SCRCA Project: Getting involved

The SCRCA Project is an enormous long term undertaking and we are always seeking new volunteers to help us. There are seven distinct activities associated with the project and these are listed and briefly explained in the relevant sections below. We are urgently seeking help with activities 3, 4, 5 and 7.

In all cases, potential volunteers will need to have (and be able & willing to use) their own relatively modern personal computer with e-mail, web-browser software and a reasonably fast broadband connection. Beyond this, full training and ongoing support will be provided unless otherwise stated. Generally speaking, the desired time commitment is an average of four to twenty hours per month and all of the activities can be scheduled to fit-in with your other commitments / interests.

Please note that all SCRCA Project activities are covered by (and must be carried out in compliance with) the project's formal 'Risk Assessment' and the accompanying 'Health and Safety Advice for SCRCA Project Volunteers'.

See also our Plea for Information and Images.

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1: Data entry / file upload

This activity involves working from your own home and using your own computer equipment to:

  1. transfer information from completed (paper) Assessment Reports into the online database;
  2. upload pre-processed digital photographs to the online database; and / or
  3. upload pre-processed digital video stills to the online database.

Full training and ongoing support will be provided and most people with reasonable keyboard skills and a general familiarity with surfing the internet will be able to master these tasks in well-under an hour. A typical Assessment Report or image file upload takes just two or three minutes to complete, making this task ideal for anyone with an odd half-hour or two to spare on a regular basis.

Current status:
This activity is usually carried out by the volunteers undertaking activities 2, 4 & 5 as an integral part of those activities. However, we do occasionally have a backlog of material awaiting upload so, if you think you might be able to help us with this task, we would be delighted to hear from you.

2: Reviewing digital cab-view video footage

This activity involves working from your own home and using your own computer and video / DVD equipment to slowly and methodically review a number of commercially available and project-specific videos (in DVD or computer video-file formats) to

  • identify all visible project-related structures (plus the sites of structures that have been demolished) then, for each site or structure, to:
  • look-up and record:
    • the Location ID;
    • the time-reference (i.e. where it appears on the video); and
    • the structure's apparent condition (plus any other potentially useful information); then, for footage where the required permission has been obtained, to
  • produce the best-possible video-still image, then to
  • appropriately name the resulting image file.

The resulting visual record will help us to date the removal of demolished structures and to document changes in the appearance / condition of the structures that remain.

Activity 2 requires meticulous attention to detail in order to avoid errors in identification, naming, etc. Correctly identifying individual structures (and the sites of demolished structures) from the low-resolution video footage can be very challenging, so a reasonable degree of familiarity with the Settle-Carlisle Railway (and the various 'location types') would be helpful, although this could be gained while working through a few videos.

In an ideal world, volunteers undertaking this activity would also be able and willing to process the resulting video-stills (see activity 5) and to upload the results to the web-based database (see activity 1. However, this is not essential.

To make this task as easy (read 'less difficult') as possible, the footage must be reviewed in a specific order. We've already done the 2012 footage as this was the most recent, the most comprehensive and of the highest resolution / image quality. The resulting cab-view stills have already been uploaded to the database. Examples include:

However, much remains to be done as the SCRCA Project Team has access to - and permission to use - eight different videos spanning a forty year period.

Current status:
The next priority is the full-line, bi-directional video footage shot in 1992, shortly after the line's formal reprieve. This task has already been assigned to a volunteer who, despite work and family commitments, has made significant progress on extracting and naming stills. Until this task has been completed, we have decided to defer work on the other videos as they were shot at relatively low resolutions by modern standards and they do not feature uninterrupted footage of the entire line. Stills from this footage will still be useful (e.g. to help date changes), but it can be much more difficult to accurately identify individual structures. It is hoped that the recognition task will be much easier once we've completed the 1992 footage and, at that point, we'll be seeking additional volunteers to help us with the task.

3: Creating formal descriptions of structures

This is a skilled / specialist activity. It involves working from your own home and using your own computer equipment to review the information and reduced-size images stored in the online database (plus, where necessary, the full-size images supplied on CD or DVD) in order to write a comprehensive technical description for each SCRCA structure. These formal descriptions need to be written in the preferred 'Historic Environment Record' (HER) format using standard architectural terminology, so a background as an architect and / or in surveying and recording historic buildings will almost certainly be a pre-requisite for this task. (Training can only be provided on project standards and the use of the SCRCA Project database.)

Current status:
The formal descriptions for the extant Midland Railway era booking offices, waiting rooms, goods sheds, tank houses, yard offices and former station masters' houses between Settle and Scotby (inclusive) have been completed. They can be accessed via the relevant Location Summary pages. We are currently seeking a suitably skilled volunteer to create the formal descriptions for the other workers' housing variants, signal boxes, non-standard station buildings and other key location types.

