Harrington

This parish, comprising the town and port of Harrington, is situated in Allerdale-above-Derwent ward and petty sessional division; county court district union, and deanery of Whitehaven; and gives name to a county council electoral division. Under the provisions of the Local Government Act of 1894, the parish of Harrington is co-extensive with the urban sanitary district, and elects seven members. The parish extends two miles and a half along the sea coast, and about one mile inland. It is bounded on the north by Workington, on the west by the Irish Sea, on the south by Moresby, and on the east by Workington and Distington. There are no dependent townships. The commons, which form a large portion of the parish, were enclosed about the year 1770, but the great extent of bare land gives the parish an uninteresting appearance. The area of Harrington is 2,172, and its ratable value 18,272. In the beginning of the past century the population was 1,357; in 1851 it was 2,169; in 1881, 3,019; and in 1891, 3,535.

The manor of Harrington was granted soon after the Conquest to the family of Talebois, barons of Kendal, and held by them of the fee of Workington. The name in ancient documents is variously written Haverington and Haveringham, and presumably impressed itself upon the possessors of the manor, the Harringtons. There were several branches of this family; one was resident at Beaumont, in this county; another at Witherslack, in Westmorland; a third at Aldingham, in Furness; and two other branches in the counties of Rutland and Lincoln. In the early period of our history the barons of Harrington appear to have held a position of consequence and importance among the English nobility. The first of this family who held Harrington married the heiress of Seaton, in Camerton.* The next upon record is Robert de Harrington, who married the heiress of William de Cauncefield, whose father had married Alice, heiress of Sir Michael le Fleming. Several of the early Harringtons were summoned to Parliament; and one, Sir Robert, received the honour of knighthood at the coronation of Richard II.

The estates subsequently became the property of Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset, by his marriage with the heiress of the Harringtons. Henry, his grandson, third earl, married Frances, daughter and co-heir of the Duke of Suffolk, by Mary, sister of Henry VIII, and dowager Queen of France. Henry was afterwards created Duke of Suffolk, and in the reign of Queen Mary he was convicted and attainted of high treason, for his attempt to place the Lady Jane Grey, his daughter, on the throne at the death of Edward VI. He was beheaded, and likewise the unfortunate Lady Jane, and his estates forfeited to the Crown. Philip and Mary, in the third year of their reign, by letters patent, granted the manor of Harrington to Henry Curwen, Esq., valued at that time at 18 14s. 8d., with the exception of the advowson of the living, to be held in capite, by the fortieth part of a knight's fee, for all rents, services, and demands. The manor has since continued to be held by the Curwen family. The demesne is within the enclosure of Workington Park, which bounds the parish on the north. Alan Curwen, Esq., is the lord of the manor, and chief landowner. Joseph Dickinson, Esq.; James Bain & Co.; George Dickinson, Esq., Red How; and John Plaskitt, Blacketholme, are also large land proprietors.

Coal is abundant in the parish, and large quantities are raised, affording employment to a considerable number of the population. Although the Harrington colliery consists of nine pits, only three are now in operation. These are called the "Five," "Seven," and "Nine" pits. The "No. 7" pit was sunk in 1868, the "No. 9" in 1880, and the three produce 100,000 tons of coal annually, employing about 446 hands. These workings are carried into the Bannock band, where the coal is 6 feet in thickness; it is, however, fast being exhausted. The royalty of the minerals, as far as low water, is retained by the lord of the manor, but under the sea belongs to the Crown. The pits extend about a mile submarine, and are the property of James Bain & Co. The prosperity of Harrington is largely dependent on the iron manufacture. This trade was commenced here by Mr. H.C. Plevins, who erected furnaces in 1857; they subsequently became the property of Messrs. Blair & Co., and are now owned by Sir James Bain & Co., who employ about 250 men. The Harrington Iron Works consist of four furnaces, and are fitted with the most improved appliances for the manufacture of pig iron. The amount turned out by the firm averages from 57,000 to 58,000 tons annually. The same firm own also a Brick Works, where fire bricks and clay awe manufactured.

The flourishing little town of Harrington is a creation of recent times. A century ago it was an insignificant place, whose name was scarcely known beyond the confines of the parish. Now we have a town of modern and well-built houses, a fine harbour, recently constructed, covering 21 acres, with a quay 1,250 feet, available for boats from 800 to 1,200 tons, and crane power to 10 tons. The alteration of the harbour was effected about 10 years ago, at an outlay of 7,000. The breakwater, originally 1,000 yards long, has been considerably extended, and a further addition is contemplated. In 1794 the number of vessels belonging to Harrington was about 60, averaging 100 tons burthen; in 1822 the number was 38, of an aggregate burthen of 4,976 tons; in 1828 the number had increased to 43, with a carrying capacity equal to 5,479 tons; in 1840 there were 44 vessels belonging to the port, and their burthen was 6,052 tons; in 1850 the number of vessels was 35, having an aggregate burthen of 6,000 tons; in 1858 there were only 30 vessels registered as belonging to the port, whose total tonnage was 5,780. There are none now registered as belonging to Harrington. The harbour is the property of the Curwens, of Workington, but the lessees are the Harrington Harbour Board, representing Charles Cummell & Co., the Moss Bay Iron & Steel Co., and James Bain & Co. The average high tide is 17 feet, and the principal trade of the port is the carriage of iron ore, sand, rail, etc. The coal trade, which is chiefly carried on with the opposite coast of Ireland, gives employment to a large number of vessels. The lime from the quarries of Distington, which was formerly exported in large quantities to Scotland, is now used in the furnaces of Harrington. The dues are 3d. per ton, and 7d. on foreign loads. During 1899, 755 steamers discharged and loaded at this port, having a total tonnage of 270,000 tons.

