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Richmond station was the terminus of the now closed Eryholme - Richmond branch line. In 1845, the Great North of England Railway (GNER) was granted powers to construct a branch line from Coopers House near Dalton, six miles south of Darlington, to Richmond. While construction of the line was underway the GNER was reconstituted as the York & Newcastle Railway, and it was this company which opened the line on 1846. Although the line opened on 10 September 1846, the present station at Richmond was not opened until 9 April 1847, a temporary wooden platform being provided in the interim.
The line from Dalton Junction (renamed Eryholme Junction in 1911) had stations at Moulton, Scorton and Catterick Bridge, and was double track throughout. These stations are rare in that they were designed in a Tudor style by architect G. T. Andrews. The exuberant architectural style of the early railway stations reflects the desire of the railway companies to promote their new form of travel as a high status experience.
The line crossed the River Swale at Easby and terminated in the Parish of St Martins on the south bank of the Swale opposite the town of Richmond. The station layout consisted of much more than just the main station building now known as The Station. Generous facilities were provided for goods traffic, together with facilities for railway operations and staff accommodation.
At a later date a wooden ticket collectors booth was provided next to the main entrance and in the 20th century there was a small wooden bookstall operated by WH Smiths, which closed in 1940.
The York & Newcastle Railway only survived for a further seven years after the opening of the line, becoming part of the North Eastern Railway in 1854. The NER era lasted for nearly seventy years until 1923 when it became part of the London & North Eastern Railway under the Grouping of railways following the First World War. The LNER itself lasted only twenty five years until the railways were nationalized in 1948 when Richmond became part of the North Eastern Region of British Railways.
Few substantial alterations were made to the station building over the years. As mentioned, the platform was lengthened in 1860, again in 1892, and for a second time in about 1915. The rearrangements of the offices and waiting rooms was carried out during the First World War, and at about the same time the large window at the buffer stop end of the platform was opened up to create a large door for handling parcels traffic.
The station bookstall was removed in 1940 and during the Second World War the Stationmaster's Office was requisitioned by the army as the Railway Transport Officer (RTO) Office. The RTO also had a temporary wooden office under the Port Cochere. Electric lighting was finally installed in the late 1940s, but apart from that little was spent on the building in British Railways days. In the 1950s the rotten wooden screen above the platform lone was patched with zinc sheeting, and by the time of closure there were gaps in the wooden screen, smoke louvers and roof lights.
BR proposed closure of the line in 1963 but this was vigorously opposed by the local community and the proposal was withdrawn. However the line was progressively run down over the next few years. Goods traffic was withdrawn in 1967 and this enabled the railway to lift all the sidings, including the two in the train shed, and remove all the signals. The station was finally closed on 3 March 1969. The remaining track was lifted and the building lay derelict until the whole site was acquired by the District Council.
Before the line was closed the station was included in the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, it is a Grade II* listed building.