PRIMARY school pupils from seven Yorkshire Dales schools have been working with the county music service on a project that resulted in a big sing under the arches of Ribblehead viaduct.

Over 300 children gathered together at Ribblehead to sing three folk songs with a Yorkshire flavour, including one about the building of the Victorian Settle-Carlisle railway.

The Victoria structure is Grade II listed and stands at more than 100 feet high, with a series of 24 arches.

It was built by navvies who lived in shanty settlements adjacent to the viaduct.

The Big Sing initiative was a partnership between North Yorkshire’s Music Service and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust to enable children to come together to sing under the Ribblehead viaduct arches as a way of getting them to understand and take pride in their heritage and history.

Pupils and staff from Ingleton, Austwick, Giggleswick, Settle, Long Preston and Hellifield primary schools, as well as the independent Giggleswick Junior School, had been rehearsing separately in their own schools with support from Ian Bangay, head of the music service in the weeks leading up to the viaduct performance.

They then gathered to rehearse the songs altogether at Clapham Church during the morning before being transported to the viaduct for their performance in the afternoon.

“It was an incredible experience to go from rehearsing in the classroom to performing with hundreds of pupils at such an iconic venue,” said Mr Bangay. “This project was a great way through music to get young people interested in and passionate about the beauty of the area from an early age.”

The County Council’s music service is recognised nationally for good practice in the delivery of its whole class instrumental and singing teaching through the Government’s Wider Opportunities programme.

“We are incredibly proud to be one of the few local authorities to retain a fully staffed music service,” said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills.

“On great occasions like this at Ribblehead we can see it has a hugely beneficial impact for children’s enriched experiences, confidence and learning.

“Participating schools have told us how fantastic it was for children to interact with other pupils at such an impressive location.

“Their brilliant singing was accompanied by a live band with the beautiful backdrop of passing trains on the railway.

“The schools did a lot of research in the run up to the day, giving pupils an insight into local history.

“They loved the novelty of learning in an outdoor environment which made them enjoy music as well as the stunning landscape on their doorstep.”

The Ribblehead initiative formed part of the Trust’s Heritage Lottery funded Stories in Stone project, which is in its fourth year.

North Yorkshire’s music service enables key stage two children to have access to an instrument for free for a year so they can take part in the music curriculum through practical learning.

There is much evidence that learning to play an instrument and read music benefits children in other areas of school life while gaining increased confidence, communication and concentration.

The County Council also has six music centres where children and young people can join beginner groups to senior bands and orchestras. They are based in Harrogate, Northallerton, Scarborough, Selby, Skipton and Whitby.

The music service also runs county level groups – youth choir, saxophone and brass ensembles, and county orchestra for the most talented musicians – which tour extensively in Britain and overseas. Many students have gone on to pursue professional musical careers.