by Janet Crampton
Picture the scene – miscreants fleeing the law and running through Scruton Station dressed for 1910, and the volunteers also! They must have thought they’d slipped through a time warp, and what followed was more Keystone Cops than Line of Duty!
So far as we can make out the story, one afternoon about 2/2:30, police chased a suspicious car from Northallerton, which darted off down a lane in Ainderby Steeple, only to come to a dead end. The police nabbed the driver, and the car was searched and found to be full of stolen goods, but the three passengers ran off onto the railway line running westwards. At some point they emerged onto David Raine’s land at Morton Flatts and from here on the details of what happened next or where the men went get more varied.
Suffice to say that at about four o’clock Joan and Keith Walker and Janet Crampton were opening the Station for a special Great Rail Journey’s party coming down the line and, having just opened the gate onto the platform, were busy putting out the props when suddenly the three men burst out of nowhere, coming from the direction of South Grange Farm and nearly knocked Janet and Keith over. Another second later and we would have been right in their path.
They ran along the platform to the end and dropped down onto the track, heading in the direction of Ham Hall. At this point a policeman screeched up in his patrol car and took off in pursuit. Then 5 more police vehicles turned up, one a dog-handler, and followed. By this time 6 police vehicles, abandoned in a ‘an emergency’, began to cause significant road blocking on the railway crossing. Over the course of the next half hour or so, two of the men were apprehended, but one appeared to have got away.
The problem with a story like this is that we may never know the outcome … Scruton Station was only the theatrical backdrop to this part of the little drama and the police will have no need to let us know what happened next, but the timing was precarious, and the tale could well have had a tragic consequence as a train was due. Fortunately, the Great Rail Journeys party were running late and had not yet departed Bedale Station, so we were able to phone to prevent the train from coming beyond Leeming Bar as, at the critical moment, there were potentially a lot of people and dogs on or near the track.