Operation of the Hull to Scarborough Railway Line.

A brief guide, comments are welcome to improve this page, especially confirmation of dates signal boxes and gate boxes opened and closed

From the early railways signalling had to evolve, both to increase safety and the efficiency of the rail operations. Railways were built for moving freight. These days public focus tends to concentrate on passenger use, and forget, that even today with road haulage, £30 billion worth of goods are still moved annually on the nation's railways.


Further details are available from Network Rail's Rail Freight webpage



Railways development in Victorian Britain fuelled the industrial revolution, more traffic, more trains, signalling systems had to adapt, this is explained in the article on railway signalling from Rail Engineer Webpage Evolution of Signalling Rail Engineer written by David Bicknell


The Hull to Scarborough railway line, opened in 1847, was one of the earlier railways in this country, built quickly, taking not always the most direct route, but working with the landscape to avoid heavy engineering construction costs. The rural villages of Bempton and Hunmanby villages being linked to the national network the same year as the West Riding Industrial town of Huddersfield and a year before Harrogate. Once open, staff employed were paid low wages for long, anti-social hours, thus rail dominated the movement of goods in the Victoria Era and profits could be made for shareholders.


As wages rose, in the Edwardian Era, goods traffic started to fall away with the rising competition of road haulage as tarmac started to replace crushed stone and cobbled streets. The first use of tarmac was in Nottinghamshire. This link to BBC Nottingham gives the history of tarmac, and how it was found by accident by Edgar Hooley, County Surveyor of Nottinghamshire Council in 1902.


Freight traffic fell dramatically after World War II, especially as the future for rail freight was in block trains rather than wagon load freight.  By 1964 goods yards had closed at Cottingham, Arram, Hutton Cranswick, Carnaby, Flamborough, Speeton, Filey and Hunmanby. Goods traffic to ceased to Cottingham in 1970, Nafferton 1976, freight traffic lingered on until the mid-1980's at Driffield and Bridlington. So, for many decades, all costs of the line now fall on passenger revenue.


1969 was the bleakest year for the line, with the line scheduled for closure. Operating costs were huge, as can be seen in the recollections by John, while a start had been made to modernise rail facilities in Hull, the line to Scarborough remained in a time warp. To modernise costs money, especially in the short term.


The Information below has been obtained from the excellent comprehensive book by John F Addyman & Bill Fawcett 'A History of the Hull & Scarborough Railway' published by the North Eastern Railway Association.


Thanks to John for this insight into how many staff were required (until only a couple of decades ago) just to staff the signalling equipment on the local line. From Hull to Bridlington in 1965 at least 29 staff would be required on duty in signal boxes and cabins, before the first train could run from Hull to Bridlington. With a further 14 members of staff, before a train could reach Seamer Junction. 


Today, following considerable investment, in track, signalling and automatic barriers the number of boxes has been reduced to 5


West Parade Junction opened 1864, closed 1980

Walton Street opened 1886, closed 1989

Cottingham Junction opened 1864, closed 1972

Snuff Mill Lane opened1909, closed 1956

Thwaites Gates opened 1886, closed1984

Cottingham Signal Box (First called Cottingham station then Cottingham North) opened 1874, closed 1987

Beverley Parks opened 1874, closed 1984

Fleming Gates opened 1874, closed 1985

Beverley Station Signal Box opened in 1877 and still open

Cherry Tree opened 1877, closed 1985

Beverley (Road Junction) North opened 1865, closed 1985

Arram Signal Box opened 1874, closed 1984

Lockington opened 1874, closed 1985

Beswick Road Crossing (no details)

Kilnwick opened1874, closed1985

Watton Gates opened 1874 closed 1985

Hutton Cranswick Signal Box opened 1874, closed 1987

Hutton Lane Level Crossing (No details)

Driffield (Junction) Signal Box opened in 1875 and still open

Driffield Station Gates opened 1903, closed 1987

Wansford Crossing opened 1875, closed 1987

Driffield North opened 1875, closed 1935

Nafferton Signal Box opened 1907, closed 1989

Nether Lane Gates closed 1965

Black Carr Crossing closed 1965

Mingledale Crossing closed 1982

Lowthorpe opened 1874 closed1985

Harpham Crossing closed 1979

Burton Agnes Signal Box opened 1874, closed1990

Thorneholme Crossing (no details)

Haisthorpe Crossing closed 1965

Carnaby opened 1874, closed1990

Bessingby (Road Crossing) Junction opened1874, closed 1925

Bridlington (South) Signal Box opened in 1893 and still open

Quay Crossing opened 1874, closed 1998

Sewerby Gates closed 1987

Marton (Flamborough) opened 1874, closed 1987

Bempton Signal Box opened 1874 in 1976 became a Gate Box and closed in 1988

Buckton Lane Crossing closed 1983

Speeton Signal Box opened1874, closed 1988

Hunmanby Signal Box opened1874, closed 2001

Hunmanby Depot Crossing opened 1874, closed 1983

Roya Oak South opened 1947, closed 1978

Filey Holiday Camp opened 1948, closed 1978

Royal Oak North opened 1947 closed 1978

Royal Oak Crossing closed 1983

Filey Signal Box opened 1875, closed 2000

Muston Road opened 1908, closed1986

Gristhorpe Signal Box opened 1875 and still open

Lebberston still open

Cayton Signal Box opened 1875, closed 2000


A potted history of signal control in the Hull area, thanks to John. (Where an early effort was made to modernise, but not fully completed in the early 1960's)


Hull Paragon Box was commissioned in 1938 to control the Hull Paragon station area. Its innards were totally renewed in the station re model in the 1980s, but its control area did not change. Indeed, its survival at that stage was an interim measure pending transfer to Hedon Road (Not unlike Bridlington South Signal Box which will eventually close and its function transferred to York Rail Operating Centre); but the migration to Hedon Road (HR) never happened. The signals around Hull Paragon Station were plated with the numbers “HR xxx”. On abandonment of the idea to migrate to Hedon Road, the tails on the “R”s were neatly painted out, so as to keep the numerals the same, but now were and are “HPxxx”. (as in Hull Paragon Signal Box)


The next box was West Parade. There were 6 running lines to there from Hull Paragon. At West Park they split away – 2 to East Hull, 2 to Beverley and 2 to Brough and beyond. The route of the branch from Anlaby Road Junction then made a flat crossing of the Beverley lines. In 1962 when Hedon Road box was created, several signal boxes were abolished in the Hull area, but not on the line to Bridlington and Scarborough. (So operating costs would have continued to rise, with freight traffic falling and the Beeching Report leading to a move away from peak holiday season trains, which the benefited the then short summer season on the Yorkshire Coast. The flat crossing just mentioned was abolished and the branch route from Anlaby Road Junction realigned to run into and out of the Beverley lines, as remains the case. The East Hull lines beyond Botanic Depot were closed. Hedon Road then took control of the section as far east as Paragon Station (Excl) and Walton Street (Excl). The only subsequent changes were remodelling of the connection down from the Hull & Barnsley Line to Walton Street to create the current single line and single lead junction at Walton Street and transfer of control to Hedon Road, leaving Walton Street as purely a crossing box. The level crossing there subsequent to that was remodelled to create a massively wide highway with barriers and transfer of control to Hedon Road and final abandonment of Walton Street box which in the interim of all this was for a time a portacabin. Following the closure of Botanic Gardens as a full Traction Maintenance Depot much of the site was cleared and the connection to it from the Beverley lines at West Parade was abolished, having for over 20 years been on the Hedon Road panel.


Updated 20.2.2022