The Harry Potter anniversary

By | Category: Travel news
Goathland station on the NYMR

Goathland doubled for Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter films. Image © John Hunt

Can it be only twenty years since the Harry Potter series of books began?

Yes, it was twenty years ago this year that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first written by J K Rowling and sixteen years since the first film was made prompting queues in bookshops and cinemas as people strove to read the books and see the films as soon as they appeared.

Anything connected with where the films were set became a place of pilgrimage by Harry Potter fans. As Harry went off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry he had to catch a train from platform nine and three-quarters at London Kings Cross. When the train arrived at Hogsmeade station, the nearest to the school, it was Goathland on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway that doubled for it.

Apart from the fact that heritage railways are popular in their own right, a link to the Harry Potter stories makes them doubly interesting as visitor attractions so the railway is celebrating the anniversary as well.

There is free entry to all children dressed as witches and wizards for three days from 24th until the 26th of June. They must be accompanied by a full paying adult but as an incentive to drag an adult along, any child will also receive a commemorative badge for taking part.

The railway is also having an anniversary this year. This June it is fifty years since – in 1967, a small group of local people talked about preservation and in November when they formed the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Preservation Society. Now they have 550 volunteers who  keep the railway running, maintained and bring enjoyment to the tens of thousands of people who ride the line though the North Yorkshire scenery. Today, in addition to those volunteers, there are about 100 full time staff and 50 seasonal staff and it is estimated that the railway brings in  about £30 million to the local economy.

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