Britomart makes history

History was made at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway during the line’s Autumn Steam Gala as ‘Quarry Hunslet’ 0-4-0ST Britomart became the first steam locomotive to use the horse tunnel at Grosmont.

Steaming into the history books, ‘Quarry Hunslet’ 0-4-0ST Britomart, visiting from the Ffestiniog Railway, becomes the first steam locomotive to use the horse tunnel at Grosmont on September 30. MARK O’BRIEN

Steaming into the history books, ‘Quarry Hunslet’ 0-4-0ST Britomart, visiting from the Ffestiniog Railway, becomes the first steam locomotive to use the horse tunnel at Grosmont on September 30. MARK O’BRIEN

Complimenting the gala’s Welsh steam theme, ex-Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry 0-4-0ST Britomart made its historic debut hauling a pair of Ffestiniog Railway 4-wheel ‘bug box’ coaches over temporary track laid inside the tunnel.

Coincidentally, it is believed the coaches are some of the oldest surviving carriages in the world.

According to the NYMR, nearly 3,000 passengers paid for the privilege to travel through the tunnel, which connects Grosmont MPD with the station and village.

Built in 1836 during construction of George Stephenson’s original horse-drawn Pickering-Whitby railway, the first Grosmont tunnel is believed to be the oldest railway tunnel built for passenger use still in existence.

The tunnel fell out of use after 1847 when steam arrived on the railway and a new bore was cut to accommodate the larger steam locomotives. It is this bore that is still in use today as part of the 18-mile line between Pickering and Grosmont.