Specialists restoring one of the country’s most treasured railway structures have found it needs some extra TLC to secure its future for passengers and tourists.
Today, (Monday 15 February) Network Rail has released progress pictures of work taking place as part of a £2.1m investment into Ribblehead viaduct.
Stone blockwork and drainage is being upgraded on the historic structure, which carries the picturesque Settle to Carlisle railway 400 metres across the Ribble valley in Yorkshire.
Detailed laser and drone surveys have mapped every inch of the Grade II* listed viaduct for the first time, and huge scaffolding towers have been built for the repairs to take place.
This has given rare access for a much closer inspection of the 144-year-old railway link's condition.
While the expected repairs have been progressing well, further minor faults in the masonry have been found which need fixing.
Some of the blockwork on the viaduct’s supports is cracked. When water gets inside and freezes in cold weather it turns to ice and expands, making the damage worse.
Plans have been submitted to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to carry out the extra repairs to the newly found cracks as soon as possible as part of this same project.
Marc Vipham, route asset manager for structures at Network Rail, said: “Being up close restoring Ribblehead viaduct for several months now, we have found deeper issues that need attention to protect this amazing feat of Victorian engineering for the future.
“As with any heritage project of this kind, when plans need to change it is standard procedure to submit further planning applications to adapt our work. Carrying out these extra repairs now, when the experts are in place and the scaffolding is already up, will save a huge amount of taxpayers’ money and stop us needing to come back all over again.
“We’re continuing to work closely with heritage experts and conservationists at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority so we’re all on the same page as to how we can best restore this much-loved structure for generations to come.”
Ribblehead Viaduct opened in 1876 bridging the gap between Ribblehead and Dent on the exposed and windy Batty Moss.
Photographs released today show the work currently taking place, which includes:
- Stone blockwork repairs along the structure
- Removal of vegetation and repairing the damage caused by plants and weeds
- Upgrades to drainage systems across the viaduct’s 24 arches
- Repainting of metal and pipework in one universal colour
As Ribblehead Viaduct is a Grade II listed structure, Network Rail is working closely with Historic England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to ensure the work is sympathetically carried out in line with guidance for historically significant structures.