The 31 July 2004 marks the 150th anniversary of the formation of the North Eastern Railway in 1854. To mark the occasion the North Eastern Railway Association rerstored a long-lost item of the infrastructure to York railway station. This is the Zero Post that once stood in the centre of the present platform 5.
In 1905 the North Eastern Railway (NER) set out to systematically measure each one of its rail lines, as compelled by law. The cast iron quarter-mile, half-mile, three-quarter-mile and mile posts that are still to be seen throughout the former NER area date from that time. The location where the measurement of each line commenced was known as a Zero Point. A cast iron Zero Post, bearing the word ‘ZERO’, was erected at each Zero Point. In addition a small cast iron plate was fixed to the shaft of Zero Post, which bore a short abbreviation of the identity of the line whose measurement commenced there.
The centre of York station was the Zero Point for ten lines. Consequently the York Zero Post bore ten identifying plates. These were, in order from top to bottom:
LO. LP. – Longlands Loop (down), from Longlands Junction, Northallerton, on the York and Newcastle line, to the Leeds Northern line. Opened in 1901.
M.W.& B. – Market Weighton and Beverley, from Market Weighton, at the end of the York and Market Weighton line (see below), to the Hull and Scarborough line at Beverley. Opened in 1865, closed in 1965.
MIC. BR. – Micklefield Branch, from Church Fenton, on the York and North Midland line, to the Leeds and Selby line at Micklefield. Opened in 1869.
R. CV. – Raskelf Curve, from Pilmoor, on the York and Newcastle line, to the Thirsk and Malton line. Opened in 1871, closed in 1959.
S. BR. – Sherburn Branch, from Sherburn Junction on the York and North Midland line, to the Leeds and Selby line. Opened in 1839.
Y.& H. – York and Harrogate, from Poppleton Junction on the York and Newcastle line, to Harrogate. Opened in 1848.
Y. & M.W. – York and Market Weighton, from Bootham Junction, on the York and Scarborough line, to Market Weighton. Opened in 1847, closed in 1965.
Y.& N. – York and Newcastle, from York to Newcastle. Opened in 1841, 1844, 1868, 1871.
Y.& N.M. – York and North Midland, from York to Normanton. Opened in 1839, 1840.
Y.& S. – York and Scarborough, from Waterworks Junction, York, to Scarborough. Opened in 1845.
The original Zero Post was placed in the exact centre of York station, on the present-day platform 5. It was removed in about 1936. It is thought that it may have been removed for safe-keeping, at a time when much construction work was taking place, and was put into store. It subsequently disappeared and is presumed to be lost; it may have been destroyed in the York air raid in 1942, or may have been sent for scrap as a part of the war effort. This is the only known photograph of the original Zero Post, if you have another the Association would be interested in seeing a copy.
The replica Zero Post and the unveiling ceremony
Unveiling of the replica Milepost on 31st July 2004,
The replica is an exact copy of the original, manufactured from cast iron, located within a few feet of the original, and in a prominent position on York station. It is be accompanied by a commemorative plaque.
The unveiling on 31 July was carried out by Sir William McAlpine, the Chairman of the Railway Heritage Trust, in the presence of the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Janet M. Looker B.A., at 2.30 p.m. in the entrance foyer of York station, close to the preserved NER signal that was erected many years ago. The Zero Post and plaque was installed in their final permanent position on platform 5 during the days following the unveiling.
The Railway Heritage Trust has made a major contribution to the cost of the replica Zero Post and plaque. The Ken Hoole Trust, in memory of the late Ken Hoole, the distinguished authority on matters relating to the North Eastern Railway, has also made a significant contribution. Network Rail and the Great North Eastern Railway have also actively co-operated in the project. The City of York Council, through its Conservation Architect, has been supportive throughout. The NERA is grateful to all these bodies.
Reg Davies, the Chairman of the NERA, commenting on the occasion, said the importance of the North Eastern Railway to the region cannot be overestimated. The NER owned virtually all the railways east of the Pennines between Doncaster and the Scottish border, at a time when most passengers and freight travelled by rail, until its absorption into the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923. It is entirely appropriate that we should commemorate it in this tangible way and moreover in the station which is acknowledged to be one of the finest examples of railway architecture in the country.
Further information can be obtained from the NERA Secretary, e-mail email@example.com.
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