Memories of the Colne-Skipton rail line

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Say the words “Colne to Skipton” and immediately for those of my generation nostalgic steam train journeys are recalled, as a “Jubilee” or “Patroit” class locomotive leaves Colne Railway Station hauling half-a-dozen packed carriages in an evocative cloud of smoke, steam and soot.

Flying along the rails, the mighty steam engine powers over the majestic Foulridge Wharf Bridge and further along the scenic 11.7 mile track we take a brief rest at the time-hallowed Earby level crossing, before steaming away in a beautiful countryside, heading through Thornton-in-Craven and Elslack with the sun’s rays lighting up the old-world carriage interiors as the now slowing down locomotive steams into a bustling Skipton Station.

These were days of great joy in the steam era and beyond until that fateful day Sunday, February 1st, 1970, when the very last train ran on the Colne to Skipton line.

Our picture this week shows “yours truly” with the iconic and rare railway station totem signs for “Colne” (which I’ve proudly owned for many years) and “Skipton” (for which just a couple of weeks ago at the Great Central Railwayana Auction in Coventry with grandson Nathan, we outbid all there to become the new owners).

Will this Lancashire-Yorkshire railway link ever return?

Well as my two great journalistic friends Eric Greenwood and Edward Lee have so well expressed recently, the whole crux of this tragically lost line returning is: “Could there ever be enough passengers to make it viable?”