Attractions and points of interest along the Barton line
The Barton-Cleethorpes railway line is primarily a vital link for commuters, students, shoppers, access to services, socialising, etc. and a lifeline for isolated communities - especially at Barrow Haven and Thornton Abbey. However, there is also much to see and enjoy along the line just for the fun of it; pleasant scenery, archaeological remains, attractive architecture, natural habitats and amusements for children. The line makes for an interesting day out for holiday-makers at Cleethorpes, an excursion with a difference for continental tourists on the ferries to Hull, something to explore for ship’s crews on leave at Barrow Haven, New Holland and Grimsby, and a treat for children who are always excited to ride on a train. We have grouped the points of interest according to the stations which serve them and in the order in which they appear along the line. Explore the sights, take a ramble between stations, or simply sit back and relax on a through journey. You will find that you’ll want to ride more than once.
The line is 23 miles long, the journey takes 51 minutes and most trains currently call at all stations. Unfortunately a rover ticket for the line is not yet available (even though we have been pressing for this for years) so the regulations stipulate that if you want to hop on and off at various stations you will have to do this on a single ticket or on the return leg of a Cheap Day Return ticket. There are nine return runs every day (but only four on Sundays) from six in the morning to nearly eleven at night. Click on Train & Bus Info. on the left for further details.
If you would like to consult some free leaflets before you arrive then these can be ordered from us (click on Merchandise on the left). This guide is not intended to duplicate them; merely to point out the major places on interest.
Please bear in mind that the following information is given in good faith and is updated whenever we are aware of changes but that the Friends of the Barton Line cannot accept responsibility for problems caused by invalid data. It is always wise to check before travelling and we welcome comments and suggestions.
The branch line to Barton was opened on 1st March 1849. However, very little remains of the station facilities at Barton which were demolished, along with most others down the line, as part of British Rail’s Operation Eyesore in 1973. But in its heyday it was a busy place with coal and freight sidings, a Dutch barn, a goods shed, a cattle dock and a small crane. All that remains of these comprehensive facilities is the goods platform across from the running track. Even the passenger platform is not original as this was totally rebuilt in 1998. The car park is built on the site of the platform buildings and the bus interchange was created when the Humber bridge was opened in 1981. During the late 19th century Briggs's tilery made use of a spur off the station into their works immediately to the north, and during the late 20th century a chemical fertiliser factory situated on the Humber bank had a spur laid to their works which branched off the running line just west of Pasture Road crossing. Remnants of the latter's accommodation siding can still be seen immediately east of the automatic barriers but the site of the works (which closed in 1988) is now the Waters' Edge country park.
The catch phrase for Barton is "A surprise at every turn!" and, certainly, the town is full of pleasant ones. It is an old market town with Roman origins (none to be explored) and substantial Saxon remains. The town owes its wealth to farming, industry and the river and was known internationally for its bricks and tiles, its ropes and its bicycles. For centuries - until the railways came - it was a major port on the Humber enjoying trading links with the continent and busy ferry rights to Hessle and Hull. It was also a staging post for the prestigious Royal Mail coach on its run between London and the North East. The town’s historical success is reflected in its wealth of Georgian and Victorian architecture. A great deal has been written about the town and if you are looking to browse or buy any of the numerous publications or pick up some free guided walk leaflets, a map and the Directory then the Wilderspin National School, the Ropewalk, Waters’ Edge, Baysgarth museum and the library have good selections.
Barton is historically formed of two centres - the Waterside to the north and the Town to the south - and the railway station is conveniently situated between the two. If you are moderately fit then everything is within easy walking distance. The station area is also the interchange for buses to all parts (click on Train & Bus info. on the left) and there is adequate space for car parking. Sustrans’s No.1 scenic cycle route - linking Hull and Harwich - passes through the historical streets of Barton but there are currently no lockers available (although we have been pressing for these).
To take in the Waterside area of Barton turn right out of the station and proceed northwards onto Waterside Road. The Humber Bridge Viewing Area is at the far end of Waterside Road (1,000 metres from the station). Two long distance footpaths meet here; the Viking Way to Rutland and the Nev Cole Way to Grimsby.
Six hundred metres along Far Ings Road is the entrance to William Blythe's Old Tile Works artisan village, coffee shop and restaurant (Tel: 01652 637095; open daily 9am -5pm).
The Far Ings National Nature Reserve (open daily) consists of 200 acres and stretches for more than a mile along the south Humber bank to the west. It has developed out of numerous disused clay pits now filled with water and lined with rushes rich in wild life, especially water-loving birds. The visitor centre (half a mile from the station) is reached by turning left down Far Ings Road (Tel: 01652 637055; open weekends, Wednesday afternoons and Bank Holidays) and is signposted on the right after passing beneath the Humber bridge approach road.
A popular activity is to walk or ride the 2220 metre (1.38 mile) length of the Humber Bridge and this can be accessed from the approach road mentioned above. There is a country park, a riverside inn, some retail outlets and a monthly farmers’ market at the far end. Pedestrians and cyclists may cross toll free. The bridge was opened to traffic in June 1981 and, at 1410 metres between spans, was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world.