The Church, which is of unknown dedication, occupies a beautiful situation on an eminence overlooking the town, and upon the site of an old Roman camp. It consists of nave and chancel, with square western tower, and was rebuilt in 1885, with the exception of the tower, at a cost of 2,000. A 12th century font, in good condition, is in the porch. During the rebuilding a Roman altar was discovered, which is now in the museum at Newcastle. In the tower is a bell bearing the date of 1670. At what time or by whom the church of Harrington was first founded cannot now be ascertained, but it appears to have been in existence as early as the Norman period. Ketel, third baron of Kendal, whose grandfather, Ivo de Talebois, came over with the Conqueror in 1066, among many other gifts to the Abbey of St. Mary, at York, gave the churches of Harrington and Workington to that monastery. When all the monastic establishments were dissolved, and their wealth confiscated to the Crown by Henry VIII, the King, by letters patent, bearing the date August 20th, 1544, granted the advowson and right of patronage of the churches of Harrington and Workington to Robert Brokelsbye and John Dyer, to be held in free socage by fealty only. In 1545, the two rectories were conveyed to Thomas Dalston, empowering him to convey the advowson and right of patronage of the two churches to Henry Curwen, Esq., with whose posterity they still remain. In 1721 the lord of the manor being a Catholic, the University of Cambridge exercised the right of presentation. The benefice is a rectory valued in the King's Book at 7 7s. 3d., and some years later it was certified to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty at 35, viz., 8 from glebe land, 25 from tithes, 2 from the lord of the manor, and 2 from Easter dues and surplice fees. The living is now worth about 570, and is held by the Rev. A.F. Curwen (installed 1862), uncle of the patron.

St. Mary's Catholic Church, a handsome Gothic structure in Church Road, was built in 1893 to supersede the school chapel which had done duty since 1874. The cost of erection amounted to 2,300, which was defrayed by subscription, to which the late Mr. Brockbank, of Whitehaven left the sum of 300. The whole pile - church, presbytery, and schools - is in the same style of architecture, and forms an ornament to the town. The present resident priest is the Rev. Austin D. Firth, O.S.B.

The Wesleyan Chapel is a handsome structure in the Gothic style, with minister's house attached, erected at a cost of 3,000. The site upon which stands the noble pile was given by Mr. William Little, of Harrington. The chapel was opened in 1885, and supplements that built in 1828. In 1892 a new Primitive Methodist Chapel was opened, with accommodation for 350. The members of the Presbyterian body have also a place of worship in Church road. The Temperance Institute, Limited, established by the Good Templars, was erected in 1882, at a cost of 500, which was raised by 1 shares.

The School Board for Harrington was formed in December, 1873. The schools are three in number, as follows: I. The Senior Mixed School, comprising Standard IV and upwards. This was built in 1897, on an eminence above Church Road, at a cost of 2,040. The accommodation provided is for 266. II. The Junior Mixed School, erected in 1875 at an outlay of 3,106. Having been twice enlarged, it now affords room for 453 children. III. Lowca School (mixed), with accommodation for 165.

St. Mary's Catholic Schools, Church Road. Number on books, 151; average attendance, 120. Head mistress, Miss M.E. Arden. Infant mistress, Miss E. Kelly.

The Gas Company was formed in 1866. The works, which occupy about three acres of ground, are situated on the north side of the harbour, in Workington parish. There are thirteen retorts, and the gasholder has a capacity for 34,000 cubic feet, and an additional 22,000 can be stored, if necessary. The price is 3s. 6d. per 1,000 cubic feet. The water supply is drawn from Crummock Lake.

The rooms of the Literary Association, in the Victoria Buildings, are provided with the leading periodicals of the day; there is also a bagatelle table. The library contains about 500 volumes. The members, of whom there are about fifty, subscribe 2s. 6d. per half-year. The Victoria Hall is used by the Salvation Army.

The Police Station is situated in Church Road, and is under the control of the Whitehaven Division. The staff consists of one sergeant and two constables.


* The manor appears to have been previously held by the Culwens or Curwens, of Workington Hall, and passed to the Harringtons by marriage with that family.

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Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman