Railway Handbook, 1852

The following Work has been undertaken chiefly with a view of affording an historical and descriptive ac count of some of the more noteworthy places in the near neighbourhood of the Whitehaven and Furness Railway. This railway — traversing, as it does, the western margin of a tract of country so well known as the Lake District, and passing within a few miles of the giant Scawfell, the central monarch of the region — might indeed enumerate, as comprised within a short circuit, all the crowning glories of our northern clime, from Peel Wyke on Bassenthwaite to Newby Bridge on Windermere. There is no lack of " Guides," to whose direction those who are desirous of exploring the whole of the sublime and beautiful scenery of the English Lakes may be safely intrusted. Our object is merely to supply what, in consequence of the changes recently effected by railway travelling in the approaches to this district, has become a desideratum ; — to point out the routes by which the greatly increased number of tourists and others, who may now be confidently expected to avail themselves of the additional facilities at their command, may arrive at various interesting portions of the district ; — and to give brief descriptions of several places, all within an easy distance of the railway we have taken as our starting point, which have hitherto, owing to the difficulty of approaching them, been much less frequented, notwithstanding their almost unrivalled attractions, than they will now unquestionably be.

We shall, in the first place, briefly glance at the general features of the railway, and some of the elements of its present and prospective traffic The line was commenced in the early part of 1847, and opened throughout on the 1st of November, 1850. It extends from Whitehaven to Broughton-in-Furness, a distance of thirty-five miles. At one extremity of the line are the extensive collieries of the Earl of Lonsdale, which are amongst the most remarkable mines in the world, being sunk to a great depth, and wrought to a considerable distance under the bed of the sea. Bordering the line throughout, lies a most fertile and well cultivated country, and along the southern portion is a copious supply of water power, which, in all probability, will by-and-by be used for manufacturing purposes; while, in the same portion, are unmistakable indications of iron, cobalt, and copper, which in several places have been worked with every prospect of success. It may be stated here, that the Corney Hills, lying parallel with and at no great distance from the railway, about half way between the termini, exhibit abundant proofs of their containing a large supply of cobalt ; and it is very desirable that public attention should be drawn to this fact, with a view to these mineral treasures being explored. At the other extremity are the apparently inexhaustible mines of Furness, which have been wrought since the times of the Romans, and are now supplying their valuable treasures in greater abundance than ever.

Nor must we forget the Slate Quarries of Kirkby, Ulpha, and Coniston, and the Coniston Copper Mines, all within a short distance of the southern terminus. Within a few miles of the line, lies the rich mineral district of Cleator. This will, doubtless, erelong be connected by a Branch Railway. There are three smelting furnaces here ; and now that coal and coke are so accessible by means of the railway, several are, it is understood, about to be erected in Furness. It may be remarked, that the mineral for which the districts of Cleator and Furness are famed, is the red hematite iron ore, which is found so valuable for mixing with the iron-stones of Wales, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, &c. The smelting furnaces at Cleator are used for smelting the hematite ore alone, without admixture with the poorer iron-stones, and are, we believe, the only furnaces in the kingdom used for such a purpose. The iron manufactured at them is of a very superior quality, and admirably adapted for railway or other purposes, where great strength and toughness is required. Lime, too, is put upon the line at various points in its course, and at nearly all the stations (of which there are four teen) are depots for the sale of coals and lime, and manure from the Town of Whitehaven. This accommodation, we need scarcely say, has already been productive of great advantage to the public.

