THE very many people who stop to marvel at the 24 arch Ribblehead Viaduct near Ingleton can now enjoy a computerised history telling of the building of the Settle Carlisle line at the newly reopened visitor centre at Ribblehead Station. Lesley Tate reports.

A NEW exhibition telling the story of the Settle to Carlisle Railway from its opening in 1876 to present day has been installed at the newly refurbished visitor centre at Ribblehead Station.

Refurbishment of the station centre, close to Whernside, the tallest of the Three Yorkshire Peaks, has been made possible following a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

And to mark the re-opening, about 50 people recently attending a special ceremony, including the unveiling of a plaque.

David Brown, recently appointed managing director of train operating company, Northern, carried out the unveiling of the plaque in his first official engagement in his new role.

And, although wet and windy, many representatives of partner organisations and volunteers, who have helped with the project, went along.

Mr Brown, who arrived at Ribblehead Station in the driver's cab of the 12.02pm train from Leeds, was met by Bryan Gray, chairman of the Settle and Carlisle Railway Trust (SCRT), which manages the station and visitor centre.

Ribblehead Station was recently included in Simon Jenkins' book, Britain's 100 Best Railway Stations, and described by the author as sitting 'high and lonely on a Pennine plateau'.

The viaduct itself took four years to build by up to 1,000 'navvies' who created camps at the site Sebastopol, Belgravia and Batty Wife Hole – some of which had schools, libraries and pubs.

A the reopening ceremony, Mr Brown praised the 'excellent partnership' between Northern and SCRT and agreed to work together to see if the vision of more and faster trains between Leeds and Carlisle could be achieved.

The visitor centre and exhibition have been part funded by Stories in Stone, a four year programme of conservation and community projects in the Ingleborough area, led by the charity the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT), and mainly funded by the heritage lottery fund.

It was also supported by Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line and Network Rail.

Visitors to the centre will be able to see the new exhibition, which tells the story of the opening of the station in 1876 up to present day. Featuring ExploreMore, an innovative computer model using aerial photography, and three dimensional models, it describes the building of Ribblehead Viaduct and Blea Moor Tunnel, and what life was like for the workers and their families who lived and died on the site for several years while building took place.

Visitors will also be able to see the original Midland Railway plans for the area and using a touch screen, people can 'fly' over the railway and surrounding area for a 'bird's eye' view of features along the line, such as stations, the workers settlements and archaeological sites.

There are so far about a hundred images available in the exhibition, together with descriptions, stories and links to additional resources.

Bryan Gray, chairman of the Settle and Carlisle Railway Trust, thanked Northern, Network Rail, the

Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line and Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust for supporting the project.

He added he was very impressed with the computer model, developed by Penrith based Atlantic Geomatics Ltd.

"It makes interpretation of the nationally important heritage around Ribblehead much more widely accessible and engaging, particularly for a younger audience," he said.

Also completed at the station has been the refurbishment of the waiting shelter on the northbound platform. The project was carried out by volunteers and paid for by members of the Settle and Carlisle family of organisations.

Volunteers, Ged Pinder and Matt Field made and installed new front panels to the original Midland Railway designs.

Manufacturing was funded by the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line (FoSCL). Wonder of Wood, near Settle, supported the project and Robert Handy, the owner, was present to see the finished work.

Debbie Boswell, YDMT’s Discover Ingleborough Officer, said: “The station is an important gateway for visitors to the Ingleborough area and we’re delighted with the quality of the refurbishment work and exhibition. It’s been wonderful to work in partnership with SCRT, and everyone involved should be proud of the result.”

As well as the visitor centre, the station also has a tearoom and small shop, staffed by volunteers and open daily from March to October.

The Landscape Partnership is led by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT), and also includes the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust, Natural England, Hanson UK and Tarmac Ltd. Landowners, farmers, educational establishments, parish and district councils. Businesses and local history and community groups are also involved in developing and delivering the scheme.

For those not able to get to Ribblehead itself, which is located off the B6255, near Ingleton at: