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Bell Busk
Mill Bridge, Bell Busk, Coniston Cold CP - - 1437241.jpg

Mill Bridge, Bell Busk
Bell Busk is located in North Yorkshire
Bell Busk
Bell Busk
Location within North Yorkshire
Civil parish
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSkipton
Postcode districtBD23
Dialling code01756
PoliceNorth Yorkshire
FireNorth Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
54°00′14″N 2°08′52″W / 54.0039°N 2.1479°W / 54.0039; -2.1479

Bell Busk is a hamlet situated in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, England. The hamlet is located at the southern end of Malhamdale where the nascent River Aire meets Otterburn Beck. The village is 7 miles (11 km) north west of Skipton and used to have a railway station on the line linking Skipton and Hellifield.

Historical industries in the hamlet consisted of a cotton and a silk mill, with quarrying prevalent also. Tourism became the leading industry in the 20th century.


The name of Bell Busk is believed to have been derived from Old Norse and Old English meaning the bell shaped bush.[1] Bell Busk is 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Coniston Cold,[2] 7 miles (11 km) north west of Skipton, 5 miles (8 km) south of Malham[3] and 5 miles (8 km) east of Hellifield.[4] The hamlet sits at the southern end of Malhamdale, where the River Aire meets Otterburn Beck. Malhamdale is the very northern end of Airedale.[5] Official records of the area make no mention of the hamlet until 1585, even then, it was not shown on mapping until the early 17th century.[6]

In 1781, a weir and large mill pond with a long mill race were constructed on the Aire to provide water power for a silk mill.[7] The weir was located 7 miles (11 km) south of Malham and 83 miles (134 km) from the mouth of the Aire on the River Ouse.[8] The mill has long since been demolished after it was destroyed by fire,[9][10] but the weir was only removed in 2018 to make fish passage easier into the spawning grounds. This is to encourage salmon into the River Aire and its tributaries after a 200-year absence.[11]

In the 19th century, quarrying became an important industry when at least three rock quarries were in operation; Field Rock Quarry to the west, Esh Bottom Quarry to the south west and Haw Crag Quarry to the east. Haw Crag was noted for its medium-purity limestone which was used in the local buildings.[12] Quarrying here was on quite a large scale compared to other quarries in the area; 30,000 tonnes (33,000 tons) was processed in the month of January 1877 alone.[13] Haw Crag Quarry is now an SSSI as it "key site in the understanding of carbonate environments in the Craven Basin."[14]

Bell Busk used to be in the West Riding of Yorkshire, but since the county boundary changes of 1974, it is now in North Yorkshire.[15][16]

Metcalfe Models and Toys, a model kit firm that specialises in cardboard buildings used for dioramas and by model railway hobbyists, is based in Bell Busk.[17]

Bell Busk is located in the civil parish of Coniston Cold and is included in the statistics there for the 2011 census.[18]


Originally, Bell Busk was on the packhorse route between Skipton and Settle,[19] which meant the road veered off at Coniston Cold, whereas this now goes directly west towards Hellifield as the A65 road.[20] The junction and road leading up to Bell Busk from Coniston Cold is narrow and can cause access problems.[21]

The hamlet had a railway station on the "Little" North Western Railway between Skipton and Hellifield. As it was the nearest station to Malham Cove and Malhamdale, it took on a far greater importance than other settlements in the dale due to it being a disembarkation point for travellers.[22] The station site was used as a backdrop to the Bette Davis film Another Man's Poison in 1951,[23] but was closed to passengers in 1959.[24]

The long distance paths, The Airedale Way, the Trans-Dale Trail 2 and the Rail to Trail Walk (the Bentham Line) pass through the hamlet on their way north (to the source of the River Aire for the Airedale Way and Greta Bridge for the Trans-Dale Trail), and westwards respectively.[25] Both the Pennine Way and the Wild Yorkshire Way, pass to the east of the Hamlet, with many cottages and other overnight accommodation being offered in Bell Busk.[26][27]

Notable people


  1. ^ Chrystal 2017, p. 13.
  2. ^ Speight 1891, p. 264.
  3. ^ Speight 1892, p. 318.
  4. ^ "103" (Map). Blackburn & Burnley, Clitheroe & Skipton. 1:50,000. Landranger. Ordnance Survey. 2016. ISBN 9780319262016.
  5. ^ Chrystal 2017, p. 103.
  6. ^ "Walking: Take this Yorkshire escape route to a more laid-back world". Yorkshire Evening Post. 11 May 2018. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Bell Busk Mill - Cotton and Silk". Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  8. ^ "The Condition of the Aire". The Bradford Observer (1, 708). Column D. 8 November 1866. p. 6. OCLC 17641939.
  9. ^ Wilkinson, Frank (31 October 2006). "Easy all round". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  10. ^ Tate, Lesley (4 February 2019). "Rare artefacts from Bell Busk silk mill to go under hammer". Craven Herald. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  11. ^ Mason, Viv (25 June 2019). "Scheme will see salmon returned to the River Aire after 200-year hiatus". Craven Herald. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  12. ^ Harrison, D J (1982). The limestone resources of the Craven Lowlands : description of parts of 1:50 000 geological sheets 59, 60, 61, 67, 68, and 69. London: H.M.S.O. p. 25. ISBN 0-11-884316-8.
  13. ^ Speight 1891, p. 267.
  14. ^ "Haw Crag Quarry" (PDF). Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  15. ^ Chrystal 2017, p. 100.
  16. ^ "History of Bell Busk, in Craven and West Riding | Map and description". Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  17. ^ "Expansion on the cards for model maker". Craven Herald. 21 March 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  18. ^ UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Coniston Cold Parish (1170216736)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  19. ^ Speight 1891, p. 263.
  20. ^ "From Grits to Silurians; Geological ramble". The Leeds Mercury (15, 817). Column C. 15 December 1888. p. 15. OCLC 1016307518.
  21. ^ "Village's cold shoulder to growth". The Yorkshire Post. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  22. ^ Miall, P (12 May 1888). "The River Aire; its scenery, historic sites and geology". The Leeds Mercury (15, 631). Column A. p. 1. OCLC 1016307518.
  23. ^ "Former railway station and setting for 1950s Bette Davis film 'Another Man's Poison' up for sale". Craven Herald. 5 October 2018. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  24. ^ Burgess, Neil (2014). The lost railways of Yorkshire's West Riding. The central section : Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Wakefield. Catrine: Stenlake. p. 88. ISBN 9781840336573.
  25. ^ "Rail To Trail Walk - The Bentham Line - LDWA Long Distance Paths". Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  26. ^ "Pennine Way National Trail - LDWA Long Distance Paths". Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  27. ^ "Wild Yorkshire Way - LDWA Long Distance Paths". Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  28. ^ Winthrop-Young, J S. "William Cecil Slingsby". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/37974. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)


  • Chrystal, Paul (2017). The Place Names of Yorkshire; Cities, Towns, Villages, Rivers and Dales, some Pubs too, in Praise of Yorkshire Ales (1 ed.). Catrine: Stenlake. ISBN 9781840337532.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Speight, Harry (1891). Through Airedale from Goole to Malham. Leeds: Walker & Laycock. OCLC 5824116.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Speight, Harry (1892). The Craven and North-west Yorkshire Highlands. London: Elliot Stock. OCLC 7219082.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links

This page was last edited on 5 January 2020, at 09:03
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