Across on the east bank of the haven is the Waters' Edge Visitor Centre & Country Park. It comprises an environment-aware building (opened in 2006) and 86-acre nature reserve reclaimed from former industrial land. The visitor centre contains interactive displays, a Tourist Information Centre, a shop and a café (Tel: 01652 631500; open daily).
The Rope Walk is a contemporary art & craft centre and museum plus café and cinema housed in a former rope factory. It is reached through the supermarket car park off Maltkiln Road (Tel: 01652 660380; open daily).
At the north end of Pasture Road is the tranquil Pasture Wood Fisheries and café (Tel: 01652 409041; open daily).
To take in the Town area of Barton turn left out of the station and proceed up Fleetgate, then turn left into High Street. The street continues left at the next cross roads where the tower of St Mary’s church can be seen in the distance. On the way you pass No.51 Fleetgate which is the oldest house in northern Lincolnshire (dating from 1325) although it may not look it from the outside. Its timber framed interior and fittings are open for free public viewing on certain days in the year. The Wilderspin National School on Queen Street (turning north off High Street) is a new and unique museum to commemorate the educational pioneer in the very building which he helped design and equip (Tel: 01652 635172). It is open from Thursdays to Sundays plus bank holidays (10am-4pm summer and 11am-3pm winter) and there is also a cafeteria and a well-stocked gift shop. It is in and around this part of Barton that most of the Georgian and Victorian architecture can be admired.
Twelfth century St Mary's church is located on Burgate - an extension of High Street - and is open daily 7:30am-6pm (Tel: 01652 632202). St Peter's Anglo-Saxon and medieval church, visible beyond St Mary's, is the most researched parish church in the country. It is maintained by English Heritage and is open 11am-3pm April-September weekends and bank holidays (Tel: 01652 632516 / 01302 722598).
To reach the Market Place either turn south along King Street, or south along Whitecross Street then right into Market Lane. On the south side is the Old Mill, narrowly rescued from demolition and now renovated as a thriving pub and restaurant. Some of the machinery and artifacts can be viewed by looking up inside the tower.
Further south along Whitecross Street are the gates of the 30-acre Baysgarth Park. Here, located within a fine Georgian house, is the free Baysgarth House Museum which contains a wide range of exhibits of local interest and a part-time café. It is open from 12noon to 4pm at weekends from November to February and also on Thursdays, Fridays and Bank Holidays from March to October (Tel: 01652 637568). Also within the open park is the Leisure Centre & gym (Tel: 01652 632511) and a bowling green.
All of the above attractions, with the exception of St Peter’s church, are free to visit.
Eating and drinking places
Barton is plentifully provided with eating places to suit all tastes and pockets. There are around 50 in all, from restaurants to take-aways, mostly in High Street, King Street, George Street, in the vicinity of Market Place and at most of the attractions. To see the full list click on Eating Paces in Barton in the left hand column.
The George Hotel with bar and restaurant, recently totally refurbished, is located by the Market Place which is half a mile from the station (Tel: 01652 636303).
Elio’s restaurant with rooms, Italian of course, is also in the Market Place (Tel: 01652 635147).
Barton Guest House, recently opened, at 73 Ferriby Road which is half a mile from the station (Tel: 01652 634906).
The Humber Bridge Country Hotel, a rural location on the Humber bank about 1 mile west of Barton (Tel: 01652 638250).
West Wold Farm House in Deepdale, a rural location three miles south of Barton (Tel: 07889 532937).
Caravan Parks are situated at Pasture House Fisheries (Tel: 01652 636369) and Silver Birches (Tel: 01652 632509).
Ace Travel Services (Tel: 01652 660216).
Bar-One (Tel: 07731 449502).
Barton TT Taxis (Tel: 01652 633333).
C-Bees (Tel: 01652 661123).
Parkdale Taxis (Tel: 01652 660300).
Public Conveniences outside visitor attractions
These can be found at the Humber Bridge viewing area, Market Place and the Leisure Centre in Baysgarth Park.
Other useful web sites
The following sites (in no order of preference) contain a wealth of local detail plus links to an extensive selection of organisations both commercial and voluntary.
www.barton-upon-humber.org.uk maintained by Barton Tourism Partnership.
www.northlincs.com/barton/ maintained by Hub Computer Services.
www.bartonuponhumber.org.uk maintained by John Pullen.
www.scunthorpetelegraph.co.uk/barton maintained by Grimsby & Scunthorpe Media Group.
www.thebartondirectory.co.uk maintained by Monty Martin.
www.bartoncivicsociety.co.uk maintained by the Barton Civic Society.
Between Barton and Barrow Haven stations the train passes Pasture Road crossing. This was converted to automatic barriers following increased use by heavy tile works traffic.
This station was opened on Monday 8th April 1850 - 13 months after the opening of the branch from New Holland to Barton. This is the only station along the line where no siding was ever provided although provisions were, of course, delivered by guard’s van. On the other side of the track from the platform once stood a waiting room - in its day considered to be the cosiest in Lincolnshire - which was removed in 1985. Mains gas was never laid to this outpost - reputedly because nobody wanted to pay to extend the supply pipe which ended at the buildings just 1/4 mile down the road - and so oil lamps lit the platform until mains electricity came more than a century later.
