Notes: The station was opened as Hovingham but was changed to Hovingham Spa on 1st October 1896 in an attempt to generate more business as the local landowner was keen to promote Hovingham as a spa resort.
The station has a single platform on the 'up' side of the line with a two storey brick built stationmaster's house which incorporated the station offices. Hovingham was one of five stations on the line that had a two level platform, when built the platform was very low but in 1865 the NER settled on a standard height platform 2' 6" above rail level. The section of platform in front of the station building remained at its original height to accommodate the existing windows which would have had their sills at platform level and the door; the remainder of the platform was raised to the new standard height.
There was a modest sized goods yard mainly on the up side, this eventually had six sidings. One siding served the coal drops which were sited behind the platform, a second siding passed through the brick built goods warehouse. In 1857 a second brick goods warehouse was built at the request of a local corn merchant. Three long parallel sidings were added in 1863 for handling timber, one of these also served a long cattle dock. The sixth siding was on the down side and parallel to the main line and served another loading dock. As well as timber Hovingham handled a large quantity of livestock.
Hovingham saw new traffic in the 1950's when it handled large quantities of limestone for the steel industry from the nearby Wath quarry. The goods yard had been extended in 1948 with a new high loading dock. By 1960 this traffic had virtually ceased as limestone was no longer required for lining the steel furnaces.
Although closed to passengers in 1930 the station remeined open for freight and saw regular passenger use 27th July 1964 with a range of excursion trains using the station, these included shopping, ramblers and football excursions, Sunday school outings to Scarborough and the usual enthusiasts excursions. The last ramblers excursion ran to Kirbymoorside on 3rd May 1964 and the last passenger train was one of the Sunday school excursions; the station finally closed to all traffic on 10th August 1964.
BRIEF BHISTORY OF THE THIRSK & MALTON RAILWAY (INCLUDING GILLING - PICKERING)
In 1845 three schemes were proposed to bring railways into the Vale of Pickering, the successful scheme was the Newcastle & Darlington Junction Railway, a 23 mile two track line between Thirsk and Malton running from a junction with the Great North of England Railway three miles south of Thirsk to a junction with the York - Scarborough line at Norton from where a half mile branch would run into a terminus at Malton; the proposed line included a 6 mile branch from Gilling to Helmsley. The line received Parliamentary approval on 18th June 1846 but construction was delayed for some years while the company settled on its exact route. From the outset the success of the line was linked with the Malton & Driffield Railway which gained its act on 26th June 1846. The two lines would form a continuous route between Driffield and Thirsk forming part of a new 'main line' between Hull and the north east.
||Work on the M & D started immediately but was halted the following year as work had not started on the T & M. The Newcastle & Darlington Railway merged with the Great North of England Railway in 1847 to become the York & Newcastle Railway and this in turn became part of the York Newcastle and Berwick Railway in 1848. During this period there was little enthusiasm for the T & M and eventually the time limit for building the line imposed by the 1846 Act was allowed to lapse. Following near bankruptcy, work on the M & D eventually started despite the lack of progress on the T & M and it was suggested that the MDR should take over construction but, instead, a writ was served on the York Newcastle & Berwick Railway to force them comply with an earlier agreement to start work on the line. A new Thirsk & Malton Railway Bill was put before parliament and work finally started on 1st October 1851.
There were numerous changes to the original plans and a more modest route was eventually selected running from a north—east curve at Pilmoor, six miles south of Thirsk to Scarborough Road Junction at Malton where trains would run over M & D metals into Malton removing the need for a separate terminus. In order to reduce costs the Helmsley branch was also dropped and the line was downgraded to single track even though sufficient land for a double track line had been purchased; this ensured that it would never become a trunk route.
Progress on the two lines was now rapid and they were both completed in 1853 with a Board of Trade inspection taking place on 10th May which required improvements to the timber bridge over the River Derwent at Malton. Before these improvements were implemented there was a joint official opening on 19th May. The first train carrying shareholders and invited guests, ran from Pilmoor through Malton to Driffield and then back to Malton. The additional work was completed by 26th May but the exact date of the first public train is uncertain. The goods service had started on 21st May and a shareholders meeting reported that the line opened to passengers on 1st June although a more likely date was 21st June although some stations were still unfinished.
The York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway merged with the Leeds Northern Railway on 31st July 1854 to form the North Eastern Railway. The MDR also applied to join the new company which it did on 28th October 1854. The line’s initial passenger services were between Thirsk and Malton and in 1856 there was one train shuttling to and fro three times a day with one daily pick-up goods train and from 1860 a daily mineral train. Intermediate stations were provided at Coxwold, Ampleforth, Gilling, Hovingham, Slingsby, Barton-le-Street and Amotherby an eighth station at Husthwaite Gate at the west end of the line opened in 1856.
Two of the 1845 schemes for the western part of the vale included branches to Helmsley & Kirkbymoorside on its northern edge but these were not built. In 1862 the Ryedale Railway was promoted from Hovingham on the T & M to Helmsley, Kirkbymoorside and Pickering but this was dropped following a lack of co-operation from the NER although the route was similar to the line later built by the NER. That company’s original Act for the branch in 1866 was designed to oppose a rival scheme through Helmsley that would have linked Leeds to Teesside. Once that was defeated, the NER proceeded slowly, even trying to back out of the project in 1868. However, by 1871 it had opened a southern curve at Pilmoor and the new branch between Gilling and Helmsley opened to passengers on 9th October 1871. This was extended to Kirby Moorside (the town is called Kirkbymoorside) on 1st January 1874 and finally through to Pickering on 1st April 1875; additional stations were provided at Nunnington, Nawton and Sinnington.
