By Geoff Courtney
IT MAY be just a half mile long, but the Derwent Valley Light Railway in York is pulling out all the stops on March 25, when it will be celebrating the silver jubilee of the launch of its regular passenger service.
It was in March 1993 that preservationists launched the service on a stretch of the original Derwent Valley Light Railway that ran for 15 miles from York Layerthorpe to Cliffe Common, near Selby. The line opened in 1912 to convey mainly agricultural produce – passenger trains operated until 1926 – and defied absorption in the Grouping of 1923 and Nationalisation in 1948 by remaining in private hands.
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Despite its independent status, motive power was provided in the steam era by the LNER and subsequently BR, and included Class J21, 24 and 25 0-6-0s, but latterly the line was worked by two Class 04 diesels bought from BR.
The end came in September 1981, by which time it was one of the country’s last privately-run standard gauge railways, and nine years later preservationists took over the stretch of the former railway that is their home today. This lies within Murton Park, the home of the Yorkshire Museum of Farming, where the original track of 1913 was still in place.
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