Aysgarth Station - Wensleydale Railway

Discussion in 'Railtours & Preservation' started by Worf, 12 Aug 2017.

  1. Freeman

    Freeman Member

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    Can you possibly copy and paste any of those letters, for the benefit of non-members?
     
  2. ThetrackMaster

    ThetrackMaster Member

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    As I see it reading all this, I agree with WORF. The WR PLC Board has got what it wanted and have pressed ahead.
    I do think though, that the only way to stop all of the pent up anger is for the Board to address the issues which has a common theme.
    Whether you were a supporter of the sale or not is now irrelevant as its gone.
    There is however an undercurrent as to the process behind the sale which clearly needs dispelling and the only ones that can do that are the Board.
    Until that happens and the Board attempt to explain their actions, speculation will continue to win the day and many members will take there view that "theres no smoke without fire".
    The WR not only needs to retain its membership, but also needs to attract new blood as well, however if all appears not well in the camp, new members may be a lost cause?
    On a side note, latest edition of HERITAGE RAILWAY had a large editorial about what the WR was trying to achieve.
    It made some interesting points, but I saw it as simply a justification piece re-inforcing the new policy. It left quite a few unanswered questions as to how it was going to operate profitably.
    There are two sides to a business. Investing in it for the future and to maintain the status quo and of course operational costs for day to day running.
    I could see from the piece about investment, but I saw precious little about being profitable going on operationally.
     
  3. Marmaduke

    Marmaduke Member

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    I think that its now common knowledge that Mr Smith has indeed purchased the Aysgarth site.
    Personally and on reflection, this may after all be a good thing.
    As the rhetoric from the WR PLC Board seems to continue that they would have never managed to get to Aysgarth, it probably required someone with influence, commitment to the goal and of course some cash to not only purchase Aysgarth, but also look to build a railway back to Redmire.
    If Mr Smith manages to achieve this, will that not be a bad thing?
    Yes it would have always been nice to have inclusion within an elongated WR, but if anyone has watched the current documentary on the NYMR, even the best in the world struggle!
    So I now get where the WR PLC are trying to get to in terms of business delivery - Not sure how they are going to achieve this, but pretty excited about a Leyburn - Aysgarth service at some time in the near future.
    Get behind Mr Smith and pardon the pun.......enjoy the ride!!
     
  4. XDM

    XDM Member

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    I agree. One thing we can all agree on is that Mr Smith is a great rail enthusiast & he puts his money where his mouth is. Good luck to him & we should back him & his laudable project.
     
  5. TheBeard

    TheBeard Member

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    Great news, Gromit has a Wensleydale powered track laying machine! Not sure quite how much money Smithy or indeed anyone alone has to get to Garsdale, but perhaps if others will get behind him anything is possible.
     
  6. ThetrackMaster

    ThetrackMaster Member

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    Do you know what.....I agree with everything that has been said. If anyone was to own Aysgarth, whilst I don't know the Gentleman personally, I think Mr Smith is probably the best and only person to make something happen.
    Whilst I know he owns the WCRC, an astute businessman to boot, he would appear to be a very private and low profile person who clearly supports and has an interest in heritage railways.
    I do hope he makes a real go of it and if the plans are indeed to relay the track to Redmire, good on him, because like many I would love to see a steam service between Leyburn and Aysgarth as that is where the real jewel in the crown.
    I suppose the only question I would have is where will the erstwhile WR be in all this?
    They are in real danger of being left behind with all this because clearly there will require to be some form of major financial and resource input required a regards things like a robust signalling system in place and of course more volunteers.
    Assuming they can stay the course, then all parties will end up with a fantastic railway at the western end of the line.
     
  7. unslet

    unslet Member

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    Wow,4 positive posts in a row.:)
    The Railway is certainly trying new initiatives.eg the fine dining,evening gin trains etc.
    They may not be to everybody's taste,but they are certainly proving very popular.
    Fingers crossed for the future.
     
  8. STEVIEBOY1

    STEVIEBOY1 Established Member

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    Yes, well said.
     
