SCARBOROUGH’S historic North Bay Railway is on track for a feast of activities to mark its 80th anniversary.
The famous miniature track is going full steam ahead over the weekend to celebrate its momentous occasion with hundreds of enthusiasts set to descend upon the attraction.
On Saturday, a plethora of entertainment awaits visitors including miniature railway rides, the chance to drive the Robin Hood engine at Scalby Mills and a photograph display of the line.
Young rail enthusiasts will also have the chance to enjoy a look around the engine shed, with a model railway display, face painting, treasure hunt and stories read by local author Joe Coates to savour.
Sunday will follow a similar theme, with entertainer Magic Mike on hand to perform his repertoire of entertainment for children throughout the day.
On Monday, Scarborough mayor Cllr John Blackburn is set to officially open the line’s unique pub, The Boatman’s Tavern, which has earned the status of Yorkshire’s smallest pub.
Opened by Scarborough mayor Alderman J W Butler on May 23 1931 in a fanfare of excitement and expectation, the line has welcomed thousands of rail aficionados taken in by its charming route which weaves through Peasholm to Scalby Mills.
Initially owned and run by Scarborough Council, the line was leased to the North Bay Railway Company Ltd in 2006 before permanent operations were handed over a year later.
David Humphreys, North Bay Railway Company general manager, said the anniversary provided the perfect opportunity to mark one of Scarborough’s favourite tourist assets.
He said: “We are all looking forward to the weekend because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate this anniversary.
“It will also be a chance to thank the forethought of the people at the council 80 years ago for all the work they did with the railway.
“The railway is a great example of how public and private companies should work.”
Home to four Hudswell Clarke steam outline locomotives – Neptune, Triton, Poseidon and Robin Hood – the line has earned greater magnitude thanks to a series of book from Scarborough writer Joe Coates.
Mr Coates’ North Bay Tales focus on each engine, telling separate stories about adventures on the railway.
Mr Coates fell in love with the railway when wife Margaret used to take youngsters on the trains during her time as a childminder, and said he was delighted to be involved in the celebrations.
He said: “The North Bay Railway is perfect.
“It works because children love trains and the fact that I have been on other tracks around the country but nothing compares to the North Bay.
“There are others that go through parks or beside patches of grass but the North Bay line has the sea, the Castle and the new Open Air Theatre which make it a great experience.
“There is also a very dedicated staff down at the railway who are really determined to keep it going very well.”
Tom Pindar, chairman of Scarborough printing giant Pindar, was a three-year-old guest of honour when the line opened in 1931, standing on the engines buffers to present a bouquet to Mayoress J W Butler.
He said: “I remember thinking the engine did not seem that big from a distance but when you got right up to it, it was immense and rather scary with the diesel engine thumping away.
“But it was a day of great excitement and I remember going on the railway many times as we used to go down to Scalby Mills and play in the rock pools.
“It is a wonderful attraction and I’m full of admiration for the people who are involved with it.”
The line’s official opening drew thousands of interested spectators who lined the embankments of the former North Bay Pleasure Gardens to catch a glimpse of the historic moment.
However, the big event nearly failed to materialise after the first engine, Neptune, only arrived from Leeds at 11pm the previous evening.
The line’s second locomotive, Triton, arrived in 1932, and owing to the line’s increasing demand, its engine shed was also extended.
However, tragedy struck in the same year on July 10 when Herbert Carr, aged just 25, was killed in an accident on the railway.
After numerous upgrades and re-styling of the famous line, the railway took on a fresh character in 1977 when Scalby Mills station was fully renovated allowing passengers a more comfortable waiting experience.