TRAVEL NORTH - 45: A RAILWAY ARTERY, Countryside Lifeblood For Industry & Commerce - 1. Picton-Kildale

From the West...

Picton Station served a farming village to the south-west. It was situated on the Leeds Northern Railway midway between Northallerton and Eaglescliffe
Picton Station served a farming village to the south-west. It was situated on the Leeds Northern Railway midway between Northallerton and Eaglescliffe | Source
The Cleveland Hills, seen from the west where the railway from Picton snaked past Trenholme Bar, Potto, Whorlton and Stokesley - you can see the reasoning behind the Danes' description of the terrain
The Cleveland Hills, seen from the west where the railway from Picton snaked past Trenholme Bar, Potto, Whorlton and Stokesley - you can see the reasoning behind the Danes' description of the terrain | Source
When completed in the 1860s the North Yorkshire & Cleveland Railway route linked two other lines, the Leeds Northern in the west at Picton, the Whitby & Pickering in the east at Grosmont  - this is the route as planned in 1857
When completed in the 1860s the North Yorkshire & Cleveland Railway route linked two other lines, the Leeds Northern in the west at Picton, the Whitby & Pickering in the east at Grosmont - this is the route as planned in 1857 | Source
Looking northward in May, 1958 we have two trains crossing at Battersby. The train on the left will leave by way of Great Ayton to Teesside, on the right to Whitby and Scarborough. Both are held by signals
Looking northward in May, 1958 we have two trains crossing at Battersby. The train on the left will leave by way of Great Ayton to Teesside, on the right to Whitby and Scarborough. Both are held by signals | Source

Its independence was short, very short...

...As was its route mileage. For four years the company struggled on resolutely, The North Yorkshire & Cleveland Railway (NY&CR) opened in 1854 and expanded piecemeal eastward from Picton. The junction station of Picton lay midway between Northallerton and Eaglescliffe on the Leeds Northern Railway (LNR). In 1858 the NY&CR was absorbed by the North Eastern Railway - as the LNR had become, amalgamating with the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway and York & North Railway.

By December, 1858 14.5 miles had been completed, beyond Stokesley to Kildale as well as the short Whorlton ironstone mine branch. Before absorption into the NER the NY&CR had owned neither locomotives nor rolling stock, borrowing both from neighbouring lines, and employed only twenty staff at stations and signalling installations. Yet for all its lack of size the railway - as it became - bears an interesting history over the century or so of its existence.

Initial support came from the LNR and the West Hartlepool Harbour & Railway (WHH&R), without whose financial help the NY&CR could not have begun. The NER carried on the support initiated by its parent company, the LNR after amalgamation not long after the NY&CR started. Again the Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR) raised objections in its guise as the Stockton & Cleveland Union Railway (S&CUR). With the support of its illustrious investors The NY&CR overcame the obstacles thrown up by the S&CUR to begin their project..

As with many railways the NY&CR took its name from its surroundings. Situated in the northernmost part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, part of its traffic originated in south-eastern County Durham in the Stockton-on-Tees area. Passenger traffic would be regular between Stokesley and Stockton by way of Picton. The name Cleveland stems from the Danish 'Kliflond' or Cliff Land, where in the 9th Century the incoming Danes remarked on the resemblance of the Cleveland escarpment cliffs to the sea cliffs not far to the east and south-east between nearby Saltburn and Filey, south of Scarborough.

The railway followed the contours of the land below the Cleveland Hills, the source of rich ironstone deposits. It was for the exploitation of these deposits that the railway was opened in the first place. If you have never come across this Cleveland - its namesake in Ohio, eastern USA overlooking Lake Erie being largely flat - a short poem penned by E Tweddell Esq [and used by GWJ Potter in his history of the Whitby & Pickering (W&PR)] describes the district in flowing terms:

"Land of hills and woods and streams,

Cleveland, Cleveland!

Fairer than a poet's dreams,

Cleveland, Cleveland!

Hills with purple heather crowned,

Woods with autumn tints abound,

And streams that flow with pleasant sound,

Cleveland, Cleveland!"

