In September 1832, George Stephenson proposed to build a rail link from Pickering to Whitby and was given financial backing by a syndicate. Four years later he completed the 24-mile line at a cost of £130,000, making this track one of the oldest pieces of railway engineering in the world.
In the early days, the two carriages were drawn by one horse, or two horses on the steepest hills. One stretch between Beck Hole and Goathland was too steep for this, and the carriages were winched by a stationary engine. The railway tycoon George Hudson acquired the line in 1845 for £80,000 and he quickly introduced steam locomotives after investing in wide scale improvements and new bridges and a tunnel. The Beck Hole rope winch remained in use until a fatal accident in 1864 when the rope snapped. A four-and-a-half mile diversion to the new Goathland station was built, at a cost of £50,000.
When many rural lines were closed in England as part of the Beeching Plan, the Whitby-Pickering line was one of its victims in 1965 after 130 years of service. The public outcry created a wave of support for the Yorkshire Moors Railway Preservation Society, and British Rail agreed to sell the first stretch of track to the Society in 1968.
During the early seventies the Society was replaced by the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust, and the many members made it possible to commence preparations for a return of steam train passenger services on the line. Just eight years after the line had been closed, the Duchess of Kent was able to officially open the North Yorkshire Moors Railway on May 1, 1973.
It has been a huge success over the last forty years - and counting - helped by the popularity of the North York Moors as a result of Heartbeat.
The NYMR website includes full contact information and up-to-date timetables.