10-day festival to celebrate 175 years of railway

Plans to mark the 175th anniversary of the Whitby to Pickering railway line are going full steam ahead with a string of locomotives lined up to enthral the crowds.

A 10 day festival will take place on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to celebrate the occassion running from next Friday (29 April) to Sunday 8 May.

The event coincides with the completion of the Pickering station restoration project which has also seen the restoration of the train-shed roof designed by architect, George Townsend Andrews.

First opened in 1847, the roof, removed by British Railways in 1952, has been restored to its former glory – the culmination of a project that has stretched over more than 10 years.

To celebrate, the traditional spring event will for the first time be extended to cover the intervening weekdays between the two weekends.

Philip Benham, general manager of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, said: “This 10-day event is a celebration of our history from the Whitby and Pickering railway days right through to the present day.

“For the first time in our preservation history, it will be possible to run over the whole of the distance from Whitby to Pickering at a major anniversary event.”

Enhanced services and special attractions are to run each day, and will include the running of the engines Rocket and Planet - replicas from the earliest days of railways.

Robert Stephenson’s famous Rocket won the Rainhill trials in 1829, held to find a design of a steam engine for the forthcoming Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Robert’s father, George, often called the Father of Railways, was the engineer of the Whitby and Pickering Railway, which opened through from Whitby to Pickering 175 years ago in 1836.

As many as 11 steam engines are expected to be in operation each day throughout the festival, with a minimum of seven stean.

But diesel traction also played a part in the line’s history and on 3 and 6 May, some will also accompany the steam engines, to reflect that part of the line’s history.

Fittingly for a line that was engineered by George Stephenson, the engine of his namesake will appear in the line-up, alongside icons which include the A4 Pacific, 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley – holder of the post-war record for speed by a steam engine, and engine 71000 The Duke of Gloucester, the last express passenger steam engine built for British Railways.

Also appearing during the Festival will be a class of engine that ran on the line in the 1950s.

The event will include photographic charters for rail enthusiasts, running early morning and mid evenings on Saturday 30 April and 7 May and there will also be opportunities to ride behind the replica engines Rocket and Planet.

On Sunday 1 May and 8 May some services will run on the Esk Valley line between Whitby and Battersby.

An evening excursion along this picturesque line along the northern fringes of the North York Moors, including a pie and peas supper will run to Battersby on the evening of Tuesday 3 May hauled by the Duke of Gloucester.

At Pickering station an art exhibition is being held in the Reussner Education Centre on platform 2 and this will run until 2 May.

The railway’s artist in residence, Christopher Ware, will feature work inspired by the restoration of the station roof while on 7 and 8 May the Reussner Education Centre will play host to a model railway exhibition.

A festival guide will be available which will include details of the locomotives and rolling stock allocations as well as the timetable for each of the 10 days.

l For more details log on to: www.nymr.co.uk or by calling the NYMR customer service team on (01751) 472508.