Thursday, 26 November 2009


'Not far to the east of York lies an empty stretch of country known as the Wolds; a region of tiny hamlets, distant farms and meagre population. Yet, within living memory, it was a scene of bustling enterprise. I speak of the deserted railway tracks once connecting with the Great North Eastern Railway. A tiled mural depicting the network prior to nationalisation adorns to this day the concourse at York Station, epitaph to the glory of the Railway Age, grim reminder of the depredations of Dr Beeching.
The Malton-Driffield Railway wove its way through North Grimston, Wharram, Fimber, Sledmere, Wetwang, Garton-on-the-Wolds. It served the long desolate chalk quarries of Wharram and Burdale, supplying the chemical industry of Teesside. During the Second World War the line transported evacuees to country estates and troops to training camps; once carrying General de Gaulle on a visit to French soldiers billeted at Malton. The passage in 1948 of the Royal Train, hauled by ‘Irish Elegance’, en route to the Sykes of Sledmere House, proved, alas, its swan song: soon it had been relegated to goods, axed in 1958—though its value was loudly trumpeted in the great snowfall of 1957 when it was the only link for seven long, hard weeks. Today much of the line has been enclosed by farms, sections made into footpaths and large portions reclaimed by rampant nature. Hidden in this wilderness, not far from the ruins of the old Wharram station, can be found the sealed entrance to Burdale Tunnel.'

From 'The Tunnel' by Peter Bell (ST17, due out next summer)


1 comment:

Todd T said...


Sure, it's just past Coochlip Junction.

Very much looking forward to an abandoned railroad story by Bell.