Ribblehead Viaduct Repairs Begin Without Dissent

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

Ribblehead Viaduct Repairs Begin Without Dissent

Ribblehead Viaduct Repairs Begin Without Dissent

Network Rail has begun a £2.1 million programme of works on Ribblehead Viaduct, to preserve the Yorkshire landmark for future generations, and campaigners have celebrated the speed at which approval was given, in contrast to issues with approvals 30 years ago.

The Yorkshire Post has published photos of the imposing viaduct covered in the recent snow, as the towers of scaffolding are erected along the marvel of Victorian engineering, and politicians and conservationists celebrated the relative ease with which the project had been signed off.

The viaduct had to be granted ‘listed building consent’, without which no alterations to a structure of historic interest can be carried out before the repairs and maintenance could be approved. There was a minimum of discussion about the fine details of the proposed programme but was rubber-stamped without dissent.

However, three decades ago, the momentum swung in the opposite direction, according to vice-president of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line, Mark rand, who was a campaigner 30 years ago.

“No-one would have guessed then that we would still be here 30 years later,” he said. “It seemed certain then that it was going to close for good.”

The line through the Yorkshire Dales, over the Victorian viaduct and on to Carlisle, had been declared surplus to requirements by the still-nationalised British Rail, and a concerted campaign to save it seemed to go unheard. The viaduct itself was said to be beyond economic repair.

The then transport minister, Michael Portillo in Margaret Thatcher’s government, surprised campaigners by persuading the prime minister to overrule railway managers. Mr Portillo is now president of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line, and now known for his railway based travel TV series.

“The whole background is so different these days,” Mr Rand said. “Against the grain of everyone’s expectation, the line is now an important part of the UK’s rail system.”

Ribblehead Viaduct is owned by Network Rail, and the programme of works includes re-pointing of mortar joints and replacing broken stones on each of the 24 arches that comprise the quarter-mile-long crossing over Batty Moss in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

As well as extensive scaffolding to scale the 104ft viaduct, workmen will also use climbing gear to be able to consult the repairs. Laboratory analysis of mortar from the viaduct will ensure that the new compound will match the original as closely as possible, and the work is expected to be finished by the end of February.

The North-west route director for Network Rail, Phil James, is the successor to the 1980s engineers who wanted it closed, and said the viaduct was ‘one of the crown jewels of Victorian civil engineering’ and that it was a privilege for it to be in his care.

“We know the structure is incredibly important both locally and internationally, and we want to give it the care and attention that it deserves so it can be enjoyed by future generations,” he said.

If you’re looking for scaffolding companies in Leeds, talk to our team today.