4: Conducting on-site structure assessments

This activity involves outside fieldwork (site-visits) to previously agreed sections of the SCRCA to identify, photograph (using your own equipment) and complete a paper and / or computerised (online) Assessment Report for all potentially relevant structures in accordance with documented policies, procedures and guidelines.

The structure assessments conducted as part of the SCRCA Project are quick visual assessments only. They are usually carried-out from a distance (and some are carried-out without a site visit using only photographs and / or video-stills). These structure assessments are NOT detailed structural or archaeological surveys and they must not be used or interpreted as such.

The paper Assessment Reports are relatively simple and no specialist knowledge or equipment is needed to complete them.

If you would like to help with this task, you will need:

  1. to have access to (and know how to use) a five mega-pixel or better digital camera capable of 5x or better optical magnification; and
  2. be able and willing to use public transport and / or your own transport to reach the agreed locations within the SCRCA.

It is important to note that:

  • Some sections of the SCRCA are relatively easy to visit (e.g. they are close to open railway stations or reaching them involves just a short, relatively easy walk from public roads).
  • Some sections of the SCRCA can only be visited by walking 6 to 14 miles over rough and often remote terrain (using Public Rights Of Way and CROW Access Land). Anyone volunteering to undertake assessment visits in these areas must already possess the necessary fitness, clothing, equipment and experience to safely do so.
  • Some sections of the SCRCA cannot be accessed unless prior permission has been obtained from all relevant landowners.

Please note that all volunteers conducting on-site structure assessments for the SCRCA Project are responsible for their own safety at all times and that they must NOT endanger themselves or others, inconvenience others, cause damage, trespass on Network Rail property or other private land, or otherwise do or say anything that may damage the reputation of the SCRCA Project. In addition (and for insurance reasons), an up-to-date FoSCL membership is a pre-requisite for all volunteers undertaking on-site structure assessments.

Current status:
Phase 1:
Most of the structures that can be seen from a publicly accessible location have already been assessed or assigned to an existing volunteer. However, we are currently seeking volunteers to visit a number of locations between Langcliffe and Selside. Efficient access to this area will require the use of the volunteer's own personal transport. (Unfortunately, the SCRCA Project Team is unable to reimburse any of the associated costs.) As, we currently have a significant backlog of photographs awaiting processing and upload, it would be helpful if new volunteers are able and willing to process and upload their own photographs (see activities 5 and 1).

Phase 2: In the medium term, the intention is to revisit selected (key) locations on an occasional basis in order to obtain up-to-date photographs and to monitor changes in use and / or condition. However, phase 2 will not commence until phase 1 has been completed.

5: Processing digital images

This is a skilled / specialist activity. It involves working from your own home and using your own computer equipment to:

  • rename batches of project-related images (digital photographs and / or video-stills),
  • edit them as necessary (i.e. trim, straighten, generally enhance, resize and add copyright notices);
  • upload them to the SCRCA Project database (activity 1a); and
  • transfer them to CD / DVD / USB memory stick.

Pre-requisites for this activity include:

  • owning a legal copy of (and having the skills & knowledge required to effectively use) a suitable photo-editing software package such as Photoshop Elements, Photoshop CS, Lightshop, GIMP, Inkscape, etc.;
  • owning a suitably powerful personal computer (PC or MAC).

Training will be provided on project standards and the image upload process, but NOT on the use of the hardware / software or the technical aspects of image processing.

Current status:
The vast majority of the photographs obtained during the first round of site visits have already been processed and uploaded. The remainder will be processed and uploaded in small batches, as and when volunteer resources permit. Also, we are currently seeking permission to use a large number of historic images from a variety of third-party sources. As a picture really can paint a thousand words, we are urgently seeking help with the time-consuming (but incredibly satisfying) task of processing, naming, describing and uploading digital images.

6: Reviewing recent Assessment Reports and associated images

This activity involves working from your own home and using your own computer equipment to check all recently uploaded structure assessment material (Assessment Reports, photographs and associated e-mails) to ensure consistency and to identify structures for which follow-up action may be required.

Current status:
This activity is being carried out by the project coordinator. Additional assistance is not currently needed.

7: Research, document review and article writing

This set of activities involves:

  • identifying, cataloguing, reviewing, summarising the content of, and (where appropriate) extracting information from, a wide-range of primary sources and secondary sources; and
  • using your own computer equipment to produce associated reports and / or articles.

