|A large and opulent Sea Port and Market Town,
in the parish of St. Bees, three miles north of the lofty promontory of St. Bees' Head, is
seated on the Irish Sea, or rather at the mouth of that portion of it denominated the
Solway Frith2, in a small creek, which forms the harbour,
overlooked on the other sides by green hills, which rise abruptly from the outskirts of
the town. It is forty miles S.W. of Carlisle, by rails, 57 miles W.N.W. of Kendal,
64 N.W. of Lancaster, and about 296 N.W. of London, being in 54 deg. 33 min. north
latitude, and 3 deg. 30 min. west longitude, from the meridian of Greenwich. It was so
inconsiderable a place in the 16th century as not to be noticed by Camden; but
by the exertions of the family of the earl of Lonsdale, who have been lords of the manor
for about two centuries, Whitehaven has risen from a few huts to a wealthy and flourishing
sea port town. The ancestors of this noble family having discovered coal in the sides of
the hills were not slow to avail themselves of the natural advantages for shipment of the
produce of the mines, afforded by the projecting rocks on the south, which had previously
attracted the notice of the few fishermen to the creek. In course of time the working of
these being prosecuted with spirit, great employment ensued, and better accommodation
being required, pier after pier was added, the coal trade prospered, greatly to the
emolument of the House of Lowther, and a town grew up, which has long held a distinguished
rank amongst the commercial ports of Great Britain. It is laid out with much taste and
elegance; most of the streets are broad and straight, intersecting each other at right
angles; the houses are chiefly built of stone, and roofed with blue slate, and some of the
public buildings are handsome and spacious structures.
The harbour is, perhaps, the largest and most convenient pier harbour in the kingdom; it is protected on the W. and N. by noble piers of splendid masonry, stretching their massive arms into the sea; whilst other six intersect the enclosed area, greatly facilitating the transaction of business. A pier was erected here by Sir John Lowther, before 1687, and Mr. Denton says the harbour was rendered so commodious by it as to be capable of containing a fleet of 100 sail. Two Acts of Parliament passed in the 7th and eleventh years of queen Anne, established a tonnage duty for the purpose of improving the harbour, to which many additional works have been added during the last seventy years. In 1767, the New Quay was lengthened; and in 1784, the North Wall was finished; the Old Quay was made longer in 1792, and many other improvements were effected about the year 1809. The New West Pier was commenced in 1824, and finished in 1839, at a cost of above £100,000. It is a noble building of great strength, extending northward from the west pier, to the length of about 300 yards, and on the magnificent round head at the end, which cost £30,000, stands the light house, with a revolving light and three reflectors. There is another half tide light house on one of the inner piers, and another on St . Bees' Head, a lofty promontory about three miles S.S.W. The new north pier is also a splendid structure, finished in 1841, at a great expense, and has a light house or harbour guide. Indeed, no town, perhaps, in the kingdom can boast of two such splendid piers as Whitehaven.
A great improvement has recently been made on the south side of the harbour, by removing the old unsightly hurries, widening that part of the quay, and erecting a substantial iron roadway, supported by iron pillars, with close iron hurries for delivering coals into the vessels, thus opening a good access to the baths, and to the unequalled promenade on the west pier, and its spacious parapet, where a walk of nearly a quarter of a mile direct out to sea from the old quay is afforded. The first iron hurry was placed here in 1837. Though spring tides rise about eighteen feet, and the neap tides eleven feet, thus enabling vessels of 500 to 600 tons burthen to enter, the old or inner harbour is dry at low water, but is accessible without any danger, about two hours after high water; and since the erection of the outer pier, is remarkably secure.
On the north wall, the coals are lowered to the ships' hatchways by a novel hydraulic arrangement, the invention, we understand, of the late Mr. Matthewson, engineer to Messrs. Tulk & Ley. The coals are dropped from the waggon, into a box supported by an unseen rod, which, on turning a tap, is permitted to descend, by forcing water from a cylinder below, into an ornamental tank placed on columns over the waggon; when the coals are let fall into the hold, the water, again descending, raises the empty box. This is intended chiefly for small vessels, and is a manifest improvement on some of the clumsy mechanism at Newcastle and other coal ports. On the south of the harbour various mechanical devices are in operation for returning the empty waggons by the descent of the laden ones; and an air cylinder is applied as an effectual break3 on the steep inclined plane. Railways were in use here, and at most coal ports, in conveying coal from the mines to ships, long before public railways for passengers and general traffic were formed; but the distances are too short for the advantageous introduction of locomotive power. The first iron railway in the kingdom was laid from a pit near the town to the harbour.
