THE more we look at it, the more spectacular the coastal railway into Whitby becomes.

The line, and its amazing viaducts, from Middlesbrough featured in Memories 646, particularly the last few miles into Whitby.

From Staithes, the line, which opened in 1883, hugged the clifftop, stopping at two remote stations, Hinderwell and Kettleness, before plunging into two tunnels: Kettleness, which was 282 metres long, and Sandsend, 1,511 metres long.



The Northern Echo: Hinderwell station in 1962, four years after the line shut. It was demolished soon afterHinderwell station in 1962, four years after the line closed and just before it was demolished

The Northern Echo: Sandsend stationA steam train approaching Sandsend station from Middlesbrough

As the train left the darkness of the Sandsend tunnel, passengers suddenly got a fabulous view of the miles of golden sands arcing towards Whitby, and of the line that was to take them there. The line from Sandsend station wasn’t so much clifftop as dunetop but still steel tubular viaducts were required to carry it over becks which had channelled out ravines in the sandy soil.

“There were actually four viaducts between Sandsend and Whitby West Cliff,” says Mike Barnard.

The Northern Echo: SandsendA train from Whitby comes over Sandsend viaduct into the station

Immediately after Sandsend station was Sandsend Viaduct (267ft long, 63ft high and eight spans) which was quickly followed by East Row Viaduct (528ft long, 30ft high and eight spans) which plodged across the beach.

The Northern Echo: A fabulous picture of children playing on Sandsend beach beneath the East Row viaduct

“After East Row Viaduct, 1km nearer Whitby, there was Newholm Beck Viaduct (325ft long and 50ft high with 11 spans) and then a further kilometre towards Whitby was Upgang Viaduct (330ft long, 70ft high with 6 spans),” says Mike. “All four were demolished in 1960, two years after the line closed, although the stone abutments of Upgang Viaduct are still visible from the A174 as you drive past the golf course.”

We unknowingly showed a picture of the Newholm Beck Viaduct in Mems 646, referring to it as the East Row Viaduct.

The Northern Echo: East Row viaductNewholm Beck Viaduct on the approach to Whitby with the 9.45am train from Middlesbrough

“Your picture showed the Newholm Beck Viaduct looking north west and the East Row Viaduct is visible in the background. The train is the 09:45 Middlesbrough and Whitby to Scarborough in 1957. It took about three hours for the 58 mile journey. The locomotive is No 43054, an Ivatt designed 4MT (mixed traffic) 2-6-0 built at Doncaster and entered service in Darlington in 1950. That picture was taken by AM Ross.”

The Northern Echo: East Row viaduct in 1956 with Whitby in the distance

We had another picture of the East Row Viaduct on the front cover a fortnight ago (above). “It has Class A5 4-6-2T No 69838 heading a Middlesbrough bound train,” says Mike. “No 69838 was scrapped at Darlington in 1958 after 33 years of operation. The camping coaches mentioned in the article are visible just behind the train. That picture is from the Neville Stead Collection.”

Camping coaches were a 1930s North Eastern Railway innovation which made use of the amazing views afforded by the coastal railway. Old carriages were rolled into sidings beside the line at Kettlewell, Sandsend and East Row and converted into overnight accommodation for tourists. One can only imagine the joy at the stationmaster discovering that, as well as running a coastal railway operation, he had suddenly become a B&B manager as well.

The Northern Echo: The drama of the cliffs at Kettleness, taken from the old railway track by John Walton