Jollie's Cumberland Guide & Directory 1811, Part 2



Description of Workington, &c.

Leaving Maryport, and proceeding about 5 miles along a low sandy, coast, we enter the town of Workington.

WORKINGTON stands near the mouth of the Derwent, and is a considerable market-town and sea-port, containing about 6000 inhabitants. Many of the streets are narrow and irregular; but some are elegant and neat; and, upon the whole, this town is more agreeable than most ports of equal size in the kingdom. Though it seems to have been anciently the chief haven in Cumberland, yet it appears, that in 1566, only one vessel belonging thereto was of so great a burden as ten tons: and, on a survey taken of the maritime strength of the county about 20 years after that period, when England commanded the seas, all the vessels which Cumberland could put to sea amounted only to 10 in number, and their mariners to 198.

Workington has increased rapidly of late years, and many handsome buildings have been erected. The coal trade to Ireland is its chief support: a few vessels are, however, employed in the Baltic trade. The imports are timber, bar-iron, and flax. The river is navigable for ships of 400 tons burden; and the harbour is commodious, and extremely safe from all winds. There are now about 160 vessels belonging to this port; upon an average, of about 130 tons each. - The principal manufactories are of sail-cloth and cordage. The public buildings are modern; the church is a handsome structure, with a tower, or steeple, in the Gothic style. Here is a small but neat assembly-room, and a playhouse. - A new square, consisting of about 20 neat houses, was a few years ago built in the upper town, where the corn-market is held. - The butchers' shambles are commodious. - The quays have been much widened and lengthened within the last 30 years. Not far from the town, a spacious workhouse, for the reception and support of the poor, was erected a few years ago, which cost the inhabitants 1600, and is calculated to contain 150 persons. - A considerable salmon fishery on this river belongs to Lord Lonsdale.

The collieries in the vicinity of Workington, which are numerous and valuable, belong to Mr. Curwen, who ships from thence about 150 waggons per day (Sundays excepted), each waggon containing three English tons of coals. - Several steam-engines are employed in these coal-works, and between 500 and 600 men.

Messrs. Fenton and Murray, of Leeds, are erecting a steam-engine at Isabella pit, Chapel Bank, of 160 horse power, which exceeds in power any engine ever erected. The depth of the shaft is 150 fathoms, which is deeper than any of the shafts at Newcastle.

The manor house of the family of Curwen stands upon a fine eminence on the banks of the Derwent. It is an elegant quadrangular building, surrounded with excellent lands, in a fine state of cultivation. The house commands a prospect of the town, the river, and its northern banks, and the western ocean for a considerable tract. Mary, Queen of Scots, took refuge at this house, when she landed at Workington after her flight from Dundrannon, in Galloway, - and was hospitably entertained by Sir Henry Curwen, till the pleasure of Elizabeth was known; when she was removed, first to Cockermouth and then to Carlisle castle. The chamber in which she slept at Workington Hall is still called the Queen's chamber.

To J. C. Curwen, Esq. the hospitable owner of this delightful residence, the country is exceedingly indebted for the introduction of an Agricultural Society, in 1805; which by the patronage of this worthy and patriotic gentleman has become as celebrated as any similar institution in this kingdom; and has already effected a very great deal toward the agricultural improvement of the county. A fuller account of this establishment is given in a subsequent article1. The establishment of a School on the Lancastrian Plan of Education, patronized by his Majesty, also redounds highly to Mr. Curwen's credit. This institution contains 220 boys, under the instruction of Mr. Gladden, whose assiduity and abilities, as a teacher, have been eminently successful. These boys, for the trifling sum of three half-pence per week each, are not only instructed in the common branches of education, but in navigation, the necessary elements of mathematics, geography, &c. so that within the space of three years after their introduction into the school, they will have been enabled to navigate a vessel round the world! - There is also at Workington a female seminary, containing 90 girls, under the patronage of Mrs. Cannon; who are instructed both in useful learning and in domestic economy; so as not only their minds may be improved, but they may be rendered fit to perform their duties in society.

The following is the number or Baptisms, Burials, and Marriages, at Workington, during the year 1810:

Baptisms 214; Burials 149; Marriages 66.

A little above Workington are those large works, called Seaton iron works, carried on under the firm of Spedding, Dickinson, Russel, & Co. situated on the banks of the Derwent; and which were planned and built under the direction of that eminent engineer, the late Thomas Spedding, Esq. of Whitehaven, in 1763. There are two blast furnaces for the melting of iron ore, a mill for slitting and rolling of bar-iron, a double forge for refining and drawing of bar-iron, a foundry, with several small furnaces, wherein are made cannon and cast iron work of all sorts; a boring mill for boring cannon cylinders, &c. a grinding-house and turning-house, and many other conveniences suitable for carrying on a very extensive iron manufactory. The whole gives bread to several hundred industrious and laborious mechanics.


Jollie's Cumberland Guide & Directory 1811




1. Not included in this transcript.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman