Old photographs spark journey of discovery for Wensleydale Railway historians

Finghall Lane Station.

A recent donation of family photographs has sparked a fascinating journey of discovery, enabling staff and volunteers at the Wensleydale Railway to piece together the story of one of its stations, Finghall Lane between Leyburn and Bedale.

The photographs were donated by Jane Stringer, who inherited them from a family friend and got in touch with the railway to find out if they would be of interest.

The photographs, which date from the late 1880s through to the 1930s, depict the station in its heyday, with its beautifully-maintained flower beds and five staff including Station Master George Metcalfe, who ran it from the mid 1890s until just after the First World War.

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Born at Great Fencote near Northallerton, George was employed by the North Eastern Railway Company all his working life, working his way up from the roles of porter and signalman to the respected position of station master over 50 years.

“This is a real glimpse into the past for us, given that few people had access to cameras until well into the 20th century,” said Virginia Arrowsmith, Wensleydale Railway heritage education officer.

“It’s also really valuable resource for us to share with schools, who visit us to explore what life was like on the railway in Victorian and Edwardian times.”

An ongoing research programme into the history of the Wensleydale Railway, which runs from Leeming Bar to Redmire, is underway.

They would be interested to hear from anyone who has a family connection with the railway or can help piece together its story over the last 150 years.

To get in touch, please email education@wensleydalerailway.com or telephone 01677 425805.