At Broughton the line joins the Furness Railway, which extends about fifteen miles to the ports of Piel and Barrow (passing closely the far-famed ruins of Furness Abbey), with a branch towards Ulverston. This branch is now open as far as Lindal, and will erelong be extended to Ulverston, the works being now rapidly approaching towards completion. An extension line is likewise in progress of construction, which will connect this line of railway with the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway, a few miles north of the former place. In the meantime the southern railways are reached by each of four several routes, viz. — from Piel, by a steam-boat in connection with the trains, across the Bay of Morecambe (a sail of a little more than an hour) to Fleetwood ; 2dly, by coach from Ulverston to the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway at Milnthorpe ; 3dly, by a coach from Broughton, passing through Ambleside to the Windermere Station of the Kendal and Windermere Railway ; and lastly, by a steam-boat from Piel to Poulton-le-Sands or Morecambe, as it is now called, to which place a branch railway of three miles in length is now laid from Lancaster. From Whitehaven there is a continuous line of rail northwards to Cockermouth, Maryport, Carlisle, Newcastle, Glasgow, &c, and a regular communication by steam-vessels with Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man ; and when the extension above alluded to has been effected, there will no doubt be a vast interchange of commodities between Scotland, the North of Ireland, West Cumberland, and the manufacturing districts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, by this route. It is expected, too, that the mails to and from the North of Ireland will be carried by way of Whitehaven. There is at present no railway communication through the town of Whitehaven, connecting the northern with the southern lines, but this defect is now about to be sup plied, and a line of communication, including a tunnel of rather more than 1300 yards in length, is at present in course of construction, and is expected to be completed in the course of the present year. It is also in agitation to connect the railway with the harbour by a tramway.

The Whitehaven and Furness Junction Railway may be considered as one of the iron boundary lines, or " besieging parallels," drawn around the Lakes of Cumberland and Westmorland, from the various points of which excursions may be made into the interior. Every tourist will, of course, be guided by circumstances, and it is therefore impossible to lay down any particular routes that will be equally eligible to all. We shall merely suggest a few heads of information, which, we trust, will be of service in enabling the reader to make his choice. We have shown how Whitehaven is approached from the north, and shall now undertake, after giving a brief description of the town and neighbourhood, to conduct the traveller to the various points of interest to which his best course is by the railway. Many of these places are well worthy of a visit for themselves alone ; and we expect that many, who have no intention of making a complete Tour of the Lakes, will profit by our descriptions of those various nooks of beauty among which we shall travel. We do not write for the distant traveller alone, but for those as well, at our very doors it may be said, who have now an opportunity which they have been hitherto denied, of easy and cheap access to many scenes which will well repay them for the trouble of visiting them, and to which they will again and again return with ever increasing pleasure. At the same time, any Tour of the Lakes would be very far from complete, that did not include most if not all of the objects we shall have to enumerate ; and it will be seen, that this line furnishes an important link in the various stages by which the Tour may be made, each terminus having regular and inexpensive conveyances to the very heart of the district.

WHITEHAVEN is undoubtedly the most important seaport in Cumberland, and in point of population ranks next after Carlisle, containing, with its suburbs, nearly 20,000 inhabitants. It is situate within a small bay on the western coast, and enclosed on the north and south by lofty green hills, which present a bold and rocky front to seaward, while in the east stretches away the long and lovely valley of St. Bees. This situation aftbrds a combination of the useful and the agreeable, and renders the town well sheltered and remarkably salubrious. From the heights on either side the whole of the town and harbour lies spread like a map before the spectator; and the views of the sea, the Isle of Man, the Scottish Mountains, and the interior of the country, are of the most interesting and extensive description. With respect to the name of the place, we shall leave the etymologists to settle its derivation, and decide whether it was given on account of the colour of the rocks on the adjoining shore, or the name of the fisherman who first set up his tabernacle here.

