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 held on Monday 2nd October 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 station in the driver’s 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 and Network Rail.
The exhibition includes ExploreMore, an innovative computer model using aerial photography, 3D models of features such as 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 http://settlecarlisle.exploremoresettlecarlisle.co.uk
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 & 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.
As well as the visitor centre, the station also has a tearoom and small shop, staffed by volunteers and open daily from March to October.