|Date opened:||1 July 1902|
|Location:||North side of Linton Road|
|Company on opening:||North Eastern Railway|
|Date closed to passengers:||6 January 1964|
|Date closed completely:||6 January 1964|
|Company on closing:||British Railways (North Eastern Region)|
|Present state:||Demolished, track filled up to platform level – the site is used as a public car park. It is sometimes possible to see platform edges and foundations of main station building after rain.|
|OS Grid Ref:||SE397484|
|Date of visit:||7 September 2008|
With the opening of the line from Leeds (Crossgates) to the Church Fenton – Harrogate line on 1 May 1876 trains travelling between Leeds and Harrogate were unable to call at Wetherby as the new line joined the existing one a little to the west of Wetherby station, which was sited to the east of the town on York Road. Leeds to Harrogate soon became the primary route, so a new Wetherby station was built to the south of the town on the new line at Linton Road. This opened on 1 July 1902, with the original station on York Road being retained as a goods station. The new Wetherby station also handled some goods traffic
The second station was built on a curve with two facing platforms, and the main station building was on the up side. It was designed by NER architect William Bell and was of a ‘twin pavilion’ style that appeared, with minor variations on North Eastern Railway lines from the 1860s until the early twentieth century; the size of the building reflected the importance of the station, and Wetherby was given a large version. The building was single-storey and of brick construction. Its axis was parallel to the platform, with cross wings at each end. On the platform elevation an enclosed verandah with a sloping roof was clasped between the projecting wings; it was wooden with broad, gently-arched windows in the gables and a central gable above the entrance. On the approach road frontage a simple flat awning over the station entrance allowed passengers arriving by coach, or later car, to remain dry if it was raining.
A long timber building with a pitched slate roof, containing toilets and waiting facilities, was provided on the down platform. There were water columns at the north end of the down platform and south end of the up platform. The platforms were spanned by an unusually wide lattice footbridge – not of the standard NER pattern – to accommodate the large number of horse race-goers who were expected to use the station. This usage was reduced with the opening of Wetherby Racecourse station c1924. The racecourse station was last used on 18 May 1959 with race-goers returning to Wetherby station after that day. From there buses, for which there was an additional charge, would take them to the racecourse and back again. The advertising flyers for the race day specials (see below) sometimes referred to the station as Wetherby Town.
Wetherby had two short sidings, one at either end of the station on the up side, both of them serving horse and carriage docks. A signal box at the north end of the up platform controlled access to the sidings. The 1904 Railway Clearing House Handbook list a full range of goods traffic being handled at the old station. Clinker’s Register states that the new station remained open for goods traffic until 4 April 1966 but has no record of the date of closure to goods of the first station. The 1909 Ordnance Survey map shows a weighbridge, which indicates use as a goods station. The 1956 Handbook of Stations lists the Linton Road station as being equipped to handle horse boxes, prize cattle vans and carriages, and motor cars by passenger or parcels train.
Beyond the north end of the station was Devils Toenail Junction, where the line forked off, either to Harrogate or Church Fenton. This made up one corner of the triangular junction. The junction was set deep in a cutting, creating cliffs of characteristically buff-coloured Magnesian Limestone on both sides, in which fossils can still be found. It is still known to some locals as the Devils Toenail.
In 1911 the station served a catchment area with a population of 3,086. Wetherby was by far the busiest station on the line with 46,804 tickets being sold that year; only Tadcaster came close, with 30,151 ticket sales.
In the 1950s British Railways (North Eastern Region) installed tangerine-coloured totem name signs, the only station on the ‘Wetherby lines’ to be honoured with them, perhaps reflecting its importance. Complementary running-in nameboards replaced the LNER specimens on the original stanchions. Gas lighting was retained until the end, although the casement-style lanterns were replaced with new ones of a ‘Sugg’ design, probably in the late 1950s.
After closure the station site was briefly used as a car park for a nearby Italian restaurant (‘La Locanda’, since demolished and moved to Collingham). However, the remote and hidden nature of the site made people reluctant to leave their cars. The track was filled in up to platform level in the early 1970s but the main station building lingered a little longer, increasingly derelict and vandalised. In 1971 it was used as a film set in one episode of the children’s TV series Follyfoot. Part of the station building still survived in 1977 but had gone by the end of the decade.
Today the station site is once again used as a (public) car park. It is still possible to see the platform edge and the foundation stones of the former building if there has been a good deal of rain the night before. The pedestrian entrance still exists just before the bridge on the A661, with the original gate and nameboard brackets. The bridges on both sides of the station still bear a notice issued by British Rail in 1987 stating that the trackbed still belongs to them. A few line-side markers remain dotted about the old trackbed, together with a spoil heap of discarded limestone from the station demolition on top of the ‘Devils Toenail’.
In 1992 work stated to convert the disused trackbed through Wetherby into a public footpath and cycleway. The first section was Wetherby to Priest Hill (outskirts of Wetherby) followed by the ‘Devil’s Toenail’ triangle, which was completed by the Wetherby and District Lions Club in the summer of 1993. The President of the Lions, Peter Harland, died during the planning phase and his name is now given to this cycle track. In 2003 Leeds City Council commenced construction of the continuation of the cycle track along the trackbed to Thorp Arch. The track forms part of a proposed link between Harrogate and York. It includes a variety of scenery from open farmland to deep wooded cuttings and not only provides a range of habitats for wildlife but passes some sites of interesting industrial archaeology.
The source of the above was from www.disused-stations.org.uk it has a lot more information about the train line and the history around it (Catford, 2017)
In 2018 work was done on the grounds to make the car park more user friendly, A small monument to the old train station stands at the center with some old pictures and comments about them.
Wetherby Town Council took ownership of land known as the Devil’s Toenail, off Quarry Hill, so that it can be redeveloped by Wetherby Bike Trails and SingletrAction as a mountain bike skills area. A council spokesman said: “The project, near Harland Way, builds on the success of the Little Toe project which was constructed last year, marking completion of one of the early phases of Wetherby Bike Trail’s ambitions.