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Ribblehead railway construction camp and prehistoric field system

A Scheduled Monument in Ingleton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2109 / 54°12'39"N

Longitude: -2.367 / 2°22'1"W

OS Eastings: 376163.409417

OS Northings: 479519.12642

OS Grid: SD761795

Mapcode National: GBR CMXR.C8

Mapcode Global: WH94S.MF27

Entry Name: Ribblehead railway construction camp and prehistoric field system

Scheduled Date: 10 May 1976

Last Amended: 7 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015726

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28300

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Ingleton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Chapel-le-Dale St Leonard

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument lies in two separate areas and includes the extensive earthwork
remains of the railway construction camp and associated settlement remains
immediately adjacent to the viaduct located at the head of Ribblesdale in the
Yorkshire Dales. Also included in the monument are some fragmentary remains of
a prehistoric field system. The camp was associated with construction of the
Settle to Carlisle railway between 1870-1875, particularly construction of the
adjacent viaduct and the Blea Moor tunnel to the north. Only three of the nine
settlements associated with the construction of this stretch of the line
survive as earthworks. These were known as Batty Wife Hole, Sebastopol and
Belgravia and all three are included in the scheduling.

The monument is divided into two separate areas, one to the north which
includes the ground beneath and around the footings for the viaduct and
remains of the construction works and the domestic settlements of Sebastopol
and Belgravia and a second area to the south at Batty Wife Hole where the
civic, commercial and social facilities were located. The two areas were
connected by a trackway which predated the establishment of the railway
workings. The trackway is not included in the scheduling.

The construction works are located to the east of the viaduct in the area
known as Sebastopol. They included the brickworks and drying sheds, locomotive
maintenance shed and other workshops. Remains of the brickworks survive as
prominent earthworks with the remnants of the chimneys surviving as rubble
mounds up to 2m high.

Rows of terraced houses were located to the east of the construction works and
further to the north there were individual houses in the `suburb' known as
Belgravia. The majority of the dwellings were built to standard designs and
most were built of timber. Earthwork remains of most structures are still
visible and elsewhere archaeological remains will be preserved below the

At the north of the monument is a quarry face where limestone was removed for
use in the construction works. A series of crude lean-to dwellings were built
against this face, remains of which still survive as low stone walls.
Extending around the northern area and criss-crossing it are the earthwork
remains of a network of tramways. A substantial embanked tramway forms a
semicircular loop around the eastern and northern edge of the area and rises
up to the north west to allow access to the railway embankment and on to the
viaduct. This major tramway links with others leading into the construction

In the area between the works and the domestic buildings is a lime kiln and
associated quarries. It is depicted on the 1851 Ordnance Survey map and
therefore predates the railway construction.

Batty Wife Hole lies 500m to the south and was located at the junction of the
Richmond to Lancaster turnpike and a track south into Ribblesdale. This
settlement was the principal and largest of the three and in 1871 had a
population of 342. Accordingly it contained civic, commercial and social
facilities as well as the railway company offices and served all of the
settlements on this length of the line. Included in the settlement were a
library, schools, post office, mission house, offices and some accommodation
now located to the south west of the modern B6479. To the north east of, and
fronting the road were a row of shops and ale houses. On the slight rise to
the north east was the site of a hospital. None of these buildings now survive
but significant earthwork remains of the structures are visible. These
indicate that some had stone foundations although the majority were of timber

Also included in the monument are faint remnants of a prehistoric field
system. These include a low bank at the north of the Belgravia settlement and
two clearance cairns and enclosure boundaries to the north of the B6255.
The railway line was built for the Midland Railway to link London to Scotland
independant of the west coast line. The line was originally double tracked but
this has now been reduced to a single one over the viaduct.

The construction of the viaduct started in October 1870 and was completed in
April 1875 when the dismantling of the settlements began.

