Yorkshire MP asks government to reinstate Beverley to York railway line axed by Beeching

The MP for Beverley and Holderness has called for part of the 'reverse Beeching fund' to be directed towards re-opening a railway line through his seat.

The old Stamford Bridge Station is now a members' club and sports hall
The old Stamford Bridge Station is now a members' club and sports hall

Graham Stuart (Conservative) wants some of the £500million pot for feasibility studies into reinstating old routes to be diverted to the Beverley to York line, which closed in the 1960s as part of the Beeching cuts.

The MP has written to rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris to plead the case for the line, which had stations at Stamford Bridge, Pocklington and Market Weighton.

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Passengers from Beverley now have to travel via Hull to access the rest of the rail network after their station lost its direct link to York.

Pocklington Station soon after closure

This is why most of Yorkshire's old railways couldn't re-open even with 'reverse Beeching' fundingSome of the old railway buildings still exist - Pocklington Station is now part of Pocklington School - but parts of the track-bed have been built over and if the line was reinstated a new alignment would have to be found.

The £500million fund will be used to develop proposals by community groups and local authorities who believe they have a business case for re-opening a line.

Headline projects announced so far include the return of passenger trains to the freight-only line from Newcastle to Ashington via Blyth, and a route from Blackpool to Fleetwood along the Lancashire coast.

Mr Stuart has teamed up with the Minsters Rail Campaign group - named after the 32-mile route's original name, the Minsters Line - in a bid to improve the East Riding's connectivity and reduce congestion on the A1079 to York.

An old railway sign that can still be seen in Pocklington

“This announcement is great news for areas like Beverley and Holderness, which could benefit from better rail connections to other parts of the country. This can boost opportunity by making it easier to access new jobs or education, and it can drive further investment in the region.

“Not to mention that better public transport can help take cars off our roads - reducing traffic as well as helping us to meet our climate targets.

“I’ve been a supporter of the Minsters Rail Campaign group for many years, who have worked tirelessly to push the case for the reinstatement of the Beverley to York line, and I’m happy to help advance their cause with government.”

Roy Begg, a member of the Minsters Rail Campaign group’s committee, added:-

“We’re delighted that Graham has spoken directly to the minister responsible to highlight our campaign to reinstate the railway line between Beverley and York and we hope that, at long last, our voice is being heard in the highest levels of government.

“Re-opening the old rail line would be a fantastic opportunity for the region, and ties in perfectly with the ‘Northern Powerhouse’. It would improve east-west connectivity and also boost the resilience of the existing route via Hull, which is liable to disruption because of flooding.”

Transport secretary Grant Shapps MP also announced an additional £20million for the New Stations Fund to support areas that have never had rail services. The fund has so far been used to build 10 brand-new stations across England and Wales.

Graham added:-

“This announcement comes off the back of £600,000 funding for Beverley Station to refurbish the platform bridge and generally enhance its look and feel. It’s fantastic that Beverley and Holderness are starting to see the benefits of greater investment in the north.”

What was the Minsters Line and could it be reinstated?

The Minsters Lane was so-called because it linked York Minster to Beverley Minster.

The route's full length was open by 1865, providing an alternative path from York to Hull. It left the York to Scarborough line at Bootham Junction, north of York, and crossed eastwards through the Wolds, stopping at numerous intermediate stations: Earswick, Warthill, Holtby, Stamford Bridge, Fangfoss, Yapham Gate, Pocklington, Nunburnholme, Londesborough Park, Londesborough, Market Weighton, Kiplingcotes and Cherry Burton. However, only six were still open by the time of the line's closure in 1965.

Trains could then join the Hull to Bridlington line and this was the preferred route between York and Hull for a considerable period of time.

At the time of closure, the York to Beverley line cost over £107,000 to operate but was only bringing in around £90,000 in revenue.

Much of the former track-bed still exists, but development has taken place over sections in Pocklington, Stamford Bridge and York. Earthworks and field boundaries mark the old route in the Vale of York, and the section between Market Weighton and Beverley has been converted into the Hudson Way cycle path.

The Minsters Rail Campaign have proposed a new alignment with different station locations. They want the new route to leave the York to Scarborough line at Haxby, with a re-opened station that could serve both lines. The new station at Stamford Bridge could be sited on the A166 at the edge of the village, and in Pocklington a site off Hodsow Lane has been identified as the old station has been redeveloped. It would be convenient for access from the A1079 and a park and ride could be built alongside it.

In Market Weighton, the old station on Londesborough Road has been built over so three new locations have been suggested, including west of Londesborough Road, Clay Lane or Goodmanham Road.

The new alignment would skirt around towns rather than passing through the middle of them as the original Victorian route did, and would encourage 'park and ride' travel from outlying villages.

Previous studies into the feasibility of re-opening the line established that although it would relieve commuter traffic, there would be unlikely to be demand from freight companies. Operating costs were estimated at £2.9million and it was implied that train services would require government subsidies.

East Riding Council have distanced themselves from the scheme in recent years, stating that they did not believe it could be delivered before 2030.

What remains of the original line?

At Stamford Bridge the station house, platforms, crossing gates and the good shed survive and have been converted for community use. The station is now a private members' club with bar, function room and lounge. The goods shed is a sports hall, the east yard is a car park and the west platform is a play area.

The iron bridge and viaduct over the River Derwent is listed and protected.

Fangfoss Station is a private house and the site is a caravan park.

At Pocklington the station, stationmaster's house and goods shed are listed. The train-shed is now Pocklington School's sports hall and the front entrance is a bay for the bus station.

Kiplingcotes Station has survived as a fascinating time capsule - it was built for the private use of Lord Hotham and the station building, platforms and signal box remain unaltered, as does the station master's house. The Hotham family still live at nearby Dalton Hall today.

Cherry Burton Station is a private house but the platform still exists and a footpath runs alongside it over the old railway route.

A skew bridge over the road between Etton and Goodmanham can be seen.

There are two listed former gatekeepers' cottages at Market Weighton and Barmby Moor.

Earswick Station was demolished and the Flag & Whistle pub built on the site. Holtby Station is now a private house, as are Nunburnholme and Londesborough.

Market Weighton Station was demolished.