Historic Times on DVLR

Derwent Valley Light Railway

Historic Times on DVLR.

Tickets for a mix of different journeys .

The tickets are in Jonathan D. Stockwell's private collection.

The Official Opening of the Derwent Valley Light Railway in 1913.

The Derwent Valley Light Railway was opened officially on 19th July 1913 by Lady Deramore. The line was born out of the Light Railways Act of 1896, which made the promotion of railways by public bodies possible. Two councils, Riccal and Escrick RDCs were responsible for promoting DVLR. The original line ran for 16 Miles from York (Layerthorpe) on the eastern side of the historic city and served a number of villages along the Derwent Valley going eastwards to Dunnington then southwards to Cliff Common, near Selby. There were intermediate stations at Osbaldwick, Murton Lane, Dunnington Halt, Dunnington, Elvington, Wheldrake, Cottingwith, Thorganby, and Skipwith. The bulk of the share capital came from Lord Wenlock.

The picture is of Lady Deramore having just cut the twin blue ribbons to officially open the line at Layerthorpe station. The ceremony was re-enacted in 2013; See "Modern Times on DVLR"

Picture: Courtesy of York Press.


The book, Rails Along The Derwent," has further interesting pictures of the opening day. There are two wonderful pictures showing how the opening party rode to Cliffe Common on benches placed on open wagons with awnings above and a picture of the scene after the return of the train to Layerthorpe Station.


Cessation of Regular Passenger Sevices in 1926.


Due to a decrease in passenger numbers, regular passenger services between Layerthorpe and Skipwith ended in 1926. However, after 1926, the demand for freight services continued. Also a number of "Specials" were run for passengers, from time to time.


The Blackberry Specials in 1929.


See under tab, "The Blackberry Days"(link)


Continuing Independence.


DVLR remained independent until closure (1981), escaping grouping in 1923 and nationalisation in 1948.


The Second World War.


With food imports seriously curtailed by war, it was essential to maximise home grown production. The Derwent Valley Light Railway benefited from the area's contribution to the increase in agricultural production during World War II, as the weight of agricultural produce carried increased significantly, boosting the railway's earnings.


Intruiging Revelations from The Second World War.


The book mentioned above has intruiging revelations about the way in which the government was able to make the use of the Derwent Valley Light Railway's rural location for "hush-hush" purposes.



It would be easy for a visitor coming to the Derwent Valley Light Railway, on a sunny Summer day, in modern times, to imagine how idyllic this railway through rural Yorkshire could be. But, it did, at times, have its physical challenges. Parts of the line could be prone to flooding. In York, until the building of the Foss Barrier, the Foss Islands area often suffered flooding, which could affect the Layerthorpe yard of DVLR.

The picture from the DVLR archives was taken on 27th Jan. 1947. It shows the British Rail Yard at Layerthorpe. Clearly, with the yard under a lot of water, it was anything but "plain sailing" there.

Whisky plays its part from 1955.


In 1955, a major new industry, Yorkshire Grain

Driers set up in Dunnington. They provided an important source of income for DVLR from 1955 almost until DVLRs closure. Much of the grain was shipped out to Scotland to meet orders from whisky distillers.


Yorkshire Grain Driers eventually had their own locomotive, Churchill (John Fowler 0-4-0DM. Built 1947. No. 4100005). for pulling wagons as they were loading under hoppers.A picture of Churchill, courtesy of Trevor Humbey is shown on this page on all but mobile phones, but the loco can be seen on all devices on the Rolling Stock page on this website.




Passing the only signal.


There was only ever one signal on the entire DVLR. Here a train is seen passing it. Unique in the World, the signal system was locally designed and built. It related to the state of the crossing at Wheldrake. It was probably one of the most photographed signals in the country.

See Book: "Rails Along The Derwent"(link) for more information. Photograph by David Mitchell.

In 1963, a different kind of signal. The First Cuts were a signal of decline.


In July 1964, fifty one years after the line opened, it wasn't the blue ribbon which was getting cut, but the line itself as the board announced its decision to close the section of line between Wheldrake and Cliff Common. The section was getting little traffic and its connection to BR at Cliff Common was being severed by the closure of the Selby to Market Weighton Line.

A change of name in 1973.


As from As from 23 March 1973, the railway became known as the Derwent Valley Railway when the word "Light" was dropped. See under tab "Not Light!"(link)


Steam Specials in the late 1970s.


In testing the market in 1976, special trains were run in October 1976, in conjunction with National Railway Museum.

Their success resulted in the running of Summer Steam Specials 1n 1977-79.


Steam Haul to Dunnington for Picnics in 1979.


In 1979, half a century after the Blackberry Specials, DVR ran trains on Sunday from Layerthorpe to Dunnington, where there would be picnic lunches for the travellers, before returning to York. There were pick-up and return services by bus between York Station and Layerthorpe Station for these events. Woodcock Travel advertised the trips as you can see from the picture of an advertisement. Click on the image to see a larger version for reading. You will see that the Derwent Valley Railway (as it was then called) is described as a well kept secret. That is no less true of DVLR today, so please let others know that DVLR is here.

The Final Run.


Sunday, September 27th 1981, saw the final train, a special, run over the Derwent Valley Railway from Layerthorpe to Dunnington and return. It was a special run to pay respects to the DVR on its sad demise. The picture, taken from the A64 road bridge, is particularly poignant. It shows the train as it was passing through what was to become the site of the preserved railway.


Photograph DVLR Archives.

Credit: Robin Patrick.


One small section of old DVR line was still being used in 1987!


This railway hadn't stopped springing surprises, even after it closed.


Page 35 of the book

"Rails Along The Derwent" has a picture of a shunter and oil tankers working on a short piece of the old DVR track at Layerthorpe on 2 July 1987!


1982 saw the establishment of Yorkshire Museum of Farming.


About a year after closure of the DVR, the Yorkshire Museum of Farming(link) was established at Murton Lane, on land which fortunately included part of the old DVR track and YMOF ultimately became the enabling environment through which the new DVLR could eventually arise.


1992 saw the first run of the "new" DVLR as a preserved heritage railway.

Derwent Valley Light Railway,

c/o Yorkshire Museum of Farming,

Murton Lane, Murton, York, YO19 5UF.

Derwent Valley Light Railway Society is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

Registered number 116162