At one time there was quite a busy community here with shops, housing, brick and tile works and a market ferry to Hull. Although the ferry has long gone, the quay is now Foster’s thriving marine port who's main business is unloading large ships which bring timber from the Baltic. A flotilla of boats still moor alongside the rather rickety-looking jetty on the bank and the sloop Phyllis also makes it her home adding to a timeless picturesque scene. The long shed on the west side of the haven is the remains of a tilery which closed in 2006 but has since been home to other businesses. Watercress used to be grown in commercial quantities further up the haven and dispatched by rail from New Holland. During the mid-20th century at the eastern approaches to the station a spur led northwards to Greenwood's tilery on the Humber bank.
This now quiet and idyllic spot is part of the extensive wetlands of international importance which stretch along the south Humber bank from Chowder Ness in the west to New Holland in the east. The Nev Cole way, popular with ramblers, passes through here from Barton to Grimsby hugging the Humber bank except at Immingham dock. To access the eastern part one needs to pass along the quay, while the western part is reached through the kissing gate at the far end of the railway bridge. Walking along the bank of the haven takes one past a hide so well hidden that even humans have difficulty in finding it. Another lies down a well-trodden track, and both overlook one of the many water habitats brimming with bird life. Continuing to the Humber bank (an area known by some as Philip’s Point) opens up an extensive vista of the north bank stretching from Hessle in the west through to the eastern outskirts of Hull. On the left an impressive view of the mighty Humber bridge, opened in 1981, can be admired. Continuing along the two miles to Barton takes one past the water pursuits centre and the area's only remaining working traditional tilery and on to the new Waters’ Edge Visitor Centre where a welcoming hot drink and snack awaits during opening hours.
The very popular Haven Inn, 550 metres inland, offers real ale, food and accommodation and is open all day (Tel: 01469 530247). One and a half miles inland is Barrow village with its several shops, Post Office (Tel: 01469 532141), the Royal Oak (with food), the Six Bells, Fish & Chips and Holy Trinity church. There are 24 listed buildings in this extended quaint village. Ramblers can enjoy a four-mile linear walk between Barrow Haven and Goxhill stations via Barrow village and back by train. The hamlet of Barrow Haven relies entirely on its railway for public transport access outside the area.
West of the station is the underline bridge over the haven. This was originally built of timber in 1849 but was replaced with the current concrete structure in 1922/1923. In order to test it for strength two tracks were laid temporarily and a pair of heavy locomotives placed upon it. The bed of the whole branch was built wide enough to take double track in anticipation of an extension to Winteringham but this never materialised.
King Henry VIII sailed into the haven when he crossed the Humber from Hull in early October 1541 on his way to Thornton Abbey. He was accompanied by his wife Catherine Howard and numerous members of his court together with soldiers and wagons assisted by some 5,000 horses.
The line from New Holland to Grimsby opened on 1st March 1848 and in its earliest years passengers enjoyed direct trains to Manchester via Retford and to London via Louth. The Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR) company established here - from almost nothing - a massive pier with its own station, a Town station with a fine colonnaded portico, a dock equipped with all the latest facilities, multiple coal sidings, an engine shed, workshops, a gas works, a laundry, a hotel and a railway colony all founded on its newly acquired ferry rights to Hull. Most of these extensive and thriving railway facilities have now gone and, with the opening of the Humber bridge and the closure of the ferry service in 1981, all that remains for the passengers is the current sparse wooden station platform and bus-type shelter.
The pier and dock remain, however, as valuable assets for the two importing businesses - Bulk Services for grain and various compounds, and Arborforest for timber from the Baltic ports (the largest such privately owned company in the country). On certain days the sweet aroma of imported molasses wafts through the village. Neither of these working environments can be visited without first obtaining exceptional permission but the pier and dock can be viewed from close quarters from the Nev Cole Way. To reach the western part walk over the level crossing and keep left along the path past the signal box until the river bank is reached. Here the pier can be admired and the still-extant buildings of the pier station and signal box discerned, and a bracing riverside walk can be taken to Barrow Haven in full sight of the Humber bridge. To reach the eastern part follow the long shed wall and turn right at the end. The path passes alongside the dock, and on the now-disused western quay the remains of one of the coal chutes can be seen in the original timber wall. Continuing along the narrow roadway (watch out for moving side-loaders!) one comes to Warren’s ship-breaking yard before the view opens out again to reveal the full vista of Hull, its docks and other industries. At times of incoming and outgoing tides this part of the Humber is busy with sea-going cargo ships serving Hull, New Holland, Goole, Selby, Flixborough, Gunness, Althorpe, Gainsborough and beyond. Back in the summer of 1066 King Harald Hardrada of Norway and banished Tostig sailed up in some 300 long ships to Riccall on the Ouse, but following a decisive routing by our King Harold Godwin at Stamford Bridge only 24 came back. The rails that turn into the Bulk Services site used to run through the Town station and on to the end of the pier, but they now venture on to only a short length of the pier where they are used to anchor the conveyor belts. A train load of gypsum was brought out in 1998 as a trial, and Howarth Timber (as Arborforest was then known) considered bringing out steel by rail, but these ventures were not pursued.
