Extra Repairs Needed For Ribblehead Viaduct

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E. info@burflex.co.uk

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E. info@burflex.co.uk

Extra Repairs Needed For Ribblehead Viaduct

Extra Repairs Needed For Ribblehead Viaduct

Specialists who have surveyed the historic Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire have found the bridge requires further repairs to keep it secure and safe for future rail journeys.

Plans for these extra repairs have been submitted as part of a £2.1m restoration project, according to Network Rail

Detailed surveys, organised by specialists in historical structure and undertaken drone surveys and laser surveys on every inch of the listed structure have highlighted a few additional minor masonry faults which would also need fixing.

As a result, scaffolders in York have built huge towers around the different struts of the viaduct to ensure the repairs can take place quickly and effectively.

The biggest concern is the cracked blockwork on the supports, which has cracked. This is a problem which compounds every time there is cold and rainy weather, as water seeps inside, freezes and expands, making the cracks bigger.

As well as the blockwork repairs, extensive vegetation removal is taking place, to fix any damaged caused by weeds and plants growing in and around the supports.

Each of the 24 arches that make up the viaduct will have their drainage systems improved, which should help to reduce the amount of water damage the viaduct sees in the future.

Finally, the pipework and metal parts of the structure is set to be repainted, which will not only help it look better but will also help to protect against rust and corrosion.

As the viaduct is Grade II* listed, any work must be undertaken with the help and approval of Historic England and local relevant authorities, which in this case includes the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

This is to make sure that any restoration preserves the historic character of the structure as much as is possible.

Beauty Constructed Through Challenges

The Ribblehead Viaduct’s unique and beautiful design was the work of John Sydney Crossley and came about through adversity and challenge.

Midland Railway wanted to build a line between Settle and Carlisle, which was approved by Parliament in 1866 but would take until 1870 for work to begin. This was in no small part due to the difficult terrain of Batty Moss.

The complex build took 2,300 workers to complete, who lived with their families in temporary camps which have since themselves become listed monuments. They are known as Batty Wife Hole, Sebastopol and Belgravia.

Whilst the build was difficult, the only major change was a decision in 1872 to add six extra arches to Ribblehead Viaduct, taking it from 18 arches up to 24, and by 1874 the viaduct was ready to take trains.

By the 1980s, the viaduct had fallen into disrepair, and after £100,000 worth of repairs, British Rail considered shutting the line completely.

A massive campaign by the group Friends fo the Settle-Carlisle Line managed to build up a lot of public support, and then-Minister of State For Transport, Michael Portillo, made the decision to keep the line.

He revealed later that because passenger numbers had spiked in part due to the campaign, and engineering studies had found that restoring the viaduct would be cheaper than expected, getting rid of it could no longer be economically justified.