Reference sources - 1: Building the line

Note: This page lists sources that relate only to building the line. Additional relevant material is also listed in the 'General Reference' section.

Online resources

  • The Ingleborough Archaeology Group (IAG) - Ribblehead, 2007: Over the course of one week at the end of May 2007, the IAG undertook a 'mitigation excavation' of a "stone spread" and "possible building" located within the designated Scheduled Monument area at Ribblehead. The objective of this excavation was to "identify if it was a building, and to try and interpret its external and internal form" as there was evidence that the area had been or was being illegally disturbed. Based on their findings, the IAG interpreted the structure as "an office at the mortared end and a storeroom in the greater part" associated with the construction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway. For a summary of this excavation (with accompanying photographs), see SCRCA Primary Reference: Review of IAG Excavation Report for Ribblehead Construction Camp Building n6.
  • The Settle Graveyard Project: A team of volunteers led by Sarah Lister is documenting the burials dating from 1839 to 1949 that lie in the graveyard of Settle's Holy Ascension Church. The project aims to identify and map the locations of all relevant marked and unmarked graves, record the inscriptions on the former, then gradually research and document the life stories and profiles of some of the people interred in the churchyard. A significant number of the burials relate to 'navvies' (construction workers) who helped to build the Settle-Carlisle Railway and to members of their families. The results of the project are gradually being uploaded to the Yorkshire Dales Community Archives website and they can be accessed via the following links:
    and especially:
  • The following SCRCA Project Location Summary is directly relevant to The Settle Graveyard Project:
    SCRCA structure 236810: Memorials to SCR Construction Workers at Holy Ascension Church, Settle
  • Books that are out of copyright: Digitised versions of the following copyright-expired publications are available for download in various formats including pdf and Kindle. (Note: The download options are located in the box entitled "View the book", which is located in the left-hand column of the webpage.)
    • Williams, Frederick Smeeton
      "The Midland railway: its rise and progress. A narrative of modern enterprise"
      Published by Strahan & Co London in 1876
      726 pages (including covers)
      The pdf version is 42Mb, so the download may take a while, even if using a fast broadband connection.
    • Williams, Frederick Smeeton
      "Our Iron Roads: Their History, Construction, and Administration" (second edition, revised)
      Published by Bemrose & Sons, London in 1883
      544 pages (including covers)
      The pdf version is 33.82Mb, so the download may take a while, even if using a fast broadband connection.
    • Thomson, J. Radford
      "Guide to the district of Craven and the Settle and Carlisle Railway, with illustrations"
      Published in London by Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.; and F. Warne & Co.;
      and in Settle by H. Gore (1879)
      The chapter on the Settle-Carlisle line is Ch 10 which starts on page 79.

Printed publications

Hundreds of books and articles about the Settle-Carlisle Railway have been published over the decades. The following have been identified as being particularly useful as they contain significant quantities of original, well-researched material (i.e. text, plans, historic photographs, etc). Many of the books listed below are out of print, although they do occassionally appear on the second-hand market. Some of those that are still in print may be available from FoSCL's online shop: for a list of the titles currently in stock, see:


  • Coleman, Terry: "The Railway Navvies: A History of the Men who Made the Railways". First published by Hutchinson in 1965. More recently published by Head of Zeus Ltd in 2015. [Note: This book covers all aspects of the life & work of railway navvies. The construction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway is mentioned briefly in Chapter 13 'The Last Fling' (pages 265-272).]
  • Lister, Sarah: "The Railway Navvies of Settle: the end of the line", Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (2020).
  • Mitchell, W.R: “How they built the Settle-Carlisle railway”, Castleberg (1989). [Note: The key extracts from this book have been reproduced on this web-portal with the kind permission of Dr Mitchell. For full details, see "How they built the Settle-Carlisle railway: A - Foreword and Introduction".]
  • Mitchell, W.R: “Shanty Life on the Settle-Carlisle Railway”, Castleberg (1988)
  • Mitchell, W.R. & Mussett, N.J.: "Seven Years Hard: Building the Settle - Carlisle Railway", Dalesman Books (1976).
  • Occomore, David: "A New Railway to Scotland", Hayloft Publishing (2020).
  • Sullivan, Dick: "Navvyman", Coracle Books (1983) [Note: This book covers all aspects of the life & work of the 'navvy'. Chapter 13 'The Long Drag' covers the construction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway].

Journal / magazine articles, unpublished reports, etc

  • Cardwell, P., Ronan D. and Simpson, R.: "Batty Moss Navvy Settlements, Ribblehead, North Yorkshire. Topographic and Archaeological Survey for the Yorkshire Dales National Park", Northern Archaeological Associates (NAA Report No 95/23, 1995).
  • Cardwell, P., Ronan, D. and Simpson, R.: "An Archaeological Survey of the Ribblehead Navvy Settlements" (2004) - appears in R. F. White and P. R. Wilson (eds.): "Archaeology and Historic Landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales", Yorkshire Archaeological. Society Occassional Paper 2, pp195-202.
  • Ed Dennison Archaeological Services: "Earthwork Survey: Risehill Tunnel Spoil Heap (No 1 Shaft), Cowgill Wood, North Yorkshire", unpublished report produced for Scottish Woodlands Ltd (1998).


  • NVM Dgital: A CD-ROM entitled "Historic Photographs of the Settle to Carlisle Railway" (2003) contains a set of twenty-nine low resolution black & white images (in the form of 'stereo pairs') derived from photographs taken during the construction of the Settle & Carlisle Railway. The images were licensed to NVM Digital by (WSV - and WSV has subsequently authorised us to upload watermarked versions to the SCRCA web-portal - see Photographs relating to the construction of the Settle & Carlisle Railway.

The National Archive collection at Kew

This repository holds an enormous quanity of primary source material relating to the planning and construction of the Settle and Carlisle Railway, including Parliamentary records, plans, drawings and railway company minutes (including those for Board meetings and the various Committees such as Accident, Audit, Chairman's, Construction, Finance, Law, Parliamentary and Way & Works). Unfortunately, very few of the relevant records are available for viewing online. A comprehensive and methodical search of the online catalogue will be an essential starting point for any specific enquiry, but the following extracts from the catalogue will provide an good indication of the breadth and depth of the available material:

The following does not relate directly to the SCR. However, it may provide useful background information as it contains "minutes of the joint committee, together with the plans relating to the railway between Carnforth and Wennington."

For further information about the National Archive Collection and / or to search the online catalogue, see:

Series Links

The list of potentially useful / interesting reference sources is now far too long for a single page, so it has been split into five separate pages - one for each of the following sections:

  1. Building the line
  2. Operating the line
  3. Historic Structures
  4. Conservation & Archaeology
  5. General Reference

The links above will enable you to jump directly to the relevant section.


This list of reference sources was compiled by Mark R. Harvey. (© Mark R. Harvey, all rights reserved.)