The Settle-Carlisle railway
The building of the Settle- Carlisle railway began in 1869 and continued until 1876, it being the last of the major engineering undertakings of the Victorian era to be entirely constructed by “ Navvies”, or “Navigators”, the name by which the work force on such projects was then known. The vast incoming labour force was partly accommodated in three large shanty-towns high up in the fells around Dent Head, Ribblehead and Arten Gill, where huge viaducts were under construction. However, a sizeable overflow had also to be boarded-out in Dentdale itself, the already crowded little farms and cottages being crammed with sometimes five or more extra lodgers! A proliferation of workshops for blacksmiths, stonemasons and sawyers appeared in the Dale, as did numerous temporary ale-houses to quench the prodigious thirst of the multitude of workers, and for a time Dentdale must have assumed an appearance similar to that of the Wild West in the days of the Gold Rush! The full story of the terrific undertaking is well illustrated at the Centre, together with a working scale model of the Settle-Carlisle railway as it approaches the magnificent Arten Gill viaduct high above Dentdale – a feature to delight all enthusiastic train-spotters young or old.