  9. Marmaduke

    Marmaduke Member

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    My friend whose a member of the Wensleydale Railway Association Trust, has passed me a flyer booklet titled "2018 - Dig Deep Appeal" which he received in the post last week.
    Upon page 2/3 is a foreword from Mr Steve Davies MBE - Director who basically is requesting members to part with yet more cash.

    Quite frankly, being open minded about the reasoning behind the Aysgarth sale, I must say I find this appeal most disconcerting for a number of reasons namely;

    1). The PLC had a golden opportunity to receive at least another £100k on top of the eventual sale price without having to do a thing, after the very sad demise of the sitting tenant. Why given that money is so tight was no leverage applied to maximise the return? How that additional £100k would have been welcomed?

    2). How much surplus cash was actually realised from the sale? I am hearing the surplus, far from being nearly £200k was actually somewhere between £50-80k.

    Surely at the time of the Aysgarth sale, the PLC Directors were aware of the possibility of a committed cost towards the legal dispute?

    Yes the sale of Aysgarth was probably needed to help the WR to survive, but now the monies gone along with the family silver and we appear to be no further forward, indeed Mr Davies goes on to suggest that they'd always said this year and the next would be "make or break" for the railway, yet here we still find planning to get to Castle Bolton on the agenda!!

    At what price to CB? And of course what would the pay back be? Is there a business case for it? How will it pay for itself?

    Why does the owner of Aysgarth who we are led to believe has plans to extend east, not take it all the way to Redmire?

    Why does the PLC still persist with fanciful ideas whilst the WR has its back to the wall? Ship needs steadying first before venturing beyond I think?
     
  10. Worf

    Worf Member

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    The PLC do not appear to be interested in addressing any of the issues you raise and neither are the Charities Commission bothered about the moneys raised for the "Aysgarth Ambition" and spent on other things. I remain a holder of some worthless shares in the PLC (ok, I realise they were actually just a donation, but I expected that shareholders would be kept in the picture about the true financial state of the Company)
    I have not renewed my WRAT membership; there are plenty of other more deserving causes worthy of financial (and volunteer) support. Maybe the best thing that could happen would be failure of the PLC and a better run setup rising from the ashes. (Assuming the new Aysgarth owner doesn't pick up the best bits first)
     
  11. AndyY1951

    AndyY1951 Member

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    I also decided not to renew my membership, for the same reasons.
     
  12. Freeman

    Freeman Member

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  13. duffield

    duffield Member

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    Yes, interesting - track over the bridge included in the plan. I wonder if the bridge needs any substantial repairs or strengthening?

    It would be great if the owner was rich enough and committed enough to join up with the Wensleydale sometime (don't expect they could finance the link themselves anytime in the foreseeable future!)
     
  14. Freeman

    Freeman Member

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    Well there is a clear link - the new owner is David Smith of West Coast Railways, and the name of the applicant on the planning application, the agent, is Steve Davies, one time head of the NRM and now chief of Wensleydale Railway plc.

    My guess is that Mr.Smith will apply to re-build the link between Aysgarth and Redmire - as indeed he has himself proposed. If that is achieved, through running will be possible right through to the East Coast Main Line. Such a partnership between Smith and the WR and we have a very exciting prospect.

    It seems clear that the purchase of Aysgarth Station was only the first link in a major plan.
     
  15. duffield

    duffield Member

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    There has been a lot of talk about this and I really hope it comes to fruition. I guess the failure of one of my local lines, Peak Rail, despite much rumour over many years, to even get from Rowsley South to Rowsley proper, let alone Bakewell, or to even make any progress in that direction, - despite a number of hints a few years back that planning applications were 'imminent', has made me a bit cynical about lofty ambitions!

    As a private owner obviously David Smith has absolutely no *obligations* to anyone to reveal more details, but it would certainly drum up some enthusiasm if he could come up with some outline plans and indicative timescales at some point - particularly if he wanted to co-finance it with enthusiasts instead of entirely off his own bat! (Hint hint, some of us might want to 'buy in' to this project in a small way if it allowed the Wensleydale even very limited running rights to Aysgarth!)

    Anyhow, I don't want to be too negative, this is a positive and interesting start!
     
