Quarry train below Rylstone.
Although Skipton railway station was opened in 1847, the railway did not come to Rylstone for another 50 years. A 'Wharfedale Railway Company' succeeded in getting powers to build a railway via Rylstone to Threshfield under the Skipton and Wharfedale Railway Act of 1865. In 1882, although no work had started, powers were sought to extend the unbuilt line northwards past Kettlewell on to Wensleydale and then Darlington.(1)
The single track 'Yorkshire Dales Railway' from Skipton to Threshfield was completed in 1902. This connected to the then Ilkley and Leeds line at Embsay Junction, and ended at Threshfield station, although it was still hoped to extend the railway up through the Dales as far as Darlington. Passenger services were provided by the Midland Railway Company (later absorbed into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway).(2) A Rylstone station was opened on the 29th July 1902, just north of the level crossing on the Hetton-Cracoe road, and arguably better placed to serve those two villages than Rylstone.(3)
The line transported people, goods and livestock until 1930, after which it was only used for goods traffic, and the occasional special excursion. (Even now, a steam hauled train is sometimes allowed to run on the line, for enthusiasts). Rylstone thus enjoyed passenger rail services for only 28 years. Passenger services on the line typically numbered seven a day in each direction, with one south-bound train being split at Embsay Junction; the front portion of the train would go forward to Skipton, whilst the rear portion would be coupled up to another locomotive, and would run east via Ilkley to Bradford Forster Square.(2)
The line was the last steam-worked branch line on the British Railways system. Steam locomotives were withdrawn in the summer of 1968.(2) After August 1969, the line was cut back to Swinden Quarry and is now used almost entirely only for bulk trainloads of limestone aggregate.(4)
Limestone services from the quarry, as at March 2018, are run to Dewsbury, Dairycoates (Hull) and Marsh Lane/Hunslet (Leeds) by DB Cargo UK, a Doncaster based company owned by Deutscher Bahn, the German state rail company. Limestone trains to Small Heath (in Birmingham) and to Wellingborough are run by GB Railfreight, whose parent company is owned by a Swedish private equity group based in Stockholm.(5) (What would the directors of the Yorkshire Dales Railway have made of that?)
1. Raistrick A (1967). Old Yorkshire Dales. Newton Abbot: David and Charles (Publishers) Ltd., South Devon House, Railway Station, Newton Abbot, Devon. Printed by Latimer Trend and Co. Ltd., Plymouth.
2. Bairstow M (2004). Railways Through Airedale and Wharfedale. Farsley: Bairstow.
3. Site record for Rylstone Station on web site of disused-stations.org.uk .
4. Brailsford, Martyn (2016). Railway Track Diagrams 2: Eastern (4 ed.). Frome: Trackmaps
5. Binns, Donald (1990). The Yorkshire Dales Railway; the Grassington Branch. Skipton: Northern Heritage.
6. Rawlinson, Mark (2015). Freightmaster No 78. Freightmaster Publishing.
Quarry train passing Scale House.
Train at Clints Quarry.
The article below is from the 'Disused Stations' website and is displayed with their permission.