Northern Echo - Friday 19th June 2009
All Aboard The Railway Line That Never Was – Blame Paddy Waddle
FROM time to time I am asked if I know anything about the illfated Paddy Waddle Railway that supposedly crossed the North York Moors between Glaisdale and Moorsholm.
The answer is that I know something about it because I was born and reared in Glaisdale, the village at the southern end of that non-existent line.
From time to time as children we explored the relics of the Paddy Waddle Railway such as its cuttings, embankments and bridges, and its name became part of Glaisdale folklore.
As a child, I heard lots of references to the proposed line – in fact, much of the publicity and expectation occurred after my grandfather was born.
We pronounced Waddle as in paddle but the proposal for a railway across the moors came from a consortium of businessmen including Mr Joseph Dodds from Winston, near Barnard Castle, Lord Downe and CF Bolckow, the son of the man who did so much to create the Teesside steel industry.
Their first proposal was rejected by Parliament due to opposition from the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Railway but approval came later with Royal Assent to the necessary Bill in July 1873.
The man commissioned to construct the railway was John Waddell, a noted railway builder from Scotland and it is thought he earned the nickname of Paddy Waddell because he hired lots of Irish labourers for the work.
The first official cutting of the turf was performed at Moorsholm on October 17, 1874 by Mr Joseph Dodds who became the MP for Stockton.
The purpose of the new railway was to transport iron ore from the Cleveland mines at Skelton and Brotton across the moors to the thriving ironworks in Glaisdale.
Glaisdale’s ironworks had been opened a few years earlier in 1866 and possessed three mighty blast furnaces.
In fact the pub that overlooked the ironworks from Carr End was later owned by my grandfather. It was known as The Three Blast Furnaces but he changed the name to Anglers’ Rest – by then, of course, the iron industry of our village had collapsed.
Grandad later brought and converted the site of the disused ironworks and my relatives continue to live there.
However, having received authority from Parliament, the consortium started to construct their moorland railway, building bridges, excavating cuttings and creating embankments.
Many of those can still be seen between Glaisdale and Moorsholm. I have a map of that part of the moors.
It was first published in 1849 then amended in 1910 and it shows the proposed route of the Paddy Waddell Railway.
My map does not show Moorsholm or Lingdale, but it is possible to follow the proposed route of the line from Glaisdale almost to its terminus.
A branch line led from the ironworks to connect with the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Line that followed the Esk Valley into Whitby.
Half a mile or so from Glaisdale station, upline towards Lealholm, the Paddy Waddle line was going to be diverted into a cutting that would allow it to cross the moors via Rake Farm, Glaisdale, Stonegate Corn Mill near Lealholm and below Wood Hill Farm between Lealholm and Ugthorpe. Relics of that planned route can still be seen, including some very sturdy bridges.
From the opposite end, the planned route can be seen on my map after leaving Moorsholm to travel across Gerrick Moor, then to pass beneath what is now the Whitby-Guisborough moor road before heading south-east towards the Stonegate link on Lealholm Moor.
The cutting near Liverton Lane End can still be seen, although the last time I was there it was not easy to find due to natural erosion, and its base was something of a marsh. Sadly, the two sections of the line were never connected.
Even as the line was being constructed, the iron ore industry of that region was in decline. It had become increasingly difficult to find sponsors for the proposed railway – to be known as the Cleveland Mineral Extension Railway – and in fact the time allotted for its construction expired.
Parliament continued to pass seven new Acts of Parliament in support of the venture so that building could continue but the deadline imposed by the final statute was 1896.
That was 20 years after the Glaisdale ironworks had closed in 1876.
Despite the omens of gloom, many powerful people still believed that the railway would be viable from remaining seams rich in ore in that district but in fact the iron ore industry was by then in a deep recession. It meant that the Paddy Waddle railway was never built but the supreme confidence of the entrepreneurs involved can be gauged by the former splendid railway hotel they built in Moorsholm for customers who never arrived, and another inn at Rake Farm, Glaisdale that was used by the construction teams.
There appears never to have been a suggestion that such a railway might have also been used for passenger traffic or even the transportation of animals but, having been born and bred in that area, I do wonder what Eskdale and those moors might have been like if Paddy Waddle had succeeded in his plans.
Perhaps there might have been another historic steam railway crossing those bleak moorland heights?
And finally, all references to Cleveland in this account refer to the ancient and historic moors and hills of this region, and not to the new county that was created around Teesside in 1974.