When it comes to materials, Sir Bernard Ingham finds his soul lifted by the power and grandeur of stone, while modern alternatives suggest mere derangement
Peter Oborne, the journalist, once called me “neanderthal man”. He wasn’t far out. Actually, I’m a stone man. Indeed, I worship stone. This is perhaps not surprising, since I grew up in the Pennines with endless patterned fields enclosed by stone walls.
I doubt there is greater peace to be found anywhere on this earth than among the stones of Fountains Abbey. Nor the grandeur often found in York Minster, a developing monument to Christian witness since 627AD.
Then take the architecture of my native Hebden Bridge – a study in terraced stone. But it’s the testimony to the ambition and the can-do culture of the Victorians, found in our stone town halls, that really gets me going. Those in Leeds, Halifax and Todmorden, where civic pride built over the Calder, half in Yorkshire and half in Lancashire until they moved the border, are magnificent – and working buildings at that. In contrast, I find brick shabby, although not as shabby as fifties and sixties concrete, but I am bound to say brick architecture is recovering its class.
You will not be surprised to learn that, as a traditionalist, I cannot abide the Gherkin, the Lloyd’s building or such monstrosities as the Guggenheim in Bilbao. They’re what you would expect of stoned, as distinct from stone, people.
Sir Bernard Ingham is a journalist and broadcaster