CRL - Community Rail Lancashire

Bradford schoolchildren learn about the engineering heritage of the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct

A class of Year 5 pupils from Barkerend Leadership Academy in Bradford enjoyed a grand day out on the Settle-Carlisle Railway thanks to community rail teams from Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The children – many of whom hadn’t previously travelled by train ­– visited the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct as part of their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) studies. The project – timed to coincide with Community Rail Week – was a joint collaboration between Community Rail Lancashire, Settle to Carlisle Community Rail Partnership and the Community Rail Network.

Before the visit, the 30 ten-year olds were visited by Karen Bennett from the Community Rail Network and Catherine Kingdom, Community Rail Education Development Officer at Community Rail Lancashire, who taught the pupils about rail safety and careers.

After leaving Bradford, the pupils engaged in a STEM eye-spy activity en route to Ribblehead, where they looked out for Bingley Three Rise locks, Keighley’s Worth Valley Railway and semaphore signals amongst other sights.

After disembarking at Ribblehead Station, chartered engineer and STEM ambassador Andrew Walker, who worked on the major refurbishment of the Viaduct in 2021, explained how the construction of the viaduct back in the late 19th century was extremely tough, dangerous work, carried out by thousands of ‘navvies’ using largely manual labour.

The pupils were wowed by the views of the Yorkshire Three Peaks and amazed to be able to get so close to the viaduct and returned to the station to build their own model version of the viaduct and learn more about the history of the Settle-Carlisle Railway.

Vice Principal Vicki Hinchliffe from Barkerend Primary Leadership Academy said: “It’s wonderful to be able to take the children out of the city into the stunning scenery of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks landscape and, for most, it was their first experience of travelling on a train.

“Many of our pupils simply don’t get these opportunities to explore the countryside and learn about the county’s rich heritage and for Community Rail and Northern Trains to help organise and fund a trip like this leaves memories that will last a lifetime. They will be talking about this amazing day out for weeks afterwards.”

Community Rail Education Development Officer at Community Rail Lancashire Catherine Kingdom said: “Opening up new experiences and opportunities for schoolchildren is at the heart of community rail’s mission.

“Travelling to such stunning landscapes is quick, safe and easy by rail – thanks to the financial support of Northern Trains. It’s wonderful to see how excited and engaged the children become as soon as they get on the train.

“We hope this educational trip inspires the children to engage more deeply with their STEM studies and to bring their families back to the Settle-Carlisle Line to visit some of the magical places along it.”

Karen Bennett, Education and Youth Engagement Advisor at Community Rail Network, who helped to organise the event said: “Today has been an opportunity to inspire pupils from inner city Bradford to connect to new communities by rail and also to look to engineering roles for their future careers.  We were delighted to be joined by Industry contacts and a STEM ambassador today to help encourage pupils into STEM careers.”

Caption: Year 5 Pupils from Barkerend Leadership Academy in Bradford admire the iconic Ribblehead viaduct with (back row) Settle to Carlisle project and social media manager Katie Chesworth, Karen Bennett from the Community Rail Network, engineer and STEM ambassador Andrew Walker, Dan Coles from the Community Rail Network, Carolyn Watson, director of stakeholder and community engagement at Northern Trains and vice principal of Barkerend Leadership Academy Vicki Hinchliffe.