Our world in miniature
The smallest operating passenger station in the United Kingdom is not easily accessible by road but it’s well worth the trouble of seeking it out or breaking your journey between Ingrow and Oakworth to sample Damem’s unique atmosphere.
Small but perfectly formed is a great description of Damems – the Keighley & Worth Valley and Britain’s smallest railway station. Nestling in a wooded section of the Worth Valley, Damems, is now a request stop two miles from Keighley and if you want to board or leave the train here you’ll need to tell one of the train guards so they can instruct the driver to stop.
Although most other stops of this size on the British railway system are called ‘Halts’, Damems (pronounced Dam-ems) qualified for the title of the station because it had its own stationmaster’s house and, in years gone by, sidings that serviced an adjacent mill.
Damems is probably a local shortening of an older name of ‘Dam Elms’ and, beyond serving the mill, it was also accessed by local farmers. The Mill was established as a water-powered cotton spinning operation in the 1700s but, like so many other mills in the Worth Valley, it switched over to wool in the 1820s to become a producer of fine worsted.
Damems Station was opened in 1868 and closed on 23rd May 1949. But it was given a new lease of life when the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway was re-opened by enthusiasts on 28th June 1968, although its platform still remains as a single-carriage length.
In 1971 a small signal box was rescued from Earby in Lancashire and erected at Damems. Like the ‘new’ Ingrow Station building, it was available to the K&WVR because the Skipton to Colne line was about to close. Alongside the signal, the box is a new booking office and waiting room based on the original Damems station building constructed by the Midland Railway.
The house next to the station’s level crossing still belongs to the railway but it is now a residence. From 1928 Mrs Annie Feather, who lived in the station house, opened the level crossing gates and operated the signals from a ground frame in her front garden. The station closed to passengers in 1949, but Annie continued to work on until the line was closed in 1962. Then she even worked the gates and signals for some of the early KWVR trains.
When she worked for British Railways her wages were delivered by passing locomotive crews who threw her wage packet down as they passed through the station!
It’s the ideal place to spend some peaceful time. Besides taking in the peace of the Worth Valley and watching the trains go through, you can swap greetings with the occasional passer-by and see the station master go about his day-to-day business.
QUICK STATION INFORMATION
- Level Crossing
- Signal Box
- Unsuitable for road vehicles
- Access by footpath