As for the railway colony that was created here, there are several structures of note to be seen. On leaving the station one passes the erstwhile Yarborough Hotel, completed in 1851, which is now the local headquarters of Arborforest Products Ltd and is a listed building. In between times it lived its life as the Lincoln Castle inn. Next comes a low-level building which was originally built in 1857 as the Yarborough Literary Institute - the precursor to our modern library - before becoming, until recently, a pub. It is now a community hall and the Ferryboat cafe (Tel: 07803 427353). The cafe is open Mondays to Saturdays from 8am to 2pm and serves hot and cold food to eat in or take away. At the end of a rough track between the Arborforest offices and the community hall can be glimpsed the house of the railway’s erstwhile laundry which closed in 1931. Next comes Manchester Square - railway housing completed in 1850 by the MS&LR - the north row of which is listed. Beyond and on the opposite side of the road is the only remaining shop - a general store - but which is currently closed. Across Oxmarsh lane (which leads to the signal box mentioned below) is the Oriental Star Chinese takeaway (Open Friday lunchtimes and every evening except Tuesdays; Tel: 01469 530663) and across the road is Christchurch which was completed in 1902. Five hundred metres further along the main street, past a sad-looking Primitive Methodist Chapel of 1877, is the Magna Charta inn (Tel: 01469 533305) which serves food.
The roughly hourly weekday No.260 Villager circular bus route serves Barton - Barrow - Goxhill - New Holland - Barrow - Barton.
The train always stops here for the driver to exchange the token with the signaller for the single line to Barton. The signal box was built in 1959 to replace one on the opposite side of the track. That earlier box was burned down two years before when a signaller left a bucket of hot coals beneath the wooden steps overnight. Oxmarsh Crossing used to be a junction where lines went straight ahead to an extensive set of coal sidings and to both sides of New Holland dock. A new mini-estate of Dutch-gabled houses can be seen to the west on the outer southern approach to Oxmarsh Crossing.
The station house is one of the most attractive surviving of the whole line and is now a listed building. It was built in a Tudor Revival style and the tall chimneys and stone pillared windows are typical of the original architecture of the line. Of particular interest today are the booking window and the framed station bell. Additions were added later to the north and rear and it is now a private residence. In the 1980s it was run as a model railway shop and museum after which there was a failed attempt to convert the building into a small hotel.
Goxhill is a rather spread out informal village with no clearly defined centre but it contains some 14 listed buildings. Most of it is on the same side of the railway as the signal box where several shops and a Post Office can be found. Three hundred metres away down a lane on the right is the parish church of All Saints with clock and outside bell. At the south end of the village a privately-owned medieval hall can be discerned from the road.
Goxhill airfield lies to the east of the village but is now disused. It was opened on 26th June 1941 for use by RAF bombers, but it was found that barrage balloons moored in the Humber rendered such use impossible. It was then handed over in mid-August to the American 8th Army Air Force (the first airfield in the country) in the presence of no less a personage than General Dwight D. Eisenhower. The village is also known for its market gardening business. Railway buffs will note the remains of the Barton and Immingham Light Railway which branched off south of Goxhill station on its way to East Halton. The line was closed on 17th June 1963.
On the opposite side of the track to the signal box is a fish & chip shop (Tel: 01469 532255, 07880 561261) with an extensive menu and the currently closed Brocklesby Hunt inn.
The roughly hourly (not Sundays) No.260 Villager bus runs around the back streets on its way to New Holland and Barton. There is also an occasional bus linking Goxhill with Barton, Barrow, and various villages on the way to Immingham and Grimsby.
At the southern approaches to the station remnants of ridge & furrow cultivation - dating from the 18th century - can be clearly seen in a field to the west. At the northern approaches the train passes beneath one of only three original bridges over the line. This bridge carries the three-mile road to Goxhill Haven - a desolate place and one-time site of a market ferry to Hull. Shortly north of the bridge, on pulling out of the cutting, the first full view of the Humber bridge can be seen in the distant north-west. In the distant north-east can be seen the extensive skyline of Hull. Easy to spot during the day is the moored P&O overnight ferry for Rotterdam. A keen eye will be able to identify to the left the acclaimed submarium The Deep and adjacent to that the rectangular arch of the flood barrier at the mouth of the river Hull.
South of Goxhill station is Gatehouse Road Crossing. On the north-west corner stands the original gatekeeper's house in a style noted for its steep gabled roof. The crossing used to be open to normal road traffic but from March 1979, following a fatal accident, it was resticted to pedestrians and keyholders only.
Between Gatehouse Road crossing and Thornton Abbey stations is Butters Wood crossing. This is now operated by automatic barriers but the gatekeeper's house used to stand on the north-east corner.
This is not quite the original station site as the first, named Thornton Curtis, opened in June 1848 half a mile nearer to Ulceby. Traffic was transferred to the current Thornton Abbey site in August 1849. Nothing remains of the buildings at Thornton Abbey station but the casual observer will notice that the platforms are half as long again as other platforms along the line. This is because the station was built to bring visitors to the ruins of the abbey - and they came in their thousands to attend massive temperance rallies in the latter half of the nineteenth century. During the second world war the platforms were used by airmen who served at the nearby Goxhill bomber airfield (mentioned above). The platforms are still at their original low height whereas most others along the line have been raised for the convenience of modern trains. Only one short siding was provided here - on the western side. Locals and visitors alike rely almost entirely on the railway for public transport access outsite the area.