We shall only observe, that as applied to the present "haven," the epithet "white" is a huge misnomer a sort of lucus a non lucendo designation, as will be evident to every one who is aware of the fact, that the principal article of exportation is coal. Of the history of Whitehaven little is known with certainty prior to the early part of the seventeenth century. There is no doubt, however, that the site of the town and the adjacent hills were formerly covered by a forest, and that previous to the erection of the castle, some ancient ruins, probably of Druidical origin, stood upon part of the ground it occupies. One of the large stones composing this ruin, is still to be seen on the side of the road adjoining the gardens of Hensingham House, about a mile and a half from Whitehaven, and a remnant of the old forest is yet visible near Corkickle. The following facts, too, have been collected from ancient historical documents, that the Irish were in the habit, during the tenth century, of resorting to this neighbourhood for the supply of wood, of which to make their coracles or wicker boats, and domestic utensils ; and that in the reign of Elizabeth, when the sea-ports were called upon to furnish their quota of ships for the resistance of the Spanish Armada, Wythop-haven, or Witten-haven, as it was then called, contributed the magnificent force of one vessel, called the "Bee," of about nine tons burden, which was then the largest ship in Cumberland. All the lands in this neighbour hood appear to have belonged to the priory of St. Bees, and the nucleus of the present town was, in all probability, a fishing village established by that community- In the year 1566, as appears from a survey then taken, "the creek of Whitehaven contained six fishermen's huts and one small vessel, sufficient," as the historian observes, to supply the religious society of St. Bees with fish, salt, and other articles of their diet."

Had the members of this society still continued masters of this place, it is possible that its trade might long have been restrained within very narrow limits, as they are known to have looked with an unfriendly eye on all commercial enterprise ; but after the dissolution of the monasteries, all these lands came into the possession of Sir Christopher Lowther, who settled here, and built a mansion under the rocks at the south-west of the town. This mansion, and some other buildings in the same neighbourhood, which would then be the veri table "west end" of Whitehaven, are now standing evidences of the instability of all human affairs. The tide of fashion, unlike the tide of empire, flowed east ward ; Sir John Lowther, son of Sir Christopher, who succeeded his father in 1644, built a new house at the Flatt, the commencement of the present castle, and the once aristocratic quarter of the "West Strand" has now sadly degenerated.

From an old print, entitled " The South-east Prospect of Whitehaven in the year 1642," it appears that the town contained then about forty houses and a small chapel (from which Chapel Street derives its name), which was replaced by the present chapel of St. Nicholas, about fifty years afterwards. This print exhibits a few pack-horses entering the town by a rough and partly grass-grown road ; these horses and their driver, who have all the appearance of being almost overcome by fatigue, having probably come from Kendal, the only highway from which place to Whitehaven, was then over the rugged steeps of Hardknott and Wrynose, now seldom trodden, except by the solitary shepherd or the lake tourist.

About the year 1666, Sir John Lowther obtained from Charles the Second a grant of "all the derelict land at this place, which yet remained in the Crown," and in 1678 " all the lands for about two miles north wards, between high and low water mark, an extent of about 150 acres." A pier was built before 1687, and the working of the coal mines was commenced and carried on in good earnest. In 1693 the inhabitants amounted to 2272, and in 1715 to nearly double that number.

Sir James Lowther, son and heir of Sir John, carried on the great work of his father with such spirit and success, as to realize an income, from his coal works, &c, at Whitehaven, of £16,000 per annum, being nearly eleven times as much as that of his grandfather, Sir Christopher, from the same source. The following extract from a poem, by Dr. Dalton, will serve to show the rapid increase of the place in the early part of last century : —
"Where late along the naked strand, The fisher's cot did lonely stand, And his poor hark unshelter'd lay, Of every swelling surge the prey; Now lofty piers their arms extend, And with their strong embraces bend Round crowded fleets, which safe defy All storms that rend the wintry sky ; And bulwarks beyond bulwarks chain The fury of the roaring main; The peopled vale fair dwellings fill, And lengthening streets ascend the hill."
Since the time of Sir James Lowther, the port has steadily and progressively risen, under the fostering influence of his successors, to its present rank and importance. It may interest the local reader to be told a few of the changes which have been effected in the town within the last hundred years. From a bird's eye view of Whitehaven from the north-east, bearing the date 1738, and taken by Matthias Reed (a Dutch artist, who came over with King William III. into Ireland, and afterwards settled and made a fortune here, and who painted the altarpiece in St. Nicholas and Trinity Chapels, &c), it appears that there were then only three piers in the harbour — the old quay, the old tongue, and the bulwark, then called " The Mole." George Street was a ropewalk, and not a single house was built above it. Most of the houses had gardens or yards behind them. The Ginns was comprised in a small cluster of houses surrounding the engine-house, and the New Houses are no where visible. The Flatt Hall or Castle was a square mass of building, and the road to the south led behind it by way of Duke Street. Trinity Church bore the name of George's Chapel, and where the Colliery Office now stands, was an Almshouse for poor colliers and their widows. In place of the present Market House, stood the Market Cross, one of the pillars composing which we observed, the other day, lying near the foot of the incline at the end of the Old Quay.

