Yorkshire Dales Railway: Skipton to Grassington

Creating the Company – 1895


The Yorkshire Dales Railway was formed in 1895 after some earlier more ambitious schemes were cancelled. Even then there was still opposition so eventually a nine-mile railway was accepted, this being from a branch near Embsay to Threshfield near Grassington. The line terminated on the Threshfield side of the steep-sided Wharfe valley to avoid the cost of building a viaduct to Grassington. Ambitious schemes included continuing the railway up Wharfedale to join the railway through Hawes.

Official Information


From Parliamentary records – 6 Aug 1897

An Act for making a Railway from Skipton to Grassington in the West Riding of the County of York.

Grassington Folk Museum Logo

2024: A villager remembers

Although Grassington was a branch line it had two platforms as it was designed as a through-station to go further up the Dale. The signal box had spare levers to accommodate the signalling from trains coming down the Dale.

After the line was opened there were a further six attempts to extend further north, the last in 1911.

Cutting of the First Sod – Thursday June 7th 1900

Order of the day

The Ceremony of cutting the first sod by Walter Morrison MP of Malham Tarn House. This took place on 7 June 1900.

Mr Morrison was the Chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Railway.

The local achievements of Walter Morrison were:

  • Lt Colonel of West Riding Rifle Volunteers or North Craven Rifle Corp
  • 1883-84 High Sheriff of Yorkshire
  • 1886-92 Liberal Unionist MP for Skipton
  • 1895-1900 Re-elected as MP
  • He paid for “Craven’s part in the Great War”, a book of the men volunteering for the First World War in Craven which can be found in Skipton Library
  • He paid for construction of Giggleswick School Chapel

More information can be found on Kirby Malham info or The Folly, Settle websites.

Opening of the Railway – July 29 1902

Ticket for the first trip

Lady Wilson was wife of Lord Wilson, who in turn was the grandson of Mathew Wilson, a Liberal and the first MP for Skipton (See below).

A Hotel was built at the end of the Railway line and was named the Wilson’s Arms. It became a Care Home in the 1980s and is now Threshfield Court.

Wilson Arms

The Wilson Arms Hotel

The clock says 9.25

Grassington Railway opening

Walter Morrison, as Chairman, addressing the Crowd at 11 mins past 2pm.

The engine is a Midland Railway 0-4-4T No 1536

Dales Railway report

Market Place in Grassington is now known as the Square.

Rylstone Station and Grassington Station

Rylstone Station

Rylstone Station

Grasssington Station

Grassington Station

Grassington station

Grassington Station

Threshfield station

Grassington Station

From the Station to Threshfield

Threshfield Quarry Branch line

Left half of photo

Railway from Station to Threshfield

From Brooklyn to Threshfield

Threshfield Quarry Branch line

Right half of photo

These photos were taken by Curtis and are therefore thought to be pre World War 1. The photograph is taken from Grassington’s Middle Lane with the river running across the bottom.

The houses on the right are named Brooklyn after the suburb of New York. The field behind the trees is now High Bank housing.

Next are the buildings around the station, followed by Wilson’s arms behind the tree in the middle of the picture. Then the Threshfield Quarry sheds and Woodlands Terrace, now the Catholic Church and finally Threshfield Chapel.

Grassington Folk Museum Logo

2024: A villager remembers

A villager remembers:

There is a signal box on the far left of the photo. This was bought by the Fell Rescue and moved to the station yard. Further right a footbridge can be seen crossing the branch that connects with the quarry tramway.

The First World War

World War 1 Recruits Grassington

21st sept 1914, the first volunteers from Grassington area

The volunteers are going to join the 10th (Service) Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regt):

Kneeling L to R: 1 Arthur Stubbs. 2 William Burley. 3 Benjamin Beaumont. 4 R Harper. 5 CJ Kelly.

2nd Row L to R: 1 W Eley 2 Oldfield 3 W P Inman 4 Walter Limmer 5 Unknown 6 Unknown 7 T S Worsley 8 T Darwin

3rd Row L to R 4 Tom Swales

William Burley 10th (Service) Battalion D of W’s, died of Wounds 30/09/15, aged 19 and is buried at Walmer (St Mary’s) Churchyard, Kent. William was originally from Islington, Middlesex and before the war was in the employ of William James Stavert, Clerk of the Holy Orders at Burnsall.

Benjamin Beaumont 2nd Bn Suffolk Regt Missing Presumed KIA 27/09/17 Aged 24. Benjamin was a Carter from Hebden, he had joined up on the 19th of Sept 1914, but was discharged on the 14th Oct 1914, due to being unfit. Later he journeyed to Sutton in Ashfield and joined the Sherwood Foresters, later being transferred to the 2nd Bn Suffolk Regt . His Sister Jenny can be seen to the right of the photo, obviously to see him off.

Walter Limmer 10th (service) Bn D of W’s Regt died 12/09/18. He is buried at Cavalletto British Cemetery, Italy Walter was born in Langcliffe Tom Swales 9th (Service) Bn D of W’s Regt, missing presumed dead 22/03/18 Aged 21, his name appears on the Arras Memorial. Tom was born in Rylstone.