The large station name signs - known as running-in boards - are thought to be of LNER origin dating from the mid 1920s. After so many years out in the open the backs were falling to pieces and the Friends of the Barton Line had them professionally restored in 2009 with generous financial support from the partners of the South Humber Collection.
The gatekeeper’s house, with its steep roof, is typical of those originally built for the line and is listed. It has been a target for metal thieves and is now sadly boarded up while its intended occupant is provided with a portable cabin. Railway enthusiasts take an interest in the ground frame with its meters and levers for operating the signals and to lock the gates.
The Magnificent 14th century Augustinian gatehouse and ruins are visible 1/4 mile down a track leading from the east side of the station. The site is managed by English Heritage and is open daily in July and August and at least during weekends at other times (Tel: 01469 541445). Picnics are permitted in the grounds but dogs must be kept on a lead as sheep are used to keep the grass down. King Edward I visited Thornton Abbey on 11th & 12th December 1304 on his way down from Scotland. King Henry VIII lodged at Thornton Abbey on 6th-8th October 1541 while his Queen Katherine Howard stayed at Barrow - the abbey being a male-only establishment. The abbey surrendered to the process of dissolution on 12th December 1539 only to be spared by Henry who re-established it as a college of secular canons as part of a new national scheme. The college was, however, finally suppressed six years later in the first year of King Edward VI.
Abbot's Garden pick-your-own fruit and vegetables are available in season in the fields around the abbey or at the farm 700 metres down the lane to the south (Tel: 01469 540230). Local organic lamb, jam and honey are also available. It has become customary for a maize maze to be grown outside the abbey gatehouse in the summer.
The village of Thornton Curtis is a pleasant 1.5 mile walk to the west down Station Road. Villa Farm Cottage (Tel: 07710 446745) offers Bed & Breakfast half a mile along the road. Another half mile further one passes the stately Thornton Hall and its stables - both are listed but neither is open to the public. Next to it is the Thornton Nurseries & Palm Farm (Tel: 01469 531232) which specialises in exotic shrubs some of which have been supplied to the United Arab Emirates! The nursery is no longer open to the public but the gardens are available to hire for special events.
St Laurence's church, noted for its Tournai marble font, is located in the Main Street of the village. Open first Wednesday in the month 9am-4pm, third Saturday in the month 9am-4pm and fourth Sunday in the month 10am-4pm (Tel: 01469 531226/531236). The Thornton Hunt inn, a listed building, is located opposite the church and provides real ale, food and accommodation (Tel: 01469 531252). Bed & Breakfast is also available at Pine Lodge next to the church (Tel: 07880 601476). An infrequent bus service runs through the village linking villages between Barton, Immingham and Grimsby.
A mile south of Thornton Curtis lies the village of Wootton with its church of St Andrew (partly built of chalk), large fishing pond and the Nags Head inn (Tel: 01469 588253) which serves food. A further two miles takes one to Ulceby village, and to its station a mile beyond that.
The village of East Halton lies two miles to the east of Thornton Abbey station but the road to it has no pavement and the footpath through the fields is rough. However, unlike Thornton Curtis the village does have a Post Office and stores (Tel: 01469 540208), a pleasant green in which to sit, and the Black Bull inn which is open all day and has real ale, a restaurant and accommodation (Tel: 01469 540828). The site of the old station is in an overgrown deep cutting half a mile to the north but has little of interest for the railway enthusiast. The road continues beyond Station House for 1.75 miles to East Halton Skitter. The parish church of St Peter is 3/4 mile to the south of the village centre.
Passengers who come into Thornton Abbey station from the Grimsby direction will catch their first glimpse of the towers of the Humber bridge in the distant north-west. Further south down the line can be seen, in the middle distance on the east side, the wall of a rifle range.
Between Thornton Abbey and Ulceby stations is Bystable Lane crossing. Contrary to standard practice the manually operated gates are normally closed to road traffic and open outwards when required. Such crossings are unpopular with gate-keepers because they require operation every time a vehicle arrives.
The station is actually situated in the parish of Killingholme whereas Brocklesby station is situated within the parish of Ulceby. Ulceby village centre, almost a mile to the west, did not move to the station; instead a separate hamlet grew up known as Ulceby Skitter.
Originally double tracks from both Brocklesby and Habrough merged here to run straight up to New Holland. The line which branches off the north-east end of the station was opened in 1910 when Immingham dock was being developed. This is now the busiest goods line in the country carrying some 22% of the nation’s rail freight. During the second world war a single-platform halt was provided on this line to serve Killingholme airfield - a base for Lancaster bombers. The tall signal box not only controls train flows through the station but also a section of the line through Habrough junction. The crossing gates were replaced by semi-automatic barriers in 2007 thus easing considerably the work of the signaller.
During the first four decades of the railway certain trains from the west came up to New Holland and passengers desiring stations south to Grimsby were required to change at Ulceby. To cater for these, refreshment rooms were provided within the station buildings. The station was also an important postal centre, the house to the east being the original Post Office. Nothing now remains of the copious original buildings and even the north-bound platform has been removed.
