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Church Fenton to Harrogate
1848 - 1964
North Eastern Railway
Contributors:  © Reproduction prohibited / Phill Davison / James Hinchcliffe / David Taylor / Andrew Ripley / Paul Needham
                        Neil Mackay / Mike Bale / Adrian Smith / Denis Thomson / Malcolm Mallison / Mark Pennington / David Webdale
The Route
From junction north of Church Fenton on Leeds & Selby line to Harrogate (Brunswick station).
via Stutton, Tadcaster, Newton Kyme, Thorp Arch & Spofforth.


Original Company
Opened by George Stephenson & the York and North Midland railway company in 1848.
The York & North Midland became part of the NER in 1854.

20th July 1848

6th January 1964
Church Fenton to Harrogate
Phill Davison 

The railway arrived in Harrogate in 1848 built by George Stephenson and the York and North Midland railway company. The branch line diverged from the Leeds and Selby line at Church Fenton and had stations at Sutton, Tadcaster, Newton Kyme, Thorpe Arch and Spofforth, the line then navigated the Prospect tunnel and the magnificent 31 arch Crimple viaduct were it meets the present day Leeds line. The Church Fenton to Harrogate line has the dubious honour of been the first line to fall under the Beeching axe with all stations closing in 1964. The original Harrogate station was called Brunswick and was situated next to Trinity Methodist church on Trinity Road opposite the stray.
See Phills blog at - http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=265602590&blogID=351327703
Church Fenton
Wetherby branch (18-05-19) : Paul Needham

Here are the 2 bay platforms for the Wetherby branch at church Fenton, now heavily overgrown and barely able to make out.
When I first found them a few years back there was no security gate the bay was used as staff parking and both sides were weed free, sadly no so now. behind the fence are the 4 current tracks.

A162 0verbridge (29-06-14) : Denis Thomson

A162 0verbridge near Sutton at junction with B1223 Raw lane towards Ulleskelf (note the BR/B stencil).
A162 0verbridge (29-06-14) : Denis Thomson
Close up of the stencil on the A162 overbridge.
A162 0verbridge (29-06-14) : Denis Thomson
Arches on A162 overbridge.

Tadcaster (Wharfe viaduct, part of a failed 1848 project)
Tadcaster viaduct facing north (24-02-08) : David Webdale
In 1846 trains between York & Leeds travelled via Methley. The York & North Midland Railway planned a more direct link.
The route was to be in 3 sections. First a new line would link  Copmanthorpe to Tadcaster. The existing Church Fenton line
would be used between Tadcaster & Sutton. Finally a new line would be built between Sutton & Cross Gates.
Tadcaster viaduct facing east (24-02-08) : David Webdale
Work started on the project & by 1848 this tasty eleven arch viaduct, now grade 2 listed, had been built across the river Wharfe. Financial difficulties forced the company to abandon the project shortly after & work never resumed. Later on, in 1863, a less ambitious link was made between Church Fenton & Micklefield. Eventually by 1882 the viaduct was used for goods traffic by a nearby mill on the east side, now demolished. Freight continued up until 1955.
Tadcaster viaduct facing west (24-02-08) : David Webdale
The structure consists of a viaduct of nine arches & a bridge of two spans with a central pier & triangular cutwater.
The inside of each arch is brick & the walling is rusticated limestone. The quoins & voussoirs are of finely cut magnesian limestone.
The designer was possibly the Leeds engineer J.T Leather & that's my dad blowing his nose.

Newton Kyme - Thorp Arch viaduct
Thorp Arch viaduct (16-03-08) : Adrian Smith

Church Fenton - Harrogate (NER) viaduct, from the Newton Kyme bank of the Wharfe. Thorp Arch viaduct.
Thorp Arch viaduct (16-03-08) : Adrian Smith
Thorp Arch viaduct (05-04-21) : Mark Pennington
This viaduct has recently been decked and is open to the public as a cycleway,
which more-or-less follows the trackbed from the A659 to the A168. There is also access from the footpaths beneath.

Wetherby station (First site)  
See Leeds Wetherby
Note : Mike Bale

The line also had a station at Wetherby which opened in August 1847 together with those from Church Fenton to Spofforth. The Wetherby station shown on the above map is the passenger station opened in 1902 at which time the original station became Wetherby Goods station. You’ll know that the lines around Wetherby were the first to close after the Beeching Report. Apart from 3 overbridges the Goods Transfer Shed at the original station is the only item of railway architecture remaining in the town. See below.
Wetherby Station, 1st site, (c1970s) : Gary Fozzard
This photo might be near the back of the old goods station in Wetherby.
Wetherby Station, 1st site, Goods Shed (29-06-14) : Denis Thomson
At least it is still standing!

