Yorkshire Wolds Railway

Report on our meeting held 23rd October 2017

At their latest meeting, Augustinians heard about the Yorkshire Wolds Railway based at Fimber on part of the original “Malton Dodger” route, and the history of the original line which ran from Malton to Driffield.

Ambition, talent, and enthusiasm are what every organisation needs to succeed. As Philip Robson spoke about the efforts to recreate part of the long defunct Malton Dodger railway, it was clear that the Yorkshire Wolds Railway Group, volunteers one and all, has these qualities in spades. Their aim is to provide a significant tourist attraction. Formed less than 10 years ago, the group already has a carriage rigged out as a visitor centre, box wagons for storage and a shop, a demonstration length of track, and even a diesel locomotive.

Philip explained the various inventive ways they raise funds. They succeeded in winning a “Leader” grant from the European Union and hope to receive a second.  He particularly thanked locals for their support, not least the Sledmere Estate. The group has planning permission for about one mile of track and hope that within 10 years they will have extended this to reach Wetwang and will be running steam hauled services. They have been open to the public since May 2015 and expect to be open every Sunday and Bank Holiday from Easter next year.

Matthew Brown told the history of the Malton to Driffield railway with the aid of some wonderful photographs and even a 1933 movie.  Work on the line started in 1847 and the line opened in 1853. Alfred Dickens, brother of Charles Dickens was an engineer on the line.

The line was built for freight. Consequently, the route was chosen to suit the contours of the land with little thought to the village locations. It was as if the railway dodged the villages, hence the nickname the “Malton Dodger”.

Matthew took us on a photographic tour of the line. He started at Malton, went through the Burdale tunnel about a mile in length, passed the chalk quarry at Wharram, and eventually arrived at Driffield. In the process we visited every station on the line. Crushed chalk from Wharram became the dominant freight and the line closed in 1955 when the quarry closed. The Wharram Quarry had its own railway system including two tank engines and a chalk loading tower.

The line carried some important passengers disembarking for Sledmere House at the Sledmere and Fimber station where the Sykes family had a private waiting room. They included Queen Victoria in the 1880’s and King George VI in 1948.

The Prior Bro Garry Sunley asked Bro Andy Jefferson to give the vote of thanks.  Bro Andy thanked the speakers for revisiting the railway as it once was and as he remembered from his father’s 40 year career on the railways, and knew members would be wishing them well in their efforts to recreate the experience of the “Malton Dodger”.