Ribblehead Viaduct is a railway viaduct across the valley of the River Ribble at Ribblehead, in North Yorkshire, England, 28 miles (45 km) north-west of Skipton and 26 miles (42 km) south-east of Kendal. The viaduct is a Grade II* listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is also known as Batty Moss railway viaduct, for the land it traverses.
Ribblehead viaduct is 440 yards (400 m) long, and 104 feet (32 m) above the valley floor at its highest point. It is made up of twenty-four arches of 45 feet (14 m) span, with foundations 25 feet (7.6 m) deep. The north end of the viaduct is 13 feet (4.0 m) higher in elevation than the south end. 1.5 million bricks were used in the construction and some of the limestone blocks weighed 8 tons each.
It was designed by the engineer John Sydney Crossley. The first stone was laid on 12 October 1870 and the last in 1874. One thousand Navvies building the viaduct established shanty towns on the moors for themselves and their families. They named the towns after victories of the Crimean War, sarcastically for posh districts of London, and Biblical names. There were smallpox epidemics and deaths from industrial accidents. One hundred navvies were killed during the construction of the viaduct. There are 200 burials of men, women, and children in just the graveyard at Chapel-le-Dale dating from the construction. The church has a special memorial to the railway workers.
In 1964, several brand new Humber cars being carried on a freight train that was crossing the viaduct were blown off the wagons they were being carried upon and landed on the ground by the viaduct.
Ribblehead Viaduct is the longest and most famous viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle Railway. Ribblehead railway station is located less than half a mile to the south of the viaduct. Just to the north of it is the Blea Moor Tunnel, the longest tunnel on the Settle-Carlisle Line. It is located near the foot of the mountain of Whernside. The viaduct is curved, and so may be seen by passengers on the train.
The Settle-Carlisle line is one of three north-south main lines; along with the West Coast Main Line through Penrith and the East Coast Main Line via Newcastle. British Rail attempted to close the line in the 1980s, citing the reason that the viaduct was unsafe and would be expensive to repair. A partial solution was to single the line across the viaduct in 1985, preventing two trains from crossing simultaneously. The closure proposals generated tremendous protest and were eventually retracted. The viaduct, along with the rest of the line, was repaired and maintained and there are no longer any plans to close it.
- English Heritage. "Batty Moss railway viaduct (Grade II*,scheduled) (1132228)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- Houghton, F.W & Foster W.H (1965 2nd Ed) The Story of the Settle-Carlisle Line, Advertiser Press Ltd, Huddersfield, p.137
- Courtney, Geoff. "A matter of life and death for railway pioneers". Heritage Railway (Horncastle: Mortons Media Group Ltd) (150, 12 May - 8 June 2011): p37.
- "Ribbleshead Viaduct". Seven Man Made Wonders (BBC). Retrieved 29 September 2012.
- "Ribblehead Viaduct". Engineering Timelines. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
- "Chapel-le-Dale: St Leonard, Ingleton". Church of England. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
- Kapp, Alexander P (28 March 2010). "St Leonard's Church Chapel le Dale, Memorial". SD7377. Geograph Project. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
- Taylor, Ian (6 June 2010). "Millennium gravestone, Chapel le Dale". SD7377. Geograph Project. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
- Garrat, Colin & Matthews, Max-Wade (2003) Illustrated Encyclopedia of Steam And Rail, Barnes & Noble Books, New York, ISBN 0-7607-4952-3
- Baughan, Peter E (1966). North of Leeds: The Leeds-Settle-Carlisle Line and its Branches. Hatch End: Roundhouse Books.
- Williams, Frederick Smeeton (1876 reprinted, 26 April 2012). The Midland Railway: Its rise and progress. Cambridge University Press. pp. 490–498. ISBN 978-1-108-05036-4.
- Mitchell, William Reginald; Fox, Peter (1 May 1990). The Story of Ribblehead Viaduct. Kingfisher Productions. ISBN 9781871064087.
- Brooke, David (Jan 1, 1983). The Railway Navvy: That Despicable Race of Men. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. pp. 41–47, 51–54 et. al. ISBN 9780715384497.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ribblehead Viaduct.|
- Pictures of the viaduct at the BBC
- List of Viaducts on the Settle-Carlisle line
- Craven History. "Tasmanian who played an important role in the early history of Settle-Carlisle railway". Craven Herald and Pioneer. 5 January 2013.
- Details from listed building database (324565) - Grade II*. Images of England. English Heritage.
- "Search for photos including the Ribblehead Viaduct". Geograph project.