The Railway from Whitby to Pickering was opened in 1836, and was one of the early lines built by George Stephenson. Trains were initially all horse-drawn, but the need to climb rapidly to a summit point 500 feet above Sea Level resulted in severe gradients being required to reach this, and a rope worked incline was constructed between Beckhole and Goathland, with the original Goathland Station being located at the top of this incline.
In 1845 the Whitby and Pickering Railway was absorbed by the York and North Midland, which connected the Railway to its own route from York to Scarborough with a branch from Rillington Junction (near Malton) to Pickering., and the Y & NM in turn subsequently became part of the North Eastern Railway. The North Eastern decided in 1861 to upgrade the line to take locomotive hauled trains, and the most major work was to construct a deviation route from just south of Grosmont (at Deviation Junction) to Moorgates - three quarters of a mile south of Goathland, which had a ruling gradient of 1 in 49 from Deviation Junction to the new Goathland Station, which was initially named Goathland Mill, and was opened in 1865. The main station buildings were built at this time, though the Lime and Coal Drops, Gents toilet and wooden Waiting Room & Ladies Room were later additions.
As well as passenger traffic, Goathland Station received coal, agricultural lime via the drops, general merchandise through the Goods Warehouse (now the Tea Room), and also handled livestock via its Cattle Dock. A significant quantity of whinstone ore (which was used as roadstone) was loaded to rail at Goathland. It was transported from opencast quarries and a drift mine north east of the station across the moors by a narrow gauge tramway to a crushing and loading plant located on the bank side in the south east corner of the station site until the mine closed in 1951.
The station itself closed in 1965 along with the line from Grosmont to Pickering, but, in 1968 became the headquarters of the fledgling North Yorkshire Moors Railway – opening to passengers again in 1973.
For further information on the history of Goathland Station, the Levisham Station Group has published a very informative booklet, "Goathland Station – A Brief History", which is available from the NYMR station shops. A comprehensive book on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from the Whitby and Pickering days to the present is General Manager Philip Benham’s "Illustrated History of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway", which is available via the NYMR website at www.nymr.co.uk/shop.html or from the NYMR station shops.