Ribblehead viaduct on the Settle and Carline line is both a famous landmark and a Grade II listed structure.
It is also a favourite subject for photographers. Every year, Network Rail sponsors the ‘Lines in the Landscape’ category of the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. Brian Nunn won the 2020 competition with ‘Ribblehead’, Francis Taylor with ‘Sunshine breaks through, Ribblehead Viaduct’ in 2016 and Robert France in 2015 with ‘Freightliner Coal Train Ribblehead Viaduct’. So it has done well.
Now, however, the iconic North Yorkshire landmark, which opened in 1876 and bridgedg the gap between Ribblehead and Dent on the exposed and windy Batty Moor, is undergoing important maintenance to secure its future for decades to come. In a £2.1m project that will last until February 2021, the 144-year-old viaduct will undergo:
- Brickwork repairs;
- Removal of vegetation and repairing the damage caused by plants and weeds;
- Upgrades to drainage across the viaduct’s 24 arches;
- Repainting of metal and pipework.
Phil James, North West route director at Network Rail, said: “It’s a privilege to look after so many significant buildings and structures across the rail network, but Ribblehead viaduct has got to be one of the crown jewels of Victorian civil engineering.
“We know the structure is incredibly important both locally and internationally, and we want to give it the care and attention that it deserves so it can be enjoyed by future generations of passengers and sightseers.”
Engineers are in the process of installing scaffolding to provide a safe platform to carry out repairs to the 400-metre-long structure.
Network Rail is working closely with Historic England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park to ensure the work is sympathetically carried out in line with guidance for historically significant structures.
Steve Hopkinson, regional director at Northern, commented: “The viaduct is iconic and we’re really proud to have such a magnificent piece of engineering on our network.
“It is also a vital and much-loved part of the hugely popular Settle-Carlisle line. The work being carried out will ensure future generations are able to enjoy one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the UK.”
Paul Brown, chairman of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line group, added: “This work has come about as a result of regular inspections of the Ribblehead viaduct. We work closely with Network Rail and welcome this investment in the line’s future.
“The Ribblehead viaduct was once seen as the route’s major weakness. It is now probably stronger than it was when the Victorians built it. This work is needed to keep it that way.”
No major disruption is expected for passengers using the Settle-Carlisle line during the viaduct’s 2020 maintenance.