The Shipley Glen Cable Tramway

One weekend we decided to travel to Saltaire to take a ride on the oldest functioning funicular railway in the United Kingdom.  Getting there by public transport was relatively easy, Saltaire having a railway station on the Airedale line with links to Leeds, Bradford and Skipton.

Canal boat, Saltaire
Canal boat trips from Saltaire

Leaving the station by a short flight of stone steps we turned left onto Victoria Road passing the historic Salts Mill on our way.  Saltaire has had UNESCO world heritage status since 2009 and will be the subject of a future trip.  Arriving at a pedestrian footbridge we crossed both the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool canal where we paused briefly to admire the brightly coloured narrow boats tied up alongside the towpath.

Shipley Glen Tramway
Entrance to the Shipley Glen Tramway

The path leads into the English Heritage listed Roberts Park which was opened in 1871 by Sir Titus Salt.  The Shipley Glen Tramway bottom station is easily accessible just across the park being signposted from Higher Coach Road.

Shipley Glen Tramway
Entrance to the Shipley Glen Cable Tramway

The tramway is only open from 12.00 noon during weekends and public holidays, further details of which can be found on its website here.  We bought single tickets costing £1 each.

The bottom station ticket office contains a small shop and has some interesting displays of old food packaging including biscuit tins and chocolate boxes for visitors to look at whilst waiting to board the tram.  Adjacent to the bottom station is a small museum which recently re-opened after extensive refurbishment.

We took the first journey of the day, managing to sit on the front seats giving us an uninterrupted view through the steeply wooded glen.  The tramway opened in 1895 and was built to carry people up the steep slope to a fairground and wooden toboggan ride which has been closed for some time.  Originally the tramway was powered by a gas engine but since 1920 it has run on electricity.

Shipley Glen Tramway
Travelling up Shipley Glen on the tramway

Reaching the top station, this ticket office sells traditional boiled sweets and humbugs in glass jars which are then weighed out at the counter as used to be the case in bygone days.

Shop, Shipley Glen Tramway
Traditional sweet shop at the Shipley Glen Tramway Upper Station

Leaving the tramway along Prod Lane, a modern housing estate has been built over what had once been the original fairground.  Next to the former fairground we came across an old country pub called the Old Glen House with a tearoom next door.

Old Glen House, Shipley Glen
Old Glen House pub, Shipley Glen

Continuing a little further up the lane we arrived at the broad expanse of Bracken Hall Green an exposed hilly outcrop on Baildon Moor where a stiff wind was blowing.  A short walk across the moorland brought us to a car parking area and the Bracken Hall Countryside Visitor Centre.

Bracken Hill Countryside Visitor Centre, Shipley Glen
Bracken Hill Countryside Visitor Centre, Shipley Glen

The visitor centre, formerly operated by Bradford Council, is now run by a team of volunteers known as the friends of Bracken Hall.  The centre has been downsized but still contains historic memorabilia relating to the Shipley Glen tramway and old fairground in addition to a small exhibition on the local flora and fauna.  The volunteer staff were very enthusiastic and showed us a clip of some old black and white footage of the tramway crammed with people, enjoying a day out riding up the tramway and having fun at the fairground in 1912.

The path alongside the Shipley Glen Tramway
The path alongside the Shipley Glen Tramway

Leaving the visitor centre we retraced our steps back to the tramway but instead of returning downhill on the old funicular, we decided to walk down the steep path running alongside it which didn’t take us very long.  We then felt it was time to find a cafe in the village centre for tea and cakes before returning home by train.  A visit to the tramway can easily be combined with a visit to the local Salts Mill and a canal side walk.

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also like:

Bingley Five Rise Locks

Discovering Waterside Leeds

A Walk on Ilkley Moor


47 thoughts on “The Shipley Glen Cable Tramway

  1. Pingback: The National Science & Media Museum in Bradford – Love Travelling Blog

  2. Pingback: Day 6. Riding the Hong Kong Peak Tram – Love Travelling Blog

  3. Pingback: Day 5. Riding the Roosevelt Tramway and walking the High Line, New York City – Love Travelling Blog

  4. Pingback: Day 3. The Calderdale mill towns of Heptonstall and Todmorden – Love Travelling

  5. Pingback: Bingley and its Five Rise Locks – Love Travelling

  6. Pingback: Exploring the National Science & Media Museum in Bradford – Love Travelling

  7. Pingback: Day 3. A Morning Ride on The Peak Tram – Love Travelling

  8. Pingback: Day 6. Riding the Peak Tram – Love Travelling

  9. Pingback: Day 5. Riding the Roosevelt Tramway and walking the High Line – Love Travelling

  10. Pingback: Day 3.  Riding Hong Kong’s Peak Tram and Mid Levels Escalators – Love Travelling

  11. travelrat

    Oh, I remember that! We rode on it back in the day, when we did a series of walks called the ‘Ilkley Moor Bar T’at Walks’. Some of us rode the tramway, and got sneers of ‘cheating’ from the real purists!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. travelrat

        Agreed! The ‘Dick Hudson’ts to the Cow and Calf’ is a classic … although badly worn in places; they had to put duckboards down (presumably, to prevent t’ducks from eating up t’worms 😀 )

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.