Station Name: THORNTON DALE

[Source: Nick Catford]


Date opened: 1.5.1882
Location: East side of Thornton Lane
Company on opening: North Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 5.6.1950
Date closed completely: 10.8.1964
Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state: The station and platform are extant with minor alterations to the station building including the removal of two of the original five chimneys.
County: Yorkshire
OS Grid Ref: SE834822
Date of visit: 7.9.2008

Notes: The small goods yard at Thornton Dale was sited on the down side of the line behind the station. There were three sidings, one immediately behind the platform served coal drops. There was a weigh house nut plans dhow no goods shed

Thornton Dale was a very scenic area, very popular with tourists which ensured the station was one of the busier on the line. One of two camping coaches on the Forge Valley line was placed at Thornton dale in the 1930's and remained in use until WW2.

The only section of the Forge Valley line to survive track lifting in 1953 was between Thornton Dale and Pickering. This section was used to transport stone from the local quarry at Thornton Dale to Thirsk. Because the section between Pickering and Kirbymoorside had been lifted, a detour was necessary via Malton and Pilmoor.

An accident occurred at Pilmoor in the early hours of 19 March 1963 damaging Sessay Wood Junction. Only the mainline from York to the north was repaired and the through link to Thirsk for the stone traffic from Thornton Dale was no more. Because of this, the last revenue earning train was on 25 January 1963.

A trial run of 'Presflo' wagons travelled to Thornton Dale on 27 May 1963. This was the final service along the line before the tracks were cut back to Mill Lane Junction after closure of Thornton Dale to freight traffic on 10th August 1964.

Thornton Dale station and yard is now the Overbrook Caravan Park, the station buildings and platform remain in good condition with minor alterations; two out of the original five chimneys have been removed and a small porch has been built onto the road side, and adjacent to this on the rail side a similar structure stands under part of the platform canopy. One of the
doorways under the canopy has been bricked up and a new house has been built on top of the coal drops.

At the west end of the building, the roofless section has been raised from its original height and roofed over. The gate which accessed this part on the road side has been bricked up and a window inserted. A new window has been added on the rail side.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FORGE VALLEY RAILWAY
The Vale of Pickering (incorporating Ryedale) has always been subject to flooding due to the flat terrain so when railways finally reached the area they kept close to the edges. One of the last to be built was the east - west line from Seamer to Pickering which is usually known as the Forge Valley Railway although it doesn't actually follow the north - south Forge Valley cutting across the southern end of it at West Ayton.

There was an earlier proposal in 1864 for a line from Pickering running east along the north side of the Vale of Pickering as far as West Ayton where it would turn north along the Forge Valley to a junction with the proposed Scarborough - Whitby line at Scalby. Because the Scarborough - Whitby line was not built at this time, the Forge Valley line was not proceeded with.Work on the coast line finally started in 1872 and the Scarborough & Whitby company minutes on 4th November record a proposal to build the line along the Forge Valley from Ayton as a feeder for the Whitby line. The proposal was approved by the board at an estimated cost of £35,000. A Bill was put before parliament in 1873 but was later withdrawn following objections from Lord Londesborough who owned part od the proposed route.


Following the withdrawal of the Bill the North Eastern Railway were quick to step in promoting their own line from Pickering but instead of running up the Forge Valley this line would continue eastwards to join the Scarborough - Malton/Bridlington line at Seamer three miles miles south of Scarborough. Having received their Act the North Eastern Railway were in no hurry to build the line which eventually opened to the public on 1st May 1882.

Intermediate stations were built at Forge Valley (serving East and West Ayton), Wykeham, Sawdon, Snainton, Ebberston (Wilton until 1903) and Thornton Dale. Trains ran between Pickering and Scarborough, also calling at Seamer which had opened with former York and North Midland route to Scarborough in 1845. The line retained the earlier name of the The Forge Valley Line, it was single track throughout with a passing place at Snainton, the only station with two
platforms running for 1614 miles from Seamer Junction to Mill Lane Junction south of Pickering where it joined the NER's lines from Rillington and Bishophouse Junction on the York - Darlington main line .Services were four weekday trains each way; there was never a Sunday service and few excursions except for some to and from Helmsley. In 1928 the line became the first in the area with a regular Sentinel steam railcar service for passengers introduced by the LNER in an attempt to keep costs down. Railcars were considered suitable for this line as passenger traffic was light and there were no steep gradients. The Sentinels were mechanically unreliable and struggled to cope with attachments such as horseboxes, commonly required on rural lines. All the stations except Wykeham had facilities to deal with livestock, and such agricultural produce comprised most of the freight on the line, although there was also stone from a quarry at Thornton Dale.

During 1935, the first diesel-electric Sentinel Railcar, the 'Tyneside Venturer', operated a circular route via Scarborough, Whitby, Goathland and back to Scarborough along the Forge Valley line. Despite their unreliability the railcars remained in use for 20 years but were gradually taken out of service on the approach to nationalisation

In June 1933 the LNER introduced camping coaches at a number of scenic stations in the area, two of these eventually came to the Forge Valley line with a single carriage being provided at Forge Valley and Thornton Dale.

Passenger traffic on the Forge Valley line had always been light and by 1922 the service remained at 4 daily trains with an additional train on Thursday and three additional trains between Scarborough and Forge Valley. With the introduction of the steam railcars the service was increased to seven daily trains but after nationalisation it was clear that the service was no longer viable with the ever increasing popularity of the motor car post war. After only 68 years British Railways announced closure of the line to both passenger and freight traffic; despite some
local objections the line was closed from 5th June 1950; the last train out of Scarborough was at 6.40 pm on Saturday 3rd June where a small crowd gathered with over 100 local people boarding the last train which was greeted by detonators at each station.

The track between Seamer and Thornton Dale was lifted between 1952 and 1953. The final three miles of the line between Thornton Dale and Pickering remained open until 10th August 1964 to serve the stone quarry.

All the stations on the Forge Valley line were of similar construction with substantial brick buildings which incorporated the stationmaster's house. All the station buildings and platforms survive and that at Ebberston which was restored in 1998 with a short section of track and three new camping coaches, ex BR 1st class stock built in 1968/9.

See also the Forge Valley Railway web site for a more detailed history of the line and more photographs.

Sources: Lost Railways of North & East Yorkshire by Gordon Suggitt - Countryside books 2005 ISBN 1 85306 918 3 and the Forge Valley Railway web site. Tickets from Michael Stewart

Suggested further reading: The Forge Valley Line by J. Robin Lidster Hendon Publishing 1986
ISBN-10: 086067103.

To see other stations on the Forge Valley Railway click on the station name: Seamer, Forge Valley, Wykeham, Sawdon, Snainton & Ebberston

See alto other local lines: Malton & Driffield Junction Railway, Thirsk & Malton Railway (Malton - Pilmoor) & Gilling - Pickering


Thornton Dale Station in c.1905
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection


Thornton Dale Station looking east in c.1930's

Thornton Dale Station after closure

Thornton Dale Station in April 1976
P
hoto by Alan Young

Thornton Dale Station looking east in June 1998
Photo by Martin Potter


 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]



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