The North Yorkshire Moors Railway from Whitby to Pickering is one of the earliest lines in the country having been opened on 26th May 1836.

At the time there was much concern in Whitby about the decline in its traditional industries of whaling, shipbuilding and alum working. Because of this the original plan to link Whitby with the Stockton & Darlington Railway (the world's first steam hauled public railway) had been shelved and in 1831 George Stephenson, the 'father of railways', was asked to report on building a line of 'simplest construction for the employment of animal power'.

The first part of the line, from Whitby to Grosmont, opened on 8th June 1835. The carriages closely resembled stage coaches, each being drawn by a single horse. During the first three months the railway was used by some six thousand passengers who paid 1s 0d outside and 1s 3d inside. The full 24 miles of railway from Whitby to Pickering was opened the following year on May 26th with much celebration in Whitby.

This would have undoubtedly had an effect on The Black Horse Inn as it was acting as a wagon terminus at the time.

The Whitby to Pickering line operated in isolation for almost a decade. During this time railways spread throughout the land and haulage by steam locomotives became the norm. Thus the Whitby to Pickering railway became something of a outmoded curiosity in just under a decade. Change came about in 1845.

In 1844 the York & North Midland Railway obtained sanction to build a line from York to Scarborough with a branch from Rillington to Pickering. The company was controlled by George Hudson, the infamous 'railway king' who had ambitions to develop Whitby as a holiday resort. He purchased the Whitby & Pickering Railway in 1845 and immediately set about rebuilding the line for locomotive haulage.

Other lines followed and at the peak of the railway era, Whitby had two railway stations and no less than four lines out. In addition to the line to Pickering which went on to York and in turn connected to London, a second went north along the coast to Middlesbrough, a third to The Vale of York through the Esk Valley and a fourth south along the coast to Scarborough.

The coming of the fully connected Rail network spelt the end of the old road wagons hauled by horses over long distances and The Black Horse Inn rented out its wagon sheds to fishermen to house their boats.

Over the decades that followed the railways brought thousands of tourists into Whitby. The Great War (1914-19) had its effect but the railways recovered in the 1920s and '30s and continued up until the second World War. Excursion trains, scenic rail tours and through coaches to and from London all featured in timetables after WWII however the increase in private motoring and motor coach travel meant that the railways never regained their former status.

The 1950's saw the beginning of closures and the Beeching Plan of 1963 advocated the closure of all railway routes into Whitby. This was met by much local protest and it was finally decided to retain the line along the Esk Valley to Middlesbrough via Grosmont.

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway now operates as a preserved line between Pickering and Grosmont and is well worth a day out if you're staying in Whitby.