Film ID: YFA 40 Video of YFA 40 Opening of North York Moors Railway OPENING OF NORTH YORK MOORS RAILWAY 1973 Visitor TabsDescription This film documents the Opening of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway by the Duchess of Kent on May 1st, 1973. It includes the town's preparation for the arrival of the Duchess as well as a journey along the newly opened rail line. The film opens with shots of Whitby Harbour as the town prepares for the arrival of the Duchess of Kent who will open the section of railway line from Grosmont to Pickering. The Duchess and Lord Normanby arrive by car and are greeted by the Mayor and Mayoress of Whitby. The Duchess unveils the commemorative plaque, and after which is driven through the streets of Whitby in an open carriage. The film then moves to Grosmont where final preparations are taking place. The Duchess arrives in Grosmont, and she signals for the station to be opened. A double-headed steam train pulls into the station to take the party onto Pickering. This is followed by scenic shots of the train which travels through the North Yorkshire Moors. On arrival at Pickering, the Duchess is escorted by the mayor and dignitaries to the Black Swan Hotel. Here she unveils another plaque. The rest of the film shows the Duchess chatting informally to the crowds before leaving Pickering. Context This film was made by York amateur filmmaker Ken Clough, along with a couple of collaborators. It is one of several other films held by the YFA that feature the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Ken made many films of a documentary type featuring the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, and often showed these to the members of the Society. One of these other films is an excellent documentary just called North York Moors Railway, made in 1977 by Ken Clough. Most of the films held by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway are made by local Pickering filmmaker Keith Snowden. Coincidently both filmmakers made films around the same time about the North York Moors Railway in a magazine format; with only a vague knowledge of each other. Like several local filmmakers Ken worked at Rowntrees in York. Whilst working as a draughtsman and design engineer, designing production machinery, Ken made a film of the complete production process in 1988, Rowntree Manufacturing Process. This too is held with the YFA. In fact Ken was actively involved with the YFA almost from its beginnings in Ripon, not only donating films he had collected, but also giving film shows. As well as being active in the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Society, he later trained to become a diesel driver with them. Through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Snowden produced many films documenting local events and in particular the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, from its closure in 1965 through to an ‘In Touch’ trip on the railway in 1985. Most of the films have the same title: ‘J.K. Snowden Presents: North York Moors Railway News Composite Edition’. Snowden’s films are an invaluable source of information on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. As soon as they were closed, sensing the historical significance of this, Snowden made a highly informative and imaginative film in 1965, The Whitby and Pickering Railway, also on YFA Online. The first of his NYRN films traces the development of the North York Moors Railway Society from 1967 to 1972. This shows the people involved in the organisation and the efforts they put into fund raising and restoring the track, lineside fencing and equipment, and steam engines. The effects of the Beeching railway cuts that led to the line being closed are documented in the Background Information for 8 O'clock Special (1962), also on YFA Online. The North York Moors Railway started life in 1832 when some Whitby businessmen approached George Stephenson to do a survey on the feasibility of building a railway between Whitby and either Stockton or Pickering. Stephenson had been responsible for the Stockton to Darlington line seven years earlier. It opened in 1936 with horse drawn wagons: steam engines being banned until 1847. The line entailed making eight tunnels between Sleights and Grosmont, including one of 120 yards, and a climb of 522 feet before descending into Newton Dale. In 1845 the railway merged with the York and North Midland Company linking it with London. Around 1850 the North East Company became owners, before it finally become the London and North Eastern Railway. The Duchess of Kent was an apt choice to open the railway line, born as she was not far from Pickering at Huntingdon Hall, Hovingham, the daughter of Sir William Worsley. The YFA has a collection of 13 films made by Sir William in the 1930s, including Personalities In Hovingham Village, which is also on YFA Online (see the Context for this film for more on Sir William Worsley). Born as Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley in 1933, Katharine married Prince Edward, Duke of Kents, in 1961 at York Minster. Having an easy going manner, in 2002 she decided to drop the title 'Her Royal Highness' and came to be known informally as Katharine Kent. She also reduced her royal duties and worked as a music teacher at Wansbeck Primary School in Hull. In 1994 she converted to Catholicism, making her the first the first senior Royal to publicly convert since the passing of the Act of Settlement. The Duchess of Kent has become much less seen in public, and more distanced from the rest of the Royal family. It is interesting to look at this film in the light of a comment the Duchess made in an interview in 1998, "I can still be very shy walking into a room full of strangers," . . . "I know how to do it, but I have never gained confidence. It is one of the reasons I am always trying to boost other people's self-esteem; because I know what it's like not to have it." Over the years she has suffered from depression and from Coeliac disease, which went undiagnosed for some time. Her lifelong interest in music led her to set up in 2004, with Nicholas Robinson, Future Talent, a children's charity to fund and nurture musically gifted individuals aged between 5 and 18. The movement for the restoration of closed railway lines built up a head of steam in the 1970s, with now dozens in existence. Although often poked fun at, it is the railway enthusiasts which we can thank for this. With so much bad news for railways in Britain, it is refreshing that the line has gone from strength to strength since its opening, and even the Black Swan Hotel looks pretty much the same, with plaque intact. Being one of the oldest historic and most scenic lines in the north, it isn’t surprising that it now attracts more than 330 thousands tourists from around the world. The railway will be familiar to those who have seen Harry Potter movies or the TV series Heartbeat, Possession, and Sherlock Holmes. References David Joy, Steam on the North York Moors a White Rose Guide to the Grosmont-Pickering Railway, Dalesman Books, 1983. David Joy, North Yorkshire Moors Railway a Pictorial Survey, Dalesman Books, 1987 North Yorkshire Moors Railway For an online history of the line Further Information Alan C. Butcher (editor), Railways Restored, Ian Allan, Hersham, 2008.