Visitors Guide, 1869

There is a fine prospect from Monkwray, a noble picture of the valley, Whitehaven Castle, and the woods behind it, the occasional residence of the Earl of Lonsdale, the genteel suburb of Corkickle, the pleasant village of Hensingham and plateau to the south, -with the lofty hill of Dent and the Ennerdale Fells in the background. As you descend the drive, down the field just at the bend or curve of the road, you have a charming view of the town, port, and the Solway Frith, with the distant hills of Scotland. Should you, however, not have turned off the turnpike road, but still have kept in sight of the sea, from Preston Hows to Prospect Hill, you would have had a full view of the harbour, and come to the town down Rosemary Lane. There is another road, through Eottington and Sandwith; and a footpath, from Lingeydale, along the cliffs to Whitehaven. Against Wilson Pit, Tollgate, you might have turned down past the old Moss Pit, a deserted Colliery, either across the vale, in the direction of Hensingham, or by Green Bank's Hall, the Seat of W. Lumb, Esq., the union workhouse, and cemetery. The cemetery is one of the most picturesque burial places in England, and is kept in excellent order by the curator, Mr. Emmerson, ornamental gardener, thronged with costly memorials of the dead, and beautified with trees, shrubs, and choice flowers. It has two elegant chapels: one for the use of the Church of England, and the other for the various dissenting denominations. The scenery is truly grand, especially from the upper end, where you have, in serene weather, views worthy the pencil of an artist. Some take the eastern side of tho valley all the way from St. Bees; but the approach from Eensingham, Corkickle, gives you a more favourable impression of the town. You pass the castle and enter Lowther Street, the finest thoroughfare in the town. At the further end you see the shipping. There is another charming spot on a fine*summer day, and that is Midgy Mount, behind the castle. From this hill side you have a partial but a very picturesque view of the opposite hill, town, and sea. The woods, and ravines, and wild flowers, invite all lovers of nature to this park, especially in early summer. Another fine view of "Whitehaven is obtained from the north end of the castle grounds behind St. James' Church. The approach from the north lies along a deep defile, flanked with woody slopes at the end of which is the noble, but now desolate Lonsdale Inn or Railway Hotel, and principal Passenger Station, with the shipping behind.

You enter the town by a noble arch with two posterns having all the appearance of a city gate, and bearing the arms of the Lowther family. It was, however, erected by an ancestor of the present Earl, for use as much as ornament, viz.:—for carrying the waggon road from Bransty Colliery, now extinct, down to the port. Whitehaven when approached from the sea presents an imposing picture, especially when the harbour is crowded with shipping. It is screened right and left by high hills terminating in bold rocky cliffs, overhanging the Solway. On the south side of the harbour is a fine sea wall or pier, commenced in 1824 and finished in 1839, at an expense of £100,000, and crowned with a tall lighthouse. On the north side is another noble pier and promenade, with a guiding light to the harbour. This was completed in 1841. These piers, with the various tongues, form an outer and inner harbour. The latter is divided by an open basin into two spacious dry docks. The northern dock is used by vessels employed in the export of iron ore and coal; or those undergoing repairs. The southern dock is sub-divided by a long tongue, covered in as a goods shed. On each side he vessels discharging and lading general cargo and pig iron, steam packets, and large craft employed in the North America and Baltic timber trade, with a fleet of fishing boats. On the south side lies a multitude of small craft mostly belonging to the Isle of Man and Scotland, and vessels taking in coal, chiefly for Dublin and other parts of Ireland. The open basin between the north and south harbour is used for careening vessels on the gridirons and sands. There is also a patent slip for drawing up vessels to be overhauled and repaired; and some small ship building yards. The tobacco and West India trades are now extinct; the importation of wine from Cadiz and Oporto, of brandy from Bordeaux, and occasional cargoes of geneva, &c, from Rotterdam, of timber from Africa, and timber, sugar, and rum, from Demerara has quite ceased. The town was long celebrated for fine timber built vessels, admired for strength, capacity, and light draught. Messrs. Brocklebank built a large number of fine vessels here in years past. Mr. Williamson and Mr. Sheppard still build craft of admirable model for the Mediterranean and other trades. The low ground immediately behind the harbour is occupied by the town, which also climbs the hill sides, right and left. But that part of the town which lies between Strand Street and Chapel Street was formerly a tidal pool. Here a great mistake was made in filling up this part of the haven, instead of converting it into a wet dock. The site of the present Presbyterian Church in James Street was then a mill dam, fed by a stream diverted from the "River Poe," near the present cricket field. The old Whitehaven Mill, with its undershot wheel, stood then near the bottom of Chapel Street. There was an ancient little water mill at Bransty within memory. Beside these there were several windmills, probably of much later origin, in operation within the present age. Edward the First, in the year 1300, freighted certain ships from Kirkcudbright with corn to be ground for the army, at the mills of Whitehaven.

