Unique record of Ilkley's transport history goes on display

A unique pair of books detailing the life-changing introduction of railway lines to connect Ilkley to the nation goes on display this week.

The two books, valued at £500 each, contain plans by the Midland and North Eastern Railway for the new line between Ilkley and Otley and the line connecting Ilkley to Apperley Bridge, near Bradford, which came into being in 1865.

The line, known as the Otley and Ilkley Joint Railway, ran for 100 years until July 1965, when the Ilkley to Otley section was closed as part of the infamous Dr Beeching cuts.

Ilkley bookseller Christian White of Modern First Editions, who is displaying the books, says they will be of great interest and importance to local historians and those who travelled along the line in years gone by.

"This is Victorian engineering on a grand scale," he said.

"Every house, every plot of land and its owner is named – you can calculate the exact depth at every point of the embankments between Ilkley and Burley-in-Wharfedale.

"And from the map of Ilkley town centre it looks like the grammar school did okay from the compulsory purchase of land where the station was built.

"When you look at the effort that went into the creation of the lines, it only serves to reinforce the terrible loss to Wharfedale when Dr Beeching closed the Ilkley to Otley line in 1965 exactly a century after it had opened."

As well as the map of the planned railway lines, the book also includes jottings by members of the Midlands Railway detailing land sales, and the fact WH Smith held the right "as to advertising and bookstalls on the joint line" until 1915.

The books will be on display as part of the the PBFA Ilkley Bookfair, which takes place at King’s Hall and Winter Garden in Ilkley from noon to 6.30pm on Friday and 10am to 4.30pm on Saturday.

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