I love old railways, and they have played a part in my family’s life in the past. My maternal grandfather was a signalman on the London Midland and Scotland Railway, and my father started off his engineering apprenticeship making steam engines. But before long World War Two intervened and his factory moved over into tank production. So it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to steam trains, and I’m building a model railway that runs round the walls of my study.
While I was out walking Bruce the other day we passed close by one of the stations on the disused Malton to Driffield Railway. The line was built in the 1840’s and, although it was never successful, it struggled on to the 1950’s. Nowadays there’s not much left to see of the line. The stations have mostly been sold off as houses and there are a few lineside buildings still standing. But it’s still possible to see where the line ran and I’ve walked as many stretches of it as I can get access to. It’s difficult to imagine nowadays how extensive the rail network used to be. Our corner of rural North Yorkshire was criss-crossed by single track railways and most villages weren’t far away from a station.
This week’s picture is one I took in the spring. The Malton to Driffield Railway had some difficult terrain to cross and the most impressive piece of engineering on the line was the mile-long Burdale tunnel. My picture is of one of the bricked up tunnel entrances, and less than seventy years ago this quiet secluded area had trains running through it five or six times a day.
I like all railways, but I’m particularly drawn to this line. It’s got a literary link too: the resident engineer who helped build the line was A.L. Dickens, the younger brother of Charles Dickens. Not bad: my favourite author combined with my favourite mode of transport!