Historical Railways in Yorkshire

One of the fascinating things that England is historically known for is its numerous winding railways. These heritage railways have been England’s witness of its long history through the centuries – the changes here and there, the triumphs, and defeats. Even today, many historical and architectural remains continue to amaze both tourists and locals alike.

One place in the country stands out when we talk about history – the county of Yorkshire, in the north-central part of England. Being England’s most significant historical county, Yorkshire is home to many historical railways that remain functional even until now, in the modern era. Every railway speaks of its history; each prides itself with unique beauty and tourism experience. 

Are you fascinated by old railways and steam engine trains? Read on as we get a quick tour of some of Yorkshire’s aged, historical railways.

NORTH YORKSHIRE MOORS RAILWAY

NYMR takes you on a stunning ride across the backdrop of the New York Moors. The start-off point, Pickering Station, is a nostalgic experience bringing back the 1930s locomotive steam era. The steam or heritage diesel train will then take you to a 24-mile journey through one of the earliest, most historical lines, with Yorkshire’s breathtaking scenery filling up your senses. Passengers also get the chance to explore other stations connected to the railway, one of which is the celebrity station, Goathland, home to the first Harry Potter film’s Hogsmeade Station. If you are an engineering nerd, Grosmont Station will surely be a delight as it houses most of NYMR’s engineering operations. The rest of the stations offer equally beautiful scenic views that reek of historic ambiance.

KIRKLEES LIGHT RAILWAY

If you are looking for a day’s out for the family, Kirklees Light Railway (KLR) might be your best bet. Boasting its real steam engines traversing an antique yet fully functioning railway, KLR quickly became one of the popular tourist destinations in the heart of Yorkshire. The railway not only lets you experience the place’s antiquity; it also offers families a variety of go-to stopovers where kids can enjoy, like ice cream parlors, cafes, toyshops, gift stores, and even a mini version of a ride-on railway.

ELSECAR HERITAGE RAILWAY

Elsecar Heritage Railway 

Elsecar Heritage Railway (EHR) runs from the Rockingham station (located back of the Elsecar Heritage Centre) up to the Hemingfield Basin. EHR is the only heritage railway in the southern part of Yorkshire. The railway brings passenger tourists to and fro on a 1-mile train ride with steam and diesel locomotives. The South Yorkshire heritage railway operates mainly on Sundays. 

DERWENT VALLEY LIGHT RAILWAY

Derwent Vally Light Railway (DVLR) is a privately owned railway located north of Yorkshire. Also known as The Blackberry Line, the railway used to transport blackberries in the markets of Yorkshire and London back in the day; hence the nickname. First inaugurated in two stages during 1912 and 1913, the railway ran from Layerthorpe (on the outskirts of York) to Cliffe Common near Selby.

EMBSAY & BOLTON ABBEY STEAM RAILWAY

A train pulling into Embsay station on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway.

Located in North Yorkshire, Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway (E&BASR) is considered one of England’s heritage railways formed in 1979 and inaugurated in 1981. E&BASR offers a lovely 4-mile travel experience across the English countryside. Approximately 100,000 passengers aboard the steam-powered train, departing from Bolton Abbey Station to the old and historic Station in Embsay. In addition, Embsay station made a couple of media appearances, including that episode in the final series of the TV sitcom, In Loving Memory, Emmerdale, and a documentary program titled Great British Railway Journeys. 

KEIGHLEY AND WORTH VALLEY RAILWAY

Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is another Yorkshire historical attraction. The railway runs from Keighley and Oxenhope, which then connects to the national rail network at Keighley railway station. Constructed in 1867, the railway had undergone rebuilding, reconnecting, closure, and reopening until its preservation in the 1950s. It reopened in the 1960s to the beautiful railway that it is now. Not surprisingly, the railway made several appearances on TV and notable British films due to its aesthetic and scenic qualities.

YORKSHIRE WOLDS RAILWAY

Operating in the trackbed of the former Malton & Driffield Railway, Yorkshire Wolds Railway is a restoration project that aims to preserve at least a part of the old Malton & Driffield Railway lines for historical purposes. The railway currently runs a short-distance demonstration line and caters to passengers in an operational industrial diesel locomotive. Expansion plans are ongoing since 2019. 

MIDDLETON RAILWAY

Situated in the English city of Leeds, the Middleton Railway sits as the world’s oldest working railway. It takes passengers to a grand 1-trip starting from its headquarters at Moor Road, Hunslet.

The historical railway in the western part of Yorkshire was built in 1758. Since the 1960s, a group of volunteers handled the railway’s operations. Back in 1812, it became the first commercial railway that successfully operated with steam locomotives 1812. From then on, the railway claimed many of the train world’s firsts – first line to work with steam locomotives regularly on freight trains, first line to hire a train driver, first line to have a professionally trained driver, and the first line to record a member of public killed by a locomotive, to name a few.

Do you want to expand beyond Yorkshire?  You can even check out some of these historical ghost town and spooky railways including Train Graveyard at Uyuni Bolivia, Animas Forks Colorado, and Bankhead Alberta for a fascinating and fun look back. The history of railways is a rich one around the world and can lead to some great adventures.