Heritage Locations

Settle Station

Large Derby Gothic Style station on the Settle and Carlisle Railway


Period of construction:
1850 - 1899

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

Station Road, Settle, BD24 9AA

BD24 9AA

Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

Settle station, opened in 1876, is a large Derby Gothic Style building similar to those at Appleby and Kirkby Stephen and is one of the three  stations which originally served Settle - the other two were Settle (Old), renamed Giggleswick in 1877, and Settle Junction, which closed in 1877.

The station forms part of what was formerly a much larger complex including a goods shed, weigh office, sidings, cattle dock, signal box and water tank. Goods facilities were withdrawn in 1970 but even today the water tank and Station Master's house, although now in private ownership, provide evidence of the station's past. The signal box has been restored as a visitor centre by volunteers.

The Settle and Carlisle line had its origins in railway politics; the expansion-minded Midland Railway company was locked in dispute with the rival London and North Western Railway over access rights to the latter's tracks to Scotland.
The Midland's existing access to Scotland was via the so-called "Little North Western" route to Ingleton. The tracks from there on to Low Gill where they joined the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway fell under the control of the rival LNWR. Initially the two routes, although physically connected at Ingleton, were not logically connected, as the LNWR and Midland could not agree on sharing the use of Ingleton station. Instead the LNWR terminated its trains at a separate station at the opposite end of Ingleton viaduct, and Midland Railway passengers had to change into LNWR trains by means of a walk of about a mile over steep gradients between the two stations.

Eventually an agreement was reached over station access, enabling the Midland to attach through carriages to LNWR trains at Ingleton. Passengers could now continue their journey north without leaving the train. But the situation was still far from ideal, as the LNWR would handle the through carriages of its rival with deliberate obstructiveness, for example attaching the through coaches to slow freight trains instead of to fast passenger workings.

The route through Ingleton is now closed, but the major structures such as Low Gill and Ingleton viaducts still exist. It was a well-engineered line eminently suitable for express passenger running, but its potential could never be realised due to the irreconcilable rivalry between the Midland and the LNWR.

Eventually the Midland board decided that the only solution was their own route to Scotland. Surveying began in 1865, and in June 1866, Parliamentary approval was given to the Midland's plan. Soon afterwards, with a banking crisis leading and spiralling interest rates and the bankruptcy of several railways, the Midland's board tried unsuccessfully to persuade Parliament to abandon the scheme. Work began in November, with over 6,000 navvies labouring in appalling conditions and living in huge temporary camps - the remains of one of these camps, Batty Green, can be seen near Ribblehead.

The engineer for the project was John Crossley, a veteran of other major Midland schemes. The terrain traversed is some of the bleakest and wildest in England, and construction was halted for months at a time due to frozen ground, snowdrifts and flooding of the works. One contractor had to give up as a result of underestimating the terrain and the weather - Dent Head has almost four times the rainfall of London.

The line was engineered to express standards throughout - local traffic was secondary and many stations were miles from the villages they purported to serve. It reaches a summit of 365 m (1,169 ft) at Ais Gill, north of Garsdale. To keep the gradients down to no steeper 1 in 100 (1%), a requirement for fast running using steam traction, huge engineering works were required and even then the terrain imposed a 26 km (16 miles) climb from Settle to Blea Moor, almost all of it at 1 in 100, and known to enginemen as ‘the long drag'. Fourteen tunnels and twenty two viaducts were needed and the summit at Ais Gill is still the highest point reached by main line trains in England.

The station is a Grade II Listed Building.


Abbott, Stan and Whitehouse, Alan. The line that refused to die, Leading Edge ISBN 0-948135-43-3 (1994)

Baughan, P. E. The Midland Railway North of Leeds (1966)

Biddle, Gordon, Britain's Historic Railway Buildings, Oxford University Press, ISBN-10: 0198662475 (2003)

Biddle, Gordon & Nock, O.S.,
The Railway Heritage of Britain : 150 years of railway architecture and engineering, Studio Editions, ISBN-10: 1851705953 (1990)

Dunstone, D, For the Love of Trains: The Story of Tram and Railway Preservation in Britain (2007)

Jenkinson, David, Rails in the Fells. ISBN 0 900586 53 2 (1973)

Lambert, Anthony, Settle and Carlisle ISBN 0 75252 631 6 (1997)

Towler, J. The Battle for the Settle & Carlisle, Platform 5 Publishing, ISBN 1-872524-07-9 (1990)

Williams, F. S. Williams' Midland Railway (1875, reprinted 1968)

Opening Times:
Open daily. See schedules, visit website or telephone 0845 00 00 125.

How To Find:
By road: Off B6480 in the centre of Settle.


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