Newspapers, Literary Institutions, &c.

  > Two Newspapers, the Journal and the Patriot, are published every Saturday morning; also, a Literary and Scientific Miscellany, called the Northern Miscellany, is published, monthly, by Mr. Isaac Fletcher Whitridge, Scotch-street. There is likewise a small advertising sheet, designated the Monthly Advertiser, issued once a month, by Scott and Benson, English-street, and circulated gratis. Mr. Whitridge's publication is only 2d. stamped, or 1d. unstamped. The Carlisle Journal was established in November, 1798, by Mr. Jollie, but was transferred several years since, to Mr James Steel, who is still its publisher, proprietor, and editor. It advocates whig, or liberal, principles, and has an extensive circulation. The Carlisle Patriot was commenced January 3rd, 1815, by a company of proprietors, in £25 shares, Mr. William F. Simon, is its editor: it takes the tory, or conservative side.

Among the unsuccessful weekly journals and literary periodicals, formerly published here, were the Citizen, established in 1821, and discontinued in 1827; the Carlisle Herald, (a Tuesday's paper) which lived eighteen months; the Carlisle Chronicle (a Saturday's paper) established in 1807, by a party of gentlemen, who discontinued it in 1811; the Carlisle Independent, of which only two numbers appeared, in 1825; the Pioneer, also still-born, for it died at its second number, in 1818; the Reflector which issued fourteen numbers, in the same year; and the Northern Observer, which lived twenty-three weeks, in 1823.

The Mechanics' Institute, which has for its primary object the dissemination of scientific, mechanical and other useful knowledge, among the operative classes, was established here in December, 1824, and now occupies a commodious room in the Athenĉum, Lowther-street where there is a museum, but wants a laboratory, for the illustration of lectures. It is liberally supported by literary gentlemen of the city, and possesses a library of upwards of 2000 volumes, many of which are very valuable. There are about 3000 members, each of whom above the age of 21 years, contributes 8s. per annum, and under that age, 5s. a year. It is open every evening, except Sunday, from seven to ten o'clock. Joseph Ferguson, Esq., is the president; James Steel, Esq., vice-president; Mr. Thomas Clarke, treasurer; and Mr. William J. Fisher, secretary and librarian. In the library is a handsome marble bust of the president, J. Ferguson, Esq., by Dunbar, which was purchased by subscription, at a cost of £50, and presented to that gentleman, in 1843, as a mark of respect and esteem for his long and valuable services to the institution.

The Athenĉum, in Lowther-street, was completed in 1840, from a design by Messrs. Williams, of Liverpool, at a cost of about £6500, raised in £5 shares, but it has been since purchased by G. H. Head, Esq., for nearly £4000. The facade is built of white stone, from the Pruddoe quarries, in the Roman style of architecture. The centre part is composed of four massive pilasters, having Corinthian capitals, with the windows in the intermediate spaces. The cornices are surmounted by an open balustrade, with a sunk, or ornamental panel; and on each side of the centre part is a door, and at the angles, massive pilasters. The Athenĉum has supplied a great desideratum to the city of Carlisle. It contains a large lecture room, in the form of an amphitheatre, capable of seating 1000 Persons; an elegant and spacious exhibition, assembly, or concert room, 54½ by 47½ feet, and 34 feet high, lighted from the top, and hung with six chandeliers; another spacious room occupied by the Mechanics Institution, with a good library; another, containing the museum, which is well stored with many interesting specimens, and to which the public are admitted gratuitously, from ten till four o'clock; and a room for lodge, and other meetings. Mr. W. J. Fisher is secretary to the Athenĉum, and resident curator for the museum.

The Carlisle Subscription News Room and Library, &c., an elegant structure at the corner of English and Devonshire streets, was commenced in 1830, and completed in 1831, at a great cost, raised in shares of £50 each. It is in the decorated Gothic style of architecture, from designs by Rickman and Hutchinson; and contains on the ground floor, the Union or Subscription News Room, retiring room, and other offices. The news room is supported by 108 members, of whom, 44 are proprietors; and the remainder annual subscribers of two guineas. Dr. Tinniswood is secretary. The Carlisle Subscription Library, established in 1798, and formerly kept in Castle-street, is on the second floor of this building, contains about 6000 volumes, exclusive of periodicals, and is supported by 140 annual subscribers of one guinea each. The entrance to the library is in Devonshire street; and on the premises is a residence for the librarian or housekeeper; over which is a billiard room, attended by a select circle of friends. The library is open daily. The south-west front of the building consists of a gabled centre, flanked by two wings, with embattled parapets, and having a doorway with flowered mouldings, and an enriched triangular canopy; and above the door is a large window of four lights, having its head filled with good flowing tracery. The elevation in Devonshire-street has light buttresses, with enriched pinnacles, and in its centre is a bay window, all the lights of which have crocketed canopies.

The Commercial News Room is held in a room over the Fish Market, and belongs to 120 members, who contribute one guinea each per annum. Mr. William Richardson, English-street, is secretary. Besides these, there are also in the city five private circulating libraries.

Assemblies are held occasionally at the Athenĉum, and at the Bush and Coffee House Hotels. Burns' Anniversary is held at the Crown and Thistle, and Burns' Taverns. The Freemasons and Benefit Societies have likewise annual festivals, as also have the Agricultural, Horticultural, and several other societies. At the Shakespeare Tavern is a good subscription Bowling Green.

The Theatre is a small building, erected about the year 1817, near St. Cuthbert's Church, in the lane to which it gives name. Theatrical taste has been for several years on the decline in this city, owing, perhaps, in a great measure, to the lack of talent introduced; but since it fell into the hands of the present highly respected manager, that taste which for so many years lay slumbering, has become gradually awakened, and now bids fair to shine forth in its pristine vigour; and this revival of taste for dramatic literature, must be mainly attributed to the spirited exertions of Mr. J. Daly, the manager, in producing talent of no mean order; and stars from time to time, of the brightest lustre, together with his liberality towards the various charitable and other institutions of the city.

Races are held here annually, in July, on a fine verdant course, ornamented with a grand stand, built in 1839. It is situated at the south side of the Eden, and affords a pleasant promenade to the inhabitants, who may here amuse themselves by observing the finny tribe sporting in their liquid element; or gratify their sight with a fine panoramic view of the "Merry City," and its picturesque neighbourhood. Races were first established here about the middle of the last century; and the first king's plate given in 1763.


Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847






Of the buildings mentioned above, the Athenĉum is now a bank, and the Subscription News Room and Library now houses a Building Society. The grandstand for the race course was built as the steeply pitched roof of the Turf Inn, later the Turf Hotel and Turf Tavern, but races are no longer held at the Swifts, the site now being a small golf course. The present race course at Blackwell was established in the early years of the 19th century.

19 June 2015

İ Steve Bulman