But after seven years of hard work and fundraising, Yorkshire Wolds Railway volunteers have managed to complete a train movement not seen since the 1950s.
Their diesel locomotive, Sir Tatton Sykes, named after the local baronetcy of Sledmere House, maneuvered a Mk3 coach over the short stretch of line remaining on the route, which closed completely in 1958, eight years after passenger services withdrew.
The Driffield to Malton line never saw large numbers of passengers and survived mainly on ‘booming’ quarry traffic until it closed, after which most of the track was lifted.
The Yorkshire Wolds Railway opened Fimber Halt, close to the site of the original Sledmere Estate station, in 2015 and now operates 300 meters of demonstration track, with plans to extend a further two miles to Wetwang. They have two locomotive motors, a cart and a brake van.
Putting the rail line back on track
Membership Director Matthew Brown said: “Today was a very important day for us as it was the first time in over 60 years that an actual maneuver had taken place on part of the old railway from Malton and Driffield Junction. As we prepare for re-opening at Easter , work continues on painting the roof of the coach. We managed to complete one side working from the platform but struggled to reach each other because of the height.
“The obvious solution was to move the trainer from its old location on one side of the platform to the other. We had to move the trainer a bit before but never was the siding connected to the main line at the time so we had to use a Thanks to the fantastic work done by our volunteers the track is now fully connected meaning we could use our Sir Tatton Sykes locomotive to handle the movement.
“The two sections of track have now been joined and later in the season we hope to offer rides just above the newly installed point. ‘brake van rides later in the year after a four year restoration project.We reopen to the public on Easter Sunday.
King George VI used the line when he arrived at Sledmere & Fimber Station in 1948 to visit the Sykes family at Sledmere House, and it was popular for transporting schoolchildren, grain, cattle, horses from run and chalk Burdale and Wharram quarries until they cease. production.
There were seven stations on its route – Settrington, North Grimston, Wharram, Burdale, Sledmere and Fimber, Wetwang and Garton-on-the-Wolds. Yet financial problems meant that it was cheaply built, avoiding many of the villages it served, and traversing high ground, making it unsuitable for large engines. The originally planned coal traffic never materialized as other routes were faster.