One of the principal historical events connected with Whitehaven, is the daring attempt of Paul Jones to set fire to the shipping in the harbour in 1778. This desperado, who served his apprenticeship in a vessel belonging to the port, fitted out an American privateer for this express purpose, it is stated, and landed here with a force of about thirty armed men. They had succeeded in setting fire to three vessels, and spiking the guns of the battery to the south of the harbour, when the inhabitants, who had been alarmed by one of Paul's men who deserted his comrades, mustered in self-defence.

On their appearance the marauders took to their boats, and the townsmen having cleared some of the guns, fired several shots after the fugitives, which were seen to strike the water between the boats, but did not take effect. This reckless crew having been thus defeated in their treacherous attempt, stood over to the opposite coast of Scotland, and plundered the mansion of the Earl of Selkirk, near Kirkcudbright. In consequence of this event, the batteries were soon after strengthened and enlarged, and the total number of guns was in creased to ninety-eight, amongst which were twelve forty-two pounders, and eighteen thirty-six pounders. Some of these iron monsters are still to be seen, in a state of " inglorious ease," in the Old Fort, at the en trance to the New Quay ; and occasionally one is met with, serving the unwarlike and unpoetical purpose of a post, being fixed muzzle downwards in the ground, as a protection to the footpath at a street corner. Another remarkable occurrence happened in the early part of 1791. A shrinking of the ground took place in Scotch Street, Duke Street, and other parts of the town, owing to the falling in of some of the old coal works. This accident was ascribed to one of the workmen, in a new drift, having inadvertently struck into a drowned waste or old working ; and it after wards appeared that a great discharge of water had flowed into the working pits, and that two men and a woman, and five horses, then at work in them, had lost their lives in consequence. No less than eighteen houses were more or less injured, the furniture in two of them having been totally destroyed.

Having said so much respecting Whitehaven as it has been, let us take a glance at its present condition. The first thing that attracts the attention of the stranger is the regularity of the streets, which are mostly situated at right angles with each other, thus tending greatly to facilitate the despatch of business. The houses are built of stone, and the majority of them have a neat, substantial, and comfortable appearance. Lowther Street may be particularly instanced as containing a great variety of architectural beauties. King Street is the principal business street ; and the improvement in the exterior of most of the places of business here, as well as in other parts of the town, has been very marked of late years. The principal hotels at present are the Globe, the Black Lion, the Golden Lion, and the Albion. The Lonsdale Hotel at Bransty, near the proposed joint station of the two railways, is a large, handsome, and commodious edifice, and forms one of the principal architectural ornaments of the town. On the completion of the line it will afford first-rate accommodation to travellers, being fitted up internally with every attention to convenience, but it has not yet been occupied. There are four churches of the Establishment, and a considerable number of dissenting places of worship ; several literary and charitable institutions, amongst which the Subscription Library, the News Room, the Mechanics Institution, and the Infirmary, may be noticed; also two National Schools, a Marine, a British, and an Infant School, and a large number of private academies. In the vicinity of the town, at Lonsdale Place, Floraville, Waterloo Terrace, &c., are many genteel mansions, inhabited principally by individuals who have retired from business. The Castle, which is one of the seats of the Eight Honour able the Earl of Lonsdale, stands at the head of Lowther Street, and has some fine woods and ornamental gardens around it. In the entrance-hall are two Roman altars, one found at Ellenborough, near Maryport, about 300 years ago, and said to be the largest hither to discovered in Britain, being five feet in height ; and the other found at Moresby (where was a Roman station, about two miles north of Whitehaven), by the Rev. George Wilkinson, B.D., now incumbent of Whicham, who presented it to the noble Earl. Both these altars contain Latin inscriptions. The number of houses in the town and suburbs is 4150, of the estimated annual rental of £36,820, and the number of streets, lanes, and courts, is about 180. The town was first lighted with gas in 1831, having been lighted with oil lamps from 1781 up to that time. By the way, the discovery of gas lights is attributed to Mr. Carlyle Spedding of Whitehaven, colliery agent to Sir James Lowther, who, in 1765, conducted the gas from the pits, by pipes, into his office, for the purpose of lighting it, and offered to light the town with gas ; but, we presume, the trustees of that day were not prepared to take the lead in so novel an undertaking. Their successors in the government of the town have, within the last twelve months, conferred an inestimable boon upon the inhabitants, by furnishing them with an abundant supply of most excellent water from Ennerdale Lake - the water being conducted in pipes, laid underground for a distance of about ten miles.

