It is 65 years since the closure to passenger traffic of the Nidd Valley Railway. What a loss to the dale! Wouldn’t it be lovely still to be able to take the train from Pateley to Harrogate and back?
A short while ago a visitor to the Museum said she had a fabulous memory of doing just that, travelling as a school child on a special train, but back in 1964. So how did it happen?
By April 1951 the service had been reduced to only two trains each way, Monday-Friday, with three on Saturday, and at that time there were very few regular patrons, so henceforth it became used on a limited scale simply for freight.
With the ‘Beeching Report’ (March 1963) recommending the rapid closure of numerous unproductive rural branch lines it was finally decided to axe even this freight traffic, and by November 1964 the track was being removed. To mark the end of an era, however, two special passenger trains had been organised, one for the children of the dale and a final one for railway enthusiasts.
On the penultimate ride for schools there were nearly six hundred children involved, from Pateley Bridge, Bewerley Bridgehousegate, Middlesmoor, Lofthouse, Glasshouses, Darley and Birstwith. The children from Bewerley carried a little booklet provided by their teachers, with information, questions, and pictures to colour in, a copy of which we have at the Museum.
In her own record of the event, in The Book of Nidderdale, Eileen Burgess wrote:
‘It was a glorious spring day and the dale has seldom looked lovelier … It really was a day to remember for all of us who were lucky enough to have been there’.
It is a memory which is kept alive by many enthusiasts and you can find out more about the Nidd Valley Railway in the Transport Room at our Museum.