Station Name: SANDSEND


[Source: Ken Mell]

Date opened: 3.12.1883
Location: North side of Lythe Bank (A174)
Company on opening: North Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 5.5.1958
Date closed completely: 5.5.1958
Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state:

Sandsend Station is now a private residence, both the station building and the platform survive in good condition.  The overgrown north end of the platform alongside the Cleveland Way footpath which can be approached by steps from the car park at the bottom of Lythe Bank.  Evidence of the foundation of Sandsend viaduct can be seen in the adjacent beck. The pillbox for defending the Sandsend viaduct also survives as do the coal drops in front of the station, they have been converted into garages.

County: North Yorkshire
OS Grid Ref: NZ860130
Date of visit: 25.10.2007

Notes: Sandsend had a single platform on the down side of the line. There was a substantial brick station building which incorporated the stationmaster’s house. There was one siding on the down side of the line running to coal drops behind the station.  It branched from the line at the northern end of the station site. A wooden signal box was provided on the station platform but this was closed about 1905. Passing loops were added to other stations on the line in the early 1900s. This was an exception due to the extensive works which would have been needed. Apart from coal there were no other freight facilities at the station  but a goods yard was sited at East Row a little way along the line in the Whitby direction where there was a goods warehouse and a 2-ton crane.

In later years three camping coaches were sited in the coal yard. The Sandsend viaduct was sited immediately south of the station. During WW2 a pillbox was built in the station yard to defend the viaduct.


Trains from Teesside to Whitby started operation on 3rd December, 1883 with a northern terminus at Saltburn. Trains for Whitby Town reversed at Saltburn West Junction to allow them to take the extension line from Saltburn to Brotton and thence follow the coastal line to Whitby through Loftus which up to then had been a terminus.

On 16th July 1885 the line from Whitby to Scarborough was opened so allowing some trains to run through to Scarborough. These trains called at Whitby West Cliff which was connected to Whitby Town by a shuttle service.

In the summer of 1933 the northern terminus was changed to Middlesbrough and trains were then routed by way of Nunthorpe, Guisborough and Boosbeck to meet the original route at Brotton. A reversal was required on this route at Guisborough where rules were relaxed and trains of up to seven coaches in length were propelled in and out of the station which was at the end of a spur. Occasional summer trains would make Brotton via Redcar and the Saltburn extension.

Closure of the railway started pre Beeching with the Brotton to Saltburn  section closing to passengers on 6th September 1957, Whitby West Cliff to Loftus closing to all traffic on 3rd May 1958, Loftus to Boosbeck closing to passengers on 30th April  1960 and the section from Boosbeck to Guisborough closing to all traffic on the same day.The line from
Boosbeck to Brotton was closed completely on 12th September 1964.

The line remained open for goods from Saltburn West Junction through to Skinningrove and following the opening of a potash mine at Boulby the line was reinstated for the carriage of minerals between Skinningrove and Brotton  from 1st April 1974.

The coastal rail link between Teesside and Whitby used a number of pre existing railway routes which had been constructed primarily with the ironstone mining activities as their main motivation. The individual lines are described below:

WHITBY - LOFTUS (The Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway)
Railways came to Whitby early with the opening of the Whitby – Grosmont Railway on 15th May 1835. The line was extended to Pickering as a horse worked line on 26th May 1836 and on 7th July 1845 the Whitby – Pickering Railway was extended to Malton. 

In 1864 a bill was submitted to Parliament for a Scarborough, Whitby and Staithes Railway but this was rejected

On 16th July 1866 the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway was incorporated with the intention of linking Whitby to Lofthouse (Loftus) with a line along the coast. The line was intended to branch off the Whitby - Grosmont line 93 yards short of Ruswarp station.  Another short branch was planned here to join the proposed Whitby to Scarborough Railway at Larpool Wood.

Because of a lack of finance it took until 3rd May 1871 for the contract to build the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway to be signed. The contractor was John Dickson. Construction of the new railway started on 25th May 1871 when the first sod was cut near Sandsend by the Dowager Marchioness of Normanby.