A correspondent of the Whitehaven Herald (Sept. 7th, 1830), says Capt. W g and his nine sailors, brought 143 qrs.; and Andrew Karliol, master of the Mariot of Drogheda and others were so employed. But we shall speak more of the history of Whitehaven, when we have finished a description of the town. There are many architectural '' Lions" at "Whitehaven, but the houses are generally fair modern erections, forming some very good streets laid down with great regularity and judgment. If properly flagged Whitehaven might be one of the cleanest seaport towns in the world, owing to the abundance of water supplied by nature and artificial means. The most remarkable building is "Whitehaven Castle," a stately mansion on the eastern side of the town, erected by Sir John Lowther, towards the close of the 17th century, and improved by James, first Earl of Lonsdale. The parklike grounds, woods, and shrubberies, are a great ornament to the town, and are open to the public to a great extent. In the entrance hall are two ancient Roman altars, one discovered at Ellenborough and the other found at Moresby. There are also some fine paintings by eminent masters. The Lonsdale Hotel has been already mentioned. The Churches are very plain edifices, but internally they are very comfortable and commodious; evidently intended for preaching, and not for the celebration of ceremonies. The Roman Catholics have raised a very fine church, from a design of Pugin in the " Coach Road," at an expense of upwards of £10,000, which is to be dedicated to St. Bega. Nor are there any fine Dissenting Chapels. The principal hotels are the Globe in Duke Street, the Black Lion, Albion, and Golden Lion, in King Street, and Market Place. There are three banks besides the savings' bank, with handsome offices, one in Coates Lane and the other two in Lowther Street. The town hall and police offices, &c, are in Duke Street And Scotch Street, and are handsome and commodious. The infirmary and dispensary occupy a suitable building in Howgill Street. The fine Odd-Fellows' Hall, and post office, are opposite the old church in Lowther Street. There is also a news room and a subscription library, in the same street. Besides various national and denominational schools, there is a charity called the Marine School near St. James' Church. This was founded in 1817 by Matthew Piper, Esq., a benevolent quaker, who endowed it with £200 five per cent. Navy Funds for the education of sixty poor boys resident in the town and neighbourhood, in reading, writing, arithmetic, gauging, navigation, and book-keeping. The building, completed in 1822, by the munificence of the Earl of Lonsdale in situated in High Street. A boy must be under eight years of age to be admitted, and he must be able to read the New Testament. Pupils may remain five years, but are not compelled to go to sea, although the school is intended to afford such education as shall fit them to become mates and masters of vessels. The Earl of Lonsdale's Schools for the education of the children of his coal miners and other workmen, are held in the old glass house, Ginna. The refuge Day and Sunday Schools in James' Street axe attended by a large number of children and are highly beneficial to the poorer classes.

The principal market is held every Thursday, and is very well supplied, and attended by a large concourse of people, farmers, and others from the country, for many miles round. There are small markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays; but the market houses are far too insignificant for the present town and times. The Custom House is a very plain building, although the establishment has extensive jurisdiction; of late years, however, much curtailed.