Of late years the demand for coals to Ireland has exceeded the existing means to supply, vessels having frequently to wait from four to six weeks for a turn to load; but various works now in progress warrant the prospect of a great and permanent increase at no distant period. Near to the noble pier on the west, the attention of every stranger is attracted to a series of towers and castellated erections, of a style of architecture, magnificence of design and execution rarely to be seen, presenting the appearance seaward of extensive fortifications, and furnished inside with enormous steam power, appropriated however to afford a better security to the trade and prosperity of Whitehaven, than could be given by the most powerful array of warlike fortifications. These engines are connected with two shafts of great depth, cased from top to bottom with the strongest cemented stone work, impervious to water. A large quantity of coal is daily raised here, whilst great work is still progressing, which when completed, will probably be the deepest, the most productive, and the most remarkable coal mine in the world; opening out such a supply of the best coal from underneath the sea, and the adjacent head land, as may not for centuries4 be exhausted.
The vast magnitude of this enterprise, which, when commenced in 1838, was not expected to be completed within half a century, and the substantial manner of execution, are truly becoming the noble family by whom it has been undertaken; and the earl of Lonsdale deserves the most complete success. Nor is this the only source of supply for future generations; on the north side of the town, in the parish of Moresby, an extensive water level, from the sea shore, which is proceeding under hill and dale, will open wide fields of this valuable mineral in the interior; and here also a great quantity of it is already being raised, in the neighbourhood of Parton. Under all these circumstances, it is manifest that the inhabitants of Ireland and the Isle of Man need have no apprehensions of wanting a supply of this article so essential to the comforts of life.
The average quantity of coals exported from this port, from 1781 to 1792, was 80,000 chaldrons5; for the five years ending December 1814, 100,000 waggon loads; in 1826, upwards of 135,000 chaldrons; in 1827, 114,692 chaldrons of 48 cwt.; and in 1846, the quantity entered at the custom-house, for Whitehaven, Harrington, and Workington, was 321,835 tons of coal, and 4,832 tons of culm6.
Although several large vessels are employed in the importation of West Indian, American, and Baltic produce, still the principal part of the shipping is engaged in the coal trade with Ireland. Large quantities of iron ore, from the neighbouring mines, are exported for the Welsh furnaces; excellent pig iron, from the Hematite iron works, is shipped for Liverpool, London, and other places, and lime is extensively shipped for Scotland. In the year 1772, there were 197 vessels belonging to Whitehaven; in 1790, 216 vessels; in 1810, 188 vessels, tonnage 29,312; in 1822, 181 vessels, tonnage 26,220; in 1828, 195 vessels, tonnage 30,960; in 1840, 217 vessels, tonnage 36,800; in 1846 there were 267 vessels registered at Whitehaven, with a tonnage of about 42,000, and the number belonging to Workington in the same year was about 80, and their tonnage about 12,780. The average number of men navigating the Whitehaven vessels is 2252.*
"Ship Building is carried on here to a considerable extent, and on a system that has acquired for the artificers a high reputation," the vessels being built "said not only to be more durable, but to sail faster than vessels of the same description from any other port in the kingdom." The earl of Lonsdale has erected a patent slip here, which will admit four vessels of 150 tons burthen, and by which vessels of any burthen may be drawn out of the water into the yard to be repaired. Amongst the manufacturers of the town are sail cloth, checks, ropes, cabinet goods, earthenware, colours, copperas, snuff and tobacco, soap, candles, anchors, cables, nails, &c., &c.
The principal approach to the town is on the north side, by a fine spacious road of gradual descent, between two eminences, the banks on one side being laid out as gardens, and the other overgrown with oaks. The entrance is by a fine Arch, of freestone, with a rich entablature, ornamented with the arms of the Lowther family; this was erected as a viaduct from the colliery to the harbour. All the streets, lanes, and outlets of the town are well paved and lighted, and the hard Highland flag is now being laid down on the foot paths. Oil lamps were first adopted here in 1781; and in 1831 Gas Works were erected at a cost of £8000, raised in £20 shares. They contain 26 retorts and two gasometers, capable of holding 2,500 cubic feet of gas. The town and harbour are now illuminated by 261 lamps, and the shops and private houses are supplied with well-purified gas at the extremely low price of 4s. per 1000 cubic feet; and, we understand, with ample emolument to the proprietors, though, in 1831, the price per 1000 cubic feet was 12s. 6d. The works are situate at Bransty, and the committee meet the first Friday of every month; the half-yearly meeting of the shareholders are held in February and August. Mr. George Walker is manager, secretary, and collector.
