|Maintained by||Network Rail|
|Total length||440 yards (400 m)|
|Height||104 feet (32 m)|
|No. of spans||24|
|Designer||John Sydney Crossley|
|Construction start||12 October 1870|
|Opened||3 August 1875|
The Ribblehead Viaduct or Batty Moss Viaduct carries the Settle–Carlisle railway across Batty Moss in the Ribble Valley at Ribblehead, in North Yorkshire, England. The viaduct, built by the Midland Railway, is 28 miles (45 km) north-west of Skipton and 26 miles (42 km) south-east of Kendal. It is a Grade II* listed structure. Ribblehead Viaduct is the longest and the third tallest structure on the Settle–Carlisle line.
The viaduct was designed by John Sydney Crossley, chief engineer of the Midland Railway, who was responsible for the design and construction of all major structures along the line. The viaduct was necessitated by the challenging terrain of the route. Construction began in late 1869. It necessitated a large workforce, up to 2,300 men, most of whom lived in shanty towns set up near its base. Over 100 men lost their lives during its construction. The Settle to Carlisle line was the last main railway in Britain to be constructed primarily with manual labour.
By the end of 1874, the last stone of the structure had been laid; on 1 May 1876, the Settle–Carlisle line was opened for passenger services. During the 1980s, British Rail proposed closing the line. In 1989, after lobbying by the public against closure, it was announced that the line would be retained. Since the 1980s, the viaduct has had multiple repairs and restorations and the lines relaid as a single track. The land underneath and around the viaduct is a scheduled ancient monument; the remains of the construction camp and navvy settlements (Batty Wife Hole, Sebastopol, and Belgravia) are located there.
In the 1860s, the Midland Railway, keen to capitalise on the growth in rail traffic between England and Scotland, proposed building a line between Settle and Carlisle. The line was intended to join the Midland line between Skipton and Carnforth to the city of Carlisle. On 16 July 1866, the Midland Railway (Settle to Carlisle) Act was passed by Parliament, authorising the company "to construct Railways from Settle to Hawes, Appleby, and Carlisle; and for other Purposes".
After the Act passed, the Midland Railway came to an agreement with the London & North Western Railway, to run services on the LNWR line via Shap. The company applied for a Bill of Abandonment for its original plan but parliament rejected the bill on 16 April 1869 and the Midland Railway was compelled to build the Settle to Carlisle line.
The line passed through difficult terrain that necessitated building several substantial structures. The company's chief engineer, John Sydney Crossley and its general manager, James Joseph Allport, surveyed the line. Crossley was responsible for the design and construction of the major works, including Ribblehead Viaduct.
On 6 November 1869, a contract to construct the Settle Junction (SD813606) to Dent Head Viaduct section including Ribblehead Viaduct was awarded to contractor John Ashwell. The estimated cost was £343,318 and completion was expected by May 1873. Work commenced at the southern end of the 72-mile (116 km) line.
By July 1870, work had started on the foundations for Ribblehead Viaduct. On 12 October 1870, contractor’s agent William Henry Ashwell laid the first stone. Financial difficulties came to greatly trouble John Ashwell; on 26 October 1871, his contract was cancelled by mutual agreement. From this date, the viaduct was constructed by the Midland Railway who worked on a semi-contractual basis overseen by William Ashwell.
The viaduct was built by a workforce of up to 2,300 men. They lived, often with their families, in temporary camps, named Batty Wife Hole, Sebastopol, and Belgravia on adjacent land. More than a hundred workers lost their lives in construction-related accidents, fighting, or from outbreaks of smallpox. According to Church of England records, there are around 200 burials of men, women, and children in the graveyard at Chapel-le-Dale and the church has a memorial to the railway workers.
In December 1872, the design for Ribblehead Viaduct was changed from 18 arches to 24, each spanning 45 feet (13.7 m). By August 1874, the arches had been keyed and the last stone was laid by the end of the year. A single track was laid over the viaduct and on 6 September 1874 the first train carrying passengers was hauled across by the locomotive Diamond. On 3 August 1875, the viaduct was opened for freight traffic and on 1 May 1876, the whole line opened for passenger services, following approval by Colonel F. H. Rich from the Board of Trade.