The principal manufactures carried on in Whitehaven are those connected with maritime affairs, as sailcloth weaving, rope making, anchor and cable making, &c.

There are also manufactories of coarse linens, checks, iron goods, and earthenware. The potteries are situate at the Grinns, and are well worthy of a visit. Nearly 150 people are regularly employed in them. At Lowca, about a mile to the north of the town, are the iron and engine works of Messrs. Tulk & Ley, at which some of the largest locomotives in the kingdom have been constructed. Shipbuilding is carried on to a large extent ; and the vessels built here are universally celebrated for their strength, durability, and good sailing properties. At the time we write, there is a greater extent of shipping on the stocks, in the various building yards, than at any one time in the previous history of the port.

The number of vessels belonging to the port in 1850 was 220, of an aggregate tonnage of 35,000, of which 20,000 were employed in the foreign and 15,000 in the home trade. Until recently, Maryport and Workington were reckoned within the limits.

The harbour is one of the largest and most commodious pier harbours in the kingdom. It is protected by two massive outer piers, called, respectively, the North and New West Piers, the latter of which extends upwards of 300 yards into the sea, and was built at an expense of about £100,000. Both these piers afford marine walks of the most delightful kind. Enclosed within them are six smaller piers or quays. Those at the north and south are principally used for the exportation of coals, which, on the north, are brought from the collieries, on a waggon-way laid on the level of the quay ; while on the south, in consequence of the greater elevation of the land on that side, the waggons, having arrived from the various collieries by a series of inclined planes and tramways, are brought across the quay, at a considerable height above it, on neat iron hurries, from the end of which the coals are dropped through sloping spouts or troughs into the vessels. In a time of pressing demand, 1500 tons of coals have been known to be shipped daily.

There is a considerable trade with the West Indies, America, and various other parts of the world ; and a large quantity of iron ore is annually shipped for Staffordshire and Wales. Livestock and agricultural produce are also exported to Liverpool, Belfast, and other places. There are likewise consider able imports by steam vessels from Belfast, &c The coal mines as we have before stated, are amongst the most wonderful underground works in the known world. Some of the pits, of which there are several on each side of the town, are sunk to a depth of 150 fathoms, and the mines have assumed the appearance of a subterranean city, extending under the whole of the town, and for several miles around it. Several of the shafts which were the first opened, as the Whingill or George's Pit, from which a waggon way was made over " Bransty Arch" to the harbour, and Parker Pit, near Harrowthwaite, from which the first iron railway made in England was laid, are now closed, and have been replaced by others, the most recent of which is the " Wellington Pit," whose castellated walls and towers have such an imposing appearance on the south west of the harbour.

There are five or six tunnels, by which horses are conveyed into the workings, where many of them continue for years. On being occasionally restored to the light of day, they are almost invariably found to be blind. We have not space for a full description of these mines, and the mode of working them ; suffice it to say, that the number of men constantly employed in them is nearly 1300, and that the roof is supported by huge pillars left standing by the excavators, or " haggers " as they are called, a much larger bulk being suffered to remain than that which is taken away. The quaint old building at the head of the Ginns, is the Engine-house, where water is drawn out of one portion of the mines by steam power, and being heated, on its arrival at the surface, and run off into a reservoir, it furnishes a seasonable supply to the denizens of that neighbourhood on washing days. It was here that the second engine of the kind ever made in England was erected by Sir James Lowther, he having purchased the materials from one of the London water companies, and brought them by sea to Whitehaven.

