Factfile: The Grassington Branch
Inspiration for this Yorkshire Dales scene came from two railways that snake into the National Park, just a stone’s throw from the ‘Settle & Carlisle’ but in whose shadow they seem to live. Snaking away east from Skipton is a former Midland Railway branch that once swiftly diverged again. One line headed north, to the small Dales town of Grassington, with the other bound for Ilkley and an end-on connection with the Otley & Ilkley Joint Railway. The line to Ilkley was closed in 1965 but a portion still survives as the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. The branch to Grassington closed in 1969 but was cut back as far as what today is Lafarge/tarmac’s quarry at Rylstone. It was the Grassington branch that sprang to mind when in conversation with Paul about this layout concept. It was a cut-back line, but whereas my railway doesn’t get much traffic, there is daily freight along the former Grassington branch.
The Grassington branch became a mecca for enthusiasts in BR steam’s final year, as ‘4MT’ 4-6-0s worked loaded and empty hoppers to Spencer’s limeworks at Rylstone. This was a regular duty for No. 75019, photographed on May 29 1968 working a load of empties to the quarry. JOHN WHITELEY