Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

On Tour - Rail in the UK Tour 2 July 2023


Today was the coldest day that we have had since the tour commenced, from very hot days until this cold snap with some rain, then the wind, straight out of the North Atlantic. But for all that, we did enjoy the day, many Miles north of York. Our first location was a visit to the Wensleydale Heritage Railway at Leeming Bar. Arriving at 0920, we were met by the volunteer staff and started a wonderful friendly informative day with them. Leeming Bar is located adjacent to the Old Northern Road which was built by the Romans and went from London to Hadrian's Wall at the Scottish border. Before the railway came in the early 19th Century, the area was somewhat isolated as the only means of transport was via a horse and cart, not a coach as in the south, but a horse and cart. When the railway arrived, everything changed. Industry arrived, means of sending produce to London was available, milk was sent each day as was fruit and vegetables and because of the workforce needed to service the movement of produce, the population quickly increased. All because of the coming of the railway.

The Station Master and his wife lived in the Railway Station and the staff lived in cottages across the other side of that Roman Road. At the end of the terrace of the cottages was the village Pub, everything needed was close by. In 1902 a toll building was built amongst the terraces as the Roman road now had a toll for its use. The railway has survived due to various industries around the area including a rock quarry that was still operating in the 1990s and now the MoD uses the line to move its Defence infrastructure including tanks, armored personnel carriers and other Defence related products.

A recent purchase of a diesel rail car was our transport as we travelled on the line to its end and return. At the end of the line there is a café and one of the Volunteers, Mandy, delivers fresh homecooked cakes each morning. I had a piece of Lemon Drizzle Cake with a coffee before reboarding our transport for the return to Leeming Bar. On our way we were given a great commentary by Kate who has been a volunteer here for many years. We arrived and thanked all our new friends, said goodbye and headed to Shildon, the National Railway Museums main repository that supports the Museum in York. But first, in the revamped Parcel Office we played out a little interaction between a customer and Parcel Officer which was a success by all.

Shildon was a successful visit as there were many of the original locomotives from the times of the start of the railways in the UK. The location is called Locomotion. We had lunch and climbed aboard our coach for the trip back to our hotel. Kate and I went to visit the Minster, but the service started at 1600 and not 1700 so we attended a Service at a Church nearby. We had a great day followed by dinner at a local pub before retiring for the night. Tomorrow we start on our way south.

Graham Fleeton.


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