In 1794, and we know not for how long a period subsequent to that date, there were carriers to and from Workington, Maryport, Cockermouth, and Egremont, three times a-week ; Carlisle and Wigton once ; Harrington, St. Bees, Keswick, Kendal, and Penrith, twice ; Ulverston and Broughton, once. By their correspondence in their different journeys, goods were received (by land) twice a-week from London, Birmingham, &c, and there was a diligence once a-week between Carlisle and this place. This would, no doubt, be considered excellent accommodation at that day, and when compared with the systems of conveyance generally prevailing at the period referred to, is indicative of a high state of prosperity. When we consider the greatly increased means of communication now afforded by the two railways, and that the advantages of a speedy, regular, and frequent mode of locomotion are found, invariably, not only to follow but to pro mote commercial enterprise and success—the demand for, and the possession of, these advantages, reciprocally acting on each other—we feel justified in drawing the conclusion, that Whitehaven has not only greatly improved in the course of the former half of the present century, but that it is destined, in all human probability, to still greater improvement for the future.

Before entering upon a description of the railway, it may be mentioned, that an excursion to Ennerdale may be more conveniently made from Whitehaven than from any other of the outposts of the lake district. The road leads through the pleasant and thriving village of Hensingham — the birth-place of Archbishop Grindal—and close past the Cleator Iron Works, to which allusion has already been made. About eight miles from Whitehaven is the village of Ennerdale Bridge, containing a chapel and two small inns. The chapel-yard is the scene of Words worth's poem of " The Brothers," where, he says —
"Is neither epitaph, nor monument, Tombstone nor name; only the turf we tread, And a few natural graves."
The foot of the lake is only a mile beyond the village. The Angler's Inn or Boat House, noted for the excellence of its entertainment, stands upon the western shore, and commands an admirable prospect of the water and the surrounding mountains. The accompanying view is taken from the front of this inn. The principal eminences on the left, are Herdhouse and Bowness Knot. From the summit of Red Pike, which adjoins Herdhouse, the five lakes of Ennerdale, Loweswater, Crummock, Buttermere, and Derwentwater, can be seen. The Steeple occupies the centre of the picture, and to the left towers the Pillar, so called from the appearance of a huge projecting rock upon its side :—
"You see yon precipice ; it wears the shape Of a vast building made of many crags, And in the midst is one particular rock, That rises like a column from the vale, Whence by our shepherds it is called the Pillar." Wordsworth.
This rock was thought to be inaccessible until the year 1828, when an adventurous shepherd clambered to the summit. Since then it has been several times ascended. The prospect from the top of the mountain, which stands 2893 feet above the level of the sea, is extremely noble. On the right of our view are seen Iron Crag and the picturesque " Angling Stone," which latter has evidently been detached from the higher grounds by a landslip. The effects of the slip have extended to the opposite side of the lake, the water being here comparatively shallow across its whole breadth, and a small rocky islet appearing at one place above the surface.

The lake is about two and a half miles in length, and three-quarters of a mile broad. A small estate, called Gillerthwaite, lies at the upper extremity, looking like an oasis amid the barren hills that surround it. The river Liza flows through it, on its way from the Great Gable, about five miles above.
"A mountain valley in its blessed breast Receives the stream, which there delights to lie, Untroubled and at rest, Beneath the untainted sky, Till in the quiet lake it seems to sleep."
Ennerdale is completely enclosed by lofty hills on every side except that by which we have entered.