The eastern side of the town is very hilly, but is by far the most pleasant, stretching out towards the elevated country behind in handsome terraces of late erection. The Old Town, under the opposite or western hill, on the edge of the harbour, is confined and crowded with narrow alleys and squalid courts. Some of the houses must have stood for several centuries. The story of one, White, a fisherman, of Sandwith, building the first house here in 1592, and calling the place Whitehaven, after his own name, is too ridiculous to call for contradiction. On the contrary, the very fact that the derivation of the name is lost, is a proof, presumptive, of the antiquity of the place. It is said that a house still standing in Quay Street, opposite Hamilton Lane, was once the town residence of the priors of St. Bees. Long after this the same building was used as the Custom House. The priors' gardens and grounds occupied the whole slope of the hill under Mount Pleasant, as it appears by an old map. At the Southern corner of the grounds stood a religious house, said to helong to the Carthusians. This was first converted into a theatre, and afterwards into a chapel, for the followers of the Countess of Huntingdon, and was vulgarly called "The Cacathumpion Meeting House." A wooden bridge here crossed the Poe, at the side of a water-mill, which stood at the bottom of the present Albion- Street. A stone bridge, of three arches, was thrown over the wider part of the stream or estuary, about the bottom of the present Roper Street, so called from a ropery of much later origin. At high tide the Poe was then navigable for boats where houses and shops now stand. But there were erections on its eastern and northern bants. The ancient chapel stood in the street still called Chapel Street; towards the close of the seventeenth century it became too small for the rapidly increasing population. We should have said that Sir John Lowther erected a pier herein 1687, and rendered the harbour capable of accommodating a fleet of one hundred sail. This led to the filling up of the useless part of the haven, and to the confinement of the tidal beck or river which was finally arched over in 1764, in order to enlarge the market place, and improve the street now called James' Street. The old town is connected with Mount Pleasant by steep-flights of steps or stairs ascending the hill side over West Strand. The new town on its south side is in like manner connected with the new houses, those very long high terraces of whitewashed cottages, built by Sir James Lowther, running parallel with New Town. Preston Street and the Ginns, Mount Pleasant, so called with little present propriety, was formerly a distinct suburb belonging chiefly to a Mr. Hogarth, who built that little chapel so conspicuously situated, which is now used as a candle manufactory. It was to have been consecrated on the 20th of August, 1789, by the then Lord Bishop of Chester; but the Earl of Lonsdale, as lay impropriator of St. Bees, prevented the consecration, by putting in a caveat. It was, therefore, let as a Primitive Methodist chapel, and lastly converted to its present vile use. There a great number of the lower classes are quartered and huddled together in squalor and vice too frequently. Yet they are remarkably honest. Crime is almost unknown in Whitehaven. Mount Pleasant was not made a separate parish until sixty years later than the erection of Hogarth's Church, when the "Peel Act" came into operation, and the parish church in Preston Street was built, through the exertions of the present incumbent, the Eev. J. Rimmer, M.D.* It is a neat edifice, in the Norman style of architecture, but very unfavorably situated It was opened for Divine Service in April, 1847; but was not consecrated till the following Autumn.

