The Timeline: The Lake District

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The Independent Online

19th Century: Artists' idyll

During the 17th and 18th century the mineral-rich Lake District was seen as ripe for economic exploitation. By the turn of the 19th, though, the tide had turned: "Persons of pure taste," wrote Wordsworth in 1810, "deem the district a sort of national property." Indeed, so highly prized was the tranquillity that the critic John Ruskin led a campaign against the railways in the 1870s.

1945: Dower Report

Luftwaffe may have been strafing British cities but Churchill's government was busy preparing a plan to protect Britain's countryside. The result: John Dower's National Parks White Paper. He called for 10 to be set up across England. Along with the Yorkshire Dales, The Lake District was identified as being "division A", a prime area for National Park incorporation.

1951: A new National Park

Two years after the National Parks and Access to Countryside Act, the Lake District National Park was opened. Although the park authority has responsibility for conserving the 885 sq miles of land within its boundaries, unlike US national parks the authority never sought to purchase the land; 96 per cent remains in private hands.

1974: Sandford Review

By the mid-1970s, millions of tourists were streaming to the Lake District each year, and the damage was becoming marked. Lord Sandford was commissioned to investigate. In his report he wrote: "Where conflicts exist between conservation and enjoyment, then conservation should take priority." The Sandford Principle was born.

1995: Environment Act

The early 1990s recession hit rural communities across Britain, so John Major's government updated National Park legislation to give them a more commercial focus. From 1995, the Lake District and the nation's 13 other parks would now have "the duty to seek to foster the economic and social wellbeing of local communities", as well as protecting the natural beauty of the area.

2011: 60th birthday

It's birthday time in the Lakes. The park's diamond jubilee was celebrated with concerts and gala dinners across the area last weekend, and for the rest of this week organised rambles will take place.