These hills anciently formed part of the royal manor and forest of Copeland. The remains of smelting furnaces, of which no other record exists, are visible on both sides of the lake; and many interesting facts might be related respecting this charming locality, but we have not time to linger, and must now hasten back and commence our projected journey along the railway. Let us then suppose ourselves comfortably seated in one of the Company's carriages about to leave their station in Preston Street. After proceeding about a quarter of a mile, and passing Corkickle on our left, and the populous suburbs of Ginns and New Houses, with the village of Harrowthwaite overlooking them, on the right, we find ourselves advancing along the meadows, about midway between the two ranges of hills that enclose the valley of St. Bees; that upon the left being beautified by numerous genteel mansions and well kept gardens, and the opposite one presenting a bold and waving outline, and prettily interspersed with woody glens and neat enclosures.

Between us and the latter runs the rivulet Poe, locally called Poe Beck, concealed within its deep channel, and soon afterwards conducted by arched work underneath the town to the harbour. This rivulet has its rise about midway between St. Bees and Whitehaven ; and another stream, bearing the same name, rises near the same point, and flows in a contrary direction into the sea at St. Bees. This fact, which proves that the vale is highest in the centre, is used as one of the arguments, to prove that the sea once flowed through the valley we are now traversing. It is mentioned, as likewise countenancing this supposition, that an anchor was discovered, imbedded in the soil, a few years ago, and that the high grounds between the valley and the sea are called, in ancient deeds, the "Isle of Preston." We are also told, that the geological features of the place strongly favour the presumption; and in fact we have never seen it called in question. But we must own that it appears to us extremely debatable.

There is certainly nothing in the appearance of the locality which cannot be accounted for on other grounds than those alluded to. The circumstance of the finding of the anchor is, so far as we can learn, very problematical ; and with respect to the designation of " island," it might even now be applied with propriety, as the tract under consideration is undoubtedly " surrounded with water ;" and we are not aware that it is necessary, in order to constitute an island, that the sea should flow around it. Besides, we imagine that the documents we have mentioned will scarcely carry us back beyond the middle of the seventh century ; and it is an historical fact, which. we shall presently have occasion to revert to, that the site of St. Bees Abbey, in the mouth of the valley, was occupied by a building at that early period, which could not have been the case had the valley then been the bed of the sea. But a truce to this discussion. The train has now " got into speed," and we must notice the various objects within our view as we rapidly pass them by.

Above us, on the left, appears the newly erected reservoir, containing a supply of the Ennerdale water, and the house wherein is now placed the machinery for raising the water to the village of Hensingham, which is seen above and a little beyond. The mansion and grounds of Hensingham House, late the residence of H. Jefferson, Esq., are closely adjoining. These are succeeded by Chapel House, the seat of Anthony Benn Steward, Esq., and the Hollins, John Bell, Esq. ; and a little further, but almost hidden from us by the trees that encompass it, the noble mansion of Ingwell, now occupied by F. L. B. Dykes, Esq. On the other side, perched picturesquely on the top of the hill, is Woodhouse, the property of Mr. John Duggan. Green Bank, the seat of Thomas Benn, Esq., stands upon the hill side, considerably lower down. We now enter a deep cutting, and the prospect becomes exceedingly circumscribed, being confined to the successive strata of clay, rock, and shale, on the sides of the cutting. This, however, is a species of interruption to which all railway travelling is liable, and we remember the facetious " Punch" giving a view of a square piece of earthwork, as a specimen of the prospects to be had from the windows of a railway carriage. It may be mentioned in passing, that the rock is here found (and that, too, in nearly the lowest part of the valley) to rise to the height of ninety-five feet above the present level of high water mark ; and this fact is, in our opinion, perfectly conclusive as a counter-argument to those advanced in favour of the marine theory above alluded to.