To return to the more direct history of the town— the etymology of Whitehaven is lost. The tale related of White, a fisherman, we have dismissed as being too absurd to be entertained. The attempt to derive the name from the color of the cliffs is equally ridiculous; there never could have been anything white about those rocks. Had they conferred any cognomen upon the spot, doubtless it would have been Redhaven, and not Whitehaven. Again, there is another childish attempt to derive the name from the ancient Irish, who are supposed to have called it Bo, because it was here, or rather at Barrowmouth,* they procured wyths or withing to construct their coracle or wicker boats. Etymologists are the most fanciful of all men. Another myth makes the Irish to have invaded the place for wood, there being none at home (if you only can believe it,) when they found the inhabitants of Whitehaven and Preston Isle to be once assembled in Whitten or Withenagemott, that is in council, in parliament, or court. This court was, however, held at Corkickle, where there was formerly a Druidical circle; and this very odd name, vulgarly, but more euphonically, pronounced "Corticle," is said to be corrupted of corpse circle. But one conjecture is as good as another, and now we opine that it is derived from the old British CorCeal, the Court of Keekle; this region being so called as well as the neighbouring river. This court, or whitten, would no doubt be held at the sacred circle on Midgy Mount. We are also told that Whitehaven is in old deeds and documents written Whittenhoven, Whitten, Whyttothaven, Whittosthaven, Quitosthaven, Whythophaven, Wythoven, &c. And we may observe that Sandwith is very near. Now Gwyth, in composition Wyth, in the ancient British, signifies a channel or gutter, or watercourse, and Wythoven might be corrupted from Wyth and dofen or doven, deep; signifying the deep gut or gutter.

There is another fact which has never been noticed by those who have endeavoured to trace in the history of Whitehaven, namely, that we have a great many places styled white, as Whitehouse, Whitehall. Whitechamber, Whitelands, Whitechurch, Whitby, Whitworth, and Whiteainhouse. Many of these are black enough. Again, it is to be observed, that most, if not all, of these once belonged to some monastic establishment or other, and were held by the monks free, or quit of all charges, rent, tithe, or services, They had these as it were in carte blanche. Just so our Whitehaven* was held by the monks of St. Bees, through the gift of that great feudal lord, William de Meschines. There was formerly a sort of Piazza on the shore of the beach, used as a fish market in olden time, and here the priors of St. Bees were said to have been accustomed to take their tithe of all fish caught on this coast. A very ancient building called the "Old Hall of Whitehaven" once stood near the square called "Old Town," and was long used as Dunn's Printing Offices. Some of the houses in Lower Queen Street are also of long standing. The monks had salt works here in Norman times, and some of the forces of Henry the First employed in the conquest of Ireland, were said to have sailed from Whitehaven. Those who doubt the antiquity of the place, lay great stress on the fact that Camden in his great work on Britain does not mention "Whitehaven, although he personally visited St. Bees, Moresby, Hay Castle, &c. Nevertheless, "Whitehaven is marked in his map of Cumberland, and we know well that he cared for nothing but antiquities—Ancient British, Roman, Monastic, or military remains. Had he known of the Druidical relic then standing at Corkickle he doubtless would have made it his special business to visit Whitehaven. In like manner he has no mention of hundreds of other places and antiquities. Although "Whitehaven was very ancient, it was still but a fishing village, salt pan, and Creek. The demand for fish probably fell with the dissolution of the monasteries, and the spread of protestant habits. In 1566, the 8th of Elizabeth, it is said that there were only six fishermens' huts at Whitehaven, and one small ship of nine tons burden. There is, however, no evidence that there were no more houses. Doubtless the old chapel must have been then standing, the Prior's house might have been desolate. Again it has been said that in 1633, nine or ten thatched houses constituted the whole town; this also requires proof. After all it is undeniable that Whitehaven owes its origin as a seaport and town of importance to the Lowther family. Sir Christopher Lowther, second son of Sir John Lowther, of Lowther, and first baronet of the Whitehaven creation, who died 1644, got possession of the lands of the dissolved monastery of St. Bees. He built a mansion at Whitehaven, at the foot of the hill on the west side of the creek, on the very site now occupied by the pumping machine belonging to the sewage works. He was the first of the Lowthers connected with this place. But that he was not the first to discover coal here is evident from the fact that one of the benefactions of the school, about the year 1585, granted permission to the governors to work and remove a certain quantity of coal for school purposes. Since the coal crops out into daylight in so many places to the south of the town, men must have long speculated upon the subject of mining here. Sir Christopher was succeeded by his son Sir John Lowther, who first began to work the mines, about the beginning of the reign of Charles the Second. He built a fresh residence, on the east side of the town, at a place called the Flat, the site of the present castle. About the year 1678, Sir John obtained from the Crown, all the coast lands, for two miles north of Whitehaven. From this time the place began to assume importance, and throve so rapidly that in 1685 there were forty six ships belonging to the port whose aggregate tonnage was 1871 tons. The smallest called the Content was only 12 tons burthen, and the largest called the .Resolution, 94 tons. She was commanded by Capt. Kelsick, and had made several voyages to America.