In nearly all Histories of Cumberland, the name of Whitehaven has been attributed either to the whiteness of the rocks on the east side of the harbour, or to the cognomen of an old fisherman who resided here about the year 1566, at which time the town is said to have had only six houses; but whether these were the town or the fishing station would now be difficult to determine, for its eligibility as a fishing ground, when the tides ran nearer the meadow than at present, would doubtless attract the attention of the monks of St. Bees, long before White, the fisherman, was born. The thatched cottage, supposed to have been built by him in 1592, was situate near the fish market, and fell down in 1815; it is recollected by many persons as the only thatched house in the town. But there is a total absence of anything like white cliffs in the vicinity of this town; and the fact of its being denominated Whitlofthaven, Qwitofhaven, Wythoven, Whyttothaven, Whitten, &c., in the register of St. Bees and other ancient records, evidently shews that it is a place of greater antiquity than has generally been ascribed to it; and some fragments of tradition, still extant, seem to countenance this opinion. That a great portion of the site of the present town and the neighbouring heights were formerly covered with forest trees there can be no doubt; and there is a traditionary account of the existence of an ancient ruin where the castle stands - probably some Druidical7 remains, where the Whitten, or Whittengomotte were held - the road to which was by the old wash houses, nearly opposite the Ropery buildings. Prior to the removing or breaking up of these remains, about the year 1628, an old man named Storey earned a few pence by accompanying visitors to this place. He resided in one of the above-mentioned houses, which nearly abut on a remnant of the old forest, now known as "Launt, or Launty Gill." That Whitehaven was anciently a place of resort for shipping appears from some particulars respecting it mentioned in those remarkable Irish documents, called the Annals of the Four Masters, much of which was written at the abbey of Monesterboice, in the county of Louth - nearly opposite, on the Irish shore. In that account of the domestic habits and manufactures of the Irish, it is stated that their Coracles, or Wicker Boats, their Noggins, and other domestic utensils, were made of wood called Wythe, or Withey8, brought from the opposite shore of Barach (i.e. rocky coast), and that a small colony was placed there for the purpose of collecting their wood. That Barach mouth, or Barrow mouth, and Barrow mouth wood is the same as that alluded to by the Four Masters, is evident from the legend of St. Bega, which places it in the same locality; and that the colony of Celts resided in the neighbourhood of the now Celts, or Kells Pit, in the same locality also, is manifest from the name. About the year 930, it appears that one of the Irish princes, or chiefs, accompanied an expedition to this place for wood, and that the inhabitants, who were met at Whitten, or Whittengomotte, fell upon and took the chief and several of the accompanying expedition prisoners, probably from a jealousy of their sanctuary being invaded. Many of those Irish utensils were imported hither, particularly the noggin, or small water pail, which was made of closely woven wicker work, and covered inside with a skin, having a projecting handle for the purpose of dipping into a river or well. The same article, in its primitive shape, though made of a different material, called a geggin (a corruption of the word noggin), is still used by some of the farmers in this neighbourhood. When Adam de Harris gave lands at Bransty Beck to the church of Holme Cultram, he also gave privilege to the monks to cut wood for making noggins or geggins. From an old history of the county of Durham, Whitehaven appears to have been a resort for shipping in the tenth century; and when the Nevills of Raby were called upon to furnish their quota of men to accompany Henry in his expedition to Ireland, in 1172, they were brought to Wythop-haven, or Witten-haven, and transported thence to the Irish coast. When Edward was laying siege to Scotland, in the 14th century, he found a ship belonging to this place, in which he sent a cargo of oats, to be ground by the monks of St. Bees. In the reign of Elizabeth, when the maritime ports were requested to furnish vessels for the fleet to meet the Spanish Armada, there was only one vessel, called the Bee, of about nine tons burthen, found here, but whether that was the only vessel belonging to the port, or the only one then in the port, does not appear. In 1582, there were only twelve small ships, under 80 tons, and 198 mariners and fishermen, in the whole county. It has been seen at an earlier page that Whitehaven belonged to the priory of St. Bees, the lands of which lying in this neighbourhood were purchased by Sir Christopher Lowther, second son of Sir John Lowther, who built a mansion on the west end of the haven, at the foot of a rock. He died in 1644, and was succeeded by his son, Sir John Lowther, who erected a new mansion on the site of the present castle, described by Mr. Denton, in 1688, as a "stately new pile of building, called the Flatt," and having conceived the project of working the coal mines, and improving the harbour, he obtained from Charles II, about the year 1666, a grant of all the "derelict land at this place," which yet remained in the crown; and, in 1678, all the lands for two miles northward, between high and low water mark, the latter grant containing about 150 acres. "Sir John having thus laid the foundations of the future importance of Whitehaven, commenced his great work, and lived to see a small obscure village, which, in 1633, had consisted of only nine thatched cottages, grow up into a thriving and populous town."
