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An Introduction

The manor of Whitehaven was one of the many possessions belonging to the priory of St. Bees. In the year 1556, it is said that there were only six houses located there. At the dissolution of monasteries Whitehaven was seized by the Crown, but was subsequently purchased by Sir Christopher Lowther, second son of Sir John Lowther, of Lowther. The Lowther family began the transformation of the sleepy village by opening large coal mines and building a stone quay (Old Quay) in 1634-one of the oldest remaining coal wharves in England-to ship the coal. Sir John Lowther (1642-1705) designed the layout of Whitehaven, the first post Renaissance planned town in Britain, in a grid pattern with St Nicholas Church sitting in the middle. The Lowthers created straight streets, stone houses with blue slate roofs, and grand public buildings. In 1642, Whitehaven was a small fishing village of 250 souls huddled around a sheltered creek, just north of St Bees head. 50 years later the population of White

History of Whitehaven

Origins Of Name

Whitehaven Brickworks

The Yellow Earl

Flax Spinning Mill

The Workhouse

Sir John Lowther

Whitehaven had been small harbour and fishing village from 13th century or earlier. Expansion began in mid-17th century with building of piers by Lowthers 1632-4 and 1679-81 and granting of market charter 1660. By the 1680s it had grown rapidly, expanding from village of c.30 households in early 17th century to a town of over 1,000 inhabitants by 1685, which more than doubled to 2,281 by 1696. Sir John Lowther had laid out grid of streets by 1680s, making Whitehaven the earliest planned new town in post-medieval Britain.

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