For a heritage line, the Wensleydale Railway has had a
unique history. The original route known as the Wensleydale
Railway ran between Northallerton and Garsdale, and opened in
stages from 1848 to 1878. The majority of the track belonged to the
North Eastern Railway, whilst the Midland Railway owned the section
from Hawes to Garsdale.
Both parts of the line operated successfully for many years, but services did begin to dwindle following the Second World War. But, unusually in the history of railways in Britain, both parts of the track were closed before the Beeching report. The North Eastern section stopped passenger services in 1954, and the Midland part was closed completely in 1959. Although the Midland part of the track and the North Eastern branch west of Redmire was lifted, over half of the railway remained open. This was to service the quarry near Redmire, and freight trains continued until 1992.
People wanting passenger services to be reinstated on the line had formed the Wensleydale Railway Association in 1990, and when British Rail put the railway up for sale two years later they decided to act. Making the railway safe for passenger travel took longer than expected, but trains commenced between Leyburn and Leeming Bar in July 2003. Services were extended to Redmire in 2004, and the line has been a scenic tourist attraction and a vital passenger route for locals ever since.