Video: 150 years of steam at Goathland Station

'Victorian' visitors to Goathland Station, Don and Kathryn Holton
'Victorian' visitors to Goathland Station, Don and Kathryn Holton
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GOATHLAND Station is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the opening of the ‘deviation route’ on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway that led to its construction.

The route was built during the early 1860s as a workaround for the Beckhole Incline – a steep slope which engines were pulled up by a stationary steam engine at the top – enabling trains to run the length of the line from Pickering to Whitby without any assistance. As part of the deviation, Goathland station was built on the site of the former Goathland Mill.

Managing director Philip Benham said: “Steep hills always cause challenges for railways, as the wheels are not able to gain sufficient traction to pull a fully loaded train up the hill, and in the moors, this was a particular challenge. Although the rope-pull mechanism at Beckhole Incline functioned adequately, it did interrupt the journey, which is why the railway was diverted around the smoother inclines around Goathland,” explains of the railway.

“When the new diversion opened on 1 July 1865, it meant that trains could run uninterrupted between Pickering and Whitby for the first time, although the railway’s owners at the time kept the Beckhole route intact for a further three years and, indeed, the branch continued to operate for many more years.”

Documents in the North Yorkshire Moors Railway archive show that the tender for completing the deviation was won by Thomas Nelson for a price of £56,000. Its implementation required the construction of four stone overbridges, seven stone underbridges and one stone viaduct. Visitors today can still walk the old ‘Rail Trail’, with a recommended starting point at Goathland, where passengers can disembark the train and walk to Grosmont to pick up the next service. “This is a great walking trail for families, at around three and a half miles long, and mostly downhill through the beautiful North York Moors national park,” adds Philip.

The line of the deviation is still fully functional today, with services running daily throughout the summer. For more details, visit