Ribblehead Viaduct is 440 yards (400 m) long, and 104 feet (32 m) above the valley floor at its highest point, it was designed to carry a pair of tracks aligned over the sleeper walls. The viaduct has 24 arches of 45 feet (14 m) span, the foundations of which are 25 feet (7.6 m) deep. The piers are tapered, roughly 13 feet (4 m) across at the base and 5 feet 11 inches (1.8 m) thick near the arches and have loosely-packed rubble-filled cores. Every sixth pier is 50 per cent thicker, a mitigating measure against collapse should any of the piers fail. The north end is 13 feet (4 m) higher in elevation than the south, a gradient of 1:100.
The viaduct is faced with limestone masonry set in hydraulic lime mortar and the near-semicircular arches are red brick, constructed in five separate rings, with stone voussoirs. Sleeper walls rise from the arches to support the stone slabs of the viaduct’s deck and hollow spandrels support plain solid parapet walls. In total, 1.5 million bricks were used; some of the limestone blocks weigh eight tons.
Ribblehead Viaduct is 980 feet (300 m) above sea level on moorland exposed to the prevailing westerly wind. Its height, from foundation to rails is 55 yards (50.3 m). It is 442.7 yards (404.8 m) long on a lateral curve with a radius of 0.85 miles (1.37 km).
The viaduct is the longest structure on the Settle–Carlisle Railway which has two taller viaducts, Smardale Viaduct at 131 feet (40 m) near Crosby Garrett, and Arten Gill at 117 feet (36 m). Ribblehead railway station is less than half a mile to the south and to the north is Blea Moor Tunnel, the longest on the line, near the foot of Whernside.
By 1980, the viaduct was in disrepair and many of its piers had been weakened by water ingress. Between 1981 and 1984, repairs were undertaken as a cost of roughly £100,000. Repairs included strengthening the piers by the addition of steel rails and concrete cladding. For safety reasons, the line was reduced to single track across the viaduct to avoid the simultaneous loading from two trains crossing and a 20mph speed limit was imposed. During 1988, minor repairs were carried out and trial bores were made into several piers. In 1989, a waterproof membrane was installed.
In the 1980s, British Rail proposed closing the line, citing the high cost of repairs to its major structures. Vigorous campaigning by the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line, formed during 1981, garnered and mobilised public support against the plan. In 1989, the line was saved from closure. According to Michael Portillo, who took the decision, the economic arguments for closing it had been weakened by a spike in passenger numbers, and further studies by engineers had determined that restoration work would not be nearly as costly as estimated.
In November 1988, Ribblehead Viaduct was Grade II* listed. The surrounding land where the remains of its construction camps are located has been recognised as a scheduled ancient monument.
Between 1990 and 1992, Ribblehead Viaduct underwent major restoration. Between September 1999 and March 2001, a programme of improvements was implemented involving renewal of track, replacement of ballast and the installation of new drainage. Restoration has allowed for increased levels of freight traffic assuring the line's viability.
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. During 2016, the line carried seven passenger trains from Leeds to Carlisle per day in each direction, and long-distance excursions, many hauled by preserved steam locomotives.
Regular heavy freight trains use the route avoiding congestion on the West Coast Main Line. Timber trains, and stone from Ingleton quarry, pass over the viaduct when they depart from the yard opposite Ribblehead railway station. The stone from Ingleton is ferried to the terminal at Ribblehead by road. Limestone aggregate trains from Arcow quarry sidings (near Horton-in-Ribblesdale) run to various stone terminals in the Leeds and Manchester areas on different days – these trains reverse in the goods loop at Blea Moor signal box because the connection from the quarry sidings faces north.
Major restoration work started in November 2020 as a £2.1 million project to re-point mortar joints and replace broken stones got underway.