After emerging from the cutting, we are again at liberty to enjoy the beauties spread so abundantly on either hand, and it may with truth be said, that a more pleasant and enlivening scene is very rarely met with than that presented to the traveller through the vale of St. Bees. It is a scene of quiet and repose, and yet of the highest cultivation, combining the varied charms of dale and upland, grove and meadow, stately mansion and thriving farm ; and seeming to our eyes (it may be, prejudiced by early associations) the very emblem and home of peace, and comfort, and prosperity. The prospect now widens upon our left, in consequence of the receding of the hills in that direction. The farm house of Scalegill Hall is seen in the extreme distance ; and within a few yards of the line is observed a nearly circular sheet of water, called Scalegill Pond, of the origin of which the following singular account is given in the " Gentleman's Magazine" of the day."
"On the 1st of March, 1792, the ground in a meadow, part of the estate of Stanley, the property of the Right Honourable the Earl of Lonsdale, suddenly sunk to the depth of some feet, making a circular break on the surface. Immediately after, a torrent of water was heard, which appeared to rush out from various parts of the broken soil, and falling, as it was conjectured, into a receptacle, which could not at that time be perceived, occasioned a most tremendous noise, while the shrinking was evidently increasing on the surface. In the morning this extraordinary spot was visited by numbers of people. The aperture then exhibited the appearance of an immense funnel. It was then enlarging, consequently no admeasurement could be made ; but the computation generally agreed to, was from sixty to seventy yards in diameter, and thirty yards in depth to the vortex, the diameter of which appeared to be six or seven yards. During this time large heaps of earth were falling from the sides, and water gushing out in an amazing abundance ; the water also was sometimes forced a considerable height above the vortex or gulf, as if from a jet d'eau; the whole presenting to the eye a scene of the most awful and horrible grandeur, while the ear was filled with sounds the most terrifying and alarming, often resembling distant thunder, as the deluge poured into the subterraneous workings of Scalegill Colliery, which it is said is now rendered useless. It was a land sale colliery of small com pass, and the coal nearly exhausted. Providentially the people employed in it had quitted their work a short time before the sinking happened."
An engine placed in the building on the other side of, and closely adjoining the line, draws water out of this pond, and forces it up the hill side to the works at the top of " Wilson Pit," where it is metamorphosed into a useful mining agent, being converted into steam, and made the motive power by which the coals are raised to the surface. A little farther on we come in sight of Linethwaite, the beautiful Elizabethan mansion of George Harrison, Esquire;
"Bosom'd high in lofty trees,"
and delightfully situate in the hollow of the hills upon our left, just where the valley makes a bend to the westward. The grounds command a view of the whole of the northern part of the vale, the town of White haven, and the Solway Firth and Scottish hills beyond. An extensive range of woods, and the farms of High and Low Walton next succeed upon the same side of our way. However rapidly he may be whirled along, the agriculturist will not fail to notice the admirable order in which these farms, and indeed the whole of the lands in this neighbourhood, are kept ; but we must not omit to state in passing, that Low Walton, the greater part of which will soon pass in review before us, is one of the twelve farms with which the celebrated scientific agriculturists, Messrs. Mechi, Davis, and Huxtable, were, a year or two ago, invited by its occupier, Mr. Wm. Hodgson, to bring their far-famed model farms into competition ; and that after a good deal of correspondence in the public papers, those gentlemen eventually declined the contest.

Look we now to the right. Saw you ever cottage more romantically placed than that upon the breast of Stanley Brow? Saw you ever lovelier hill than the finely swelling and rounded one along whose base we are now careering ? We never see it however, without thinking of and regretting the absence of those fine spreading oaks with which its sides were decorated till within the last few years. Let us, however, thankfully take things as they are, and not indulge in melancholy reminiscences of the past, but rather look forward hopefully to the future. We are soon carried out of sight of this denuded spot, and brought within view of the bright pastures and rich arables of the Abbey Estate, extending, in large enclosures, along and over the hill — a sweetly soothing sight ; and per chance one of Mr. Fox's fleetest greyhounds may be seen coursing alongside the train in his meadows, and keeping pace with us for no inconsiderable distance. On the other side of the line it is interesting to watch the meanderings of the Poe, turning and winding as if it were anxious to delay its course among those pleasant meads as long as possible. The buildings of High House, seen beyond, remind us that we are now drawing near our first stopping place ; and in a few moments we are brought to a stand still at the celebrated village of ST. BEES, Four Miles from WHITEHAVEN.

A Handbook Of The Whitehaven & Furness Railway, 1852.


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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