Traffic on the M&D

Over the near 100 years of passenger service there were few changes, usually there were three daily return trips from Malton. In some seasons there were four returns daily and other times there was an extra train to coincide with market days at Malton and Driffield. The journey time from end to end was usually around 50 minutes to an hour. There was only one place on the line, Wharram, where passenger trains could pass, but this was rarely necessary. Typically, the trains were hauled by a small tank engine with two coaches, strengthened when necessary and sometimes including a horsebox and/or carriage truck. There were two notable stately homes served by the railway, Sledmere House belonging to the Sykes family and Birdsall House, home of Lord Middleton. Both these estates generated both passenger and goods traffic, especially horses for both the use of visitors and to/from the stud farm at Sledmere. The locomotives for the locals were based at Malton shed. The opening of the two lines had prompted the construction of Malton shed which then also provided motive power for some trains on the Whitby line.

In the period between the wars, there were scenic excursions which stopped at some of the stations for the passengers to view the gardens; the station staff had plenty of time on their hands to devote to gardening!

Much later, there was holiday traffic from Scotland and the north-east which came onto the M&DR from the T&MR. Some of these trains, which were bound for Scarborough, required a double reversal, at Malton. Those bound for Filey holiday camp continued over the full length of the line and no reversals were required. During the 1950s, there were some scenic excursions from Hull to Whitby which travelled the line in the Up direction only. Trains bringing students to and from Ampleforth College, on the T&MR line, often negotiated the connecting spur from Malton East. These trains sometimes were Pacific hauled, A4 60017 for example. The wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Kent in 1961 saw several wedding specials from King's Cross which were A4 hauled. These trains also used the remaining stub.

Thompson B1 No. 61010 'Wildebeeste' near North Grimston on a scenic excursion from Hull (M.Bairstow)

Goods trains, like the passenger trains, usually originated at Malton. There was some variation over the years depending on the traffic. There were coal trains to service the coal drops at each station; general pick-up goods trains and, when required, livestock trains, especially on market days. Most of the traffic was agricultural, for instance, manure and fertilisers inbound, arable crops outbound. Sometime in the 1800s a small limestone quarry at Settrington generated business, this quarry closed around the turn of the century. Later the quarry trade became important. The first big quarry to ship limestone was at North Grimston. By the mid 1920s, this quarry was shipping about 28,000 tons of limestone per annum. The owners of North Grimston moved their operation to Burdale and the sidings at North Grimston were removed in the early '30s. The next quarry to open was at Wharram and this generated a significant output of chalk during the 1920s, peaking at about 108,000 tons per annum. This quarry utilised a large Ruston & Hornsby steam digger. A power generation plant was installed which drove a crushing plant from which the chalk was raised into a large concrete silo under which two lines ran allowing the chalk to drop into rail wagons. The silo still exists. The size of this operation lead to the provision of dedicated trains to the iron and steelworks on Teesside. These trains were colloquially know as "Chalkies" and were usually operated by Thirsk crews passing directly from the M&DR onto the T&MR then the ECML to Thirsk yard and thence Newport yard. Wharram quarry closed in the early 1930s but a little later re-opened under new management but at a greatly reduced output. The final big quarry, and the largest of them all, was at Burdale. This opened in 1925 but the operation was much less mechanised than Wharram. The output of Burdale peaked in the late 40's/early 50s with annual shipments of about 50,000 tons.

The Teesside chalk trains initially ran three days a week but soon increased to five per week and then, depending on requirements, additional runs were made. Some of the mineral trains were worked to Malton. When working the trains from Burdale, regulations only permitted a certain tonnage to work through the tunnel, probably depending on the class of loco, so wagons were taken through to Wharram to be made up into train loads. Burdale quarry closed in 1955 and this eventually brought about closure of the line.


Thank you to Richard Barron for the above information.

Thank you to Martin Bairstow for permission to use the photograph of Thompson B1 No. 61010 Wildebeeste near North Grimston.