The Wold Valley Light Railway


In the late 19th Century, there were plans not only to construct a railway from Nafferton to Hunmanby via Kilham. But also, a Wold Valley Railway. 

Little is known, perhaps the line was intended to join the Driffield to Malton railway that opened in 1853? or more likely a junction with the York to Scarborough railway line at Rillington?  

From the Hunmanby Parish Council archives it would appear there was plans for this Light Railway, it also gives a insight into farming a travel at that time. 

This was in an article from the Hunmanby Parish Magazine Dated 1897

The Dale towns which lie in the valley are very close to one another, some dozen of them filling up a distance of about 23 miles. With the exception of the places at the ends of the district, Rillington and Hunmanby, there is no railway accommodation whatever, most of the villages being 7 miles from a railway station, and some even more.

A Light Railway is a railway constructed of light rails, (that is rails that do not weigh so much per yard) and consequently would not be able to carry the heavy engines of ordinary railways, some of which weigh 80 or 90 tons or more, nor to carry the traffic at a very high speed. This would be no drawback to the system, as it would be a good thing to have a stopping place in each village, and therefore no express trains would be expected to run.

This scheme, then, would provide for every person in the Dale, to get his produce on the railway without going from the home, and whether that produce were corn, sheep, pigs, butter, eggs, or vegetables, or what not, the first expense of going to the station would be saved. More that this, goods and merchandise would be brought into every village, at a reasonable rate of carriage, as for instance, in some villages it costs 6 shillings, or even more, and much of this would be saved, and all would be able to go to market and see their friends without incurring expense and needless toil, which would in any case take the keen edge off the enjoyment.

It is proposed that the Railway shall be of the same gauge as the North Eastern, which will allow trucks and carriages of the North Eastern Railway to work on the line, and save any expense for transhipping goods coming from other lines.

Some months ago a most influential meeting was held at the Weaverthorpe school room, attended by representatives from most of the parishes in the Dale, when a deputation consisting of landowners, farmer and others was appointed to wait upon the Directors of the North Eastern Railway Company to ask their cooperation. A favourable reply has been received from the company.

One of the members of the committee, who has taken great pains to understand the Light Railway Question, has been getting together some facts with the object of seeing if the company would pay its way. He has assumed that the line could be laid for and £2,500 per mile (equivalent now of £227,000) or £60,000 for the whole length (equivalent now of £5.4 million) 

The amount of traffic would include the carrying out of the district the following produce which might fairly be expected to find its way to the Light railway, and bringing in other goods as specified below:

31,800 tons of corn, £4,470

Take 3,000 cattle to market at 6 pence a head, £75

Take 50,000 sheep to market at 1 pence a head, £208,15 shillings

Carriage of Pigs, £50

142 tons of wool £42.12 shillings

Carriage on 7,000 tons of cake, £1,050

Carriage on 16,000 tons of manure, £800

Carriage of 12,000 tons of coal £600

Horses about £50

Passengers £520

and other items of parcels, merchandise, etc £200

or altogether, £8,066 and 7 shillings.

This would pay 5 per cent. Upon the capital of £60,000, allow £2,000, or about £46 a week for wages and coal, and leave a balance of £3,066 and 7 shillings a year for keeping the line in good repair, and other emergencies.

Most of these figures are based upon actual returns of the produce of the district, but some of them are more or less guess work. For instance, as to passenger traffic, no one could say for certainty what number of people would travel, but the calculation was made that of the 4,142 people in the Dale, knocking off the 142 to make round numbers - one person in ten would travel once a week, and spend 6 pence upon the journey for a return ticket. This may or may not be a good guess, but it is likely to be under than over the mark.

Besides the people of the Dale, there are 10,000 people living at Bridlington, some of whom might use the line, and it is calculated that there are a quarter of a million visitors who come to Bridlington in the year, and some of them might use it. 

On the whole there is a very good prospect of the Light Railway benefitting the Dale and well-paying the promoters.

Thank you to Brian Waining of Hunmanby Local History Group, for the time spent finding and transcribing this information

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Updated 20.10.2021