On January 1st, 1859 the NY&CR was sold and transferred to the NER. Its chairman, the Lord De L'Isle reasoned that the sale was a natural choice, given the heavy expense involved in its running. A large company such as the NER would see its plans fulfilled with the projected route built and operated through to Castleton and Grosmont with its junction on the W&PR. The construction of such a line with its sometimes complex geography and engineering features would have been beyond the means of the NY&CR.

Off the main branch the Ingleby Incline and Rosedale Branch were opened in 1861, the extension to Grosmont four years later in October. A connecting spur from Ingleby Junction - latterly Battersby Junction and then plain Battersby - past Great Ayton to Nunthorpe Junction opened June 1864. As the NER had already absorbed the S&DR in 1863 (on terms favourable to its shareholders), whose line the Middlesbrough & Guisborough (M&GR) had been, there were no problems in linking the two branches.

The junction stations, Picton and Battersby

Picton in the closing year of the branch (1954). The signalman takes the single line token from the driver of a Class G5 0-4-4 tank locomotive on its way into Picton's Down platform, back to Stockton-on-Tees. Stockton mpd (51E) had five of the class
Picton in the closing year of the branch (1954). The signalman takes the single line token from the driver of a Class G5 0-4-4 tank locomotive on its way into Picton's Down platform, back to Stockton-on-Tees. Stockton mpd (51E) had five of the class | Source
Battersby on the last day of operations to Picton, 14th June, 1954. Class B1 61034 'Chiru' of Stockton mpd (51E) awaits the 'off' with a train for Picton
Battersby on the last day of operations to Picton, 14th June, 1954. Class B1 61034 'Chiru' of Stockton mpd (51E) awaits the 'off' with a train for Picton | Source
Battersby Station diagram in 1959. The exchange sidings for the Rosedale Railway mineral wagons have been lifted although still marked by dashes
Battersby Station diagram in 1959. The exchange sidings for the Rosedale Railway mineral wagons have been lifted although still marked by dashes
Page from the 1950 Bradshaw directory shows the timetable for the Stockton-on-Tees to Whitby branch, formerly North Yorkshire & Cleveland and Whitby & Pickering railways
Page from the 1950 Bradshaw directory shows the timetable for the Stockton-on-Tees to Whitby branch, formerly North Yorkshire & Cleveland and Whitby & Pickering railways | Source

The ironstone mines at Swainby and Whorlton were worked out by 1892

This was the year the mine branch was closed from Potto near the western end of the branch. At Swainby mining had begun 1858, and a total 155,816 tons had been extracted from the Cleveland Hills by the time Bennington & Company. took over in 1863 for their two years' ownership, and again by Stockton Rail Mill Company. from 1866-68. Neighbouring Ailesbury mine at Whorlton did considerably better over the eight years of ownership by North of England Industrial Iron & Coal Company between 1873-81, extracting 643,983 tons in all. The stone nwas taken through Picton to Stockton. The rails were not actually lifted until 1904.

The first section of the line opened in 1854 was closed to passengers a hundred years later in June, 1954. Stations at Trenholme Bar (now under the A19 dual carriageway from Thirsk to Teesside), Potto and Sexhow (for Hutton Rudby) were closed to goods traffic on 1st December, 1958, the track lifted eastward between Trenholme Bar and Stokesley. Wagons were stored, out of use, between Picton and Trenholme Bar on the 'Down' line and on the 'Up' between Ingleby and Stokesley. Goods services continued at Stokesley until complete closure in August, 1965, after which date the goods depot was converted to an industrial estate. The small timber platform signal cabin at Stokesley was moved across the road, still to be seen on the way in from the Great Broughton direction to Stokesley.

The rest of the branch was scheduled for closure under the Beeching Report, from Battersby to Grosmont and into Whitby on the W&PR, and back from Battersby via Great Ayton and Nunthorpe Junction to Middlesbrough on the 1864 extension. However the decision was taken to keep the line open, the Ministry of Transport giving the announcement on 11th September, 1964 that it was to stay open (for socio-economic reasons). Had the branch closed there would have been little option for the Grosmont to Pickering branch to re-open in the early 1970s. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) as we know it would never have been as profitable to operate.

