George Stephenson (1781-1848), built the first public railway to use steam locomotives and is widely described as the 'father of railways.' He became the engineer of the York and North Midland Railway whose chairman was George Hudson. Hudson controlled over 1,000 miles of railway in 1844. He was once a millionaire but had questionable business practices, including the payment of dividends to shareholders 'out of capital'. he died leaving less than £200. Early in 1840 the necessary parliamentary notices were being published 'for the projected railway from Scarboro' to this city' [1] Further evidence that a line might be built came in the summer of 1840 - at the half yearly meeting of the York and North Midland Railway a sum of £500 was requested to survey the line for a railway to Scarborough [2]. A description of the route was published early in 1844 [3]. An Act for enabling the York and North Midland Railway Co. to make a railway from York to Scarborough with a branch to Pickering' received the Royal Assent in July 1844 [4]. However, it was 4th July 1844 before work commenced. There was mixed feeling among people in the town about the desirability of the railway based on fears that the railway would damage the coal trade, the Navigation and Earl Fitzwilliam's interests, in fact, a public meeting had considered opposing the railway 'in toto' [5]. A letter to the editor of the Yorkshire Gazette late in 1844 suggests the nature of Earl Fitzwilliam's interest as 'for every ton of goods conveyed from the river Ouse up the Derwent to the town of New Malton a tariff of 8s per ton may be charged as dues' [6].

  • [1] Yorkshire Gazette 29 February 1840
  • [2] Yorkshire Gazette 25 July 1840
  • [3] Yorkshire Gazette 6 January 1844
  • [4] London Gazette, Issue 20360 published 5 July 1844
  • [5] Yorkshire Gazette 30 March 1844
  • [6] Yorkshire Gazette 28 December 1844


The railway took just 1 year and 3 days to build. It was opened on Monday 7th July 1845 and widely reported in newspapers published in the north. 'The railway from York to Scarbro', that "queen of watering places," .... ... was publicly opened on Monday last ... ... within a year of the time when the original act of parliament, authorising its construction, was obtained." … above two hundred and fifty persons sat down to a sumptuous breakfast ... on the Guildhall. ... After breakfast, the company formed themselves into a procession, and walked to the railway station (York) At the station a monster train was formed, consisting of about thirty-five first class carriages ... and the train started for Scarbro' drawn by two powerful engines ... the city walls and every eminence where a view of it could be obtained, being crowded with spectators ...The line next passes across the Derwent over a bridge four hundred feet long direct to Malton, where a capacious station has been built in the meadows. An excellent approach to the station has been formed by constructing a new street from Yorkersgate to the river, and throwing a bridge across it. The view of Malton, as seen from the railway, is very pleasing, the line running parallel with "the browse", a beautiful public walk, the slopes of which are cultivated and planted with shrubs, and over which Kimberley's hotel and many other public buildings, are prominently seen. At Malton, the arrival of the train was greeted by hundreds of spectators, by bands of music, by the ringing of the church bells and other demonstrations of rejoicing, the day apparently being observed as a general holiday, and flags flying from the tower of St. Leonard's church, and other lofty edifices. 'a considerable number of persons were taken up at Malton' [1]. On return to York, a dinner was held in the Guildhall, where George Stephenson remarked 'that it was on the subject of the railway form York to Scarborough that he first met Mr. Hudson' [2]. Another report of the opening of the line states 'At present the Scarbro' railway only consists of a single line of rails, but it is intended ultimately to lay down an additional line' [3]. How quickly the additional line was built I have not been able to establish.

  • [1] York Herald, 12 July 1845
  • [2] Newcastle Journal 12 July 1845
  • [3] Leeds Intelligencer 12 July 1845

Malton Festivities

A committee at Malton was granted their wish of a 'free train' by George Hudson for the purposes of a free trip to Scarborough. Tickets were distributed to the innkeepers who gave them to those who would dine at their houses and in all nearly 1,000 inhabitants took the trip on Tuesday 8th July 1845 (the day after the opening). Before the train left, a procession was formed at The Talbot Hotel, which proceeded down the new street over the railway bridge to the station. The street was christened 'New Bridge Street.' Such was the celebration that most of the shops were closed and business suspended. After the trip the Committee and chosen others dined at The Talbot, followed by dancing, a boat race and at 11pm a firework display. The dancing continued until 5a.m! [1]

  • [1] York Herald, 19th July 1845


The timetable for early 1885 was published in the North Eastern Advertiser and Malton Gazette on 10th January 1885. The stations on this line were: Scarborough, Seamer Junction, Ganton, Weaverthorpe, Heslerton, Knapton, Rillington, Malton, Hutton Buschel, Castle Howard, Kirkham Abbey, Barton Hill, Flaxton, Strensall, Haxby, York and on to Leeds. The Malton to Scarborough journey took around 50 minutes, and Malton to York a similar time.

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Railway excursions were popular right from the very early days of the railway. Imagine Maltonians being able to get to Scarborough at a reasonable price and comparatively quickly. This advertisement from the Malton Messenger, 4 June 1870

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In the Yorkshire Gazette of 12 July 1845, a John Fowler announced that "in consequence of the Opening of the York and Scarborough Railway he has given up running his omnibus between Malton and York". He also announced that he would run a daily service between Malton and Hull

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