While some secondary sources can be reviewed from the comfort of your own home, other secondary sources - and almost all primary sources - can only be reviewed by visiting local, regional and / or national public-record offices, libraries, museums, etc. Please note that we will not be able to reimburse any expenses incurred during such visits. However, information obtained from these sources will be invaluable. It will enable members of the public and those responsible for managing the SCRCA to:

  • place individual sites and structures in the wider context of past, present and future railway operations;
  • identify changes over time; and
  • better understand and appreciate
    • variations in the design, construction and use of specific structures and
    • the relative importance of specific structures.
Current status:
We are seeking self-motivated volunteers who are able and willing to register as a 'reader' (where necessary), then arrange and undertake a series of visits to the various county council archive repositories covering Cumbria, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Lancashire in order to physically view potentially relevant material that has already been identified from searches of the various online catalogues.

The objectives for these visits are:

* To ascertain and briefly document the form, condition, size, scope and relevance of the records already identified. (The information provided in the online catalogues is very limited.)

* To produce a more detailed description and summary of the content of a prioritised subset of relevant records.

* Where appropriate, possible and permitted, to either transcribe or create digital images of the most relevant items.
We are also seeking a self-motivated volunteer to undertake a desk-based review of the National Archives' online catalogue, then to make multiple visits to the National Archives in Kew (as a registered reader) in order to review a mutually agreed set of physical records (with the same objectives as those outlined above).

These official public repositories contain hundreds (probably thousands) of important and interesting documents relating to the SCRCA. Most of these are NOT currently available online free of charge and we would like to address this. For details of our proposed approach, see Cataloguing, summarising and / or digitising primary source material held in key public repositories.

As part of activity 7, there is plenty of scope for volunteers to identify topics that interest them and to research, write and illustrate articles covering those topics if they wish to do so (see below for a few examples).

We are seeking self-motivated volunteers to produce (research, write and illustrate) articles covering the following topics:

* An introductory 'Q & A' covering the two railway lines.

* A brief overview of how (and why) the S&C was constructed.

* A brief introduction to the various job roles associated with operating the railway within the SCRCA (covering all of the key time periods).

* An introduction to the operation of a 'typical' S&C signal box, with brief references to operating practices at specific signal boxes as examples.

* An introduction to the operation of a 'typical' S&C goods yard and goods shed, with brief references to operating practices at specific locations as examples.

* A brief history of xxx station (one article per station), including details of the railway staff and the local goods & passenger traffic.

* A brief history of the goods & passenger traffic ('local' and 'through').

* A brief history of the Hellifield Motive Power Depot.

* A brief history of Durran Hill and Petteril Bridge (MPD & Sidings).

* The importance and operation of banking engines.

* An introduction to (and then a set of articles about) the rail-related quarries and associated industries in upper Ribblesdale (including the limekilns at Langcliffe).

* A brief history of the Griseburn Ballast Sidings.

* A brief history of the dairy industry in the Eden Valley and the rail-operations of the Express Dairy Company, Appleby.

* A brief history of the Lazonby Sand Sidings.

* A brief overview of all the rail-related accidents that occurred within the SCRCA.

* A brief overview of the fight to save the S&C and quick review of what has happened since.

* Detailed articles covering any of the above or anything else that is relevant to the SCRCA.

8: Project Management (aka the role of the SCRCA Project Coordinator)

The SCRCA Project Coordinator is responsible for all aspects of the SCRCA Project, including:

  • Defining and reviewing the project's scope, objectives, methodologies, standards and priorities.
  • Defining, coordinating, reviewing and generally managing all project-related activities.
  • Recruiting, training (where appropriate) and managing all SCRCA Project volunteers.
  • Developing, implementing, managing and reviewing the project's formal 'Risk Assessment' and the associated 'Health and Safety Advice for SCRCA Project Volunteers'.
  • Developing, managing and reviewing the SCRCA Web Portal.
  • Reviewing the contributions of SCRCA Project volunteers (including SCRCA Assessment Reports, SCRCA Images and SCRCA Articles) to ensure consistency and compliance with project standards.
  • Communicating and liaising with third parties (i.e. external organisations and individuals not directly associated with the project) on matters pertaining to the SCRCA Project.
Current status:
This activity is being carried out by Mark R. Harvey. Additional assistance is not currently needed.

The next step for potential volunteers

If you think you might like to become actively involved with any aspect of the SCRCA Project, please use the dedicated 'Contact Us' facility to outline briefly how you may be able to help. We will then contact you to arrange an initial discussion at a mutually convenient time.

Review / revision history

Document created by Mark R. Harvey on 24th October 2012.

Last reviewed and revised by Mark R. Harvey on 20th November 2021.