Retford railway station

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National Rail
The station in 2005
General information
LocationRetford, Bassetlaw
Coordinates53°18′54″N 0°56′53″W / 53.315°N 0.948°W / 53.315; -0.948Coordinates: 53°18′54″N 0°56′53″W / 53.315°N 0.948°W / 53.315; -0.948
Grid referenceSK701803
Owned byNetwork Rail
Managed byLondon North Eastern Railway
Other information
Station codeRET
ClassificationDfT category C2
2017/18Steady 0.507 million
 Interchange Increase 0.121 million
2018/19Increase 0.520 million
 Interchange Decrease 0.101 million
2019/20Increase 0.542 million
 Interchange Increase 0.118 million
2020/21Decrease 0.116 million
 Interchange Decrease 19,682
2021/22Increase 0.456 million
 Interchange Increase 64,331
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road
Up Leeds express in 1954

Retford railway station is on the East Coast Main Line in the United Kingdom, serving the town of Retford, Nottinghamshire. It is 138 miles 49 chains (223.1 km) down the line from London King's Cross and is situated between Newark North Gate and Doncaster on the main line. It has four platforms, two of which serve the main line and the other two, located at a lower level and at right angles to the first pair, serve the Sheffield to Lincoln Line.


The higher-level platforms (numbered 1 and 2) respectively serve southbound and northbound East Coast Main Line trains operated by London North Eastern Railway which call at Retford. Platform 1 (on the eastern side of the layout) adjoins the main station building. Between the two platforms tracks there are two further lines, used by fast trains not booked to call here.[1]

The station is staffed throughout the week, with most amenities (booking office, toilets, coffee shop and vending machine) in the main building on platforms 1. The ticket office is staffed Monday - Friday 05:35 - 18:00, Saturday 05:35 - 16:10 and Sunday 08:20 - 16:10. A self-service ticket machine is also provided for use when the booking office is closed and for collecting pre-paid tickets. Train running information is offered via automated announcements, CIS displays and timetable posters. There are also customer help points on both low-level platforms, along with waiting shelters. All platforms are fully accessible for disabled passengers via lifts and a subway.[2]


East Coast Main Line[edit]

An InterCity 125 at the station following electrification

The station's High Level platforms are located on the East Coast Main Line and are served by London North Eastern Railway and Hull Trains services which are operated using Class 800 and 802 Bi-Mode units and Class 801 EMUs.[3]

The platforms are served on a two-hourly frequency by London North Eastern Railway services to York and London King's Cross. There are additional services in the peak hours including services to Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. On weekends, the frequency is the same although services usually run to Edinburgh or Leeds.

The station is also served by most Hull Trains services between London King's Cross, Hull and Beverley. There are seven trains to London and Hull on weekdays of which two continue to Beverley with a reduced service in place on weekends.


Retford low-level platform, showing the main line crossing and the barrow crossing

The station's low level platforms are located on the Sheffield to Lincoln Line and are served by Northern Trains services which are operated using Class 150 and 195 DMUs.

In May 2019, significant improvements were made on the line as part of the new Northern franchise with services on the line being doubled, although these have since been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[4]

The typical off-peak service in trains per hour is:[5]

The station is also served by a single morning and evening peak hour service to and from Gainsborough Central.

On Sundays, the station is served by an hourly service between Lincoln and Sheffield, with some services continuing to Huddersfield.

A small number of trains from Sheffield start/terminate here, including two that use the surviving connection via Whisker Hill Junction to reach platform 2 at High Level (a practice that was much more common in the 1970s when the Lincoln route had fewer through trains).

In 2021, work was undertaken to make the low-level platforms fully accessible, funded by the UK Government's Access for All programme. Previously, only the Retford to Lincoln platform (platform 4) was accessible; the Retford to Sheffield platform (platform 3) had steps to the platform and a barrow crossing. It was originally intended that the improvement programme would be completed by July 2021, but the project was set back by flooding and finally concluded on 15 December. The programme included the addition of a covered walkway between the mainline platforms and the low-level platforms.[6]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Newark Northgate   London North Eastern Railway
Grantham   Hull Trains
Northern Trains
Monday-Saturday only
Northern Trains
  Historical railways  
Line open, station closed
Great Northern Railway
Line open, station closed
Line open, station closed
Great Central Railway
Line open, station closed
Great Central Railway
Line and station closed


Retford station was Grade II listed by Historic England in July 2020. The current buildings date from 1891-2 and the reason for listing was given as "the very rare survival of the original finishes in the dining room and refreshment room" which are said to be ornate and featuring "fine craftsmanship"; the "remarkably long and well-balanced composition in the Italianate style" of the station buildings and the "impressive" canopy over the platform; and the well-preserved platform which make it "one of the most intact medium-sized GNR stations".[7][8]

The Retford Times (1913) presents a memoir of William Briggs (b 1839) who recalled the arrival of the first locomotive: "The speculation and guesses as to what a steam train would be like, when it began to be talked about, was general. The first locomotive came on a heavy lorry. It arrived on a Saturday, and going down Dixon's Bridge, the weight sunk the wheels on one side to the axle, and it had to remain till Monday. On Sunday hundreds visited the spot." He also recalled a train going to Cleethorpes from Manchester and Sheffield which had 64 carriages, all full, and many of them open to the weather.

