Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Derwent Valley Light Railway, York

When I was an undergraduate at York, the bus from the university into the city used to cross a bridge over an overgrown single-track railway.

This was the Derwent Valley Light Railway, which in those days ran from Layerthorpe in the city for four miles out to Dunnington. When it opened in 1913 it had run almost to Selby: in 1981 it was to close altogether.

One day I walked the line to Dunnington and back. Though it shows track that had long gone by then, the video above gives a good idea of the way the line looked in its final years. So decrepit was it that I was surprised when I met a very mixed freight train coming the other way.

The line has gone now apart from a half-mile stretch that still operates in the Yorkshire Museum of Farming at Murton Park. (There is still a Derwent Valley Light Railway Society too.)

This seems a shame in the city that is home to the National Railway Museum. Couldn't it have been used to give some of that museum's locomotives a little exercise? The Derwent Valley did run steam trains of its own in its final years in an attempt to tap the tourist trade.

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