Sir,—Recent events have shown that it needs more than a local authority to protect the Lake Country from harm, and that nothing short of some Government Commission, whose duty it shall be to save the district from itself, will stem the tide of commercialism that will exploit this little holiday land for its own ends.
There is a tendency among local authorities to refuse to look upon the Lake District as a whole, and to ignore the fact that, seeing its main industry consists in catering for visitors, the visitors have a right to be consulted before any change takes place which will diminish the natural charm and restfulness of the whole neighbourhood. To take examples. The Cumberland County Council refused point blank to allow any other than Cumberland ratepayers to have a say in the matter of the retention of Portinscale Bridge, though its notorious that a large number of visitors are attracted to Portinscale by reason of the fact of its old-world beauty, and the old-world beauty of its main approach, the Portinscale Bridge; and this, in face of the fact that the prosperity of the locality depends largely upon tourists, who leave money behind them, which circulates afterwards through the whole district, and is, therefore, a matter that does not only concern Cumberland.
Again, at the meeting of the local Council, in Windermere, last Monday, it was proposed that a largely-signed petition in protest against the hydroplane nuisance and danger should not be considered, because some who had signed the document lived outside the urban boundary. Though, here again, it was plain that the hydro-aeroplane invasion of Windermere quite as much affected the residents on the Lancashire shore and in the Ambleside district as it did the dwellers in the Bowness urban district.
These facts give pause for thought. The Lake District, partly in three counties—Lancashire, Westmorland, and Cumberland—cannot, as far as its natural use goes, be divided up either into country divisions or urban district divisions. Harm done at any single place in the district prejudicially affects the whole countryside, and it is high time that some Government Department should, in the best interests of the nation, consider the need of preventing the results of such appeal to industrial progress as was made by the promotion of the new bridge at Portinscale, or as appeared in the circular issued yesterday to the ratepayers of Bowness by the promotor of the hydroplane company. In that appeal the wishes of the residents, and all visitors who come to the shore of Windermere for rest and quiet, and the ordinary pleasures of boating, fishing, and sailing, were entirely set aside. The idea of danger was pooh-poohed.
The hydroplane was talked of as being only a little over 800lb in weight, and the fact that 800lb in weight, going at 35 miles an hour, was a most dangerous missile, and that the danger was immensely added to by the fact that the guy-ropes of the vast machine were made of wire, that at the pace of 35 miles an hour would cut like razors anything it came in contact with, was absolutely ignored. A purely selfish appeal was made by the inventor to the tradesmen—namely, that the conversion of Windermere into an aerodrome would be a grand achievement for them, and would bring people of all classes to the shore. “What a fine advertisement for the place,” he writes. “How many people of all classes are likely to come,” etc. He did not tell the Bowness tradesmen that no more cruel blow could be dealt to the permanent prosperity of that residential neighbourhood than to convert it into a “Blackpool at the Lakes.”
That appeal went further. He was so desirous for the good of the public as lovers of natural scenery—which, by the way, he is doing his best to spoil by his unsightly “hangars”—that he asked them to consider that by means of his hydroplanes, “their unrivalled scenery would get better known and more valued, and thus influence for good a wider circle.” The idea of the company dividend was hid from sight, and the tradesmen were called upon to support him in his effort of pure patriotism, and “to encourage English fliers to venture, to spend, and to dare.”
We have no wish to discourage them, but we say that there are other sheets of water, and that seawater into the bargain, in the neighbourhood, where they would be heartily welcomed “to venture, to spend, and to dare,” without destroying the chief charm of the scene by which inhabitants are attracted to the shores of Windermere, and by which hotel keepers now obtain their livelihood. The aeroplane invasion is a very real menace to the amenity of Windermere as a residential neighbourhood…. The ground of my plea for a Government Commission to keep the Lake District as it is, in the best interests of all classes, is that the Lake District does not belong only to the Highway Committee of any County Council, to the local Council and ratepayers of any single district, but in a very real way belongs to the nation. Meanwhile, the Lake District Defence Society has been revived, and I shall be glad to hear from any who care to join it.
(Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 26 January 1912, p. 7)