[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 31.3.1841
Location: Both sides of Station Road
Company on opening: Great North of England Railway
Date closed to passengers: 15.9.1958
Date closed completely: 10.8.1964
Company on closing: 10.8.1964
Present state: The station building, weigh office, loading dock and signal box have all been preserved. Despite its historical importance the signal box was stripped after closure but has now been internally refitted with an industrial frame. An old Mk 1 coach sits on a short length of track that has been laid in front of the loading dock in the goods yard.
County: Yorkshire
OS Grid Ref: SE381879
Date of visit: Not visited

Notes: Otterington was an intermediate station on the Great North of England Railway, opening with the line on 31st March 1841. The original station had two platforms straddling the South Otterington - Thornton-le-Moor road bridge. The main station building was on the up platform and on the south side of the bridge. It was of brick construction and 'L; shaped comprising a two-storey stationmaster's house and a single-storey booking office and waiting room. The down platform had a timber waiting shelter on the up side of the bridge.

A signal box was sited at the south end of the down platform opposite the entrance to a small goods yard comprising two sidings, one serving a loading dock and the other a coal depot; the station didn't handle livestock. There was a further siding and a loop on the down side. In 1911 Otterington served a catchment area of 943 with ticket sales of 9,204. In 1913 the
principal freight was barley with 437 tons being loaded at the station.

As with some other intermediate stations between York and Darlington, Otterington station had to be rebuilt in 1932 when the line was quadrupled. With two new slow lines being added on the outside of the existing lines new buildings were required on both sides of the line. The new buildings were designed by Robert Alexander Darling and were part of a modernisation programme introduced after the abolition of passenger duty paid to the government. The LNER was expected to use the additional capital released for projects to ease the burden of unemployment, which was rife.

The architecture was somewhat severe in appearance but was well received at the time. Even the weigh office was built in the same neo-Georgian style. The roof of the station and weigh office were a combination of two roof angles ('Gambrel' style) with large eaves. All the window frames were in steel, prone to ingress of moisture due to rapid expansion and contraction with
changes in outside temperature. Pre-cast concrete blocks were used in the construction, designed to resemble stone blocks. The retention of oil lighting jarred somewhat with the modern image projected by the new buildings. The signal box, which was built onside the platform alongside the station building played a key role in the development of colour light signalling installed in 1933. The box controlled four and a half miles of track. The new signals were automatic, but a signalman could sit at a control panel in the box and electrically operate points and signals when required, using small switches. Otterington became the sole survivor of the renewal programme; as each station built as part of the renewal programme closed they were quickly demolished (Pilmoor was still standing in 1973 and Beningbrough survived until about 1970). Only a section of degraded platform and the up side building and adjacent signalbox survive trackside.

In 1951 Otterington was served by Leeds - Northallerton trains and by York - Newcastle trains and still had a good stopping service. Despite this the station was closed to passengers on 15th September 1958 along with three of the other intermediate stations between York and Northallerton leaving only Tollerton open. Otterington remained open for goods traffic, but this too was withdrawn on 10th August 1964.

The road overbridge was replaced when electrification of the ECML was envisaged in the late 1970’s.

In 1835 George Hudson was elected to York City Council (becoming Lord Mayor in 1837). In the same year he met George Stephenson by chance in Whitby, and they became friends and business associates. He learnt of Stephenson's dream of a railway from London, using a junction of the London and Birmingham Railway at Rugby, through Derby and Leeds to Newcastle - but bypassing York!

In fact, since 1833, plans had been advanced for three lines - the Midland Counties Railway from Rugby to Derby; the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway from Henley-in-Arden (just outside Birmingham) to Derby; and the North Midland Railway from there to Leeds, which was first reached by the Leeds & Selby Railway in 1834. In 1835 George Hudson formed a
committee to promote a line to be known as the York and 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 20th May 1839 between York and a junction with the Selby line at Gascoigne Wood, with the remaining section to Normanton opening on 1st July 1840. A spur to Methley Junction, giving access to Leeds via a working arrangement with the North Midland, was opened on 27th July 1840, followed by a southbound curve from the L&S at Gascoigne Wood.

The L&S offered a direct route into Leeds from the east while Hudson's longer route into Leeds ran through Castleford via the Whitwood and Methley Junctions. On 9th November 1840 George Hudson arranged to lease the Leeds & Selby, and he promptly closed the line to passengers west of Milford; despite

George Hudson
his line being four miles longer, passengers now had no choice but to use it. In 1844 an Act of Parliament was passed allowing the York & North Midland to absorb the Leeds & Selby Railway.