The Battersby-Grosmont section via Castleton and Glaisdale, proposed by the NY&CR in 1853 survives as the major portion of the Middlesbrough-Whitby Esk Valley branch, providing a direct schools service to Whitby during term time from as far away as Castleton. A service for local residents between Battersby and Whitby operates as well as a tourist route from Middlesbrough with an 'Eskplorer' ticket scheme available for summer travellers. Exchange is possible with the NYMR at Grosmont or via their newly restored platform at Whitby.

Down the branch from Trenholme Bar to Battersby and Kildale

Unidentified Class J27 brings a branch pick-up goods train into Trenholme Bar from the Picton direction in the 1950s
Unidentified Class J27 brings a branch pick-up goods train into Trenholme Bar from the Picton direction in the 1950s | Source
Trenholme Bar in 1958 looks forlorn, four years after closure to regular traffic (104 after opening). Now under the A19 Thirsk-Teesside dual carriageway
Trenholme Bar in 1958 looks forlorn, four years after closure to regular traffic (104 after opening). Now under the A19 Thirsk-Teesside dual carriageway | Source
Potto Station early in the 20th Century - some time after closure the station buildings were taken over by a road haulage company, 'Prestons of Potto'
Potto Station early in the 20th Century - some time after closure the station buildings were taken over by a road haulage company, 'Prestons of Potto'
Sexhow (for Hutton Rudby - the signpost for  station was still there last time I passed through Hutton in the early 2000s). Class A5 69838 of Darlington gets up steam for the 'off'
Sexhow (for Hutton Rudby - the signpost for station was still there last time I passed through Hutton in the early 2000s). Class A5 69838 of Darlington gets up steam for the 'off' | Source
The Cleveland Hills seen from the east near Great Ayton
The Cleveland Hills seen from the east near Great Ayton | Source
Stokesley in the1950s with a Class G5 0-4-4 tank locomotive enters the station from the Battersby direction
Stokesley in the1950s with a Class G5 0-4-4 tank locomotive enters the station from the Battersby direction | Source
The station in 1963 - goods traffic would only have another two years from here, although only eastward towards Battersby for Middlesbrough.
The station in 1963 - goods traffic would only have another two years from here, although only eastward towards Battersby for Middlesbrough. | Source
Track plan for Stokesley in more prosperous days with coal drops (cells), goods shed and sidings for wagons. Adjacent to the station was an auction mart for livestock - Stokesley still is at the heart of an active farming community
Track plan for Stokesley in more prosperous days with coal drops (cells), goods shed and sidings for wagons. Adjacent to the station was an auction mart for livestock - Stokesley still is at the heart of an active farming community
Ingleby in 1954 with G5 67288, a Tyneside engine runs 'wrong road', filling her shift with a turn up the branch runs
Ingleby in 1954 with G5 67288, a Tyneside engine runs 'wrong road', filling her shift with a turn up the branch runs | Source
Battersby Station looking north-eastwards from the exit (right, out of picture) in the 1950s with the footbridge still in situ. After closure of the branch to passengers from  the Picton direction in 1954 the bridge to the 'Down' platform was removed
Battersby Station looking north-eastwards from the exit (right, out of picture) in the 1950s with the footbridge still in situ. After closure of the branch to passengers from the Picton direction in 1954 the bridge to the 'Down' platform was removed | Source
Battersby - Class A8 4-6-2 tank loco 69885 of Scarborough runs into the station with a mixed train of non-corridor passenger stock. The engine will have to run round her train before taking her out either north to Middlesbrough or east for Whitby
Battersby - Class A8 4-6-2 tank loco 69885 of Scarborough runs into the station with a mixed train of non-corridor passenger stock. The engine will have to run round her train before taking her out either north to Middlesbrough or east for Whitby | Source
Battersby's three road engine shed was built for engines involved in the ironstone traffic, although in WWII housed the three twelve wheel dining cars of NER vintage
Battersby's three road engine shed was built for engines involved in the ironstone traffic, although in WWII housed the three twelve wheel dining cars of NER vintage
Battersby, the end of the line. This used to be the route via Ingleby to Stokesley. Now used by locomotives on tour trains to and from the NYMR for running round their stock. Part walkable, although much is now private land including Ingleby station
Battersby, the end of the line. This used to be the route via Ingleby to Stokesley. Now used by locomotives on tour trains to and from the NYMR for running round their stock. Part walkable, although much is now private land including Ingleby station | Source
Kildale on a summer's evening after the last train has departed for Battersby - a few miles west of here - onward to Middlesbrough and Darlington. At its peak there were two platforms, station house and offices, a goods and coal depot
Kildale on a summer's evening after the last train has departed for Battersby - a few miles west of here - onward to Middlesbrough and Darlington. At its peak there were two platforms, station house and offices, a goods and coal depot | Source

