THE impressive engineering feat which resulted in the creation of the Settle - Carlisle Railway and its magnificent viaducts did not come without a cost.

That cost was the lives of over 200 railway men, women and children who worked and lived around the line during its construction.

Late historian Bill Mitchell wrote about the the construction of Ribblehead Viaduct, a beautiful structure with 24 arches which stand more than 100 feet high.

It took more than five years to construct and the sub-contractor for the job was a man aptly called Job Hirst whose grave is in St Leonard's churchyard in Chapel-le-Dale.

An extract from Mr Mitchell's book, Thunder in the Mountains, published in 2009 by Great Northern, details what little we know about Job.

Mr Mitchell writes: "On the right after you have passed through the lych gate at St Leonard's, notice a substantial, horizontal gravestone with a stone cross at one end. This is the last resting place of Job Hirst, a native of Huddersfield, who achieved fame through the Settle-Carlisle railway.

"It was he who, designated as a "railway subcontractor", supervised the early stages of the construction of Ribblehead viaduct. This stupendous feat of engineering consisting of 24 arches, carries the line on a 1 in 100 gradient, across Batty Green, curving gently towards Blea Moor, through which a railway tunnel would be driven.

"Hirst had begun a working life as a mason. He graduated to viaducts, which in his early years were usually referred to as 'large bridges with many arches'. When I first became interested in Job, the lettering on the gravestone was clear cut. Now much of it has been eroded by rain, wind and frost.

"For two years, the ambitious Job left his wife, Mary, and their sons at home, having secured work on the Bombay-Poona railway, the first railway on the sub-continent of India. In the early part of the Railway Age, workers reacted to wanderlust. Job, returning to England, became sub-contractor at Ribblehead, on the Settle-Carlisle.

"In his railway work, Job initially had a team of 60 masons, mostly of Welsh origin, and labourers. The number rose to 100.

"The turnover of workers was about eight a day. Good wages were paid. The foundations of the viaduct were set 25 feet below ground.

"Local people were to persist that the viaduct was built on wool. Hardly. Concrete was used. The wool story may have related to fleeces being used to prevent a seepage of water into the foundations during the early stages. Or perhaps the reference to money borrowed from the wealthy wool merchants of Bradford by a hard-up Midland Railway Company.

"Job and his colleagues had to find limestone of the right degree of hardness. A good source was found in Littledale, in the bed of what, at times of heavy rain, was a lively beck. Normally, the flow could be kept under control. A steam pump improved the drainage. Water was diverted along an aqueduct.

"Altogether, about 30,000 cubic yards of rock were obtained, dressed, transported by tramway to the site of the viaduct and raised into position using a steam-crane. Local limestone was unsuitable for making durable mortar. The kiln on Batty Green had been well-used by farmers, who spread burnt lime on their best land to keep it sweet, but the ideal type of lime was imported from Leicestershire. A 10hp engine was used to mix the mortar needed to bind the stones of the viaduct.

"Back to Job Hirst, sub-contractor. What happened then was contained in a letter I received from a granddaughter living in the United States - an appended account of his last days had been composed by Gwenliian, Job's daughter.

"One day, he visited Ingleton by horse and trap to collect money for the wages of his employees.

"There were flurries of snow in the air. On his return to Batty Wife Hole, at Ribblehead, he was set upon by thieves. They took the wages, also his gold watch. The hapless Job was left unconscious at the roadside. Job recovered and groggily managed to clamber on to the horsedrawn trap, having found his treasured gold watch. It had been left hanging by its chain in some bushes.

"Job had to rely on his horse to find the way home, which was a substantial hut, No 2 Batty Wife Hole. His wife, plus four sons and a daughter, were shocked by what had taken place. Mary, the wife, unwisely plied him with port. He was tucked up in bed. When she awoke next morning, Job lay dead at her side."

A memorial to those who died is displayed in the church.