Half a century since last train called at Pocklington

West Green gate box, and ex-North Eastern Railway pattern lower quadrant starting signal controlled jointly by Pocklington signal box and Barmby Road gate box.
West Green gate box, and ex-North Eastern Railway pattern lower quadrant starting signal controlled jointly by Pocklington signal box and Barmby Road gate box.

November 27 was the 50th anniversary of the last train to call at Pocklington Station in 1965 – the Saturday 9.45pm Diesel Multiple Unit York to Hull via Market Weighton.

The following Monday the line between York (Bootham Junction) and Beverley (North Junction) was officially closed.

WD class light engine appeared heading towards Pocklington on its way to Hull.

WD class light engine appeared heading towards Pocklington on its way to Hull.

Of all the Dr Beeching instigated passenger service cutbacks in the 1960s and 70s, this was undoubtedly one of the most contentious in the UK.

Indeed, it is generally accepted nowadays that the closure was a great mistake, a view which no doubt car drivers frequently experiencing traffic congestion on the A1079 would concur. A non-stop Pocklington to York train was timed to take just 18 minutes. So much for transport progress.

The greatest problem the line faced in trying to keep costs down was having to staff innumerable level crossings.

At the time of closure the line was controlled by ten signal boxes; at Bootham Junction on the York - Scarborough line, closed 1988, Earswick, Warthill, Stamford Bridge, Fangfoss (acted as a gate box virtually all the time after Freight facilities were withdrawn from 7th June 1965), Pocklington, Londesborough (same remarks as Fangfoss, except Freight closure was from 4th May 1964), Market Weighton West, Market Weighton East (switched out of use for almost all of the time), and Beverley North Junction on the Hull - Scarborough line which survived until the 1980’s.

A light engine (WD class) has just passed through Pocklington Station on its way to York.

A light engine (WD class) has just passed through Pocklington Station on its way to York.

Will the line ever re-open?

The undoubted success of the recently re-opened Borders line in Scotland (Edinburgh - Galashiels - Tweedbank) may have raised hopes that the same thing could happen here. Realistically, however, despite very best intentions the chances would appear to be extremely remote.