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Brief History of Poppleton Station


Poppleton Station opened in October 1848.  It is three miles from York and 17.5 miles from Harrogate.  Station Road, on which it is located, was formerly called Stainber Baulk Lane.  The original railway company was a private enterprise rather grandly titled “The East & West Junction Railway”.  The line only went as far as Knaresborough but, by 1862, it had been extended to Starbeck and Harrogate, the latter town becoming an important connecting hub for such places as Ripon, Northallerton, Boroughbridge, Wetherby and Leeds. 

Originally, there were eight intermediate stations between Poppleton and Harrogate.  However, four were closed in 1958 and in June 1969 the remaining stations, including Poppleton, became unstaffed with conductor/guards introduced on the trains.  The many level crossings, including the one here at Poppleton, are still hand operated and many of the signals are still of the traditional semaphore type, such as the one on Platform 2. 

The station building incorporated the Station Master’s house and other offices.  British Rail and its successors had no further use for the building so it was sold to private individuals.  It has now been converted into a holiday let. 

Trains at Poppleton Station

Freight traffic used to be important.  There was a goods yard, including coal drops, on the Harrogate side of the station with the Station Master selling coal to the local community.  The yard closed in 1964.

The line almost became a victim of the Beeching cuts in 1964 which closed thousands of miles of railway lines, including many lines in the Harrogate and Knaresborough areas.  Fortunately, the line from York to Harrogate, through Poppleton and Knaresborough, was reprieved in 1966 following strenuous local opposition.  However, parts on the line were made single track and the train service was reduced.  After closure of many railways in the area, this line was no longer a diversionary route for express trains when the East Coast Main Line was closed for maintenance.  The line is now run using diesel multiple units with only the occasional locomotive hauled infrastructure freight.

In 2021 the daytime service was upgraded from hourly to half hourly.  Passengers are now expected to buy their tickets prior to travel using apps or platform ticket machines.

Trains at Poppleton Station

Trains at Poppleton Station

A feature of the line was the use of a physical token system for the single line sections with token exchange being made at the platform ends for passenger trains or at the signal box for freight or light engine movements.  However, this has been replaced by RETB (Radio Electronic Token Block), the changeover taking place on Saturday 21 November 2020, bringing to an end a tradition which attracted much local interest.

For many years the line was used by locomotive hauled special trains run for enthusiasts or tour parties.  However, this now occurs much less frequently due to pathing issues resulting from the upgraded half hourly timetable.

Trains at Poppleton Station