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The York and North Midland Railway was a railway company in the United Kingdommarker which opened in 1839, connecting Yorkmarker, with the Leeds and Selby Railway and in 1840 with the North Midland Railway at Normantonmarker near Leedsmarker.


Having seen the success of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway and, in 1833, Acts of Parliament for lines to Londonmarker from Lancashiremarker - the Grand Junction and the London and Birmingham, the manufacturers of Yorkshiremarker realised that they would be at a commercial disadvantage.

George Hudson, having inherited a substantial sum, invested in the North Midland, becoming a director. He then took an active part in the promotion of a connection from York, becoming chairman of the proposed York and North Midland, which obtained Parliamentary approval in 1836.


George Stephenson was the engineer for the line, which left York in a South Westerly direction crossing the River Wharfemarker at Ulleskelfmarker. Near to South Milfordmarker the line was proceeding almost southwards, where it passed under the Leeds and Selby, with an eastward-facing triangular junction to the latter. At Burton Salmonmarker it turned westwards to join the North Midland in a northward-facing direction between Methley and Normanton. Further branches were added to the North Midland and the Leeds and Selby.

The path taken by the line was exceptionally easy with broad curves and a maximum gradient of 1 in 484. Thus there was little in the way of earthworks, apart from a cutting at Fairburnmarker. There were 31 bridges, the principal ones being over the Rivers Airemarker, Wharfemarker and Calder. They were of stone and two - those over the Calder and at Holdgate Lane - were built on the skew. The main problem was at York, where it was proposed to build the station within the city walls. These were pierced in such a manner as to placate the Yorkshire Philosophical Society.

The track was of straight sided pattern at 54¼ lb. per yard supported either on stone blocks or kyanised wooden sleepers. The gauge was 4 foot 8½ inches over blocks, or 4 foot 9 inches over sleepers. Locomotives were supplied by Robert Stephenson and Company and the carriages were first class, with lamps at night, second class, open at the sides, and third class without cover but provided with seats.


The York and North Midland was a great success, particularly in its early years when it was part of the trunk route to Londonmarker, via Derbymarker and Birminghammarker. In 1845, it was paying a dividend of 10% in line with the top few railway companies.

Over the last part of its route it was in competition with the Leeds and Selby, particularly into Leeds, and George Hudson negotiated a lease of the latter and practically closed it down, finally purchasing it in 1845 when they also leased the Hull and Selby Railway. Hudson then bought and upgraded the horse-worked Whitby and Pickering Railway for steam operation, connecting it with his own York to Scarborough Line via a branch to Pickering. In 1851 the Knottingleymarker branch was built with Stephenson's third tubular bridge after the pattern of the one over the Menai Strait and the East & West Yorkshire Junction Railway from Knaresboroughmarker to York was taken over.

Before this, in 1849 however had come Hudson's spectacular collapse and the company had come under the guidance of T E Harrison who proposed a merger with the York Newcastle and Berwick Railway and the Leeds Northern Railway. This took place in 1854 to form the North Eastern Railway. The NER inherited the lease on the H&S and it was not until 1872 that it was finally taken over.

The Leeds and Selby is still open, with the York and North Midland as a diversion, as part of the present day Dearne Valley Line

Other lines

Parliamentary approval for a line from York to Beverley was granted to the York and North Midland Railway in 1846 and the line completed as far as Market Weighton by 1847. However, the financial problems following the exit of Hudson delayed the completion to Beverley until 1865. The line was closed in 1965 on the grounds that it duplicated the Hull to York Line, which was retained.


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