SCRCA site 231281: Hellifield Station

SCRCA Location Introduction

The current Hellifield Station was built by the Midland Railway Company at a cost of £20,718[1] and it opened for passenger use on 1st June 1880[2]. Its extra long platforms and extra large station building allowed full trainloads of passengers to disembark briefly to obtain refreshments and to use the 'conveniences'. Both of these services were especially important during the early years of the station's operation because railway carriages did not have corridors, restaurant / buffet cars or, for third class passengers, toilets.

The booking hall and booking office were located at the south-eastern end of the main station building, near the access ramp from the entrance subway. The two-storey section housed a kitchen on the upper floor and a refreshment room on the lower floor, linked by a narrow staircase and a dumb waiter. A stone cellar below part of the refreshment room was used to store barrels of beer (which were delivered by rail and rolled into the cellar via a hatch set into the platform). The first full license (to serve alcohol) was granted on 24th August 1880. According to the 1894 edition of Cassell's "Official Guide to the Midland Railway", the station was also supplied with a letter-box, a telegraph office and a bookstall.

The sandstone blocks used to construct the main station building were quarried in Shipley (Airedale), but the platforms are surfaced with impressively sized flagstones from Burtersett (Wensleydale).

The glazed awning / platform canopy is a remarkable survivor, given its relative fragility and the high cost of maintenance.

The heyday for Hellifield was between 1901 and 1914. Taking 1910 as an example, around 60 uniformed station staff handled approximately 90 passenger trains a day. During the course of the same year, 28 engines and two snow ploughs were based at the Hellifield shed and the exchange sidings handled around 200,000 wagons. Services and staffing levels were significantly reduced during the First World War and they never quite recovered to the pre-war levels.

The trackwork serving the south-eastern ('Up') bay was removed on 11th April 1965. That serving the north-western ('Down') bay was removed on 2nd January 1966.

Key parts of the passenger station were designated Grade II Listed on 7th April 1977. List Entry Number 1131702 specifically mentions the underground passage and ramp (including the associated gates, ceramic tiles and railings, the "main passenger building", the "extensive cast iron and glazed canopy", the 3rd class refreshement kiosk (described as a "C20 plank extension") and the weighing scales (described as "late-C19 cast iron weighbridge").

Between January and September 1994 (following the reprieve of the Settle-Carlisle line and the subsequent formation of the conservation area), the station building and platform canopy were restored at a cost of approximately half a million pounds.

The canopy was refurbished again during the second half of  2013 at a cost of £550,000. This involved repairing and redecorating the structural steelwork and replacing all of the glazing panels.

The south-eastern ends of the two through platforms are currently leased to the regional Train Operating Company as part of the franchising system for Britain's National Rail Network and they are still served by the daily passenger services. The north-western ends of the two through platforms and the main station building are leased to a private company. The main station building is now occupied by a popular cafe & visitor centre and charter trains occasionally use the full length of the two through platforms.

Two locomotive depots were built beside the station: one for the Midland Railway Company (see Hellifield MPD) and one for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. These enabled the locomotives to be quickly changed (for refuelling and servicing), thereby minimising the delay to through services. Both of these depots have since closed and almost all of the associated structures have been demolished.

[1] This figure was reported to the half-yearly meeting of the Midland Railway Company in August 1880. It includes the passenger station, exchange sidings, M.R. engine shed and initial batch of workers' housing.
[2] The small North Yorkshire village of Hellifield has been served by two different railway stations. The current station is the second. For details of the first, see SCRCA site 230801: Hellifield (NWR) Station / Hellifield Goods Station. The exchange sidings beside the new station opened on 1st March 1880.
Photo-montage for Hellifield Station

Key details from the Location Record

Location Type
Railway Station
Location Variant
Station Status - Open (Served by passenger trains)
Assessment status
Current Use(s)
Commercial, Railway ops
Shown on a land plan?
Construction / installation period
3: MR operational phase (1st Jan 1877 to 31st Dec 1922)
Distance from London St.Pancras
231 miles and 22 chains
Position relative to running lines
Both sides
This location IS visible from nearby publicly accessible land.
Accessibility (ease of access)
Protection Category
Site within Conservation Area
Geographic Location
  View this location on mapping. or on aerial imagery.

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Montage created in 2018

Photo-montage for Hellifield Station

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Errors and omissions
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