Photo copyright  D E Canning The DVLR opened in 1913, within the terms of the 1896 Light Railways Act, joining York (Layerthorpe) with Cliff Common, not far from Selby on the line to Market Weighton. It served largely agricultural communities, with intermediate stations at Osbaldwick, Murton Lane, Dunnington, Elvington, Wheldrake, Cottingwith, Thorganby and Skipwith. The passenger service was not a success, and ceased in 1926, but the freight lasted for many more years - and, as a kind of swan song, a steam-hauled passenger service ran in the last years of the line's life. By this time the line was a very rare survivor - not grouped in 1923, nor nationalised in 1948, it was still operated by the same company that built it. 1964 marked the beginning of the line's decline - the Selby - Market Weighton line was to become a Beeching casualty, which would end the DVLR's days as a through route. With little traffic from the southern part of the line, the line beyond Wheldrake closed, with a railtour in Feb 1965 marking the last use of that section. Elvington - Wheldrake closed in 1968, and Dunnington - Elvington in January 1973 - just under a year before my first photographic visit at the end of that year. Ironically, that last closure marked the end of the line's association with the valley of the River Derwent. The last years of the private line near York Dunnington station, the end of the line by the time I paid my first visit - December 1973 Dunnington was the home of a firm which dried grain (barley) for the scotch whisky industry, despatched in the familiar bulk grain wagons. An ancient (1947) Fowler diesel "Churchill" (works no. 4100005) was used to shunt the wagons; one of the DVLR's ex- BR 03s would then trip them back to Layerthorpe, where they would then travel along the BR Foss Islands branch onto the main line. Churchill is seen on a warm August evening in 1974. Before he came to Dunnington, "Churchill" used to work at Colthrop mills, near Newbury in Berkshire. David Canning, former signalman at Colthrop box, kindly sent me this 1960s photo of Churchill on a shunt which involved crossing the main line. July 1976: DVLR No 1 (D2298) is trundling very slowly along the branch near Dunnington village (Dunnington station, and the grain drier, was nearly ¾m further on, where the line once crossed the Hull road). The gentleman on the brake van appears to be conducting some sort of inspection of the line - perhaps in preparation for the following year's events... Summer 1977 - Steam! The DVLR ran a series of steam-hauled trips from Layerthorpe to Dunnington, using NER-designed ex- BR J72 69023 "Joem". The train is seen on three occasions during that summer, firstly in June: a tremendous thunderstorm had left hailstones in snow-like drifts in Dunnington village; the dark clouds and some puddles are seen below Another trip in July '77 - the coaches now all bear an attractive livery reminiscent of the old East Yorkshire Motor Services livery, which was then recently defunct. 26 March 1978 (the weekend of the first S&C steam specials) and a last glimpse of a DVLR steam train as it passes under the bridge in Dunnington village The contract to supply / deliver grain from Dunnington was all that really kept the line afloat, and when that contract was lost, complete closure followed soon after. My next encounter with the line would be several years later - to have a look at the short stretch of line that was retained as part of the development of the Yorkshire Museum of Farming at Murton Park. A family visit revealed my old friend Churchill, sitting forlornly on a length of track. (to be continued???) Geoff’s Pages
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