942 to control the sidings which accompanied the Ministry of Food cold store (seen beyond the waiting shed) which had been built the previous year.
Photo by John Mann

The up platform at Goldsborough station, looking north-east in August 1969. Closed to passengers since 1958, the platform has been retained, for no obvious reason, and it still has its running-in nameboard and timber waiting shed. The station building and the wartime signal box are still in place, as they are at the time of writing (2016).
Photo by John Mann

Goldsborough station, looking west in August 1969 from the down platform. Although it has been closed to passengers for 11 years, little has changed at the station as seen in this view, apart from the removal of the timber shelter on this platform and the encroachment of weeds across the formerly well-maintained garden and platform. The platforms are staggered, the up platform being beyond the level crossing. This platform retains its passenger shelter, and the station building and wartime signal box adjoin it. In the foreground is a somewhat shabby, but still legible, running-in nameboard. The normal practice was to remove such signs promptly when a station closed.
Photo by John Mann

Eleven years after closure to passengers British Rail seems to have forgotten to remove this nameboard from the up platform at Goldsborough, photographed in August 1969. It is hand-painted, with the letters outlined in black, as was BR(NE) practice for a spell in the 1950s. The author recalls that the board was painted in a rather insipid (faded?) shade of tangerine, and the white letters would not have been easily read without the outline. The nameboard stanchions are probably of 1940s/50s vintage; earlier ones usually had nebs on them to support the board.
Photo by John Mann

Goldsborough station is seen from a passing train from York to Harrogate on 29 June 1973. The up platform, seen here, is intact and still possesses a timber waiting shed and the posts and cradles for the oil lanterns. The station building can be seen, complete with its attractive scalloped bargeboards, and the 1942 ARP brick-built signal box is prominent. Since the previous photos of 1969 the A59 road has been diverted from the level crossing across a flyover (behind the camera), and this made the signal box redundant; it closed in February 1971. The crossing is no longer in use, as seen by the removal of the boards from between the rails.
Photo by Alan Young

Click here for Goldsborough Station Gallery 2:
c1975 - August 2012


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