In 1971, when the oil refineries were being built at Killingholme, a prefabricated bridge was erected over the crossing so that the gates would not delay the extra construction traffic. This was removed in the late 1980s when access was available by means of the A180 trunk road fly-over 600 metres to the south. The platform was renewed in 2012 and a new shelter was provided in 2013. The Yarborough Arms, close to the station, provides real ale, meals and accommodation (Tel: 01469 588383), and tucked behind is flower arranger and retailer L & M Ehret Florist (Tel: 01469 588394).
The village proper has a Post Office, a general store, and a fish & chip shop. The church of St Nicholas is tucked away at the west end and is noted for its chalk and ironstone walls and slender spire. There is but one pub in business now - the Fox inn - in a residential part to the south. The four-star (Enjoy England) Ulceby Lodge guest house is located on the main road (Tel: 01469 588427). There are some eight listed buildings in the parish, the most spectacular being Brocklesby station house which can be reached by footpath a little over a mile from Ulceby station. Occasional buses pass through linking Barton and Grimsby. Another 2.25 miles beyond the village centre, in the village of Croxton, is the secluded Croxton House three-star Bed & Breakfast (Tel: 01652 688306). In the neighbouring village of Kirmington is Blink Bonny bed & breakfast (Tel: 01652 680610). Both Croxton House and Blink Bonny are within a mile of Humberside international airport.
The station serves a sizable village, now moved away from its church to its railway, and is the rail head for Immingham. A bus service links the village with Immingham and Grimsby. There is a free and spacious car park which can be used as park & ride for shopping in Grimsby. The station is also the interchange for all points west and the East Coast main line as all trains from Newark and Lincoln and many of the fast trains from Manchester, Sheffield and Doncaster call here. FBL has a poster frame on the Grimsby-bound platform.
In its hey day the station did much business as a freight centre. It was also, until 1977, the railhead for the Tor Line passenger services from Immingham to Amsterdam and Gothenburg. The station was de-staffed when the HST service to London ceased in 1993. A taxi firm continued to man an office in the buildings until they were demolished in 1998. A footbridge at the crossing was retained but as this deteriorated it too was demolished in 2003.
The Station Hotel, across the road from the railway (Tel: 01469 572896), is open all day, provides real ale and is noted for its extensive selection of malt Scotch whiskies. Seven hundred metres along the main road is the Old Chapel Hotel built in 1836 for the Primitive Methodists (Tel: 01469 572377). A further 600 metres is the currently closed Habrough Country Hotel and restaurant (Tel: 01469 576940). Across the road and at the junction for Immingham and Killingholme stands the parish church of St Margaret, with its squat spire, within an old wooded graveyard. Little now indicates that this area must have been the original centre of the village of Habrough before the railway came. Bed & Breakfast is also available at the Old Vicarage a further 300 metres straight across the roundabout (Tel: 01469 575051), and also at the Church Farm Guest House a further 600 metres on the right off the roundabout (Tel: 01469 576190).
North of Habrough the train branches to the right on to a single (originally double) track to Ulceby. The twin track to the west is the main line from the rest of the network. The handsome spire in the distant north-west is that of Ulceby’s St Nicholas. In the distance on the east are two oil refineries - Conoco Philips being the nearer and Lindsey Total being the farther. Their lights and flares make a pretty sight at night. Beyond these are two power stations - Eon’s (with four chimneys) being the nearer and Centrica Energy (with three chimneys) being the farther.
Between Habrough and Stallingborough stations the train passes Roxton Sidings signal box which is on a narrow winding lane linking Immingham and Keelby. Between Roxton signal box and Stallingborough, Little London crossing is passed on the main Immingham - Stallingborough road. These automatic gates were, in 1960, the first to be installed anywhere on the British railway network. In a trackside field on the north-east side of the line, between Little London crossing and Roxton Sidings, there is clear evidence of pre-enclosure ridge & furrow cultivation, and in the distance can be seen the cranes of Immingham docks.
This station has the longest single-word name in England. Although the Cleethorpes-bound platform buildings have gone the original house remains as a private residence. Fancy finials adorn the gable tops but on the platform-facing wall only a bracket remains of a bell similar to the one which can still be seen at Goxhill station. The large brick-built signal box was commissioned in 2007 to replace a smaller structure, situated diagonally across the crossing, which was taking on a decidedly Pisa-like list. In its hey day the station was a regular winner of the regional Best Kept Station awards.
A general store is located 500 metres down the southern end of the road leading from the station. The well-appointed Green Man inn is located 350 metres along the northern end. It serves real ale and restaurant food and is open from noon all day (Tel: 01472 889011).
The parish church of St Peter and St Paul in the north-west now lies on the outskirts of the village but it is accessible by a metalled road and by a footpath from the station. A track-side footpath leads to Habrough station and another crosses fields in the direction of Healing church. A wealth of local information is available on the village web site.
The station retains its original house of 1881 - more recent than those of Stallingborough and Great Coates - which is now a private residence. There is a Post Office cum general store and a fish & chip shop (Tel: 01472 883455) just a few metres from the station. There is no pub but locals have available to them a members-only social club.
