Derwent Valley Light Railway

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This article is about the Derwent Valley Railway in Yorkshire, England. For other railways with this name, see Derwent Valley Railway (disambiguation).
Derwent Valley Light Railway
The Blackberry Line
DVLR shunting - 2009-06-21.jpg
Train shunting on the DVLR
Locale England
Terminus Murton
Commercial operations
Name Derwent Valley Light Railway
Built by Derwent Valley Light Railway (DVLR)
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Preserved operations
Operated by Derwent Valley Light Railway Society
Stations 1
Length 12 mile (0.80 km)
Preserved gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Commercial history
Opened 1912–1913
Closed 27 September 1981
Preservation history
1985 Light Railway Order transferred to Murton section of line
1990 Great Yorkshire Preservation Society moves to Murton
1991 Wheldrake station obtained
1992 Railway converted to Sustrans cycle track between York and Osbaldwick
1993 Railway reopens
2013 DVLR marks 100 years of original full route opening

The Derwent Valley Light Railway (DVLR) (also known as The Blackberry Line) was a privately owned standard-gauge railway in North Yorkshire, England, and was unusual in that it was never nationalised, remaining as a private operation all its life. It ran between Layerthorpe on the outskirts of York to Cliffe Common near Selby. It opened in two stages, in 1912 and 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.[1]


The south end of the railway, from Wheldrake to Cliffe Common, was opened on 29 October 1912, with the remainder of the line opening on 19 July 1913. Although it was constructed primarily as a freight line, passenger trains were introduced from 1913, and during the First World War it was used as a diversionary route by the North Eastern Railway between York and Selby. Passenger services ended in 1926, though freight traffic prospered through the Second World War.

In 1923, most British railway companies were grouped into four large companies, with the nearby North Eastern Railway becoming part of the London and North Eastern Railway. However, the DVLR remained independent, and continued to do so even after nationalisation in 1948. In 1964, British Railways closed the Selby to Driffield Line, meaning that the junction at Cliffe Common became redundant. With the connection to Selby now gone, the DVLR was left isolated at its southern end. The line was subsequently run from the Layerthorpe end but traffic generated by the southern section of the track was light so the decision was taken to close the line between Wheldrake and Cliffe Common in 1965. The section between Wheldrake and Elvington followed in 1968. Elvington was closed in 1973, leaving only approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) of track between Layerthorpe and Dunnington on the outskirts of York.

Final years[edit]

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 locomotive number 69023 Joem (now preserved at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway) 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 of 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. In 1984 the holding company, Derwent Valley Holdings, became Derwent London, now a multi-million pound property investment and development company.[2]

The Foss Islands Branch Line, to which the Derwent Valley Light Railway connected at Layerthorpe, was subsequently closed in 1989, and lifted in 1992.


Derwent Valley Light Railway
East Coast Main Line
to Scarborough
York National Rail
Rowntree's chocolate factory
Foss Islands Road depot
Current limit of operation
A64 (York by-pass)
Yorkshire Museum of Farming
Murton Lane
Dunnington Halt
Dunnington (for Kexby)
to Market Weighton
Cliffe Common
to Hull
to York
Selby National Rail

The original railway was 16 miles (26 km) long, and served the following places:

The line today[edit]

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 34 mile (1.2 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 line now runs a mixture of 6 diesel and 1 steam locomotive on Sundays and bank holidays.

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, part of Sustrans route 66.[3]

Whilst future extension of the line towards Osbaldwick may be possible, as of 2014 there are currently still no formal plans for this.[4]

Former station at Cliffe Common, 1988

Rolling stock[edit]

The following rolling stock is owned by the preservation group as of March 2010:

  • Steam Locomotives
  • Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No. 8 built in 1955. (Under repair, boiler ticket expires in 2015)
  • Carriages
  • North Eastern Railway 4-wheel coach No. 1214/2462 built in 1890. (Stored awaiting repair)
  • B&W Engineering 4-wheel observation coach No. BW1000 "Sylvia" built in 2003. (Stored awaiting repair)
  • Southern Railway 4-wheel PMV Luggage Van No. S1367S built in 1939. (Operational)
  • British Railways Mk1 TSO No. E3805. (Operational, on long-term loan from NYMR)


  1. ^ "Derwent Valley Light Railway to celebrate 100th anniversary". York Press. 30 May 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Derwent London trend that bucks the market". Daily Telegraph. 29 August 2007. 
  3. ^ "Easy cycle rides for leisure – No. 7". York City Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "History of the Derwent Valley". Derwent Valley Light Railway official website. Retrieved 25 June 2008. Given time, hard work and the resources, the line maybe extended from its current length, but that remains to be seen [dead link]

External links[edit]