York Walks /3

York's other railway museum

Photographed on 1 August 2004

One Sunday in summer 2004 I thought I'd investigate the Leeman Road area. I was looking for Foundry Lane, but instead found another area, where the gate was wide open, so I had a wander around. Signs and marked vans suggested that this land belongs to Jarvis or Network Rail, but it seemed like everyone had abandoned the site, leaving old carriages behind. This site is, I believe, part of "York Central", also known as the York Teardrop, a massive area of mainly disused railway land that is soon to be redeveloped.

  Abandoned to the elements
Faded BR logo   Beautiful in its weathered state
At a stop among the weeds   It says 'Internal use only'
Railfrieght waggons   Abandoned section of track
Quaint but sad, tumbledown shed   It's rusting away in the elements, though it has been marked wanted

Old rusty rails and buffers had been marked "wanted", though it all looked hopelessly unwanted.

Rusty rail, marked 'twist rail'   Rusty rail, marked 'wanted'
View of abandoned rail line   Detail – more rust

I felt like it was quite a "spooky" place, and I'm not normally susceptible to that kind of feeling. It felt – I can't think of a better word – haunted. It was like there'd been some disaster, years back, and these carriages had just been left there to rot in the elements, peeling paint and developing rust. It looked like a forgotten place, but not without its own kind of faded beauty. The carriages themselves had taken on subdued tones, as anything wood and metal does after being left a long time in the elements.

Nature had started to reclaim the site, and the area was full of birds, including goldfinches – not your usual town centre bird. This is probably because inbetween the old tracks and around the railway carriages are buddlieas and rowan trees, growing around what used to be industry.

Unidentified machinery!   Old sign – 'Boiler house'
Old buildings, still signposted 'Office'   Sign – 'Sawmill'

As this large area of "brownfield land" is soon to be redeveloped, I'm glad that there was an open gate, and no one around, as these old carriages and buildings deserved to be seen, before it all disappears. When you're from a railway family, this history feels like it belongs to you. (Despite that rather sentimental feeling, I knew it didn't, so I didn't walk off with any rail-related memorabilia.)

  Door – marked 'For Sale or To Let'

I talked to my brother, who used to work at the York Carriageworks, just after compiling this page. We were talking about how this area of land was originally referred to as the "York Teardrop" (referring to its shape, on a plan of the area). Funny, I thought, that now it seems to be called "York Central". My brother suggested that perhaps calling it the "York Teardrop" would be a bit too close to the bone for the people who used to work for the railway industry in York and lost their jobs at the York Carriageworks. Good point.

So "York Central" it is now. A far more positive spin . . .

See also: just up the road, more industrial history – Foundry Lane, Leeman Road, and on the other side of this railway area, the (now mainly redeveloped) Former York Carriageworks site. For more positive images of the railways in York – including our very fine station – see Railway city

  Abandoned sign reads: 'Stop. Open crossing gates before proceeding'