New Ribblehead visitor centre opens

New Ribblehead visitor centre opens
The above photograph appears by courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

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Thanks to the National Lottery players the visitor centre at Ribblehead Station has been refurbished and a new exhibition installed, telling the story of the Settle to Carlisle railway line from its opening in 1876 through to the present day. It describes the building of Ribblehead Viaduct and Blea Moor tunnel and what life was like for the workers and their families at the time of the line's construction.

A plaque to commemorate the opening of the refurbished visitor centre was unveiled by David Brown, recently appointed Managing Director of Northern (the train operating company), in his first official engagement in his new role. Although a wet and windy day, the event was attended by fifty guests, including representatives of partner organisations and many of the volunteers who have been involved with the project.

Mr. Brown (who arrived at Ribblehead in the driverís cab of the 12.02 train from Leeds) was met by Bryan Gray, chairman of the Settle and Carlisle Railway Trust (SCRT), which manages the station and visitor centre. Mr. Brown praised the excellent partnership between Northern and SCRT, and agreed to work together to see if the vision of more and faster train services 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 Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) and mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project was also supported by Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line (FoSCL) and Network Rail.

The exhibition includes ExploreMore - an innovative computer model using aerial photography, 3D models of features such as the Ribblehead Viaduct, and original Midland Railway plans. Using a touch screen, visitors can "fly" over the railway and the surrounding area and find out about features along the line, including stations, the navvy settlement, and archaeological sites. About a hundred images are available so far, together with stories and links to additional resources. The computer model can also be viewed on-line at https://settlecarlisle.exploremoresettlecarlisle.co.uk/map/

Mr. Gray said: ďIíd like to thank Northern, Network Rail, the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line and Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust for their support of this exciting project. Iím very impressed with the computer model, which was developed by Atlantics Geomatics Ltd. It makes interpretation of the nationally important heritage around Ribblehead much more widely accessible and engaging, particularly for a younger audience."

A complementary project was to refurbish the waiting shelter on the northbound platform. This was carried out by volunteers and funded by members of the Settle and Carlisle family of organisations. Volunteers Ged Pinder and Matt Field made and installed new front panels to original Midland Railway designs. Manufacturing was funded by the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line (FoSCL). Wonder of Wood, based near Settle, supported the project and Robert Handy, the owner, was present to see the finished work.

Debbie Boswell, YDMTís Discover Ingleborough Officer, said: "The station is an important gateway for visitors to the Ingleborough area and weíre delighted with the quality of the refurbishment work and exhibition. Itís 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 which is usually open daily from March to October.

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[News item based on press release supplied by the The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, posted October 2017.]


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