The NLLR was opened from Scunthorpe to Winterton in 1906, then to Winteringham in 1907, and finally to Whitton in 1910.  There had been several proposals for the line, others including branches to Winterton and Alkborough.  There were also proposals for a number of lines in Winteringham joining the NLLR, but which did not materialise.

The purpose of the line had been right from the start to give the iron and steelworks at Scunthorpe a port close by for their products, for coal etc, and additionally some agricultural traffic.  The passenger service was only 3 trains a day, maximum, and even when Whitton Station opened, there were only 2 passenger trains to there.

There were great plans for Winteringham Haven, including the building of a new dock.  The Great Central were already building Immingham dock (1906-1912) so the dock at Winteringham was fiercely opposed by various organisations and the Corporation of Hull, and by the Council at Goole.  It was never built.

Being a "light railway" there were general speed limits of 25 mph for passenger trains, and these were reduced to 10 mph to cross unguarded level crossings.  However, even at the time local newspapers noted that to keep to the timetable, trains would need to AVERAGE 30 mph, which would effectively mean trains travelling at 40 mph or more!  So, in the route, there IS a speed limit of 25 mph .... but if you exceed this by a considerable amount ... then you're driving just like the original drivers did!

The original plans also included extending the Whitton Branch to Alkborough and Burton Stather, and then over or under the River Trent to join with the railway in the Isle of Axholme at Fockerby.  This doesn't seem to have got much past the "intention" stage, but the same cannot be said about the extension from Winteringham to Barton!  Not only were the plans produced and the Act of Parliament seen safely through, but contracts were invited and land purchased and marked out!  Alterations to plans were made, so that the line met the Barton Branch head on rather than going through the coalyard there, but as the years passed nothing further was done.  The building of this line had regular mentions in the press, and by MPs, local councils, etc .... but it was never built .... apart from on this Railworks route!

The NLLR closed to passengers in 1925, and to goods as far as West Halton in 1951, but remained open for iron ore traffic - and bizarrely saw the heaviest loaded trains on the entire UK rail network!  By the time quarrying stopped, loaded traffic was reversed as Manchester's rubbish was brought to the mines which were now used for landfill! 

On moving to the village of Winteringham in 1952, and keen on railways I was always desperate to see one engine on the line .... and caught a distant glimpse of one heading back to Scunthorpe.  But it took Railworks to bring the possibility of actually driving on the line, even though only "virtually" driving!

The track layout I have used is from about 1910.  The mineral lines leading into the route are those from the 1907 OS map, but of course, they changed frequently, as mineral lines do, as new quarries are opened, others closed, or extended.

Leaving Scunthorpe, the line crosses Dawes Lane, and then enters two very sharp bends, as it heads off between old quarry workings and under the road bridge at the bottom of Sawcliffe Hill, and passes Crosby Mines signal box.  After junctions to Lysaght's steelworks and Flixborough (where there was a quay on the Trent), we arrive at Normanby Park North signal box, where the staff for single line working must be picked up, and then it's along the valley passing Bagmoor Sidings, and coming to Winterton and Thealby Station, which was a considerable distance from both villages.  Next up is West Halton (strictly speaking, named West Halton Sidings), again a considerable distance from the village whose name it carries, and then on to Winteringham, rounding the northern Lincolnshire Heights.  Winteringham had two platforms in a "V" shape - one for the "main line" and the other for the Whitton branch.  In his book, Stewart Squires tells of the time this branch to Whitton was used for wagon storage, there being about 500 wagons there.  A locomotive and guards van were sent to retrieve these, and the loco coupled to the first truck.  One and a half hours later, the guard returned to say that he thought 500 wagons a bit excessive, so he had only coupled on the first 265!  Now there's a Railworks scenario to conjure with!

An old villager told me that the line was used for "Specials" including one to the 1923 Empire Exhibition at Wembley, though I have no other evidence for this.  In 1947, a special train was used to get supplies through to the villages, when all the local roads were blocked.  1947 was a bad winter throughout the UK, but the heaviest snowfalls were recorded in Lincolnshire - so you can see why this proved an essential service.

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