Sunday, 15 June 2008

The Main Line That Never Was

Yesterday Suzi and I took my mum and dad out for lunch as it was my dad's birthday. We went to Pickering, not realising it was the 'Sixties Weekend', which didn't seem up to much at the southern end of the NYMR.

On the way back we came off the main road and passed through the village of Settrington - this is a route we've often taken as it avoids Malton, which can be very busy in summer with so much holiday traffic passing though, and the back roads take you past some remains of the Malton & Driffield Railway, which is a line which had an interesting history even if if it never achieved what it set out to do.

It had been intended as part of a mainline to connect Hull with the north east of England - traffic was predicted to take fish north from Hull and even export coal from the north east via Hull! The line was constructed to double track standards throughout with all this in mind - it wasn't to be though and line was single track throughout both its length and history. It's major source of traffic was chalk from quarries, notably at Wharrem and Burdale, which was used in the steel industry in the north east - almost fulfilling the original intentions of the promoters.

The line is re markedly complete in places, with earthworks still very much in evidence, especially at the Malton end of the line. Settrington station is probably the best preserved of all the remaining stations, as the photo shows. It is still very much a railway station in appearance. Even the yard office is still cared for and in excellent condition.

The line has fascinated me for years - especially after reading Warwick Burton's book, The Malton & Driffield Junction Railway, when it first came out. (If you don't have access to this book, Wikipedia has a decent page on the line here.) I have wanted to model the line in some shape or form ever since - I have visited much of the remaining infrastructure along the route and the potential for modellers is huge - Steve Flint recently featured a plan for Settrington in Railway Modeller and Barry Norman has suggested possible schemes in Model Railway Journal. I think if it had had been a Great Western line, it would have been legendary, but this wasn't the case and its sleepy existence continues to this day.

When I was about fifteen I attempted to build Settrington, with visions of building North Grimston also, in 2mm Finescale, but a lack of money and experience meant it never really got off the ground, however I did manage to get a few bits started, including based boards, most trackwork and this -

I produced my own drawings using drawings of Wharram station in Warwick Burton's book and amending using my own photos of the station and photos from when the line was operational. Not bad for an inexperienced fifteen year old I suppose... scarily that's nearly ten years ago!

The next scheme which got nowhere thanks to university commitments was to model the line in P4; Settrington in just 7' x 2'! It was submitted for the Scalefour Society's 1883 challenge but never got anywhere. Shame really as it would have made a nice little layout - it's still on the 'to do' list.

So if you're ever between or near Malton or Driffield, see if you can take in some of the line - you'll find a real hidden gem if you do.

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