SCRCA Project: Getting involved

Introduction

The SCRCA Historic Structure Recording Project (a.k.a. the SCRCA Project) is an enormous undertaking and we are currently seeking volunteers to assist with a wide range of project-related activities as per the listing below. 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 most of the activities can be scheduled to fit-in with your other commitments / interests.

1: Data entry / file upload

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

  • transfer information from completed (paper) Assessment Reports into the online database; and
     
  • upload pre-processed photographs and video-stills from a CD / DVD 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 both tasks in well-under an hour. A typical Assessment Report or 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.
 

2: Reviewing digital cab-view video footage

This 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 structure or site, to:
     
  • look-up and record:
    • the Structure 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.

In an ideal world, the person undertaking this activity would also be able and willing to process the resulting video-stills (see activity no. 5: Processing digital images) and to upload the results to the web-based database (see activity no. 1: Data entry / file upload), although this is not essential. Also, as correctly identifying individual structures (and the sites of demolished structures) from the low-resolution video footage can be quite challenging, a reasonable degree of familiarity with the Settle-Carlisle Railway and the various structure-types would be helpful, although this could be gained while working through a video.

The task of reviewing the most recent video footage (2012) is well underway and the resulting cab-view stills have already been uploaded for visible structures / sites at the southern end of the line, for example:

However, much remains to be done as the Project Team has access to - and permission to use - eight different videos spanning a forty year period. The downside to this activity is that the process is extremely time-consuming and it definitely requires meticulous attention to detail in order to avoid errors in identification, naming, etc. The upside is that this activity is both important and rewarding: once completed, the resulting visual record will help us to date the removal of demolished structures and to document changes in the appearance / condition of standing structures.
 

3: Creating detailed structure descriptions

This is a skilled / specialist task: 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 detailed structure descriptions need to be written in the preferred 'Historic Environment Record' (HER) format using standard architectural terminology. A background as an architect and / or in surveying and recording historic buildings will almost certainly be a pre-requisite for this task as training can only be provided on project standards and the use of the online database.
 

4: Conducting on-site structure assessments

This 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 SCRCA Project policies, procedures and guidelines. The paper Assessment Reports are relatively simple and no specialist knowledge or equipment is needed to complete them. However, 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.

The first-round structure assessments for all of the station areas have already been completed. However, some sections of the railway between the station areas still need to be visited / assessed. Some of these locations are adjacent to, or a short, relatively easy walk from public roads or public transport routes. However, reaching others will involve a 6 to 14 mile walk over rough and often remote terrain using Public Rights Of Way and CROW Access Land. Anyone volunteering to assist with the latter must already possess the necessary fitness, clothing, equipment and experience to safely do so. 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.

For insurance reasons, FoSCL membership is a pre-requisite for undertaking on-site structure assessments.

The structure assessments conducted as part of the SCRCA Historic Structure Recording 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.

5: Processing digital images

This is a skilled / specialist task: it involves working from your own home and using your own computer equipment to review occasional batches of project-related images (digital photographs and video-stills) and to edit (i.e. trim, straighten & generally enhance), rename, add copyright notices to, resize, and transfer them to DVD. Pre-requisites include owning, and having the skills & knowledge required to use, version 5 or later of Photoshop Elements (or a recent version of Photoshop CS or similar photo-editing software package) running on a suitably powerful personal computer (PC or MAC). Training will be provided on project standards, but not on the use of the hardware / software, or the technical aspects of image processing.
 

6: Reviewing recent Assessment Reports and associated images

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

7: Research / document review

This involves identifying, cataloguing, reviewing, summarising the content of, and (where appropriate) extracting information from, a wide-range of primary and secondary reference sources and using your own computer equipment to upload the resulting information to the online database. Primary sources include current and historic maps, land-plans, distance diagrams, construction drawings, engineer’s drawings, structural plans, Historic Environment Records, county, parish & census records, archaeological survey reports, photographs, film / video footage (including driver's eye view footage), aerial imagery (including LiDAR imagery and infra-red / visible spectrum photography), news reports, oral histories, artefacts in museums & private collections, etc. Secondary sources include books and magazine / journal articles. NB: 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.. Unfortunately, it is UNLIKELY that we will be able to reimburse any expenses incurred during such visits. However, information obtained from these sources will be invaluable as it will enable those responsible for managing the SCRCA to:

  • place individual structures in the wider context of past, present and future railway operations;
     
  • identify and illustrate changes over time; and
     
  • better understand and appreciate variations in the design, construction, use and the relative importance of specific structures.

The next step for potential volunteers

If you think that you might like to become actively involved with any aspect of the SCRCA Project, please use the '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 Harvey on 24th October 2012.

Review cycle: to be reviewed annually.

Last reviewed by Mark Harvey on 2nd October 2017.


Last updated by Mark Harvey on 02/10/2017
The SCRCA Project section of the FoSCL website was designed and
developed by Mark R. Harvey. Database rights have been asserted.