In popular culture
Building the viaduct was the inspiration behind the ITV period drama series Jericho. The viaduct appears in the 1970 film No Blade of Grass and also in the 2012 film Sightseers. A number of other films and television programmes have also included the viaduct.
Ingleborough seen through an arch of the viaduct
- Historic England. "Batty Moss railway viaduct (Grade II*, scheduled) (1132228)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- Historic England. "Ribblehead railway construction camp and prehistoric field system (Grade II*, scheduled) (1015726)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
- Baker, S.K. (2007 11th ed), Rail Atlas of Great Britain & Ireland, Oxford Publishing Co, Horsham, ISBN 978 0 86093 602 2
- Dewick, T. (2002), Complete Atlas of Railway Station Names, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN 0 7110 2798 6
- Midland Railway (reprinted after 1992) [originally 1913–1920], Midland Railway System Maps Volume 1: Carlisle to Leeds and Branches, Peter Kay, Teignmouth, ISBN 1 899890 25 4
- (1990) British Rail Track Diagrams 4: Midland Region, Quail Map Company, Essex, ISBN 0 900609 74 5, p.34
- "Ribblehead Viaduct". Engineering Timelines. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
- Courtney, Geoff (12 May – 8 June 2011). "A matter of life and death for railway pioneers". Heritage Railway. No. 150. Horncastle: Mortons Media Group Ltd. p. 37.
- "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.
- Houghton, F.W; Foster, W.H (1965). The Story of the Settle-Carlisle Line (2nd ed.). Huddersfield: Advertiser Press Ltd. p. 137.
- "Milestones Locomotives: The Ribblehead viaduct". locodriver.co.uk. Archived from the original (Word document) on 2 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- "Ribbleshead Viaduct". Seven Man Made Wonders. BBC. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
- Garrat, Colin & Matthews, Max-Wade. Illustrated Encyclopedia of Steam And Rail. Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 2003. ISBN 0-7607-4952-3
- Stokes, Spencer. "Settle-Carlisle line thriving 30 years on after closure threat." BBC News, 15 December 2013.
- "Craven Through The Years". Telegraph & Argus. 1 November 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
- Table 42 National Rail timetable, December 2016
- "Steam train excursions". The Settle Carlisle Railway. 7 June 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- Metcalfe, Phil (2 January 2020). "Freight flows of the famous S&C". Rail Magazine. Peterborough: Bauer Media (895): 43. ISSN 0953-4563.
- "Connected." Rail Engineer, 5 January 2016. Retrieved: 7 April 2017.
- "Ribblehead Viaduct: Major restoration work begins". BBC News. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- "JERICHO - Big hopes for major new drama series filmed in Huddersfield". Huddersfield Examiner. 6 January 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- Gere, Charlie (2019). I Hate the Lake District. London: Goldsmith Press. pp. 117–118. ISBN 978-1-912685-11-0.
- Masters, Tim (28 November 2012). "Sightseers: Not-so-happy campers". BBC News. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
- "Filming Location Matching Ribblehead Viaduct". IMDB. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
- Baughan, Peter E (1966). North of Leeds: The Leeds-Settle-Carlisle Line and its Branches. Hatch End: Roundhouse Books.
- Brooke, David (1 January 1983). The Railway Navvy: That Despicable Race of Men. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. pp. 41–47, 51–54 et al. ISBN 9780715384497.
- Mitchell, William Reginald; Fox, Peter (1 May 1990). The Story of Ribblehead Viaduct. Kingfisher Productions. ISBN 9781871064087.
- Williams, Frederick Smeeton (26 April 2012) . The Midland Railway: Its rise and progress. Cambridge University Press. pp. 490–498. ISBN 978-1-108-05036-4.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ribblehead Viaduct.|
- Pictures of the viaduct at the BBC
- Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle line
- "Tasmanian who played an important role in the early history of Settle-Carlisle railway". Craven Herald and Pioneer. 5 January 2013.
- Historic England. "Grade II* (1132228)". National Heritage List for England.
- "Search for photos including the Ribblehead Viaduct". Geograph project.