In 1685, this port possessed 46 ships, containing 1871 tons, the largest of which was the "Resolution," of 94 tons, and traded hence to the province of Virginia. Until the year 1693, the only place of worship in the town was "a little old chapel," situated in Chapel-street, and in this year the inhabitants petitioned the House of Commons that the new chapel then being built might be made a parish church, setting forth "that about sixty years since it consisted but of nine or ten thatched cottages;" that it then contained 2222 inhabitants, that the town had been lately much improved in trade, and the harbour rendered more convenient for shipping, "to the great increase of his Majesty's revenue, and the benefit of the adjacent country;" that being sensible of the great inconvenience "they and the strangers resorting thither did daily suffer for want of a church sufficient to receive all persons frequenting divine service;" that they were "near four miles distant from the parish church," that they contributed with Sir John Lowther to build a church, which was consecrated by the bishop of Chester in 1693, but "there being no provision made for the repairs and support of the said church, or for the preservation of the harbour, " they prayed "that the said town be made a distinct parish of itself, and they thereby enabled to finish and support their church and preserve their harbour, on which their happiness and welfare do absolutely depend." The population increased rapidly from this period, so that in 1713, the town consisted of 800 families, making about 4000 souls. Hutchinson says that "in 1785, Whitehaven boasted of upwards of 16,400 inhabitants, "but no doubt this enumeration included the whole parish, which at present contains only 19,687. The number of persons in Whitehaven township, in 1801, was 8742; in 1811, 10,106; 1821, 12,438; 1831, 11,393; and in 1841, 11,854, which, together with the inhabitants of the adjoining part of Preston Quarter, made the total population of the town and suburbs in the latter year about 16,000, and may be now said to amount to about 18,000 souls.
Ginns is a populous suburb, containing between 8 and 900 souls, three potteries, a copperas, and a paint and colour manufactory, &c., which employ collectively a considerable number of hands, there being 140 persons constantly employed at Mr. Wilkinson's pottery alone. Here are three rows of houses known by the name of "New Houses," comprising about 270 dwellings, erected by Sir James Lowther, and now occupied rent free, by colliers. The first house at Ginns was built in 1704; the chapel and first houses at Mount Pleasant were erected by Mr. Hogarth, about the year 1787. Corkickle place, Floraville, Hamilton terrace, Waterloo terrace, &c. form a pleasant suburb, consisting of several neat mansions, chiefly occupied by gentry and tradespeople.
Sir James Lowther, son of Sir John, prosecuted with great energy the great plan of his father, and lived to see his coal works and the rents of his buildings at Whitehaven yield upwards of £16,000 a year, though his grandfather never received above £1500 per annum from the same source. When Sir James Lowther, of Lowther, Bart. succeeded to the Whitehaven estate, in 1755, he evinced the most determined spirit in extending his coal works, and under his patronage the population of the town was augmented by numerous strangers from different parts of the three kingdoms; "there being at that time employment and encouragement for every one; commerce for the merchant; and plenty of work for the mechanic and labourer."
