Final NYMR departure from Whitby for the 2019 season staffed by all female crew

Beth Furness (Driver) and Alexandra Jolly (Fireman) - the crew for the final Whitby departure of the season. Image courtesy Peter Fisher
Beth Furness (Driver) and Alexandra Jolly (Fireman) - the crew for the final Whitby departure of the season. Image courtesy Peter Fisher

At 16.55, on Sunday November 3, the last Whitby steam train service of the 2019 season departed with an all female crew.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) Marketing Director, Peter Fisher, said: "We have had a very successful season, Pickering to Whitby is one of our most popular routes with many people catching the first train through in the morning, staying for the day and then returning on the last train in the evening.

"We have had the busiest Autumn Steam Gala for many,many years and the Saturday of Railway in Wartime was the busiest we have ever seen."

The final train of the season was B1 1264, owned by the Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust. Previously known as 61034 "Chiru" and 61005 "Impala", in 2018 the locomotive was repainted in original LNER lined black livery which can be seen today.

Mr Fisher said the all female crew was not a particularly unusual sight on the NYMR: "We have quite a few female members of staff who work the footplate; drivers, firemen and cleaners (people who perform locomotive maintenance while training to be a Fireman and ‘clean’ the locomotive before the days running).

"Although firemen and signalmen have ‘men’ in the titles of roles within the railway, both male and female members of staff take these roles on and still continue to use the traditional fireman or signalman titles, which helps to preserve these historic roles."

The B1 1264 locomotive was designed by Edward Thompson, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London North Eastern Railway (LNER), the B1 class was a wartime utility mixed-traffic locomotive for general passenger and freight duties - the LNER equivalent of the ubiquitous LMS "Black Five".

A total of 410 were built between 1942 and 1952 and were to be found throughout the former LNER system in England, Scotland and, for a short period, on the Southern Region. No. 1264 was completed and entered traffic on 5th December 1947.

Used on the many express passenger services between Nottingham, Leicester and London (Marylebone), 1264 was withdrawn in November 1965. Rather than being scrapped immediately, the loco became Departmental no. 29 and was allocated to stationary boiler duties at Colwick.

While the NYMR season has finished, the company is not quite done for the year, as winter services will run between Pickering and Grosmont from Boxing Day to New Year's Day calling at Levisham, Newton Dale (by request) and Goathland.

For younger travellers, Santa Specials begin on Saturday November 30 with NYMR's new spectacular illuminated journey, The Northern Lights Express, beginning on the same day.

The main 2020 season starts again on April 6 with trains running through to Whitby.

The NYMR is always looking for new volunteers for all aspects of running a heritage railway, more information about how you can join is available at www,nymr.co.uk/volunteer