'The Retford Times also published the memories of Frank George (b 1879) who worked at WH Smith & Sons railway station bookstall. He recalled that "the Duke and Duchess of Portland, Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, Earl and Countess Manvers, Earl and Countess of Yarborough, the Earl and Countess of Galway, the Foljambes, Laycocks, Denisons, Huntsmans etc" all used the station. The Duchess of Newcastle was said to change at Retford accompanied by her Russian Borzoi hounds. "If any special guests were staying at Welbeck Abbey, a magnificent equipage would bring them to Retford station, cockaded footmen and coachmen and occasionally postillion riders, a wonderful experience for any lad."[9]

Historic station buildings[edit]

S&LJR line and Thrumpton Station

The first railway into Retford was the Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway which opened on 16 July 1849 on the line between Sheffield (Bridgehouses) and Gainsborough. The station for this line was at Thrumpton, part of which still survives and is called The Old Station House.[10]

The Great Northern Railway

The Great Northern Railway line from Doncaster arrived on 4 September 1849 crossing the S&LJR on the level. It used the Thrumpton station until its own station was completed on land to the east of Ordsall Lane (now called West Carr Road) in 1852. Several new streets were built at this time to link the station to the existing town, including Queen Street, Victoria Road, Station Road and Albert Road. On 1 July 1859, the S&LJR (now the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway) began using the GNR station via a short connecting curve and closed its original station.

The original layout[edit]

Prior to the remodelling of the station, the S&LJR and GNR lines crossed at a flat crossing with a curve connecting the northern and eastern tracks. This allowed trains on the Sheffield-Gainsborough line to call at the station.

There were two northbound platforms - platform 2 (now closed) was on the eastern side of an island platform and platform 3 on the opposite side (still in use, now renumbered 2). Platform 1 handled southbound and eastbound trains. In addition, there was a single southbound line which passed in between platforms 1 and 2, rather than the two lines in place today. To relieve congestion on platform 1, there was a timber-built extension on the south curve (platform 1A) to allow Lincoln-bound trains to clear platform 1 proper.[citation needed]

1960s change of layout[edit]

The lower-level platforms (originally numbered 4 and 5, now re-numbered 3 and 4) were added when the flat crossing between the two lines was removed and replaced with a bridge in 1965[11] and the Sheffield-Gainsborough tracks lowered to pass beneath the main line.

These works also necessitated the removal of the direct north-to-east curve, meaning that trains between Sheffield and Lincoln could no longer call at the original platforms without a reversal. The curve connecting the Sheffield to Lincoln line to the current Platform 2 still exists and is used by a limited number of trains each day.

Use of station buildings[edit]

Plaque to WVS on Platform 1

Canteen and Rest Room

The work of the WVS of Retford at the station is celebrated with a plaque on Platform 1, which states that between March 1940 and March 1946 they served 2,284,000 meals to HM and Allied Forces in the canteen and rest room.[12][13]

Buffet and First Class Dining Room

The former Buffet and First Class Dining room on platform 1 are currently used as clubrooms by the Bassetlaw (North Notts) Railway Society.[14] The club has installed an interesting display of local railway images in the windows of the rooms.

Great North of England Cattle Market

The Great Northern and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Companies put forward the idea of a ‘Great North of England Cattle Market’ next to the railway. By 1865, the Retford Cattle Company was holding markets on a site to the east of West Carr Road and north of the railway line. There was a public house next to this known as The Cattle Market or Market Hotel (building still exists).[15]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 13 February 1923 - an express passenger train overran signals and was in a rear-end collision with a goods train. Three people were killed.[16]
  • 13 August 2014 - man was killed after being struck by a train.[17]
  • 21 February 2019 - a 45-year-old woman died after being struck by a train in Retford.[18]

References in popular culture[edit]

Bill Bryson comments of Retford station, in his book Notes from a Small Island, that it is shown on railway maps in a typeface (and large filled circle graphic) marking it as equivalent to much more notable cities in northern England, and he therefore deemed it worth a visit.

Michael Palin of Monty Python fame recalls frequently visiting Retford station as a youngster for train spotting, as it was in easy reach of his home city of Sheffield and provided access to legendary locomotives like the Flying Scotsman running on the East Coast Main Line.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Improvements to Retford Railway Station are on track". Worksop Guardian. 28 March 2019. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ Retford station facilities National Rail Enquiries
  3. ^ Table 26 National Rail timetable, May 2019
  4. ^ Northern Franchise Improvements - DfT
  5. ^ Table 28, 30 National Rail timetable, May 2022
  6. ^ Steve Eyley (6 January 2022). "Huge improvement at railway station is good news for town". Worksop Guardian.
  7. ^ Jack Lacey-Hatton (21 December 2020). "Retford Railway station makes national heritage protected list for 2020". Lincolnshire Live.
  8. ^ Historic England. "Retford Railway Station and gate piers with attached walls to north (Grade II) (1470324)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Retford Railways, Early Memories". Our Nottinghamshire.
  10. ^ "Retford Conservation Area Appraisal" (PDF). Bassetlaw Council. May 2012.
  11. ^ Building of Retford Dive-under in 1964-5 '; Retrieved 17 June 2009
  12. ^ "Retford Women's Royal Volunteer Service". Imperial War Museum, War Memorials Register.
  13. ^ Jack Lacey-Hatton (21 December 2020). "Retford Railway station makes national heritage protected list for 2020". Lincolnshire Live.
  14. ^ "History". Bassetlaw Railway Society. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  15. ^ James Roffey and Malcolm Dolby (1991). The Book of Retford.
  16. ^ Hall, Stanley (1990). The Railway Detectives. London: Ian Allan. p. 83. ISBN 0 7110 1929 0.
  17. ^ "Retford: Man killed after being hit by a train". Worksop Guardian. 13 August 2014.
  18. ^ Daniel Morrow (22 February 2019). "Woman, 45, dies after being struck by train in Retford". Lincolnshire Live.
  19. ^ Margolis, Jonathan (3 August 1998). Michael Palin: A Biography. Orion.
  • Dow, G., (1959) Great Central, Volume One: The Progenitors (1813-1863) , Shepperton: Ian Allan Ltd.

External links[edit]