The Derwent Valley Light Railway (DVLR) (also known as The Blackberry Line) was a privately owned standard-gauge railway running from Layerthorpe on the outskirts of York to Cliffe Common near Selby in Yorkshire, England. It opened in 1913, and closed in sections between 1965 and 1981. Between 1977 and 1979, passenger steam trains operated between Layerthorpe and Dunnington – the entire length of track at that time. In 1993 a small section was re-opened as part of the Yorkshire Museum of Farming at Murton. The line gained its nickname of The Blackberry Line in the days when it used to transport blackberries to markets in Yorkshire and London.
In 1976, the owners of the railway decided to operate steam trains between Layerthorpe and Dunnington, which was the entire length of the line at that time. A regular summer service started in 1977, with J72 0-6-0T 69023 ‘Joem’ operating the services. By 1979, there were not enough passengers to justify continuing and the service ceased. The railway continued to carry occasional freight trains to Dunnington until 1981 when the grain driers at Dunnington closed and the last major source of freight for the line was gone. On top of that the railway was in desperate need a major overhaul with the majority of the rails and buildings still being the 1913 originals. However, the owners decided that the lack of demand for freight failed to justify any plan of action other than to close the line down. The last train ran on 27 September 1981.
Until 1990, a small preservation group, the Great Yorkshire Preservation Society, was originally based at Starbeck near Harrogate. When this closed, the society members relocated to the Yorkshire Museum of Farming, and started to rebuild approximately 0.75 miles (1.21 km) of track towards York, including the section under the York by-pass. A new station was constructed using the original station buildings from Wheldrake, and the railway re-opened in 1993. The track-bed from Layerthorpe to Osbaldwick, along with part of the former Foss Islands Branch Line in York, has been converted to a foot and cycle path. Whilst future extension of the line towards Osbaldwick may be possible, there are still no formal plans for this at this time
Friday July 19th 2013 will see the Derwent Valley Railway being in existence for 100 years. It is intended to commemorate this milestone over the weekend of the 20th & 21st July with a gala event to celebrate the history of the line, which will include the return to the line of two locomotives with a historical connection to the Derwent Valley Railway.
The special event will include the following:
J72 69023 ‘Joem’ owned by NELPG,
Class 04 D2245 from The Battlefield Line
Replica Ford Model T Railbus
It is hoped that John Fowler ‘Churchill’ will make a return to service following overhaul
03079 will be operating representing the use of the class on the line (and will be specially re-numbered for the event)
Other locos from the home fleet may also make an appearance.
A re-enactment of the opening ceremony will take place on Saturday at 1pm
with a Derwent Valley theme, on display will be:
‘Rowntrees Halt’ by York EBOR Club, ‘Whelganby’ by Phillip Lockwood
‘Skipwith’ by Ken Nelson and ‘Coney Hill’ by David Rae
Miniature train rides provided by the York City & District Model Engineers
There will be a display of historical archives.
Enhanced opportunities for photographers are being created along the line.
(Lineside passes will be available on a limited basis, please contact the DVLR for details)
Trains will be operating to an intensive timetable, which will include demonstration freight trains.
A heritage bus link will be provided using THORNES between York Railway Station STAND J and Murton Park/ Yorkshire Museum of Farming at the following times both days:
From York Railway Station: 0930, 1030, 1130, 1230, 1430, 1530, 1630
From Murton Park: 1000, 1100, 1200, 1400, 1500, 1600, 1700
(There will be a charge of £1.50 each way to cover the cost of hiring the bus)
Adult £14, Concessions £12, Child £7, Family ticket £30
Opening times: 10am until 5pm.
Further details & timetable available; http://www.dvlr.org.uk
Image courtesy of J Griffiths