A defining moment for the Yorkshire Dales National Park came on April 11, 1989, nearly three months after the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher received a letter from Dales businesses, writes Andrew Fagg, media officer with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, on the authority's website blog.

On that day the Secretary of State for Transport, Paul Channon, quietly conducted a U-turn. He announced in a ‘written answer’ that he had decided ‘to refuse closure consent’ for the Settle-Carlisle railway. Cheers rang out across the Dales.

Mr Channon said one of the reasons for his decision was ‘new evidence on the line’s importance to the local economy’.

Thirty years later, I have that evidence in my hands. It is a scrapbook containing the voices of Dales business men and women, which had been delivered by hand to 10 Downing Street.

The scrapbook - eventually recovered from Downing Street - is on loan from Ruth Annison, of Hawes Ropemakers.

In 1989 she was the chairman of the Settle-Carlisle Railway Business Liaison Group and was one of a group of nine people to go to Number 10 in the January of that year.

“The Prime Minister was out, but we were invited in to hand over our evidence,” she said.

“A small problem was that we also had a basket of goodies containing Dales produce such as cheese, fudges, soaps and preserves.

"The police asked how they could be sure there wasn’t a bomb hidden inside the cheese. I said we could get a knife to cut it open but the idea of a knife was even worse than the idea of a bomb.”

“What we were able to do as a business group was to highlight the loss of business and employment, if the Settle-Carlisle line were to close,” said Mrs Annison.

She and a large group of volunteers gathered together supportive statements from dozens of businesses which benefitted from the line.

Some of the businesses, including hoteliers and retailers, went into great detail about how they would be affected by line closure. Others kept it short and sweet, such as Horton Post Office which wrote: On yes, no doubt at all we benefit from the line'.

Mrs Annison added: “The 30 year anniversary is really important. It’s been a generation since the reprieve. The decision on the Settle-Carlisle line was regarded as the first reversal of British Rail closure policies. The campaign to keep it open was international by the end."

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Chief Executive David Butterworth added: “The reprieve for the Settle-Carlisle line was a huge moment for the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The line brings considerable economic, transport and environmental benefits to the National Park.

“Five stations lie within the National Park – Kirkby Stephen, Garsdale, Dent, Ribblehead, and Horton-in-Ribblesdale – while Settle station lies just outside the boundary. It means that residents can have days out to market towns, while tourists can visit, without the need for a car. It’s a heritage attraction, too, as well as a working railway; the line’s marvellous infrastructure has become an integral part of a landscape loved the world over.”

The letter which was hand delivered and signed by Ruth Annison on behalf of the Settle-Carlisle Railway Business Liaison Group reads: Dear Mrs Thatcher, There are between one and two thousand small businesses in the Settle-Carlisle corridor.

For example, Craven has 667 businesses dependent in whole or in part on tourism. Hawes has 105 family businesses and the Eden Valley lists 80 tourist-related establishments.

These are reliable figures, we know because they are our friends, neighbours and colleagues and we have counted them.

From the tea van at Ribblehead to the most upmarket hotel, where your ministers dine, from estate agents to shops in market towns, from village post offices to manufacturers, all agree the Settle-Carlisle railway should be kept open. 'Open' means more than mere survival as a summer season fun railway, Open means, at the very least, continuation of the present level of all-year passenger and Red Star parcel services.

Sixty per cent of the passengers on the Settle-Carlisle line are said to be travelling for pleasure. Sixty per cent of the passenger journeys in 1988 meant up to 150,000 people, all wanting to eat and be entertained, to shop and often to sleep overnight in the area. Cafes and craft shops, information centres and youth hostels, hotels, petrol stations and holiday cottage owners, all know these passengers because they meet them face-to-face.

Also grateful for these customers are the plumbers who put new bathrooms into hotels to provide en-suite facilities, milkmen, butchers, bakers and greengrocers who supply restaurants; the brewers, the designers and printers of postcards, maps and leisure guides and many, many others, because of the remarkable ripple effect of tourism on the local economy.

Some of the people describe in this book what closure of the line would mean to them. We have had 16 years without stations or trains and, therefore, first-hand experience of the problems.

Since eight stations were reopened in 1986 our situation has been transformed and continues to improve.

Any change in ownership and management of the line which does not guarantee the long-term security of the present level of year-round services would threaten jobs, the rural economy and the wellbeing of communities which the line passes (four parliamentary constituencies, including Richmond).