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The Dawn of Green

Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism

The Dawn of Green

Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism

Located in the heart of England’s Lake District, the placid waters of Thirlmere seem to be the embodiment of pastoral beauty. But under their calm surface lurks the legacy of a nineteenth-century conflict that pitted industrial progress against natural conservation—and helped launch the environmental movement as we know it. Purchased by the city of Manchester in the 1870s, Thirlmere was dammed and converted into a reservoir, its water piped one hundred miles south to the burgeoning industrial city and its workforce. This feat of civil engineering—and of natural resource diversion—inspired one of the first environmental struggles of modern times. The Dawn of Green re-creates the battle for Thirlmere and the clashes between conservationists who wished to preserve the lake and developers eager to supply the needs of a growing urban population. Bringing to vivid life the colorful and strong-minded characters who populated both sides of the debate, noted historian Harriet Ritvo revisits notions of the natural promulgated by romantic poets, recreationists, resource managers, and industrial developers to establish Thirlmere as the template for subsequent—and continuing—environmental struggles.

248 pages | 60 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2009

Biological Sciences: Conservation, Natural History

Earth Sciences: Environment

Geography: Cultural and Historical Geography

History: British and Irish History

History of Science


"[Ritvo’s] book conveys in vividly minute particulars how difficult and frustrating the campaign must have been, and how divided the campaigners were in their loyalties. Without such detail, lessons cannot be learnt. Nor is documentation allowed to obscure the larger picture. Ritvo shows the whole business to be, in contrary ways, representative of its times: ’if Manchester was the icon of the Victorian future, the Lake District was the icon of nature, poetry and heritage.’"—Times Higher Education

Times Higher Education

“A closely researched, sensitively observed, and handsomely illustrated study. . . . This is a gem of a book, enhanced by prose as crystal clear as Thirlmere’s fabled waters.”

Peter Coates | Environmental History

Table of Contents


One           The Unspoiled Lake 

Two           The Dynamic City   

Three         The Struggle for Possession 

Four          The Cup and the Lip          

Five           The Harvest of Thirlmere





Illustration Credits    


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