The history of the Engine Shed

The Old Engine Shed, as its affectionately called by the locals, is situated right in the heart of Whitby Town and is an iconic building for many reasons.  From the Abbey Headland looking down onto this unique town, the Old Engine Shed forms a prominent part of the landscape.

Whitby Engine Stable, to give it its ‘official title’ was originally built in 1847 to house the horse drawn carriages to run on the Whitby to Pickering railway.  It was designed by the renowned GT Andrews one of the famous Victorian railway building architects. In 1868 the building was extended to house steam locomotives.  The Grade two listed building is situated to the south of Whitby Station.  It is all that remains of a group of buildings serving the station, which consisted of the signal boxes, turntable, goods sheds and carriage sidings.  The uniqueness of this building lies in its double entrance and the Queen Post roof trusses to the original section and scissor trusses to the southern extension.

In 1940 a during a German raid in World War II struck the shed and the blast destroyed the North end of the Shed.  In those times of austerity rebuilding was out of the question and the shed was bricked up as a semi-permanent repair.

On the 6th April 1959 everything changed for the Engine Shed when it finally ceased it’s role as an operational depot and closed as Shed number 50G Whitby.  The next few years proved hard for the building and it went through a number of trades – boat repairers, fish processing and the grounds were often used as car parking.  The building which was black with soot inside fell into disrepair.  At some point the original inspection pits were filled in and capped with concrete.

The fate of the Engine Shed has been uncertain for many years due to various planning applications being granted or refused as custodians struggled to find a viable and sustainable use for it as access being limited.  Tracks outside the shed were taken up and a row of holiday homes built to the South of the shed.  It was as part of the planning approval for these houses that the shed received some welcome restoration which included a new roof.

The building was sold and the new owners were keen to give the historic building a new lease of life, whilst respecting its architecture and its social standing within the community. They cleaned the walls of soot and added a first floor and created road access to this new floor.

They launched the building as a secure private car park and hoped this opportunity would bring benefits to visitors and residents alike. Alas it did not and the building found its way back on the commercial property market but not before the owners sought approval from Scarborough Borough Council to seek its conversion into holiday lets.  They created a vision for the future for how the building could be given a sustainable future but took the decision to hand over the building to a new custodian.

In the Spring of 2018 new owners purchased the Old Engine Shed.  “We are very pleased to be the new custodian of the building” said Peter Abell who’s team purchased the property with the direct aim of converting the building into holiday apartments and also to re-instate the part of the Engine Shed that was destroyed by a German bomb in the World War 2. 

“The building has had a fascinating life and our aim is to continue that journey. It is a significant building for the Whitby landscape and our investment is a significant boost to the local economy.  We fell in love with the building the minute we walked through the door.  We believe we will attract more visitors to Whitby and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.  More and more people are looking for an experience when they go away, hopefully we can help provide that.  Our objective is clear, to provide the Old Engine Shed with the sustainable future that it deserves for many years to come and make it the holiday venue of choice in the town”.