Memories of Miss Joan Elgey

A written account by Miss Joan Elgey who lived at Castle Howard Station as a child from 1944 to 1947.


Joan Elgey aged around three years old with her mother Mrs Tom Elgey and her grand father Mr Simpson who also worked for the railway company as a station master. Photograph taken at Castle Howard station c.1944.
Source: Joan Elgey Collection

My father, Tom Elgey, was the stationmaster at Castle Howard Station between 1944 and 1947 when I was a little girl and I have happy memories of living there.

It was quite a busy station then which served the needs of at least 26 farms in the area, as all supplies and new animals came by rail and crops etc. went out the same way. My father used to order sacks for the grain and potatoes; they were sometimes in short supply during the war years but he always made sure they were shared out fairly. The other steady export from the station was timber.

On the staff side, there was a part time clerk and my mother carried out this role too.

My memories of the house are of a large entrance hall and a spiral staircase. The key to the front door was so large and heavy it took up a large amount of space in my mother's handbag when she went shopping in Malton. Mother was friendly with two other neighbouring farmers' wives, Mrs Prest and Mrs Till.

The part referred to as Platform Cottage was occupied by a Mrs Bunting , her daughter Mrs Milson and granddaughter Betty with whom I played. We had great fun during the winter of 1947 when the road leading to the station was blocked for several weeks – Betty could not get to school for 6 weeks. The railway line was blocked for a week and when the snow melted the floods came. The Station House was never flooded but cottages on the other side of the railway line towards Crambeck flooded badly. I remember accompanying my father to these cottages along the line itself because it was above the floods and seeing a ladder placed from the track directly to the upper floor of the cottages so that supplies could be passed through to the occupants.

A large Union Jack was flown from the station window on VE day.

There was a camping van – a converted waiting room on the other side of the line which was let out to visitors by the railway company and it was very popular. I also remember the orchard was very productive and the platform was pretty in springtime, with large flowering rhododendron bushes. The woods either side of the road were filled with bluebells and primroses.