Having completed the York line, George Hudson turned his attention to Harrogate, proposing a branch to the town via Wetherby from a junction with the Y & NM at Normanton. Local people and businesses initially opposed the railway, fearing an influx of people from Leeds and Bradford would lower the tone of the area. This opposition was overcome, and the line opened to a temporary terminus at Spofforth, and was extended into a terminus at Harrogate Brunswick on 20th July 1848.

Thirsk and Northallerton were early additions to the railway map as part of the Great North of England Railway which, as planned, would run from York to Darlington and then on to Newcastle upon Tyne. The middle section, between Croft and Darlington, was authorised by Parliament on 4th July 1837, and work started near Croft on 25th November 1837. The southern section of the line was authorised on 30th June 1837, and then work was concentrated on this section in order to join up with the Y & NMR which was already under construction, with the two companies sharing a joint station at York.

The line opened between York and Darlington to goods traffic on 4th January 1841 and to passengers on 31st March. Intermediate stations were opened at Benningborough. Tollerton, Alne, Raskelf, Sessay, Thirsk and

Otterington. A further station at Pilmoor opened on 17th June 1847. It was at this stage that George Hudson decided to invest in the Great North of England Railway so that they could complete their line from Darlington to Newcastle upon Tyne. With George Stephenson he planned and carried out the extension of the line to Newcastle, and by 1844 he had control of over a thousand miles of railway. The GN of ER was purchased by the Newcastle & Darlington Junction Railway under Act of 27th July 1846 becoming the York & Newcastle Railway and, in 1847, the York Newcastle & Berwick Railway.

During WW2 the War Office considered Northallerton to be a 'vulnerable point', with its strategically important junctions between the former Leeds Northern and the main line. If one of the under-line bridges was destroyed during an air attack it could block all north - south traffic through the town. To safeguard against this, an emergency connection between the two lines
was authorised on 28th November 1940. 

Construction of the 'Avoiding Line', as it was known, started in January 1941. The line was 960 yards in length running from a point just north of Romanby Gates level crossing on the Leeds Northern, passing under the Hawes branch on a very low temporary bridge with a headroom of only 4'6" (this would have been quickly demolished if the avoiding line had to be used) to a junction with the main line at Castle Mills. The new line was available for use from 23rd June 1941, but it was never used.

At the same time, emergency platforms were built immediately south of Romanby Gates level crossing. These would have been used if Northallerton station was damaged during an air attack. The avoiding line was lifted by the end of 1947, but the emergency platforms remained at least until the 1960s for use by trains bound for Teesside during engineering works on the East Coast main line.

The line between York and Newcastle is now part of the 393-mile long East Coast Main Line (ECML). Between York and Darlington the line was quadrupled from its original two lines in stages. The first section of line to be widened under an Act of 1894 was from a point north of Benningbrough to south of Alne. In 1933 this four line section was extended south to York and
north on the down side only to north of Pilmoor.At this time further quadrupling took place north of Thirsk almost to Northallerton. North of Pilmoor to north of Thirsk was widened in 1942 as a wartime necessity and the final widening of the up side from north of Pilmoor to south of Alne was completed in 1959. All of this widening meant that the intermediate stations had to be replaced or rebuilt.

The ECML was electrified in the late 1980s using state money. The electrification work began in 1985 and the initial section between King's Cross and Leeds went into operational trials in 1988. The full electrification was completed in late 1990, and the current InterCity 225 rolling stock was introduced.

Click here to see photographs of a journey between Harrogate and Northallerton on 4th March 1967, the last day of public service.

Tickets from Michael Stewart & route map from Alan Young


To see other stations on the Leeds Northern Railway between Harrogate and Northallerton click on the station name: Melmerby, Ripon, Wormald Green, Nidd Bridge, Baldersby, Topcliffe, Thirsk Town & Thirsk (Junction)

See other ECML stations :Longhougthton, Lesbury, Warkworth, Longhirst, Morpeth, Stannington, Plessey, Annitsford (1st), Annitsford (2nd), Killingworth, Forest Hall, Heaton (2nd), Heaton (1st), Durham, Croft Spa, Eryholme, Alne & Tollerton

Otterington station looking south from the up platform before December 1906
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

1928 1:2500 OS Map

Otterington station looking north from the down platform before September 1925
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Otterington up platform in the 1950s.
Photo by Ken Hoole

Otterington station up platform in June 1973.
Photo by Alan Young

Otterington station entrance in January 1980.
Photo by Chris Davies

A Cross Country Voyager passing Otterington on the down ECML approaching Northallerton on 3 October 2008. Note the old coach standing in the loading dock.
Photo by John Furnevel from Railscot web site

The restored Otterington signal box in August 2010. Note that track has been relaid
into the goods dock.

Photo by John Skipsey from fotopic web site

Last updated: Monday, 22-May-2017 10:39:32 CEST
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