The Project, prior to Building the Branch

Foreseen by proposals, the NY&CR initially began building the branch from Picton (at the time spelt 'Pickton'), a few hundred yards south of the station and in a wide curve by Trenholme Bar along the foot of the hills near Whorlton, Carlton and Dromanby. It was then to follow a course for Stokesley, Ingleby Greenhow and Kildale. A winding course would take it along Eskdale to Grosmont.

Not the first route to be planned in this district, in the early 1830s divers plans were looked at from Whitby. One was projected to run to the River Tees and never completed. In 1833 the Stokesley & Tees Railway (S&TR) was mooted, the company expected to raise £38,000 in £50 shares. The York Herald & General Advertiser of 5th October, 1833 covered the details thus:

"A prospectus for the establishment of a railway from Stokesley to the River Tees to join the Stockton & Darlington line was recently issued, and a meeting of those interested therein, announced to be held at the Black Swan in Stokesley, on the 28th ult. At the appointed time a great number of the principal proprietors of the vicinity assembled accordingly and Sir Francis W Foulis, Bart, of Ingleby Manor presided as chairman on the occasion. Various resolutions were moved, exhibiting the great advantages which would result to the neighbourhood from such an undertaking, and the very ample interest it would realise to shareholders. At the close of the meeting, a considerable number of shares were subscribed for by the gentlemen present, and the most sanguine expectations are formed that the entire sum required for the completion of the line will shortly be raised".

(A bit long-winded, but the reporter understood the groundswell of support for the venture). Despite the optimism of those who attended the meeting, the S&TR never materialised. The York & North Midland Railway (Y&NMR) in 1846 had a Bill meant to enable an extension of the Whitby & Pickering Railway (W&PR) to or around Castleton. Due to difficulties George Hudson later met - in being indited for irregular accounting practices - the extension it never came about.

It would be another two decades after the S&TR's planned railway that the NY&CR put their plans on the table. The chief motivator for the building of their line would be the discovery of rich iron ore deposits around Cleveland. The railway would therefore become a viable proposition and local commerce would flourish on the back of the mineral traffic. As already mentioned, the NY&CR was to link up in the west with the LNR/NER at Picton, and with the W&PR in the east at Grosmont. Local meetings were held to glean support for the railway, resulting in 1853 with a prospectus to raise capital of £200,000 in £10 shares.

The provisional committee headed by the Rt Hon. Lord De L'Isle and Dudley of Ingleby Manor included Robert Stephenson Esq., MP, Westminster, Edwin Ward Jackson Esq., of Norton near Stockton-on-Tees and James Leechman Esq. of Alnwick, (a director of the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway (YN&BR, soon to amalgamate with the LNR and Y&NMR to form the NER). The NY&CR's supporters were therefore well connected, some already involved with railways and railway building. If they could see the advantages of the line, who could argue against them? The most significant local magnate was De L'Isle, who in 1850 had married the daughter of local landowner Sir William Foulis of Ingleby Manor. The railway's potential was described in its prospectus, broaching lucrative earnings in the conveyance of ironstone to Teesside and Tyneside foundries as well as the necessary minerals needed in the extraction and pre-transport processes of the ores. Agricultural and commercial traffic would augment that of passengers.