On 7th July 1873 an Act was passed authorising an amended route with the WRMRU now branching from the Whitby – Grosmont line just outside Whitby Town station. The link to the proposed Scarborough line at Larpool Wood was dropped. By 1874 the construction of the railway had stopped and the contractor had gone into liquidation. Two of the
contractors locomotives which had been taken over by the WRMUR were sold. On 1st July 1875 the North Eastern Railway took a perpetual lease over the WRMUR and employed another contractor, John Waddell of Edinburgh, to complete the line with a completion date of 13th July 1881. The WRMUR Act ratified the arrangement on 19th July 1875 and the NER agreed to complete the line in a substantial and satisfactory manner.

The new contractor found the previous work to be unsatisfactory and in the short period whilst work was suspended part of the cliff route north of Sandsend had collapsed into the sea. The new contractors drove the railway through the headlands rather than go round them. Two tunnels were constructed, Sandsend tunnel (1652 yards) and Kettleness tunnel (308 yards);
between them a short stretch of the original course along the cliff edge remains. Five steel tubular viaducts were erected on the line at Upgang (330 ft long, 70 ft high with 6 spans), Newholm Bank (330, 50, 11), East Row (528, 30, 8), Sandsend (268, 63, 8) and Staithes (790, 152, 17). Staithes viaduct was protected by a wind gauge which rang a bell in the signal box when the wind pressure reached 28 lb/sq. ft. At this point traffic over the viaduct was suspended and could only be resumed after the structure had been inspected.

 The Whitby – Loftus line was ready for use on 3rd December 1883, 2 1/2 years behind schedule and the first train left Whitby station. The new line served stations at Whitby Town, Whitby West Cliff, Sandsend, Kettleness, Hinderwell, Staithes, Easington (renamed Grinkle in April1904) and Loftus. The line formed an end on junction with the route of the former
Cleveland Railway at Loftus so allowing trains to run through from Whitby to Saltburn using the former Cleveland Railway route and the later  NER connection between Brotton and Saltburn. On 16th July 1885 the Scarborough and Whitby railway opened and joined onto the WRMUR at Prospect Hill Junction so allowing direct trains to run between Scarborough and Saltburn.

The line exploited the camping coach business with coaches being provided at Sandsend (2), Kettleness (2) and East Row (3) between 1933 and 1939. The business was suspended during the war and opened again in 1952.

On 3rd May 1958 the line was closed completely between Whitby (West Cliff) and Loftus and Loftus reverted to becoming a terminus for trains from Teesside until its closure for passengers on 30th May 1960 and goods on 10th August 1963. Whitby (West Cliff) remained open for trains ex Scarborough until 10th June 1961. From this date Scarborough-Whitby
trains reversed at Prospect Hill Junction for Whitby Town station.

A new potash mine was opened near to the route of the railway north of Staithes. On 1st April 1974 the line was reopened for mineral traffic from the new Boulby Potash Mine to reach existing rail facilities at Skinningrove and it remains in operation


  • Railways around Whitby (Vols. 1 and 2) – Martin Bairstow
  • The Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway by K. Hoole
  • Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain – Vol. 4 The North East by K. Hoole
  • Railway Memories No 18 – Cleveland and Whitby – Stephen Chapman

Tickets from Michael Stewart except 8890 Brian Halford, all un attributed photographs received from Neil Cholmondeley

Further reading: Railways Around Whitby Volumes One and Two written and published by Martin Bairstow. ISBN 978-1-871944-34-1

To see other stations on the Saltburn - Whitby line click on the station name: North Skelton, Brotton, Skinningrove, Loftus, Grinkle, Staithes, Hinderwell, Kettleness & Whitby West Cliff. See also Boosbeck & Guisborough

See also Boulby Mine

Sandsend Station looking north east in July 1905
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Train from Whitby arriving at Sandsend Station in the 1950's. Note the camping coach far right.

After closure in 1958, the track was lifted in 1959 and the viaducts were demolished in 1960. Sandsend Station is seen at the end of Sandsend viaduct.

Sandsend Station looking south west in June 1990
hoto by Mark Dyson

Sandsend Station in October 2007
hoto by Nick Catford

Click here for more pictures of Sandsend Station
Click here for pictures of the three viaducts at Sandsend




[Source: Ken Mell]

Last updated: Tuesday, 20-Apr-2010 16:10:16 BST
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