  16. Serathor

    Serathor Member

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    Hi Long term lurker, and non regular poster.
    Forgive me, if this is off topic or already been covered. I used to volunteer at the WR and know only to well of their desire (or now previous desire) to extend to Aysgarth Falls. In my view it would make perfect sense if they could. Instead of catching the vintage bus at redmire. I for one am not interested in buses in the slightest and would like to train it if possible.
    However with the recent nearby A1 upgrade, they recently purchased the old iron bridge that was part of the old Richmond / catterick branch line (I stand to be corrected if this is wrong). So what are they going to do with it now, are they still hoping to push forward and put the bridge over the beck. Or is it a waste of money, and just going to rot in the bushes somewhere?

    I would love to see trains running to Aysgarth but I fear it won't be in my lifetime at this rate.
     
    Last edited: 21 Aug 2019
  17. Freeman

    Freeman Member

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    Yes, they did buy the old A1 Richmond Branch bridge and it is currently stored at Redmire Station. Some of it is intended for use over Apedale Beck, but the abutments need to be rebuilt first. When that's done they have to address the undermining by rabbits of the ash embankment immediately west of the beck. That's still the plan when the money is available. There are then a couple of small access bridges missing on the way to Aysgarth. The A1 bridge is probably big enough to be cut up and used to span all of these. However some small stretches of trackbed along there are in farmers' hands and would have to be acquired. The farmer holding the land west of Bolton Castle is (or at least was) quite opposed to the railway.
     
  18. zaph

    zaph Member

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    To be fair to the Wensleydale railway, I think things are improving. We visited yesterday and the trains were fuller than I remember them being on previous visits. They are in a cache 22 situation, having 22 miles of track to maintain, without the rolling stock to provide a sufficient service to generate the income to maintain the infrastructure, let alone invest in expensive improvements.

    I assume that along with the lack of stock, the railway has signalling and passing loop restrictions that restrict service frequencies. Getting to Asygarth would be nice, Redmire is a bit in the middle of nowhere but I think they are right that their priority has to be to steady the ship and consolidate what they have.

    In Bedale and Leyburn they have two destinations that will attract visitors. I think they are right that maintaining a steam service is important, despite the cost. It is what the tourism market demands.

    An easier win would be Northallerton. Not for a mainline connection, I think that is of dubious value unless you are near London, since most to the rest of the country use the car to reach such attractions. Simply because Northallerton is largish centre and another place that people are willing to visit. Of course that depends on how close the railway can get to the centre without having to spend a large amount of money.
     
  19. E759

    E759 Member

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    They already have a station, Northallerton West. You can see it on Google Maps very easily. About 20 minutes walk from Northallerton station and about the same distance from the town centre. There are previous posts on this forum which explain why it's not is use. Short answer = lack of funds to upgrade the road crossings and I suspect a belief that it won't help things all that much for the reason you stated: 95% of visitors arrive by car anyway.
     
  20. zaph

    zaph Member

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    I am aware of Northallerton West, just not sure how close to the centre it is. People who think it won't make a difference are mistaken, I believe. I speak more as a lay person, like the tourists that use the line. People would prefer to start in a town with shops and things to do, rather than in the middle of a light industrial estate at Leeming Bar.
     
  21. mailbyrail

    mailbyrail Member

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    Leeming Bar is ideal for the car-borne tourist being just off the A1(M) with trains starting there. I was just such a motorised visitor a couple of weeks ago.
    Yes, there's nothing there, but that's the benefit - turn up, buy a ticket and head off without the feeling that you've missed attractions rusting away in the yard. Also bearing in mind that others in the car aren't interested in the station architecture (a superb neglected historic building at Leeming Bar), signalling or much else bar the toilets (and could understand why there are what they are because of the straightforward explanation).
     
  22. duffield

    duffield Member

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    As someone who has actually used Northallerton West, it's not very accessible and needed careful planning to get to in a reasonable time! When I used it a few years ago a new housing estate had just been built and careful examination of both Bing and Google maps/satellite views didn't give me confidence that the apparently shortest route was actually open; I tried to get through the estate but despite having a printed map got confused and ended up going round 'the long way' and being a bit short on time - but I realised on the way back that there was a short cut through the estate - but it wasn't at all obvious.
    Anyhow, it's irrelevant at the moment because no trains run to Northallerton West due to level crossing upgrades being required, and there's no indication when/if they might be resolved (unless anyone knows any more information?)
     
