The Architecture the Railways Built – Ribblehead Viaduct

The Architecture the Railways Built - Episode 4 Picture shows: Tim Dunn in Ribblehead

New television series The Architecture the Railways Built on Yesterday takes viewers on a fascinating journey through the history of some of our most stunning structures.

The latest episode (broadcast on 19 May) features North Yorkshire’s iconic Ribblehead Viaduct at the heart of the Settle to Carlisle railway line, for which we have just announced an important refurbishment to secure its future for decades.

The 144-year-old, Grade II listed viaduct will have its drainage improved and brickwork restored to make train journeys reliable.

The £2.1m investment – part of the Great North Rail Project to improve rail travel in the North of England – will start in July.

The Settle Carlisle Railway Development Company, which promotes this scenic part of the railway, says the viaduct and the nearby railway station “probably represent the very heart of the Settle-Carlisle line”.

The Ribblehead Viaduct in The Architecture the Railways Built on Yesterday

Film: the Ribblehead Viaduct

At 400m long, Ribblehead Viaduct’s 24 arches sweep through the Three Peaks region of Yorkshire Dales National Park. The bridge opened in 1876 to bridge the gap between Ribblehead and Dent on the exposed and windy Batty Moor and so is also known as Batty Moss Viaduct.

We’re proud to look after such a historic piece of Britain’s railway. Ensuring our Victorian structures remain in safe working order and last for generations to come is a great responsibility.

To do this, we undertake visual exams of the viaduct annually and detailed inspections every six years. We also typically carry out a major renewal every 10 years and any minor works as an when necessary.

Severe weather is one of the challenges we face as custodian of Ribblehead Viaduct, which crosses open land in an exposed position.

Work will take place on the viaduct between July and October, when there will be:

  • brickwork 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.

Marc Vipham, route asset manager for structures 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 that the structure is incredibly important both locally and internationally, and we want to give it the care and attention that it deserves so that it can be enjoyed by future generations of both passengers and sightseers.”

Scaffolding will be installed on sections of the 400m viaduct so engineers can safely carry out the vital upgrades.

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.

Read more:

The Architecture the Railways Built – Ffestiniog Railway

People and the railway: the Railway Heritage Trust

Film: the magic of the Glenfinnan Viaduct

Film: discover the Network Rail archive

People and the railway: reconnecting Scotland