Railway ‘reprieve’ hoaxer calls to apologise

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There was an unexpected development in the railway reprieve hoax perpetrated on the Whitby area in January 1965.

Documents which arrived at the home of John Longbottom, chairman of the Scarborough and Whitby Labour Constituency Party, claimed skeletal services on the Whitby-Malton and Whitby-Scarborough rail lines were to be maintained - and that the press could be told.

However, two gramophone records were received at the office of the Whitby Gazette’s sister paper, The Scarborough Evening News, with no indication where they had come from.

When played, the voice said the hoax was serious in intent and felt that deputations, protest meetings and angry letters were having no effect.

The person said the letter was sent to Mr Longbottom because “I thought he would act upon it without checking its authenticity” but regretted causing distress to the people of Whitby.