The Hull and Hornsea Railway was the brainchild of a group of Hornsea businessmen, led by the chairman of the company, Joseph Armytage Wade, a Hull timber merchant and resident of Hornsea. They believed that the development of the railway would bring prosperity to their town as a fashionable resort. The Hull and Hornsea Railway Company was formed in 1861. An act to build the line was presented to parliament by Lord Hotham. The act was passed on 30 June 1862 and work started, with much ceremony, on 8 October of the same year.

Although the terrain was flat, and the Company did not meet any opposition from local landowners, the construction of the line was beset by difficulties. These included problems due to the unsuitability of the clay soil for the construction of embankments. This required ballast to be transported from Kelsey Hill. Also, it was decided to extend the railway from the original terminus at Hornsea Bridge to a new terminus close to the seafront. This resulted in difficulties due to the boggy nature of the ground, piling being required. The tendency of the “navigators” involved in the construction of the railway to spend their wages, and long periods of time, in the local hostelries added to the delays and costs.


On its completion, the line was vetted by the government inspector, Captain Rich. He was unhappy with changes to the planned route of the line at Stoneferry Road and with the quality of the crossing gates at Marton and elsewhere. To cap it all, the inspector fell into Sutton Drain while examining a bridge there. This, coupled with the scarcely suppressed amusement of the gathered officials, could have done little to help the situation! The necessary remedial work will have further added to the construction costs.

In all, the problems caused the completion of the railway to be delayed by two months and raised the cost of construction from the estimated £68,000 to an actual £122,000, an overrun of some 79%.

The first train, with sixteen carriages, left Wilmington at noon on 28 March 1864 (Easter Monday), government approval having been received on Easter Saturday and the station hastily decorated. A band played in one of the carriages, and in spite of the bad weather, the train was filled with passengers and the station was full of spectators. The train arrived at Hornsea at 1.00 pm and was greeted by the firing of a canon, a procession and a tea for the “ancient inhabitants and schoolchildren”. All these festivities were provided at the personal expense of Mr Wade.

The original single-track line had its Hull terminus at Wilmington, between Bankside and Cleveland Street. From here the line ran the 13 miles to Hornsea Town station by way of stations at Sutton-on-Hull, Swine, Skirlaugh, Ellerby, Marton, Whitedale, Sigglesthorne, Goxhill and Hornsea Bridge.

Of these stations, three (Skirlaugh, Ellerby and Marton) were located within the parish of Ellerby. Rolling stock was provided by the North Eastern Railway.

In spite of the efforts of Mr Wade and the Company Secretary, Mr J J Michael, Hornsea did not develop as the Company had hoped, partly due to the reluctance of the residents of Hornsea to encourage visitors, particularly day-trippers! Traffic on the line (both passengers and goods) proved to be lower than the original expectations and this poor performance, built on the original financial difficulties, gave rise to some stormy shareholder meetings. The outcome was that the line was merged with the North Eastern Railway on 16 July 1866.

The railway was extended to a double track in 1900.


Skirlaugh Station

The station was situated behind what is now the picnic area on the A165, between Skirlaugh and Coniston. It was opened on 28 March 1864.

Ellerby Station

The original Ellerby Station was situated close to what was the level crossing on Skirlaugh Road, between what is now Old Ellerby and Skirlaugh. It was a so-called “market station” with trains stopping only on Tuesdays. There was no resident station master. The station was closed to passengers in 1902, being considered superfluous since Skirlaugh and Burton Constable stations were each only three quarters of a mile away. However, it remained open for goods traffic, retained its platform, and became known as Ellerby West Siding.

Ellerby Gate House

The railway crossing gate house was situated adjacent to Ellerby Station, at the point where the railway crossed Skirlaugh Road.

Marton / Burton Constable / Ellerby Station

The original Marton Station was located in what is now New Ellerby, close to what is now the Railway Inn. It was opened on 28 March 1864. The railway buildings were at road level but the platform was located in a cutting below. It was renamed Burton Constable Station in September of the same year in order to avoid confusion with other stations named Marton. The name was changed again, this time to Ellerby, in November 1922 in order to avoid confusion with Constable Burton in North Yorkshire.


The events leading to the eventual closure of the railway line are detailed in the Post War History page here.

V 2.2

The Story of the Railway