The arrival of the railway attracted the upper management of Grimsby’s fishing industry; and their elegant Edwardian homes, set in silvan surroundings, can be admired in The Avenue which runs parallel to Station Road. A track-side footpath heads off to Great Coates church but in wet weather a circuitous roadway over the trunk road to the north might be preferred.
The parish church of St Peter and St Paul, separated from its village by a busy main road, huddles beside the manor and moat a little more than half a mile from the station, beyond the far end of Station Road. Healing Manor has recently re-opened as a well-appointed hotel and restaurant. On the main road regular buses pass through linking Grimsby and Immingham.
The approaches to the station are characterised by clumps of stately scots pines. The original station house is still extant and is now a private residence. Observant passengers will notice the oddity that one platform is significantly lower than the other. The signal box and crossing gates were replaced with automatic half-barriers in October 1987. The village itself is now effectively a suburb of Grimsby with its sister Little Coates situated on the other side of the river Freshney. The Scribbens & Kemps (later United Biscuits) biscuit factory was a big employer here in days gone by and a special train used to be brought in each day for the workers. The Wingate Parade mini shopping centre and Poacher pub 700 metres away can be accessed via a footpath leading off the south side of Station Road and past the Whitgift school.
The parish church of St Nicolas (no ‘h’) hides shyly amongst its graveyard trees half a mile south-west on the main road at the far end of Station Road. It is an intriguing rather squat building with a broad-based tower - somewhat out of proportion to its nave - with clock but no spire. To reach the Jubilee inn (Tel: 01472 886035) - part of the Sizzling chain - proceed left for 600 metres along the main road then right for 300 metres to the far end of Wybers Way.
Pleasant walks can be enjoyed in the grassland by the river and there are frequent buses to Grimsby town centre. As the train pulls out of the station towards Healing the Humber Energy power station on the Humber bank is visible in the distance on the right.
Between Great Coates and Grimsby Town stations the line crosses the river Freshney in open country and passes West Marsh junction which branches off to the north-east. This was opened in 1879 to provide access to Grimsby’s Alexandra Dock and the eastern end of Immingham docks but is now seldom used. The train then passes through a short leafy residential suburb of Grimsby and beneath the Deansgate bridge whereupon the stately edifice of St James’s church can be seen to the north.
The station is bright and airy and retains much of its early architecture but the train shed roof dates from 1978. There is a manned booking office, British Transport Police office, electronic displays, a couple of waiting rooms, a cycle hire and repair facility (Tel: 01472 354986; www.heartofgrimsby.co.uk), a welcoming buffet and a FBL poster frame. The ornate ceiling in the waiting room was renovated in 2010 with funding from the Railway Heritage Trust. The lifts and footbridge at the eastern end of the platforms were tastefully completed in 2011. Trains from Newark and Lincoln terminate at platform three. Trains ran from here direct to London via Louth until the through route closed in 1970. A new London-bound HST service was then introduced via Lincoln until it too was withdrawn in 1993. Freight trains continued to travel to Louth until the line was finally closed in 1980. The tall Garden Street signal box standing at the east end of the station at what was the junction for these services was decommissioned in 1993 and is now listed but looking rather sorry for itself.
Immediately outside the station is the stately Yarborough Hotel of 1851 which is now a Wetherspoon inn popular for its real ales and food (Tel: 01472 268283). There is also a British Transport Police office and a taxi rank. Adjacent to the western level crossing is the minor Wellowgate bus station for services to the Lincolnshire coastal villages such as Marshchapel, North Somercotes and Saltfleet.
Directly across the main Bethleham Road is St James’s church and the start of Grimsby’s popular indoor market and extensive and vibrant Freshney Place shopping centre. Walking right through to the end of this takes one to the main bus station. To the left from here is the river Freshney and the start of the Alexandra Dock. The river was diverted by the railway company at the time of the building of the docks. Crossing over the busy Frederick Ward Way takes one to the touristic part of Grimsby with its pleasant dock-side walk, the Fishing Heritage Centre and the Ross Tiger trawler (Tel: 01472 323345). Also moored here until 2010 (when it was scrapped) was the PS Lincoln Castle. It was the last of the much-loved coal fired paddle steamers to operate on the New Holland - Hull service.
Other places worth pointing out are the quaint Abbeygate shopping precinct (turn right at Bethleham Street) and the compact Time Trap museum set in the cellars of the Town Hall further down the road (Tel: 01472 323345). Great Grimsby (as distinct from Little Grimsby to the north of Louth) is also famed for its jazz events and has a well patronised auditorium. Grimsby also boasts two small fine art galleries - Abbey Walk (Tel: 01472 241007) close to the Town Hall, and Muriel Barker at the Fishing Heritage Centre.
The Lincolnshire Wolds Railway is based at Ludborough and runs heritage trains to North Thoresby on the erstwhile Great Northern Railway line from Grimsby to London via Louth. Hourly (except Sundays) bus No.51 runs from a stop on the left in Bethlehem Street to North Thoresby (7 miles) and to Ludborough (9 miles) village centres. From Ludborough village it's a signposted one-mile walk along a country lane to the railway.
