With the aid of a map, David Joy explained that the Dales railways were sandwiched between two main line routes: Settle to Carlisle to the west and York to Northallerton in the east. A proposed cross-Dales route between Manchester and Newcastle was never built but if it had been it would have passed through Grassington . . .
The branch line in each Dale had its own distinct character. Richmond (which still retains the finest branch line station) was the point from which Swaledale lead was transported to Stockton. The Wensleydale railway carried milk. Masham became a distribution centre for agricultural produce and Pateley Bridge for high quality building stone. These lines opened new markets for Dales produce as far as London and beyond. The railways also brought people into the Dales, for example to the hydropathic spa at Ilkley and, later, enabled commuters to reach the expanding opportunities for work in Leeds and Bradford. In 1927 Leyburn station was packed with sightseers hoping for a view of the total eclipse of the sun. David illustrated his talk with many highly evocative and nostalgic photographs of the steam age as well as many anecdotes of the people who worked on the railways.
David Joy MBE is a former editor of The Dalesman who has written more than 40 books, mainly on the Yorkshire Dales and railways. David gallantly gave this talk at short notice as the scheduled speaker was unwell.