Alan Thompson and Ken Groundwater guide you around lost and radically altered railway routes around Cleveland and North Yorkshire. Follow them from the coast around Scarborough and Whitby inland to Malton, Middlesbrough, Northallerton, Pickering and Stockton-on-Tees. A skeleton of connections remains of the former network that connected Scarborough, Whitby and Middlesbrough along the coast and inland by Guisborough and Nunthorpe or Battersby to Picton. Colour views in the centre pages show how things have changed for better or worse.

The protagonists

The company, soon to be absorbed by the North Eastern Railway
The company, soon to be absorbed by the North Eastern Railway
Schematic route map of the North Yorkshire & Cleveland Railway between Picton and Grosmont
Schematic route map of the North Yorkshire & Cleveland Railway between Picton and Grosmont | Source
The company that stood to gain from taking over the NY&CR's venture would eventually hold a monopoly of railways - with few exceptions - in the region north of the Humber to the Tweed and west across the Pennines
The company that stood to gain from taking over the NY&CR's venture would eventually hold a monopoly of railways - with few exceptions - in the region north of the Humber to the Tweed and west across the Pennines

Opposition to the proposed NY&CR would come...

...And it would be the old antagonist, the Stockton &Darlington Railway (S&DR) behind the promoters, the Stockton & Cleveland Union Railway (S&CUR) with a raft of support from industrialists and professional gentlemen of Stockton-on-Tees. The S&CUR also had its sights set on the lucrative future mineral deposits around Stokesley with its processing facilities to be sited on the north bank of the Tees. The promoters of both railway companies made their applications to Parliament for an Act to incorporate a company and empower them to construct and maintain a railway in the district.

The cases for the railways were made to the Committee of the House of Commons from 28th April, 1854. Of the members of the committee most notable were its chairman Tatton Egerton with Lord Lovaine and messrs. Adderley A'Court and Lockart. Both cases were heard, witnesses heard - for and against - cross-examinations undertaken. The Committee's conclusion on 8th May declared the case for the NY&CR proven, that of the S&CUR unproven. The decision for the NY&CR was understandably met with unbridled enthusiasm in the Stokesley and Whorlton districts. Royal Assent followed on 10th July, 1854, authorising the NY&CR to begin construction eastward from just south of Picton Station.

An initial board meeting held 3rd October that year confirmed De L'Isle as Chairman in a unanimous vote of confidence. Other appointments that day were the Yorkshire Banking Company as bankers, Leeman & Clarke as solicitors. John Birks became secretary with an annual salary of £100. John Bourne its engineer had a mandate to build the line to Castleton as single track, although authorised to buy land wide enough for double track. He was also instructed to prepare a specification for the works from Picton to the Turnpike road east of Kildale. R W Jackson, Kitson & Cash were the construction contractors. Leeman & Clarke were authorised to contact the various landowners to buy land as far as Stokesley and the contractors to make their purchases [of plant and materials] and embark on hiring the labour force.

Commondale Mill and land was bought for £660 by J S Pratt from William Watson. Payment of £328 3s and 4d (equiv. £328.17p) was made to Pratt on account and the property conveyed to two directors as trustees. There was movement in the right direction at last! The Picton-Stokesley section was completed in February, 1857 and opened 3rd March, a year later than originally envisaged.

Stokesley Cleveland, North Yorkshire

A markerStokesley, Cleveland, North Yorkshire -
Stokesley, Middlesbrough TS9, UK
[get directions]

Market town, historic centre of West Cleveland, overshadowed by the Cleveland Hills, Stokesley was the agricultural and commercial hub of the district

Peter Maynard's book published in paperback by the North Eastern Railway Association details the planning, opposition to and construction of the line from Picton to Battersby and Grosmont
Peter Maynard's book published in paperback by the North Eastern Railway Association details the planning, opposition to and construction of the line from Picton to Battersby and Grosmont | Source

Peter J Maynard's full, thoroughly researched and detailed account of the 'North Yorkshire & Cleveland Railway' is available through Waterstone's online or from the North Eastern Railway Association's book sales officer, Janet Coulthard c/o 15 Woodside Drive, Darlington, Co. Durham, DL3 8ES

Mineral traffic began February, 1858 between Stokesley and Ingleby, on to Kildale by April.

