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Railway construction camps, Ribblehead

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Ribblehead railway construction camp - reconstruction

© YDNPA, 2004,

Ribblehead construction camp - site

© Robert White, 2004, (5970)

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Railway construction camps, Ribblehead

Historical Environment Record No: MYD1818

Parish: Ingleton

OS Grid Reference: SD765792

Dale: Ribblesdale

Link to Archaeology Data Service:


At its height, construction of the Settle-Carlisle railway line employed 7000 men. Nearly 1000 of these worked at Ribblehead on the major engineering tasks of building the Ribblehead viaduct and Blea Moor tunnel. The area is bleak and isolated and so accommodation had to be specially built to house this army of workers. Construction camps or shanty towns as they are popularly called, grew up between 1870 and 1875 and their remains can still be seen as low earthworks and flat building platforms. Most of the workers lived in prefabricated single-storey wooden terraces, but the Batty Wife Hole settlement also included more substantial buildings such as shops, public houses, a school, post office and library as well as a small isolation hospital built during a smallpox epidemic. Closer to Ribblehead viaduct lay the engineering camp of Sebastopol with its suburb, Belgravia. Sebastopol included a large brickworks as well as terraced lodging houses and an engine house with a sunken inspection pit. Remains of the brickworks can still be seen. Source: Cardwell, Peter et al (2004) 'An Archaeological Survey of Ribblehead Navvy Settlements' in White, R F & Wilson, P R (eds) (2004) Archaeology and Historic Landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales. Yorkshire Archaeological Society Occasional Paper No 2 pp195-202 Jackson, K C (1997) ‘The Railway Shanty Towns at Ribblehead, North Yorkshire’ Yorkshire History Quarterly. Vol 2:4 pp133-138 Mitchell, W R (1988) Shanty Life on the Settle-Carlisle Railway. Settle: Castleberg


Beside B6255 at Ribblehead. Small parking area about 90 metres north of railway bridge and just after a cattle grid. Grassed over remains can be viewed from here. Interpretation panel.

Public Transport Details

Nearest town/village: Ribblehead. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information


Surfaced parking area with views. Avoid walking over the remains as they are easily damaged.

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