    Last edited: 24 Aug 2019
  23. Roast Veg

    Roast Veg Member

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    Visited Aysgarth station on Sunday, had a look over the gate which is marked "private property", and over the fence on top of the bridge. The trackbed is walkable from a public footpath with no barriers if you enter from the car park at the far end from the road - quite surreal! It all looks very much the part, with a small amount of scaffolding and sound looking platforms. I hope the building can be opened up as an attraction to pay off a bit of the mortgage and upkeep, as the pedestrian access from the falls is very good.
     
  24. Freeman

    Freeman Member

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    There is no longer a mortgage to pay off as the station now belongs to David Smith of West Coast Rly Co. He has already stated that there will eventually be open days when the development work is complete.

    Will be very interesting to see what rolling stock he brings there. There is a very tortuous, narrow approach road from Carperby which presumably rules out large locomotives. However at the time the Wensleydale Railway was running an open-top tourist bus through Wensleydale they used the station yard as a bus depot so one never knows.
     
  25. Roast Veg

    Roast Veg Member

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    There is indeed a Mk1 carriage already there that must have made it somehow.
     
  26. AndrewE

    AndrewE Established Member

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    Perhaps he will talk to the preserved railway (which has a main line connection) which leads straight towards his operation and agree a way to make these transfers without needing road transport...
     
  27. Freeman

    Freeman Member

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    Unfortunately impossible (at least for many years) due to missing bridges, collapsed embankment, and last but not least some of the trackbed in other hands. But as RoastVeg says, there is a Mk.1 coach there which came by road, however big locomotives would be more of a problem but hopefully not insolvable. Nobody knows yet what Smith's rolling stock plans are.
     
  28. Worf

    Worf Member

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    AFAIK the MK1 coach was left behind when WR vacated the site. It had been planned to use it as a cafe by the volunteers who used to do a great job of looking after the site.
     
  29. Marmaduke

    Marmaduke Member

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    Yes indeed the coach came by road from Redmire. The coach is actually a MK2 I believe.
    The coach I recall at Redmire was good for scrap, a real mess.
    The volunteers who were at Aysgarth, a really enthusiastic bunch as I recall, did a remarkable job on the coach turning it from a "wreck" to a split cafe \ meeting hub.
    I share Worf's view that the volunteers did a great job.....I was told that they are no longer members of the WR after the demise of Aysgarth. That I assume was a great loss to the WR, because on the many occasions I attended Bank Hols up there when they were open and the occasional drop in during the weekends when they weren't technically open, they always tried to accommodate me and show me \ tell me what their plans were.
    Finally as regards the coach, the fact that it remains there must have been part of the sale to the new owner, as I was told it belonged to the WR.
    There was also two small industrial diesels up there and a brake van, which again I am told are still there. I don't know who owned the Locos, but the Brake Van I am again told belonged to the WR, so must have been sold with the site?
    Seems with the figures bandied about plus the few extra's sound like the new owner got a bargain??
     
  30. ThetrackMaster

    ThetrackMaster Member

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    Oh I really do hope that something positive comes from that site in the future!!
    The effort from the early days, when some very pioneering and entrepreneurial persons, such as Ruth A and her friends \ colleagues not only sought to preserve the WR, but also had the foresight to purchase Aysgarth, was remarkable even by todays standards.
    Then over the years the site was turned from an overgrown eyesore into a real local destination for a day out.
    If those volunteers hadn't picked up the baton to maintain and transform the site, it would have only been fit for the bull dozers!!
    Whilst the arguments have long been heard about reasons why it was sold, it would be a real shame if it opens but once a year.
    I appreciate its a private place now, but the public and locals would Im sure support the new owner in opening of the site as a real attraction.
    I fear that all the talked about plans to reconnect with Redmire and the WR are perhaps bordering on dream land. I would like to think not, but its a really big ask given the clearly amount of large works, not to to mention monies required to achieve such a goal, which may be beyond life times for some people.
    We shall wait and see what the future holds, but I hope its all positive for Aysgarth.
     

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