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David Sills ' The North Yorkshire Moors Railway'

David has been a volunteer fireman on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for many years & his talk was full of information, interesting photographs & amusing anecdotes. After more than 30 years teaching mathematics Ml time he now spends 2 days a week at the NYMR. His passion & enthusiasm for the NYMR was highly infectious.

Early photographs of around 1835 show horse-drawn carriages on a railway in a rural setting.   Later photographs, about 1870, show the rapid industrialisation with steam locomotives hauling wagons of crushed limestone from the crushing plant at Goathland. A modern photo from the same viewpoint shows the track & station buildings present in 1870 still standing but the industrial plant replaced by trees. Fortunately the Pickering line was the main line to Whitby & bridges & track were laid to main line double track standards. Before the war Autocar trains operated the local passenger services. These consisted of a tank engine flanked on both sides by the passenger carriages.  The fireman was on the engine but the driver looked through two windows at the front of a carriage. When the Beeching axe fell in 1965 all the lines to Whitby were closed except the Esk valley line but enthusiasts rallied to preserve the line from Grosmont to Pickering. By May 1973 the line was re-opened as a single track line 18 miles in length.

The NYMR has made giant strides since 1973. It is now a charitable trust with 10,000 members and owns several original steam locomotives in addition to the permanent way & stations. NMYR Enterprise Pic is the company which operates some 20 trains a day, has an annual turnover of about £5 million & runs on more than 200 days a year. Surveys show that the NYMR now brings some £30 million into the local economy per year. The major advance in the last six years has been operating 3 trains to Whitby every day. This has greatly improved passenger numbers & company profitability. This winter a second platform will be constructed at Whitby with a head-shunt to allow locomotives to run around the train. Initially this will allow the number of trains to Whitby to increase to 5 per day & further improvements may allow even more. Sadly, the sharp curves on the line prevent their flag-ship locomotive, 'Sir Nigel Gresley', from going to Whitby.

In the 40 years since the NYMR was saved from oblivion the work of dedicated volunteers, such as David Sills, has transformed the railway into a major tourist attraction with a bright future.