How Can They This Blight Endure? William Wordsworth Objects to the Kendal & Windermere Railway

This ‘Plan of the Kendal & Windermere Railway with the centre of the Lake District’ was published in Liverpool by the firm of Maclure, MacDonald & MacGregor circa 1850.

The Lancaster & Carlisle Railway has been coloured blue, the Kendal & Windermere is shown in red. Thomas Hill of Kendal who is credited in the lower left hand margin with drawing the map, has proved elusive, as have other examples of the map. As to when or why the map was printed, we know that the partnership between Maclure, MacDonald and MacGregor operated between 1840 and 1871, which gives us a window. Our map seems most likely to have accompanied a prospectus in the mid 1840s, or at least to have been published when the line was proposed or under construction, ca 1844-47. The line was taken over by the Lancaster & Carlisle in 1858, and formed part of the London and North Western Railway from 1859. 

The Lake District had become a popular tourist destination by the late 18th century, and the new railway would boost visitor numbers still further. The proposed line inspired a sonnet by outraged local (and Poet Laureate) William Wordsworth, who appended it in support of a letter of objection he sent to William Gladstone, who was then President of the Board of Trade: “Is then no nook of English ground secure from rash assault?”

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