Apart from the pick-up goods the main freight traffic handled by the two line was coal, animal feed and timber which was the main commodity handled by several stations. A large amount of limestone was also transported from the quarries on the Malton & Driffield line bound for the blast furnaces at South Bank and Redcar.
There were numerous improvements to the line in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but by the turn of the century traffic was already in decline and after WW1 both goods and passenger traffic suffered following the rapid development of road transport with passenger numbers halving between 1904 - 1927. In 1885, 115,965 passengers booked tickets from stations on the T & M and its Pickering branch, by 1938 there were only 27,451 and by 1929 the four stations between Malton & Gilling earned only £538 in passenger revenue.
Initially most trains ran from Pickering to Gilling where passengers could transfer to the Thirsk & Malton line but there were soon through trains to York using the southbound Pilmoor Curve to Bishophouse Junction, but these only ran from the Pickering branch covering the westernmost 12 miles of the T & M line. By 1895, there were four such trains daily and the line between Gilling and Malton was already the ‘poor relation’. Its trains to Thirsk ended by 1914 and nine years later it was only a feeder for the York—Pickering service and even this function ended on 30th December 1930, when the four stations between Gilling and Malton closed to passengers to save costs. The final train consisted of one coach that carried four passengers; the stations remained open for goods traffic.
the line was running at a loss with many passengers being lost to the more convenient bus services. Closure was announced for 2nd February 1953 with the last train running two days earlier. With the exception of Sinnington the remaining stations remained open for freight traffic and special passenger excursions from the west. The line between Kirbymoorside and Pickering was closed completely and the track was lifted shortly afterwards.
|WW2 brought an increase in both passenger and goods traffic to the remaining section of the line but this dropped off quickly after the war as road transport continued to make inroads into the rapidly declining passenger and freight receipts. Ampleforth Station closed in June 1950 and in 1952 there were rumours that the York - Pickering service was under threat as
The only passenger trains after 1953 were special excursions including Ramblers’ Excursions to Kirbymoorside from West Yorkshire, the last of which, quaintly titled ‘Special Ramblers’ Daffodil and Primrose Diesel Excursion’, ran on 3rd May 1964. In the early 1960’s there were also special trains out from the area, chiefly from Helmsley as far as Largs, London and King’s Lynn and more modest Sunday school outings to Scarborough. The last of these ran on 27th July 1964, and two weeks later the line closed altogether.
The line also had two quite different ‘main line’ workings. The boys’ boarding school of Ampleforth College is situated between Ampleforth and Gilling stations. In 1895 the NER built a 3' horse drawn tramway from Gilling Station to the college mainly for freight traffic as the college produced its own gas requiring 500 tons of coal a year. Special open wagons were also provided to carry pupils. In 1923 the college went over to electric lighting and the gas works closed and the tramway was taken out of use. From the 1930’s up to 1964 there were two special ‘school trains’ at the beginning and end of each term, usually to and from London King’s Cross and Leeds or Liverpool, with one to summer camp at the end of July.
Between 1932-1939 and 1947-1962 the line also saw summer Saturday holiday trains to and from Scarborough. The LNER began these to avoid the congestion at York, running two trains in each direction, despite the need for a double reversal at Malton. This was achieved by the Malton pilot engine pulling the train, with its loco at the other end, between Scarborough Road Junction and Malton station. Filey Holiday Camp trains avoided this for three summers after 1947 as they carried on to the Malton & Driffield line, a rare case of the two lines being used together for passenger workings. In summer 1959 there were four scheduled Saturday workings to and from Scarborough, but these did not run after 1962. There was a plan in 1960 to convert the Pilmoor - Gilling section of the line into a light railway but this came to nothing
The northbound junction with the East Coast Main Line was not replaced after an accident in March 1963 and so the Thirsk & Malton line lost its last through passenger trains. Goods traffic ended on 7th August 1964 and the line was completely closed from the 10th August with the exception of the 3 ½ mile section of line between Amotherby - Malton which remained open until 17th October to honour an existing long term freight contract.
Track lifting started at Kirbymoorside on 29th March 1965 and was completed on the 9th August. Demolition of the viaduct over the River Derwent started on 22nd August and the bridge over the York - Scarborough railway was removed on 19th September 1965, the final nail in the coffin of the Thirsk & Malton Railway and the railways of Ryedale.
Sources: The Ryedale Railways by Patrick Howat published 1988 & 2004 by Martin Bairstow. ISBN 1 87 1944 29 5 and Lost Railways of North & East Yorkshire by Gordon Suggitt - Countryside books 2005 ISBN 1 85306 918 3 . Tickets from Michael Stewart
To see other stations on the Thirsk & Malton line click on the station name: Husthwaite Gate, Coxwold, Ampleforth, Gilling, Slingsby, Barton-le-Street & Amotherby
Gilling - Pickering line: Nunnington, Helmsley, Nawton, Kirbymoorside & Sinnington
See also other local lines: Forge Valley Railway and Malton & Driffield Railway