Whitehaven Castle, a seat of the Right. Hon. the earl of Lonsdale, is a large quadrangular building, pleasantly situate near the S.E. skirts of the town. It occupies the site of the manor house, called the "Flat," built by Sir John Lowther. The principal part of the present mansion was erected by James, first earl of Lonsdale. The building is surrounded by a fine lawn, with woody pleasure grounds and ornamental gardens, and the front, which is towards the town, has a handsome appearance. In the entrance are two Roman altars, one of which was found at Ellenborough before the year 1559, and is said to be the largest which has been discovered in Britain, being no less than five feet in height: the other was found at Moresby by the Rev. George Wilkinson, who presented it to the earl of Lonsdale. Here are some fine paintings by eminent masters, among which may be mentioned the Marriage at Cana, by Tintoret9; Hero and Leander, by Guido; and five large groups of animals, by Snyders; besides several family portraits.
Lowther Family - Of this ancient family, who are intimately connected with the history of Cumberland and Westmorland, the first on record occurs in a deed to which William and Thomas de Lowther were witnesses, in the reign of Henry II, but it is supposed they were noted before the conquest, and took the name from the river Lowther, or Loder (in the British language, Gled-dwr), signifying a limpid stream. The supposition that the name is of Danish origin, from Loth and Er, meaning pertinent stock of honour, is considered as one of those flights of the imagination in which antiquaries sometimes indulge. The names of Sir Thomas de Lowther, Sir Gervase de Lowther, Knight, and Gervase de Lowther, archdeacon of Carlisle, occur in the reign of Henry III; but the regular pedigree commences in the reign of Edward I, with Sir Hugh de Lowther, who was attorney-general to that monarch, and subsequently justice-itinerant and escheator on the north side of the Trent; and in the 5th of Edward III was made a justice of the King's Bench. From this reign till that of William III, the Lowthers filled various offices of trust and honor in the law, and also as knights of the shire of Cumberland and Westmorland, and as sheriff of the former county. In 1669, Sir Richard Lowther, Knt., was deputy warden of the west marches, and conveyed the persecuted Mary, Queen of Scots, from Cockermouth to Carlisle Castle, and, on her way to Bolton, entertained her at Lowther Hall. Sir John Lowther sat as knight of the shire of Westmorland, and was succeeded by his son, Sir John, who was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, 1640. He suffered much in the royal cause, during the civil wars, but was one of the knights of the shire for Westmorland in the parliament which restored Charles II. Sir John Lowther, second baronet, his grandson, distinguished himself during the revolution of 1688, by securing the city of Carlisle, and causing the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland to appear in favor of the prince of Orange, afterwards William III. For his service he was constituted vice-chamberlain of his majesty's household, made one of his privy councillors, and lord-lieutenant of Westmorland; and in 1696 was created Baron of Lowther and Viscount Lonsdale. In 1699, he was made Lord Privy Seal, and was twice one of the Lords Justices of the kingdom, during the absence of the king. He died in 1700, aged 45 years, and was succeeded by his second son, Henry, third viscount Lonsdale, who died, unmarried, in 1750, having passed through several offices of state with honor and dignity. In this nobleman the peerage became extinct, but the baronetcy descended to Sir James Lowther, who, in 1755, succeeded to the immense property of his kinsman, Sir James Lowther, of Whitehaven, which was estimated at £2,000,000. In 1784, he was created baron Lowther, baron Kendal, baron Burgh, viscount Lonsdale, viscount Lowther, and earl of Lonsdale; and, in 1797, baron and viscount Lowther of Whitehaven, with remainder to the heirs male of his third cousin, the Rev. Sir Wm. Lowther, of Swillington, Bart. He died, without issue, in 1802, when the titles of 1797 descended to Sir Wm. Lowther, Bart., the late earl, who succeeded as viscount Lowther in 1802, and was created earl of Lonsdale in 1807. In 1808, he printed a journal written by John, viscount Lonsdale, entitled "Memoirs of the Reign of James II" He died, March 19th, 1844, aged 87 years, and was succeeded by his son William, the present earl of Lonsdale, F.S.A., who was born 30th July, 1787, and is now lord-lieutenant and custos rotulorum10 of Cumberland. His seats are Lowther and Whitehaven castles. Since the history of Carlisle was printed, a monument to the late earl of Lonsdale, with a marble statue,11 executed by Mr. M.L. Watson, a native artist, has been placed in the open space between the two court houses in that city. The statue is grand and imposing, and, instead of the Roman toga, the purely national costume of a knight of the garter has been adopted.