The old chapel became too small for the rapidly' increasing population, and through the united contributions of Sir John Lowther and the inhabitants, St. Nicholas Church was built to accommodate 450 families or 2272 inhabitants. It was consecrated on the 16th of July, 1693. This church which cost £1066 16s. 2£d., was then greatly admired as a handsome edifice. In addition to some paintings by a local celebrity of considerable talent, this church has a very fine toned organ, built in 1756, by Swetzler, a German who, according to tradition, was shipwrecked here, and was so addicted to drink that he consumed all his stipulated remuneration whilst he was constructing the instrument. Externally this church is unworthy of the fine street in which it stands, but internally it is a very comfortable place of worship. The Earl of Lonsdale has an elaborately carved pew with an ingenious device, or monogram of the name Lowther. The present incumbent is the Rev. W. P. Wicks. In 1704 the first house in the Ginns was built. This place soon became a colliery village, and was then quite separate from the Town. It derives its name from the ginns or whimseys then used to wind coal from the pits. And here the first steam engine ever employed in mining operations is said to have been set up, in the building now converted into the Colliers' Heading Room. There was another important colliery at Howgill,* on the way to the present cemetery, from which upwards of 80,000 tons of coal used to be annually exported; indeed the whole town and its environs are completely undermined by a multitude of pits now closed or exhausted. These mines were first drained by levels discharging themselves into the "syke," or rivulet called the Poe Beck.-)- Lower drivings, called bearmouths, communicate with the present workings, down which the men and horses walk. At one time the coal was carried in sacks to the ships on the backs of Galloway ponies. This primitive way of doing business was improved upon by the formation of tramways. The first of these early railways was laid down from the Parker Pit, just under that village which stands an the top of the western brow, called Arrowthwaite, down to the South Harbour. There were also mines on the eastern side of the valley, up at Harras Moor, and away in the direction of Ennerdale. All these are exhausted or abandoned. The Duke Pit, in Mount Pleasant, is immediately connected with the Wellington. The present workings are the Croft, Wellington, and William Pits, being chiefly deep drivings under the Solway, and are among the most extensive and wonderful mines in this kingdom. They are better ventilated and less troubled with water and gas than most subterranean works. When the miners go down they have to walk three or four miles under the bed of the sea to reach their working places. For very many years Whitehaven ruled supreme in the Dublin coal market, but Maryport has long since been doing far more business in the Liny.

In 1715, when Trinity Church* was built, the town consisted of 800 families, or about 4,000 inhabitants. The first poor house was built in 1743. St. James's Church was built and consecrated in 1752, the present incumbent of which is the Eev. T. E. Holme, M.A.

In 1755 Sir James Lowther greatly extended the mines, and, with this view, his mining engineer, Mr. Spedding, went to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in order to make himself acquainted with all the improved methods of coal mining, for which that place was then celebrated. It was the policy of those times to keep all their inventions as secret as possible, and Mr. Spedding found it necessary to proceed incog. He arrayed himself in the costume of a common collier, and so obtained employment. After a while, however, his intelligence and curiosity betrayed him, and he found it necessary to disappear; but not before he had, in a great measure, obtained his object. He was himself possessed of considerable inventive genius. Among other contrivances he introduced the steel wheel, which, by the emission of a sort of halo of sparks, produced by the friction of the wheel upon a flint stone, afforded a dim light without causing the gas or damp to explode. This wheel was turned by a boy or girl, for women then worked down the pits like men. The safety lamps superseded this wheel.' He was, however, killed in 1765, by an explosion in these mines.