Just to add some more detail to the photo, the packages the men are carrying contained a shirt, a pair of socks, and a pipe, tobacco, and cigarettes. These were provided by a local committee, in Grassington, (click here)

Grassington Folk Museum Logo

2024: A villager remembers

A villager remembers: Tommy Darwin came back from the War possibly with fingers missing. He had been gassed so he had problems with his lungs.

Recruits to 10th Battalion, Duke of Wellington Regt

Back row: R Harper, TS Worsley, A Stubb, J Boothman, W Toman, T Darwin, C Eyre, T Swales

CT Kelly, B Beaumont, W Eley, JH Airey, G Verity, W Burley, R Harrison, W Oldifeld, W Limmerel Dinsdale, C Longstaff

Chris Longstaff was 20

Benefits of the Railway

The Railway came to Upper Wharfedale at a time of local industrial depression partly due to the winding down of the Lead Mining Industry. This meant that there were houses already available for potential commuters and explains why Grassington has so few houses built in the Victorian style. However one notable exception is Bridge End. This red-tiled terrace became known locally as “Boiled Egg Row” for the time it takes to get to/from the station.

Bridge End Boiled Egg Row

Bridge End under construction

Christian Hostel Association

31 May 1909 – before the official opening

The building still exists in Hebden but is now in serious disrepair. It can be found at the end of Hebden village on the Scuff Road to Burnsall.

Branch Line to Threshfield Quarry


There was a branch line from the Station towards the quarry at Skirethorns (Threshfield), once called Delaney’s quarry. There is a piece of film of this quarry on the BFI website. The line can be traced across the fields behind the Spar (in 2024).

This interchange is behind Woodlands Terrace, some of the brickwork can still be seen. The sheds were in the area of the Catholic Church and bogies from the quarry were emptied into railway trucks.

Grassington Folk Museum Logo

2024: A villager remembers

Villagers remember:

  • The line stopped being used about 1962/64 when the kilns closed. Mr Dawson became the manager of the quarry not long afterwards;
  • Coal was taken towards the quarry as well as limestone from the quarry;
  • Children used to hitch rides on the boogies when coming home from school;
  • It wasn’t particularly noisy living on Woodlands Terrace, but it was dusty when the bogies were tipping.


This is the Dalesman tour of May 1963, as it approaches Grassington Station. It was hauled by K4 2-6-0 No. 3422 The Great Marquess.

The road in the bottom is the Threshfield-Burnsall road at the bottom of Monkholm Hill (bridge 40) and the footbridge in the distance is Bridge 41. This is on the footpath from Monkholm to Threshfield Primary School.

A villager remembers being on the platform the day this train came in. He also remembers two school trips to Liverpool and one to York (1960) from Grassington by rail.

The Last Train

The death knell of the Railway came with the arrival of the motor bus. The last scheduled train ran on 21 September 1930 and had 54 passengers.

The tracks remained in place until 1969 with various “specials” being run up to 20th August 1969.

Last Train Ticket
Last train, August 20th 1969

The end of the railway came two years after Britain’s worst caving accident where six cavers lost their lives in Mossdale Scar cave above Conistone. Some sleepers from the railway were used to cover over the mines on Grassington  Moor in an attempt to make them safe. Some of these sleepers are beginning to deteriorate, so some work by Grassington Mines Appreciation Group has been undertaken to fence off some of the shafts.

The line now terminates at Swinden Quarry and is used for transporting high grade limestone out of the Dale.

Grassington Folk Museum Logo

2024 A villager remembers

In the 1980’s there was an attempt to highlight that the line could again be used to support Passenger traffic. This was done as part of Grassington Festival by arranging for Intercity 125 trains to bring visitors from Kings Cross Station in London.

Modern Day

Official Information


Parliamentary records show:

13 May 2003: The Strategic Rail Authority has set out its current plans for development of the rail network. This does not include opening the Skipton to Grassington Line.

13 Jun 2006: The Government has made no estimate of the costs of re-instating the railway from Swinden Quarry to Grassington, but the current North Yorkshire transport plan refers to a study made in 2002

In 2024 the only building clearly linked to the Railway is “Station House” at the entrance to Piece Fields. This estate was built where the station used to be . On the Threshfield side of the estate, the ground works for the end line can still be seen. The course of the line including its bridges can be traced past Linton, all the way back to Swinden.

Mathew Wilson Baronet

Mathew Wilson was the first MP for Skipton. He was a Liberal and owned much land around Threshfield. He was the son of Mathew Wilson of Eshton Hall, Gargrave and died in 1891.

Sir Matthew Wilson

Statue in its original position at top of High St

His statue was at the top of Skipton High St, but was moved to outside the library when the War Memorial was built in 1921.

His grandson opened the library in 1910.

Sir Matthew Wilson

Statue outside Skipton Library in 2024

Skipton War Memorial

Skipton War Memorial in 2024