Wetherby North street (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison

Start of cycle path, and remains of bridge in B6164 North Street, Wetherby.

Leeds - Wetherby & Church Fenton - Harrogate Triangle junction    See also Leeds - Wetherby
Wetherby (29-05-15) : Malcolm Mallison
Bridge carrying A661 Spofforth Hill, with close up of rust and bodge-it-and-run central support.
Wetherby (29-05-15) : Malcolm Mallison
Bridge carrying bridlepath across western branch of triangle.
Wetherby (29-05-15) : Malcolm Mallison
Bridge carrying bridlepath across eastern branch of triangle.
Junction (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
Junction to Leeds (to left).
Junction (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
Looking back at other end of junction. Leeds to right.
Junction (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
Bridge carrying Barleyfields Rd. http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw023534.
Junction (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
Bridge carrying bridleway, grid ref 399489.
Junction (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
Trackside bunker.

Spofforth Station
Spofforth Station  (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison

1958 1 inch map. The bridges carrying the railway are now represented by mere dips in the path. There is no intact masonry. Of the level crossings over the A661 and Park Lane there is no sign. The current 25000 OS map still shows railway buildings on the site of the old station, but my hopes were dashed when I got there- the site is now detached executive houses. At least they called it Station Court.
Spofforth (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
Sign at Spofforth end of cycle path.

Spofforth viaduct
Spofforth viaduct (29-06-14) : Denis Thomson

Spofforth viaduct.
Spofforth viaduct (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
Three arch viaduct reached via footpath behind The Castle (pub).
Spofforth viaduct (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
Behind Spofforth Castle. Someone seems to have a viaduct in their back garden. How cool is that?

Spofforth (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison

Footings of bridge on School Lane. Other side of the road has a new house.
Spofforth (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
Parapet at Haggs Bridge. I apologise for the lousy exposure. Never trust auto exposure.
Cutting to south side is much silted. To north side has been filled in.
Spofforth (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
The trackbed from the footpath crossing (340517) has been dedicated as a public footpath. It looks just like any other farm track.
The bridge shown on the OS map (336518) has disappeared completely.

Prospect Tunnel
Prospect Tunnel (03-02-08) : Phill Davison
Just past Crimple viaduct we catch sight of Prospect tunnel on the Harrogate-Church Fenton line.
The line has the dubious honour of been the first to close under the Beeching axe.
The line was gradually run down over the years and the service was classed as 'nowt nor summat' amongst the long suffering passengers.
Prospect Tunnel (03-02-08) : Phill Davison
Nearly half a mile of tunnel ahead. Co-explorer added for scale.
Prospect tunnel is a straight 825 yds long and is in reasonable condition apart from deep standing water throughout.
The tunnel is relatively shallow at 81' below the surface and has a total of 3 air shafts. Note the wooden type of fixing on the left of the portal.
It seems to be hanging off a bit now. It appears to have been some sort of sign or notice board there. (see next photo)
Prospect Tunnel : James Hinchcliffe
Express train leaving Prospect tunnel, 500 yards from crimple viaduct.
On the back it says Leeds-West Hartlepool Express leaving Crimple Tunnel 4-4-0 Loco No. 1878 (Class Q).
Note the wooden type of fixing on the left of the portal, (see previous photo)
Note : Andrew Ripley
It's not a sign, it's a sighting board for the signal in front of it.
Similar white patches seen painted on the bridges of the S&C so the semaphore signal has a white background to be seen against.
Note : Neil Mackay
Just for info, the white wooden board seen in the NER photo and the current one is a "sighting board" for the signal at the entrance to the tunnel (Crimple Junction's No. 22 "Up Advance - Branch").
These were placed behind signals which would otherwise have been hard to see because of a dark background - in this case the tunnel portal and cutting.
Prospect Tunnel (03-02-08) : Phill Davison
Looking back towards Harrogate, Another track refuge coated in orange iron.
Prospect Tunnel (03-02-08) : Phill Davison
Close up detail.
Prospect Tunnel (03-02-08) : Phill Davison
In the middle of the tunnel we come to air shaft no 2. From the bottom of the tunnel to the top of the cappped shaft measures 81'.
Prospect Tunnel (03-02-08) : Phill Davison
Marker for Prospect no2 shaft. The walls are coated in soot from the steam trains.
Prospect Tunnel (03-02-08) : Phill Davison
Looking back towards the Harrogate direction at the end of the tunnel.
The blue tint on the brickwork is caused by the daylight shining in on a long shutter capture, I like this effect achieved with this method.
Prospect Tunnel (03-02-08) : Phill Davison
View of the South portal and the embankement for the A658 now built over the old trackbed.
Crimple Viaduct    See also Leeds - Harrogate
Crimple Viaduct (c1980) : Philip Hardaker
These shots are taken from the HST cab going empty early morning to Harrogate approaching Crimple Viaduct. First photo showing the viaduct which you can see from the cab as you pass spacey houses on the approach to Harrogate.
Crimple Viaduct (17-10-09) : David Taylor
The line closed as far as Crimple Junction, immediately north of Prospect Tunnel, in 1964 but remains open from there in to Harrogate crossing the Crimple Valley on the magnificent 31 arch Crimple Viaduct still used for Leeds - Harrogate trains.
The line to Crimple Low Viaduct (21-07-14) : Malcolm Mallison
In glorious monochrome (it was a Tri-X in OM-1 sort of day).
The line to Crimple Low Viaduct, looking eastward from the High Viaduct. Photos taken from a moving train.

