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Pocklington, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, is an ancient market town nestling below the western edge of the chalk Wolds. It was the main place served, en route, by the railway from York to Beverley, which closed in November 1965. The imposing parish church of All Saints is testimony to the medieval importance of the town, founded on wool and corn, and the second half of the eighteenth century saw various schemes under discussion to link it by canal and river navigation to the River Humber. These came to nothing but in 1815 an Act was obtained for a Pocklington Canal, providing access to the River Derwent at East Cottingwith and hence to the Humber. Engineered by George Leather (junior) the canal opened in stages, with formal completion on 30 July 1818. It stopped, however, a mile short of Pocklington, where it met the turnpike road from Hull (now the A1079), which already bypassed the town. The locks required to cope with the 40 feet (12m) rise between that point and the town centre proved too costly for the promoters' pockets.

The idea of a railway was broached by the Hull & Selby Railway Company in 1845, when they were also planning their Bridlington Branch, but George Hudson had the area earmarked for his York & North Midland Railway (YNM), which obtained an Act in 1846 to build a line from York via Pocklington and Market Weighton to Beverley, where it would join the route from Hull to Bridlington. To contain his rate of expenditure, Hudson confined work initially to the stretch from York to Market Weighton, which opened on 4 October 1847. By then, capital was getting tight and the YNM was also obliged to purchase the canal, so work was deferred on the more costly continuation of the line across the Wolds. After Hudson's fall in 1849, no-one wished to proceed with the scheme and it was only after much badgering that the North Eastern Railway (as successors to the YNM) got new powers to complete the line, which opened in 1865. The line provided a direct route from York to Hull and was earmarked by British Railways North Eastern Region as the testing ground for a scheme of 'Centralised Train Control', intended to cut manning costs. Unfortunately, this idea was overtaken by the 'Beeching Axe' and the line closed entirely from 29 November 1965.

The railway from York to Market Weighton was engineered by Robert Stephenson, with his trusted assistant John Cass Birkinshaw doing most of the work, and the architect was Hudson's friend George Townsend Andrews, whose station and goods shed at Pocklington fortunately survive, together with a pair of houses. The station comprises an Italianate office range and house fronting his customary hip-roofed trainshed. The design can be read as a development of the stations he had provided at Filey and Driffield the previous year but the idiom is somewhat more formal and slightly richer in its detailing.

Pocklington station (left) during its last year of operation and (below) a recent view in its modern incarnation as a school gymnasium.


The office range is a compact block with a shallow arcaded entrance loggia framed by waiting rooms and linked by a panelled screen wall to the station house, whose stone quoins, moulded architraves and prominent cornice give it a much more formal air than its counterpart at Driffield.


 A shallow bow window looks out from the house onto the platforms, sheltered by a Euston-trussed shed very similar to the one at Filey except in the treatment of the walls and truss at either end. Filey has a very distinctive lenticular truss with vertical slats bearing the hipped ends of the roof while the walls are left plain but have the plaster eaves coving wrapped around their top to create the effect of a pier and capital. The Pocklington walls end as rusticated stone piers bearing a Warren truss with lenticular bracing; the visual effect is a little heavier than at Filey, but the outcome is a fine, dignified building.


Pocklington station (above), surveyed in 1971, showing the platforms in their latter, heightened state. They were still paved with their original, full-width stone slabs'

Filey station (left) showing the original platform and track levels.


Pocklington station, from the east about a year after closure, with everything including signs still intact.


View from the west at the same period.


Looking east prior to closure, with the array of porters' barrows which once typified these stations. Right to the end, the platforms were lit by gas, the cast-iron bracket being typical of those used by Andrews, with original survivors still to be found at Pickering.

After closure the station forecourt was exploited to drive a new road through and release pressure on the town centre. The station itself lay empty for some years but was eventually acquired by Pocklington School, who carefully adapted it as a gymnasium. The exterior was restored and the only significant change involved was to build brick walls across the ends of the shed below the end trusses. Thus this charming building survives as one of our best examples of an ambitious country-town station of the eighteen-forties. Next door to the station lies the goods shed, a typical example of Andrews' work, which has endured thanks to its early adaptation for commercial use.

A modern view of the east end of the station, with a line of clerestorey glazing behind the Warren truss.


View east out of the trainshed in 1965, showing the goods shed with Andrews' characteristic covered (but open-sided) loading area at the far end. This end's arched doorway has been replaced by a flat lintel to gain more clearance.


A modern view of the former goods shed from the opposite (north) side. At a very early date, this north wall had been extended at the far end to partially enclose the loading area.


A pair of former crossing houses survives to the west of the station. We see their backs, while West Green level crossing used to be just to the right of this view.






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© W. Fawcett, 2011