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The Yorkshire coastal resort of Filey is served by one of the best surviving examples of a small-town station of the eighteen-forties, a significance recognised in the building's grade 2* listing and the exemplary restoration carried out by British Rail at the beginning of the nineteen-nineties.

At the start of the nineteenth century, Filey was just a fishing village but it had begun to attract the attention of visitors seeking a more secluded bathing place than Scarborough, eight miles down the coast. Serious development was begun by a Birmingham solicitor, John Wilkes Unett, who in 1835-6 purchased the clifftop land on which we now see the stucco terraces of The Crescent. The railway arrived on 5 October 1846, with the formal opening of the York & North Midland (YNM) Railway's branch from Seamer Junction on their York-Scarborough line; public services began the following day, which also brought the formal opening of the line from Hull to Bridlington. The 'coastal' route was completed a year later with the opening of the summit stretch taking the line over the tail end of the Wolds between Filey and Bridlington.


Views of the restored Filey station in 2009. The NER added a rear exit canopy, seen left with a luggage store beneath provided by the LNER for passengers travelling to Butlin's Holday Camp.

The station was designed by George Townsend Andrews and is a handsome, dignified building although the frontage is partially obscured by a glazed verandah added by the North Eastern Railway in 1910. The office range is a development of the design he had employed two years earlier at Durham Gilesgate station but the trainshed is allowed to dominate the composition and represents a significant advance on the one at Durham.

The trainshed is about 200 feet long and 42 feet in span, and is comparable with the one provided in 1845 at Malton station on the York-Scarborough line. A novelty was the introduction of wrought-iron lenticular trusses to support the hipped ends of the shed roof. Malton had employed cast-iron arcades and Durham stone walls in this location. These trusses, with a web formed of flat iron strips braced by bowstring angle sections, seem to be unique to Andrews in this application. He used them also for the stations at Bridlington, Driffield and Pickering, together with an extension at Scarborough, but then adopted a revised design in 1847 at Pocklington and Market Weighton.

The south end of Filey station about 1971, showing the original lenticular truss. Note the survival of British Railways North Eastern Region tangerine-coloured nameboards along with gas lamps, suspended from the station roof.

The cast-iron railing and gate in the foreground were recovered from another NER station and placed here by the LNER to provide an auxiliary Summer Saturday exit for holidaymakers travelling to Butlin's Camp prior to the Camp's own branch line being brought into full operation in 1947.


The original layout of Filey station.

Despite Filey's growth as a holiday resort, NER developments at the station were confined to platform lengthening, some additional offices and the provision of a footbridge, the latter squeezed with some difficulty into the trainshed in 1889.

The footbridge superseded a sleeper crossing in the middle of the station, linking platforms which were much lower than today. The bridge is to an NER design introduced in 1883 and made up from standard cast-iron components. This is too wide for the shed so the far landing and lower flight of steps are taken outside the shed and given a glazed timber canopy.

Externally, the original offices were lengthened at the south end to provide more toilet facilities while a second doorway was opened up alongside the entrance to ease access into an enlarged booking hall. The visual impact of the latter is mitigated by the entrance canopy already mentioned.

By the nineteen-sixties, passenger numbers were declining and the trainshed roof was suffering from arrears in maintenance. The hipped ends tended to be most vulnerable in the days of steam, and the north end hip was removed in the sixties with the south end (seen in an earlier photograph) following in the seventies.

The rather forlorn north end of Filey station c1971, minus one hip and the ridge skylight/ventilator.

By 1988, serious repairs were needed. Having failed to get listed building consent to unroof the trainshed, British Rail embarked in 1990 on a very thorough scheme of repair, which included reinstatement of the hipped ends and the ridge skylight/ventilator, which had also been lost. Grant-aided by English Heritage, Filey and Scarborough councils and the Railway Heritage Trust, this ended up as an exemplary exercise in conservation.

Repairs underway in 1990, over a wooden crash-deck to protect passengers and facilitate work. The roof has been stripped to its ironwork to deal with localised wasting of some members. The slender horizontal purlins which normally bear the timber and slate cladding stand out with unusual clarity.


Some original interior details of the office range.

The Up (southbound) platform retains an original water tower, though its 4,500 gallon cast-iron tank has long been lost. Designed by Andrews, they were normally provided on each platform of these medium-scale stations alongside the spot at which train engines were expected to stop. On this line they were to be found at Bridlington, Driffield and Beverley as well, but those have vanished and the only other survivor is at Malton, where it has been enveloped within extensions to the station offices.

A common ploy was to place the men's toilets in the room below the tank, a naturally convenient arrangement. At Filey, burgeoning visitor numbers soon rendered this impractical.


The stationmaster's house is a small detached villa situated behind the station. This is the 2-bay elevation facing the tracks, while it presents a 3-bay front towards the road. The white render tends to obscure the similarity of this house to the one at Driffield, which forms part of that station's frontage.

The crossing house and NER cottages survive at the road crossing north of the station but the Andrews goods shed and nearby NER housing were demolished in 1969, following the closure of the goods yard in 1964. The 'Silver Birches' residential care home now occupies their site.







© W. Fawcett, 2011