Harrogate & Starbeck
The route from Starbeck to Rippon & Northallerton, including the Dragon junction section,
were closed in 1967.
The original 1848 Leeds & thirsk line between Pannal Junction & Starbeck was closed on
7 October 1951.
The later 1862 section between Pannal Junction & Starbeck taking in Harrogate & including
the tight curve over Crimple viaduct is the one still in use today.

Pannal Junction to Starbeck (Disused)
Pannal Junction to Starbeck : David Taylor
In 1859 a spur was built from the L&TR at Pannal Junction up to the Y&NMR at Crimple Junction, between Prospect Tunnel and Crimple Viaduct, giving Leeds trains a direct line in to Harrogate centre.
A spur was built northwards from Harrogate Station to re-join the L&TR at Bilton Junction.
The original L&TR line from Pannal Junction to Starbeck was closed in 1951.
(As kids in the days before Health & Safety madness we used to play on the viaduct, although it was surrounded by farmland not then a golf course.)


Pannal Junction to Starbeck (Disused)
Pannal (24-11-12) Malcolm Mallison
The lost bit- the line which left the extant line near Pannal, looped south and east of Harrogate under the Crimple Valley High Viaduct to Starbeck. A pre-Beeching closure (shown as disused on 1961 OS map). Footpath crossing grid ref 319525. On the day I was there (24/11/12) someone had just (to the extent that the bonfire was still smouldering) cleared away fifty years of undergrowth.

Crimple Low Viaduct
Crimple Lower Viaduct (17-10-09) : David Taylor
When opened in 1849 by the Leeds & Thirsk Railway (later the Leeds Northern) the line by-passed Harrogate whose nearest station on that line was at Starbeck. The line crossed under the Y&NMR's Church Fenton - Harrogate line and over Crimple Beck on the 10 arch Crimple Lower Viaduct.
Crimple Low Viaduct (24-11-12) Malcolm Mallison
Crimple Valley Low Viaduct. Only relatively low- still an impressive structure. Deserves a revisit in better weather.
Crimple Low Viaduct (09-05-13) Malcolm Mallison
As promised, Crimple Valley Low Viaduct in better weather.

Crimple Low Viaduct (09-05-13) Malcolm Mallison

Crimple Low Viaduct to Starbeck section

Crimple Valley Low Viaduct to Starbeck (03-07-13) Malcolm Mallison
Most of the line between Crimple Low Viaduct and Starbeck has been built over, but the embankment remains over part of the route.
The least overgrown part- just shows the results of 60odd years of abandonment.
Crimple Valley Low Viaduct to Starbeck (03-07-13) Malcolm Mallison
Cri002 Could be anything, anywhere. Actually the top of the embankment.
Crimple Valley Low Viaduct to Starbeck (03-07-13) Malcolm Mallison
A bridge once crossed Hookstone Chase here. North side of the road is a retail estate.