Until the year 1762 the town was divided into two parts by the tidal beck. The manufacture of sailcloth and cordage, &c., began about this time. In 1769 the Theatre was built by subscription. The north wall of the Harbour was commenced in 1770, but was not finished until 1786. In 1776, according to Pennant, Whitehaven had a population of 12,000 inhabitants. A list of ships printed in 1772, enumerates 5 ships as belonging to Parton, 12 to Harrington, 97 to Workington, and 197 to Whitehaven.

In 1774, Oct. 24th, the "Cumberland Pacquet" began to be published here as a weekly newspaper. In 1778 the notorious Paul Jones landed at "Whitehaven, and set some of the ships which lay in the harbour on fire; but the flames were soon extinguished, and the invader hastened his departure. He was then in command of an American privateer called the "Eanger," carrying 18 6-pounders and 6 swivels, which had been equipped for this expedition at Nantes. He was a native of Galloway, and had served his apprenticeship in a vessel belonging to Whitehaven. He landed early on the 23rd of April, and set fire to three ships, there being at that time about 200 vessels lying in the harbour; but he was betrayed by one of his crew, who escaped into the town and alarmed the inhabitants. Having spiked all the guns in the battery Jones put to sea, and then made a descent upon the coast of Galloway and plundered the seat of the Earl of Selkirk. This daring attempt of Jones upon Whitehaven created great excitement at the time, and means were speedily taken for the defence of the place by the erection of batteries on each side of the harbour. Another catastrophe took place here in January, 1791. An alarming subsidence of the ground began on Monday the 31st, in the garden of Mr. H. Littledale, in Duke Street. This was accompanied with the noise of subterranean waters. At the same time the ground sank in another garden behind Scotch Street, and the burial ground behind the Baptist Chapel in Charles Street. This created great alarm. It was evident that the catastrophe proceeded from the falling in of one of the old coal workings. At the time a great quantity of water rushed into the working pits. Two men, one woman, and five horses were drowned. On a Wednesday evening there was another alarming subsidence of the ground in several other places. It appeared that all this was caused by a miner in a new drift striking into a drowned waste, or old working. Several men were saved by remaining in their workings until the water ran off, which it did in about two hours. The number of houses which were, in a manner, demolished, proved to be eighteen, including Mr. H. Littledale's, and from sixty to eighty families deserted that part of the town. The pavement in George Street was cracked in many places. Skilful miners examined so much of the old workings as were accessible, and reported that no further danger was to be apprehended, and thus allayed the public alarm. A sudden subsidence of a spot on the highway, by the old workhouse at Howgill, took place only a few months back. The original workhouse, built 1743, was in Scotch Street.

In 1781 the town was lighted with oil lamps. Here are now two gasworks. About this time the Dispensary was established, and its first annual report was issued in 1782. In the month of October, 1785, Sunday Schools were commenced. The various denominations of Dissenters began to gather congregations here about the middle of this century. The Countess of Huntingdon's Connection,* in time, became merged into the Independent body. Presbyterianism originated with, settlers from the north of Ireland. In 1795 there were many chapels at Whitehaven: 2 Presbyterian; 1 Quaker's; 1 Baptist; 1 Glassite; 1 Sandemanian, and 1 Roman Catholic chapel. The Wesleyan Methodists sprang up about this time. In 1786 the first bank was opened here by Messrs. Hartley, Littledale, and Potter. A second bank was established in 1793 by Messrs. Harrison, Hamilton, Sargeant, Moore and Co. In 1790 the number of vessels belonging to the port of Whitehaven was 216, Harrington 26, Workington 116. Whitehaven was made an independent port in the reign of Charles the Second, when the first Custom House was opened here.