Between Grimsby Town and Grimsby Docks stations can be seen, towards the south, remnants of the Great Northern Railway's line to London via Louth. The track bed is now a busy road known as the Pheonix Parkway.
Further, around the curve, is a passing loop - all that remains of the once double track all the way to Cleethorpes. In this area there used to be extensive railway sidings and an engine shed for 18 locomotives.
This was once a very busy three-platform station serving the multitude of workers at Grimsby’s extensive docks. It was opened in 1853 and has retained one of its lower-level platforms. At one time passengers also alighted here for the ferries to continental Europe when the trains didn’t run through to the quay. Immigrants also passed through here in their thousands on their way from mainland Europe to America via the ocean liners of Liverpool.
Lines used to branch off to the north of the station into the docks complex. At this junction was the notorious Cleethorpe (no ‘s’) Road crossing which was closed more often than open to very intense road traffic. The problem was finally relieved by the provision of the current flyover which was fully opened on 16th October 1968. The large red brick building on the other side of the flyover was built by the MS&LR as their dock offices, and in the distance is the landmark dock tower built in 1852 as a water accumulator. The line to Cleethorpes was laid as a single track in 1863, was doubled in 1874 and was singled again in 1985 as an economy measure. The once extensive sidings and engine shed to the south of the station have given way to a motor car graveyard and the Prince Albert Gardens to the west are now business units.
Now, although only a shadow of its former self, the station is still convenient for the many facilities of Freeman Street with its covered market (Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays), shops, cafés, pubs and businesses, the Grimsby Telegraph offices, and the Caxton Theatre and Arts Centre (Tel: 01472 346251). There are also frequent bus services to various parts of greater Grimsby.
The station was opened on 1st July 1875 to serve the much expanded fish docks. Now a shadow of its former self the disused extra long platform is evidence of much busier times. Workers alighted here in their thousands and Grimsby Town football supporters found it convenient for their Blundell Park ground which can be seen further towards Cleethorpes station. The club started life in 1878 at Abbey Road (south of the Town station) and moved to Blundell Park in 1899. Adjacent to the station was a large marshalling yard for accommodating the multitude of fish vans. In the days of the numerous excursion trains to Cleethorpes the yard also served as storage for the empty rolling stock.
This station is the only request stop of the whole line. It deserves to be better used because it is just 200 metres from the busy road to Cleethorpes with its multitude of privately-run shops, adjoining residential streets and bus services. Nearby is the Rutland Arms pub which is open all day and serves real ale but no food (Tel: 01472 268732). To reach it walk left along Thorold Street for 250 metres then right along Stirling Street for 100 metres. There is also an award-winning Aldi supermarket on the main road which is visible from the station.
One can also take a pleasant linear walk towards Cleethorpes and enjoy bracing views of the Humber estuary. Walk 3/4 mile east along Thorold Street and its extension Harrington Street then over the footbridge at Fuller Street for a 700 yard river bank path to the start of Cleethorpes promenade. Half a mile further along the railway from the footbridge is Suggitt's Lane crossing where remains of the old double track can be seen.
In the best Victorian tradition the station at Cleethorpes is placed right by the sea front alongside the 1.5 mile promenade. The resort itself was extensively developed from a mere fishing hamlet by the MS&LR. The original station building of 1863 lies alongside platform one and in 1880 the facilities were extended behind the buffers. There is a manned ticket office cum waiting room, electronic displays, public conveniences and a FBL poster frame. Two original features of note are the ornate clock tower, which has recently been renovated, and the sea-facing tea room which is now the busy Mermaid fish & chip restaurant. The original station building is now the No.1 pub where real ale and Sunday lunches can be enjoyed (Tel: 01472 691707). The diminutive but busy No.2 pub, also known as Under the Clock, on the concourse also serves real ale but no food. Following FBL’s recommendation the No.2 won ACoRP’s best Railway Station Refreshments and Buffet Rooms award in 2006. A large fee-paying car park is available close to the station. Cleethorpes enjoyed a direct train service to London via Lincoln from 1970 to 1993. Railway enthusiasts will note the refuelling and carriage washing facilities on the approach to the station.
Cleethorpes benefits from one of the nation's largest expanses of sandy beach which is washed up to the promenade briefly twice daily at high tide. Here all the usual seaside amenities can be found - pier, gardens, amusement arcades, rides, food outlets, public conveniences, bus interchange, etc. The Tourist Information Centre (Tel: 01472 323111; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and the public library face the sea front on Alexandra Road, and just a short walk inland from the station are the Post Office, banks and specialist fish & chip restaurants.
A land train offers 3/4 mile rides to the southern end of the promenade where the Leisure Centre, paddling pool and northern terminus of the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway (Tel: 01472 604657) are situated. The CCLR operates miniature steam and diesel train rides along a two-mile stretch of coastal track. Further along can be found the relatively new Meridian Parkway multi-screen cinema (Tel: 01472 290100), miniature golf, and the line where the Greenwich meridian leaves the UK out to sea. Also on the coast is the Discovery Centre with displays related to sea life and a cafeteria with extensive views of the ships and bird life of the estuary.
Other useful web sites
www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk maintained by Grimsby & Scunthorpe Media Group.