The railway lines around Great Ayton were constructed primarily to transport ironstone from Guisborough and Rosedale. Although accessible from the stations at Pinchinthorpe and Ingleby Greenhow, Ayton did not have its own line until 1864. The line from Battersby to Morton Carr was opened in 1864 to shorten the distance travelled by Rosedale ironstone on its way to Middlesbrough. It was a further four years before passenger services began, the station at Ayton having been completed in 1867. By now the railway was part of the North Eastern Railway Company.
Passenger services increased in frequency until the First World War, with seven trains a day in each direction. After the war the service deteriorated, including the loss of the late night train back from Middlesbrough. Large numbers of pupils from the North of England Agricultural School (later the Friends’ School) used the train to travel home. Goods services were also well used, with a goods yard equipped with a hand-operated crane. Coal was sold from the station yard, a perk of the station master’s job.
After the Second World War steam was replaced by diesel and, perhaps surprisingly, passenger services survived the Beeching axe and continue to this day. The station, however, became an unmanned halt. Goods services ceased, and coal for sale arrived at the station by road transport. In the 1980s the Royal Train, with Prince Charles on board, stayed overnight just to the south of Ayton.
There are links below to pages that chronicle how the railway arrived at Ayton, and what effect it had on the village life. There are also interviews with Maurice Scarth, the son of the last stationmaster, and with Joan Taylor, who worked at the station during the Second World War. An article by Tom Knox recalls George Scarth, the last stationmaster, as does a transcription of a press article by Peter Ridley.
The Arrival of the North Eastern Railway at Ayton
Impact of the Railway on Great Ayton
Last Station Master George Scarth
Memories from Maurice Scarth
Memories from Joan Taylor
Peter Ridley Article "The End of the Family Line"
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