Headstone Viaduct, Monsal Dale

Monsal Dale, Derbyshire

Headstone Viaduct Spanning Monsal Dale

Headstone Viaduct, Monsal Dale

Headstone Viaduct As Seen From Monsal Head

Headstone Viaduct from below, Monsal Dale

Headstone Viaduct From Monsal Dale

The Headstone Viaduct, often wrongly called Monsal Dale Viaduct, was built by the Midland Railway in 1863. This impressive viaduct is three hundred feet (91 m) in length, with five fifty-foot (15 m) span arches, each standing some forty feet (12 m) high at it's centre. Some remedial work was carried out on the viaduct during 1907-08 due to slippage, but other than that the structurs stands as built. The Headstone Viaduct is located at the northern end of the 533 yard (487 m) Headstone Tunnel that passes from Great Longstone to south, beneath Monsal Head into Monsal Dale. Although now considered an imporant and impressive structure (a preservation order was granted in 1970) at the time of it's construction the Headstone Viaduct was considered an eye-sore and decryed for spoiling the dale.

John Ruskin a leading writer of the time wrote more than once on this subject:

"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"

and also

"That valley where you might expect to catch sight of Pan, Apollo, and the Muses, is now deseasted in order that a Buxton fool may be able to find himself in Bakewell at the end of twelve minutes, and vice versa"

As upset as Ruskin may have been his dispair would have been as nothing had the plans of the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway for a second viaduct to cross both the valley and the Midland Line, at the hight of some three hundred feet (91 m) come to fruition.

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Photographs and images Courtesy of RTB2 Photographic

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