Coal seams, Pits, &c. - "Several bands or seams of coal show themselves in various places on the sloping surface on the west side of the vale, above and on the sea shore near the town. On the first attempt to work the coal near Whitehaven, a level or water course was driven from the bottom of the valley, near the Pow beck, till it intersected a seam of coal, known by the name of Bannock Band, and drained a considerable field of coal, which was drawn out of pits from twenty to sixty yards deep. After this, another level was driven westward, from near the farm house, called Thicket, across the seam called the Main Band. This level also effectually drained a large bed of coal, which was drawn out of the pits by men with jack rowls, or windlasses, and then carried to the ships on the backs of galloways12, in packs of fourteen stones each. A later attempt to get coals here was made at Ginns, where both the coal and water were drawn from the pits with horses and vertical machines, called ginns, a name that has since been bestowed upon the populous suburb that now occupies the spot. The raising of water from the mines by the power of horses being very expensive, Sir James Lowther purchased a steam engine, which had been used in raising water to supply the city of London, and was, it is said, the second machine of that kind built in England." Another powerful engine having afterwards been erected near the Ginns, a considerable extent of coal was drained. The Parker Pit was subsequently opened, and a railway for the more easy passage of coal waggons was extended from it to the harbour staith13. Another pit, about 140 yards deep, was sunk at Salton, about the year 1714, and a steam engine, with a forty inch cylinder, was erected. Another engine of the same power was afterwards erected, but both being worn out in 1780, another was built, capable of raising 9,240 hogsheads14 of water in twenty-four hours.
The next mine opened were the Howgill and Whingill collieries, the former situated to the south-west of the town, and the later to the north-east. They have both been very productive, and the William Pit is said to be one of the best planned works of the kind, and the most complete in all its conveniences, of any in the kingdom. It is upward of 150 fathoms15 deep, and is worked about five miles under the sea; but the Duke pit, on the Howgill side, was discontinued about three years since, and now serves as an air pit to the Wellington, which is on the western side of the harbour, and is already noticed at considerable length. It is at present sunk to the depth of 152 fathoms, and has three workable coal seams, viz., the Bannock Band, which is about seven feet thick, exclusive of about four feet of metal16; Main Band, eleven feet thick, and about 240 yards deep, and the bottom seam, about six feet thick.
"To the southward of Howgill, these seams are thrown nearer the surface by dykes, or perpendicular rents of the solid strata, varying from two feet to several fathoms in breadth, and filled with basalt, clay, stones, &c. The largest of these dykes runs nearly in the direction of east and west. The coal seams always keep at equal distances from each other, and dip, or descend sloping, nearly due west, about one yard in ten." It has been said that the collieries in this neighbourhood have much less water, according to the extent of the workings, than those about Newcastle and other flat countries; and it is supposed the miners work at a greater depth below the sea here than in any other part of the world. Hutchinson mentions three of the Bear Mouths, or audits, through which the men and horses go down to the coal seams, viz., Howgill Bear Mouth, Ginns Bear Mouth, and Green Bank Bear Mouth, but there are several more at some distance from the town. Accommodation has been provided for the horses below ground during the last forty years.
Carlyle Spedding, who had been sent by Sir James Lowther to inspect some of the principal collieries in Northumberland, introduced many improvements in the coal mines at Whitehaven, and invented the steel wheel and flints, by which sparks of fire were produced to light the collier in those parts of the mines where a burning candle would have ignited the carburetted hydrogen gas, or fire damp. "On one of these melancholy occasions Mr. Spedding fell a victim to the burning fluid, about the year 1760; since which several effective inventions have been produced for the purpose of preventing accidents in coal mines." In 1815, Sir Humphrey Davy produced a lamp covered with wire gauze, which proves impervious to flame, and though surrounded by inflammable air, prevents the communication of any with the burners. "In 1805, Mr. Jas. Ryan, a Worcestershire colliery viewer, obtained a patent for an improved method of boring for coal, by means of a cylindrical cutter; and in 1816 he obtained a gold medal and one hundred guineas from the Society of Arts, for his new method of ventilating coal mines, by which the draught, instead of sweeping through the numerous passages and inner workings of the mines, operates directly on the head way, which is excavated round the interior of the mine for the purpose of drawing off the gas from the interior, and expelling it at the upcast shaft without suffering it to spread through the works."
