The rich deposits of lead ore on Grassington Moor were worked from the time of James I by mining families who came into the area from Swaledale and Derbyshire. At its peak, the highly complex system of mines employed some hundreds of men and boys and made annual profits of up to £20,000 per annum, until cheap imports and dwindling ores forced their closure in 1882. The end of lead mining brought a period of depression and decline to Grassington. Its population fell by two-thirds with many families forced to leave the area. The village returned to being an agricultural community.
It was the coming of the Yorkshire Dales Railway from Skipton in 1902 that changed Grassington’s fortunes. The railway enabled two seemingly contradictory industries to develop, namely, limestone quarrying which now provides a vital raw material for the steel, chemical and construction industries and tourism which, like quarrying, is an important source of local employment. The Grassington Folk Museum, with its collection of tools, household items and artefacts, may give some insight into the life of those many generations of Dales folk who have helped to create the village and the landscape we see today.