Delay was blamed on bad weather and the nature of the clay soil-bed. Marsh and bog met between Great Broughton and Ingleby also served to exacerbate the situation. The NY&CR spect frugally over the construction period, although this may have been a contributing factor in the delay. The company had to issue debentures to access capital to cover further costs and the delay brought serious worry to the railway' prospective clients, especially those who needed the ironstone from Rosedale. It would also be a factor in the sale later that year of the company to the NER.

Picton Junction to Kildale, the stations: On opening in 1857 the line from Picton to Stokesley only had three stations, at Potto, Sexhow and Stokesley. Each station had a Station Master's house and facilities to handle coal and lime for local distribution to farms, builders, local manufacturers and domestic users. Passengers and goods were booked in and ticketed in the station offices. The small station at Trenholme Bar was built after the others (my great aunt Doris' husband Harrison Langthorne was employed here until closure in June, 1954 as a porter-signalman. He also worked on the family farm, left by her mother to Doris and her sister Emily at nearby West Rounton).

Potto: was by the junction for the Whorlton mine branch;

Sexhow: the station was in the parish of Carlton. to avoid confusion with other stations of that name it was named 'Sexhow';

Stokesley: in the parish of Kirby, a mile from the market town centre. The HQ of the NY&CR was at this station in one of the offices. As Stokesley was the largest town in the district (mentioned in Domesday) it saw the greatest goods and passenger receipts.

After the line was continued past Kildale in 1858 stations were also built at Ingleby and Kildale. Passenger traffic from these stations did not begin during NY&CR ownership. The station at Ingleby Junction (renamed Battersby Junction in 1878, and then Battersby) was opened under NER ownership in 1867.

Ingleby: served the village of Ingleby Greenhow not far away. Lord De L'Isle lived nearby at Ingleby Manor;

Kildale: the station was sited in the village, close to the church. A timber footbridge was built to access the 'Down' platform (for Grosmont and Whitby), replaced in NER days by an iron bridge around 1881.

The 8.25 miles from Picton to Stokesley was finished February, 1857, leave for the opening granted by Captain Tyler. Traffic Manager was John Sherratt, erstwhile of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and latterly of the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway. Grand opening of the NY&CR was performed on Monday, 3rd March with a special passenger train from York that conveyed the Vice-Chairman of the NER, George Leeman amongst others. Directors, railway officials and shareholders also travelled on the train that reached Picton at 1:30 pm. Another special train conveyed further interested parties arrived earlier from Hartlepool and Stockton. A band of musicians travelled in a vehicle of their own in the train and played as they went. The two trains comprised around twenty carriages, drawn separately and decked with flags.

Despite the dull weather a large crowd gathered at Potto Station to welcome the trains, several artillery pieces fired off blank rounds. The trains first ran down the Whorlton branch where passengers watched laden ironstone wagons being lowered down the hillside from the drift mine entrance. The trains then left for Stokesley, reaching the station shortly after 3 pm* where a procession headed to the town. Church bells rang and local inhabitants were given the day off. A dinner for the notables was held in the Town Hall, about 160 in all with Lord De L'Isle presiding.

*The ironstone train followed as far as Potto before heading for Picton Junction and Teesside.

Poster advertising at its best shows off the Cleveland Hills looking eastward from near Whorlton to Roseberry Topping (centre, distant). This conical hill overlooks the railway near Great Ayton that links Battersby with Nunthorpe.
Poster advertising at its best shows off the Cleveland Hills looking eastward from near Whorlton to Roseberry Topping (centre, distant). This conical hill overlooks the railway near Great Ayton that links Battersby with Nunthorpe. | Source

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