The viaduct, which is Listed Grade II*, is not included in the scheduling.
However, the ground immediately surrounding the foundations where remains of
construction activities will survive, is included. The viaduct is 400m long
and 50m high and is supported by 24 brick arches set on substantial limestone
piers sunk 7.5m into the ground. The bricks to build the arches were all made
on site and the limestone quarried from near to Ribblehead Station. The
display panel below the viaduct and the surface of the roads are excluded from
the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Construction camps were temporary settlements constructed for major
engineering projects undertaken during the period known as the Industrial
Revolution. They are particularly associated with large scale schemes such as
canals, railways and reservoirs which required a large workforce. For
transport projects a series of temporary camps would be established along the
line of the route in isolated areas, but in or near to urban centres workers
may also use existing accommodation. The settlement camp was a self-supporting
community of workers, which sometimes included their families, engineers and
officials supported by a range of social and civic facilities. The quality of
accommodation and extent of facilities varied greatly. In some examples
workers housed themselves in shanty towns, with few facilities and could be
exploited by employers through the truck system of being paid by tokens which
could only be exchanged at company shops at inflated prices. In other examples
housing was built to a standard quality and a wide range of social and civic
facilities were made available such as a post office, library, church or
chapel, schools and a hospital as well as shops and ale houses operated by
commercial traders. This enlightened approach towards fostering a community
reflected the social attitudes of the Victorian era which was demonstrated by
the presence of temperance halls and mission houses. In association with the
settlements would be the construction works where materials such as bricks and
metal fabrications would be made and clay or stone quarried, along with
attendant stores, workshops and smithies. The population of the settlements
reflected the varied make up of the settlement and in addition to labourers
included professionals such as teachers, ministers, commercial traders as well
as carpenters, masons, surveyors, engineers and the project officials.
Although some of the workforce would be drawn from the local population the
bulk were navvies or professional itinerant labourers who moved, often with
their families, from project to project. The majority of construction
settlements disappeared when the associated project was completed and the
workforce moved onto another section of the same scheme or joined another
project altogether. Some however became established as settlements which still
exist today.

The construction projects associated with the larger settlements were often on
a grand scale such as bridges, tunnels, viaducts and canals. Many of these
structures demonstrated the latest in engineering skills and often displayed
decorative embellishments to reflect the status of their builders and
sponsors. The construction projects, particularly railways and canals, were an
integral part of the Industrial Revolution. Technological advances brought
about by their development fed back into other industries and brought about
further dramatic change by enabling the speedy movement of raw materials and
finished products from source to market. In later years the railways enabled a
mass movement of peoples and led to urban development along the lines. As such
construction settlements and their associated projects illustrate the great
advances in technology during the Industrial Revolution and also inform an
understanding of the great change in social conditions which accompanied it.
Although many of the completed structures are still a major component in the
landscape most of the construction settlements, because of their temporary
nature, only survive as earthworks or buried archaeological remains. They are
often well documented in company records, maps, photographs and contemporary

The earthwork remains of construction settlement at Ribblehead survive well
and the layout and identification of the structures can be clearly understood.
Contemporary records including a census report give a clear indication of the
scale and nature of the monument. The associated viaduct represents a 19th
century engineering feat of the highest order and in conjunction with its
construction camp offers an important insight into technology and working
conditions in an isolated part of England.

Prehistoric field systems are the remains of early agricultural methods which
included the clearance of stone into piles or cairns and dividing the land
into stone walled enclosures. Important archaeological evidence will be
retained within and beneath the walls and cairns. They are an important
element of the existing landscape and are representative of farming practices
over a long period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cardwell, P, Ronan, D, Simpson, R, A Survey of the Batty Moss Navvy Settlements, Ribblehead, (1995)
Cardwell, P, Ronan, D, Simpson, R, A Survey of the Batty Moss Navvy Settlements, Ribblehead, (1995)
Cardwell, P, Ronan, D, Simpson, R, A Survey of the Batty Moss Navvy Settlements, Ribblehead, (1995)
Cardwell, P, Ronan, D, Simpson, R, A Survey of the Batty Moss Navvy Settlements at Ribblehead, (1995)
Mackay, D, Ribblehead Quarry and Environs, (1988)
Hartley, RA , English Heritage FMW report, (1972)

Source: Historic England

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