Iconic structure benefits from sensitive remedial works over harsh winter.
Since November 2020, 100ft high scaffolding towers have moved across seven of the viaduct’s 24 arches to carry out masonry, drainage and repainting work.
The £2.1m investment as part of the Great North Rail Project will secure the Grade II* listed structure’s future as both an historic landmark and vital railway link on the Settle-Carlisle railway line.
Philippa Britton, principal programme sponsor for Network Rail, said: “The teams have worked throughout a harsh winter to restore this hugely important and impressive piece of Victorian engineering for the future and I’m hugely proud of the work we’ve carried out as part of the Great North Rail Project.
“We’ve worked incredibly closely with heritage experts and conservationists to make sure the repairs were sympathetic to the historic structure but would also last the test of time. Now these once in a generation repairs are complete we hope you won’t see scaffolding on this scale at Ribblehead again for many years to come.”
The improvements have been completed in time for easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions this spring ready for an expected ‘Staycation Summer’. Bumper visitor numbers are expected for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with the Ribblehead viaduct being one of its star attractions.
The much-loved Ribblehead viaduct is not only one of the country’s most recognisable railway structures, it’s also an important transport corridor for local people, tourists and freight. It carries the Settle to Carlisle railway 400 metres across the Ribble valley.
Mark Rand, vice-president of the Friends of the Settle to Carlisle line, said: “This has been another chapter in the history of the amazing Ribblehead viaduct. Thirty years ago it was declared to be ‘life-expired’ and in need of replacement or the entire line would have to close. Happily, neither of those things happened. All credit to Network Rail and their contractors who have done this work through a bitter Ribblehead winter. The viaduct stands proud and strong, a monumental tribute to those who lived, and died, to build it.”
During this project, the latest laser and drone survey technology mapped every inch of the Grade II* listed viaduct for the first time, giving a detailed record of its condition so it can be closely monitored in future.
During the works, further minor faults were found and planning applications were granted so the repairs could be completed as part of the same project. With experts already in place this has saved a huge amount of taxpayers’ money – preventing Network Rail from having to come back and erect scaffolding all over again in the near future.
Featured image credit: © Forgotten Relics