History of the line


Official opening

Following completion by contractors Messrs Garbutt & Atkinson of Scarborough the Forge Valley Railway was officially opened to traffic on 1st May 1882. The first train of 12 composite coaches departed Scarborough at 6:45am.



On 1st January 1923 ‘The Big Four’ was formed and the North Eastern Railway became part of the London North Eastern Railway. With a new owner, little was to change for the Forge Valley Railway, other than new liveries for the locomotive and stock.


World War II

Like all railways across Britain, the Second World War had a profound effect on the volume of traffic transported on the Forge Valley. Sawdon was the only station on the line with an end dock. This came in particularly useful for the loading and unloading of army vehicles by 11th Armoured Division, who took over Wyedale Hall located just north west of Brompton.



British Railways was formed from ‘The Big Four’ on 1st January 1948 and the Forge Valley Railway changed ownership for the second time.


Closure to passengers

It didn’t take the newly formed British Railways long to take the decision that the Forge Valley Line was not cost effective and it became one of the earliest closures in the area on 3rd June 1950 when G5 No.67273 propelled it’s two coach push-pull train with coach E21020 leading. This was well before the infamous axe of Dr Beeching in the mid sixties.


Track lifting

The track between Thornton Dale and Seamer Junction lay silent for some time, until the demolition contractors, Cohen & Co. of Leeds arrived in 1952. Their work was completed before the end of 1953.


Stone traffic

The remaining section between Pickering Mill Lane Junction and Thornton Dale was retained for stone traffic from A. Slater & Co Ltd’s limestone quarry. The stone trains went to Thirsk, which was achieved via Malton and Pilmoor, as by this time the line from Pickering to Kirbymoorside had already been closed and lifted. From Thirsk, the final destination of the limestone would be Teeside.

In a news article dated 12th March 1954, it was noted that on average, 600 tons of limestone a day were being taken from the quarry located north of the village, through the centre of Thornton Dale by road to the railway station. This was a problem for the villagers and a bypass was being considered.


End of stone traffic

There was an accident on the East Coast Mainline at Sessay Wood Junction near Pilmoor on 19th March 1963, but only the mainline was repaired. This incident severed the line to Malton and the stone traffic from Thornton Dale ceased. The final limestone train was two months prior to the accident on 25th January 1963.

The final train was on 27th May 1963, made up of two "Presflo" wagons of bulk cement for repairs to the village hall.


Final closure

Official closure was on 10th August 1964, after which the tracks were swiftly cut back to Mill Lane Junction before the end of the year.