1860-63 Monsal Viaduct construction

The original name for the viaduct was the Headstone Viaduct. (taken from the name of the adjacent tunnel) Seen here from behind Netherdale Cottage.

Early maps show a “footpath” which traverses the hillside at the same height as the Headstone tunnel portal and this appears prominently in this photo. The most westerly pillar is about “half height” and presumably the furthest embankment is being constructed from material excavated from the Headstone Tunnel..
One can imagine a conversation between a couple who may have just moved to this (previously) peaceful backwater .. now listening to a constant avalanche of rocks.. “..are you sure there wasn’t anything in the searches?”

Monsal Viaduct construction
1860s Monsal Viaduct construction

A year or so later.. (they didn’t hang about in those days!) we see 4 arches in the process of being constructed (when completed, there would be 5) The two outer pillars are now almost completely buried in the tipped embankment material…

Monsal Viaduct construction
Monsal Viaduct construction

Today there would be a petitions (and people gluing themselves everywhere) but in 1870 you just wrote a (damning) poem:

“There was a rocky valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time, divine as the Vale of Tempe… 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 in Bakewell in half an hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton; which you think a lucrative process of exchange – you Fools everywhere!”.

John Ruskin 1871

and to back this up he wrote to the railway company:
..your railway drags its close clinging damnation. The rocks are not big enough to be tunnelled,
they are simply blasted away ; the brook is not wide enough to be bridged, it is covered in, and is thenceforward a drain ; and the only scenery left for you in the once delicious valley is alternation of embankments of slag with pools of slime.

ouch! (those Lakes Poets could be real bitches!)

2021 from a slightly different angle.. but I like the mist ;)

2021 Monsal Viaduct
2021 Monsal Viaduct