Thursday, 28 July 2011
Ruskin lets off steam
Monsal Dale in Derbyshire which I know well, is crossed by the Headstone Viaduct. Built in 1863 by the Midland Railway, many people now see it as an elegant addition to the valley, but it was not always so. John Ruskin from his Coniston lakeside idyll, decided that he did not approve.
There was a rocky valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time divine as the Vale of Tempe; you might have seen the Gods there morning and evening - Apollo and all the sweet Muses of the light - walking in fair procession on the lawns of it, and to and fro among the pinnacles of its crags. You cared neither for Gods nor grass, but for cash (which you did not know the way to get): you thought you could get it by what the Times calls 'Railroad Enterprise.' You enterprised a railroad through the valley - you blasted its rocks away, heaped thousands of tons of shale into its lovely stream. The valley is gone and the Gods with it, and now every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half an hour end every fool in Bakewell at Buxton; which you think a lucrative process of exchange - you Fools everywhere.