The Scotch or Presbyterian Chapel, in James Street, commonly called the "low meeting," to distinguish it from the "high meeting," in the other side of the town, was originally built as early as 1695, about a century before the Independent Chapel in Duke Street, which was first erected in 1793. The United Presbyterians have an old chapel and burying ground in High Street. The old Roman Catholic Chapel, in Duke Street, was first built in 1780; that in the Coach Road in 1834. Full two-thirds of the coal miners belong to the Roman church, and are the descendants of settlers from Ireland. Indeed, Ireland has always been the great consumer of Whitehaven coal. Their new church has been mentioned already. The Wesley an Methodists commenced here about 1780-5. They re-built Michael Street Chapel in 1818. Catherine Street Chapel was built in 1836 by the Associated Methodists. The Society of Friends, vulgarly called Quakers, were once very numerous and wealthy, and have still a meeting house in Sandhills Lane. There are two denominations of Baptists, one having a chapel in Charles Street, re-built in 1842: those are the original Baptists. The other body assemble in Gore's Buildings. There is also a small connection called Birdites, who are peculiar to Whitehaven, and meet in the Old Guinea Warehouse. They are followers of the late Rev. George Bird, a seceder from the Church of England. The Plymouth Brethren meet in the same pile of Buildings. The Primitive Methodists have a Chapel in Howgill Street, and meetings at West Strand and Mount Pleasant. There is also a Sailors' Bethel in Strand Street.

The manufactures of Copperas and Glass, once considerable, have been long abandoned; but that of Earthenware continues. Mr. Wilkinson employs a great number of hands, male and female, in the manufacture of the finer kinds of ware. Others have smaller works producing coarse brown ware. The manufacture of sail-cloth, formerly extensive, is now confined to two mills, one near St. James' church, and the other in the suburb of Hensingham. There is also something done in iron founding, and the minor manufactures. Whitehaven, of late years, has suffered from the general depression of trade, but has felt less than most other towns from commercial distress Very many have made fortunes or competencies here in years gone by, and the construction of a Wet Dock will, no doubt, increase the trade of the Port. In 1793, the town was incorporated as to all matters relative to parochial concerns. In the 7th and 11th of Queen Anne, two Acts of Parliament were passed, incorporating twenty-one trustees of the harbour and town of Whitehaven, with power to levy duties for building quays, piers, &a. Several other acts, extending their power, have been since passed. Their jurisdiction extends from the Old Quay to Redness Point.

The Reform Act of 1832 conferred upon Whitehaven the privilege of returning one member to parliament. The present representative is G. C. Bentinck, Esq.

The Whitehaven Poor Law Union comprises twenty three parishes and townships, viz. :—Whitehaven, Preston Quarter, Herssingham, Rottington, St. Bees, Sandwith, Weddicar, Parton, Moresby, Lamplugh, Harrington, Distington, Arlecdon, Cleator, Ennerdale, and Kinniside; Lowside Quarter, Nether Wasdale, Ponsonby, St. Bridgets, St. John, and Egremont, and is represented by thirty-two guardians, and all the magistrates ex-officio.

The Whitehaven and Maryport Railway was opened in 1847. This line affords the passenger an uninterrupted view of the Solway for twelve miles. The Furness Junction Railway is forty-two miles in length, and commands some splendid views. There is a tunnel running under the Castle Park from Bransty to Corkcicle. This line traverses the valley of St. Bees, as we have noticed under that district. Along this route we shall proceed to Ravenglass.

The antiquary will not, however, leave Whitehaven without paying a visit to the old Roman encampment, at Moresby, supposed to be the Latin Morbia, where many Roman coins, an altar, &c, were discovered not many years since. This was an important military post for the defence of the north-western frontier of the province, commanding a fine view of the Frith. The country behind, then, was one dense forest. The churchyard is partly within the ancient camp. The village of Parton lies down on the shore below. It was once a small seaport, but, in 1795, an extraordinary high tide washed away the quay, &o. The country towards Distington and Harrington is very picturesque. There is now only an ivy-mantled fragment of Hay Castle left, overhanging a mill-dam. It stands upon a mound raised at the extremity of a diluvial ridge. There is, in the neighbourhood, a museum, worth a visit, haying a fair collection of natural and antique curiosities.

John Williams, 1869.


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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