Harrogate Brunswick Tunnel
Brunswick Tunnel & Air Raid Shelter Exploration by the Leeds Historical Expedition Society L.H.E.S (26-01-08)
See more at - http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=265602590&blogID=351327703
This is the L.H.E.S pictorial record of our January the 26th 2008 trip to Harrogate to document Brunswick tunnel abandoned since 1862. This little known about tunnel has also been rumoured to have been utilized as an air raid shelter during WWII. There is very little documentation or records of this tunnel to be found anywhere. The intrepid investigators of the Leeds Historical Expedition Society are about to put the record straight and document one of Harrogates lost pieces of railway heritage for future generations. We hope you enjoy reading about our story. A great scoop for the L.H.E.S indeed. See photos below.
The 2008 layout (26-01-08) L.H.E.S
The abandoned Brunswick tunnel and station line in red.  The present day 1862 N.E.R route in blue.
South portal (26-01-08) L.H.E.S
The last trains to negotiate this stretch of line was an incredible 126 years ago. After negotiating some treacherous terrain we catch a glimpse of the South portal. Mother nature is hard at work keeping this tunnel a hidden.
Due to the deep swamp conditions in the cutting this is as far back as you can get to photograph the portal.
Brunswick Tunnel (26-01-08) L.H.E.S
Brunswick tunnel is 400yds long with stone built walls and brick lined roof arch, There are no refuges or air shafts within the tunnel but it is in remarkably good condition. You can see the indents in the tunnel floor were the sleepers used to be and there is very little debris or vandalism once inside.
Air Raid Shelter (26-01-08) L.H.E.S
Once through the door at the end of the tunnel we could survey the air raid shelter. A concrete floor had been laid with a 6' high brick lined wall lining the tunnel. Brick piers had been built to support a long wooden bench both sides of the tunnel. You can see the remains of 'cubicles in all four corners of the shelter, These appeared to have been make shift toilets. We had heard the walls had been white washed during the war years but we could see no evidence of this. This is the view looking back towards the tunnel entrance.
Air Raid Shelter (26-01-08) L.H.E.S
Close up detail of the brick bench piers and the corner W.C closets.
Beyond the door way you can just make out the stairs that lead up to street level on Leeds road.
Air Raid Shelter (26-01-08) L.H.E.S
Looking up the air raid shelter stairs,
A narrow passage is at the top of the stairs on the right leading to the final flight of stairs to street level.
Air Raid Shelter (26-01-08) L.H.E.S
There is some magnificent stalagmites hanging from the roof 4-5' long in places.
The blue 'glare' is daylight at the tunnel entrance 400yds away.
Air Raid Shelter (26-01-08) L.H.E.S
Here we can see the 1848 stonework of the tunnel portal next to the WWII concrete and brick modifications. It's amazing to thing were stood looking at a railway tunnel abandoned for 126yrs and at the same time an air raid shelter abandoned for 68 years. There was evidence of electric cabling suggesting there had been a light and power supply down here during the war years.
Langwith Avenue (26-01-08) L.H.E.S
The tunnel runs directly under the whole length of Langwith Avenue.
Brunswick Tunnel, Yorkshire Evening Post article (31-01-08)
Brunswick Station plaque stone (26-01-08) L.H.E.S
Apart from the plaque stone there is very little to suggest this was the site of Harrogate's first railway station. Due to it closing so long ago there are no photographs of the station, but it is thought to have been built of a wooden construction as opposed to the later day stone and brick method. The Brunswick hotel can be seen in the distance.See more at - http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=265602590&blogID=351327703

Nidd Gorge viaduct

Nidd Gorge viaduct (17-10-09) : David Taylor
North of Harrogate the line crossed the Nidd Gorge on a 7 arch stone viaduct. The line north of Harrogate closed to passenger in 1967 and to goods in 1969. It was a very busy line carrying Liverpool - Newcastle expresses as well as other traffic to many North East towns. A1, A2, A3 and A4s were all a familiar sights with of course the D49 Hunt Class on local trains. Much of the track between Starbeck and the Nidd Viaduct is a public footpath.
Bilton Railway Embankment (07-10) : James Lovell
P110710_13.34: Bilton Railway Embankment. Looking towards the viaduct
along the railway embankment. This photo was taken near Bilton. (July 2010)
Nidd Viaduct (07-10) : James Lovell
Nidd Viaduct -1. The Nidd Gorge Viaduct surrounded by trees, I was amazed by the sheer size of it, the height difference
between the first and second pillar is about 50 or so feet.
Nidd Viaduct (07-10) : James Lovell
Nidd Viaduct-2. The Nidd Gorge Viaduct almost belongs in this landscape.
Nidd Viaduct (07-10) : James Lovell
Nidd Viaduct-3. The Nidd Gorge Viaduct, showing the height of it,
this photo was taken from the base of the valley on the bank of the River Nidd.
Nidd Viaduct (07-10) : James Lovell
Nidd Viaduct-4. A panoramic view of the viaduct, taken from the banks of the River Nidd.
The viaduct used to be open to the public but it was shut, mainly due to people stealing the capping stones for their gardens.

Kirkstall Viaduct

Kirkstall Viaduct (17-10-09) : David Taylor
And if Arthington then how about the 23 arch Kirkstall Viaduct,  then that's all the viaducts on this line bar a metal trough one at Ripon which was demolished some years ago to make way for the City centre by-pass thus dashing hopes of re-connecting the line from Harrogate to Northallerton but - - - - http://archive.thenorthernecho.co.uk/2004/5/14/52376.html