In 1791, several houses in Duke street and George street were injured by the falling in of some of the old coal works, but fortunately the inmates escaped unhurt; but two men, a woman, and five horses, perished in the overwhelming torrent of water which burst suddenly from the old workings into the new mines, and which was the cause of the accident. In 1797, the town and harbour sustained much damage by a tremendous storm of wind and rain, which caused the tide to rise so high, that it overflowed the market place, was three feet deep on Custom House Quay, and washed up part of the pavement in Marlborough street.
One of the most momentous historical facts of a military character, connected with the annals of Whitehaven, is the daring attempt of the notorious Paul Jones to fire the shipping in the harbour. He landed here early in the morning of the 23rd of April, 1778, with about thirty armed men, from on board an American privateer, the Ranger, mounting 18 six pounders and 6 swivels, which had been equipped at Nantes for this hostile expedition. Jones, who was a native of Galloway, had served his apprenticeship as a seaman, on board a vessel belonging to Whitehaven. These desperadoes set fire to three ships, expecting the flames would spread through the two hundred then in the harbour, but being betrayed by one of their companions, who fled into the town and alarmed the inhabitants, this catastrophe was prevented by their timely defence. Jones and his crew therefore made a precipitate retreat, having spiked all the guns in the nearest battery, and re-embarked in two boats, before any force could be brought against them. Three of the guns were, however, soon cleared, and several shots fired, but the adventurous enemy escaped unhurt, and afterwards landed on the coast of Galloway, where they plundered the house of the earl of Selkirk. Soon after this rencounter, great exertions were used to put the harbour in a proper state of defense, and a subscription for this purpose amounted, in the space of four days, to £857 5s. 3d., the chief part of which sum was necessary to render the Batteries efficient. An additional supply was received from Woolwich, making the total number of guns 98, amongst which were 12 forty-two pounders, and 18 thirty-six pounders.
The situation of the Old Fort is at the entrance to the New Quay, and commands the whole of the harbour, and the approach to it from the northward. About two hundred yards from it was the Half Moon Battery, so situated as to command the whole bay. On the opposite side of the harbour, at a place formerly known as Jack-a-Dandy, was an open battery, on which were mounted four of the heaviest pieces and some smaller guns. There was also another battery on a height above the William Pit, which commanded not only the whole bay, but also the coast towards Harrington and Workington. There were mounted about forty seven years ago, on the different batteries, three 42 pounders, eight 24 pounders, seven 18 pounders, besides eight 24 pounders, unserviceable; and of dismounted guns, three 42 pounders and three 18 pounders, serviceable, and four 42 pounders, unserviceable. There is now only one battery, and even that has been rendered so useless since "grim visaged war has smoothed his wrinkled front," that it is quite neglected, and unprepared for defence.
Churches - Until 1693, the only place of worship in Whitehaven was "a little old chapel," with a bell turret, and a cross at the east end, situate in Chapel street. St. Nicholas17 Church was erected by Sir John Lowther and the inhabitants, at the expense of £1066 16s. 2½d., and consecrated 16th July, 1693, when the House of Commons was unsuccessfully petitioned to make it parochial. It is a large plain structure, standing in a spacious burial ground, ornamented with trees, and bounded by Church street, Lowther street, and Queen street. It has nothing very ecclesiastical in its external appearance, except the tower, but internally is very handsomely fitted up. A fine toned organ, built by Snetzler, was placed here in 1756. The pew of the earl of Lonsdale has some elaborate carving; and in the church are several mural tablets. It was certified to the governors of queen Anne's bounty at £60 a year, of which £40 arose from seats, and the rest from contributions. It has since received a parliamentary grant of £800 and it was certified to the commissioners of the ecclesiastical revenues, as of the average value of £188. The benefice is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the earl of Lonsdale, and incumbency of the Revd. Andrew Huddleston, D.D. The Rev. W. F. Wicks is curate, and Mr. C. Pearson, clerk. The ecclesiastical courts for the deanery of Copeland are held here twice a year.
Holy Trinity Church, situate at the junction of Scotch street, Irish street, and Roper street, was built in 1715, by James Lowther, Esq., and others of the inhabitants. Its style is very similar to that of St. Nicholas. Over the altar table, which is placed in a semicircular recess, is a painting of the Ascension, by Matthias Reid; and near the tower is a marble monument with a Latin inscription, to the memory of Sir James Lowther, who died in 1755; and here are several other handsome mural monuments and tablets. The benefice is a perpetual curacy, certified at £60; and in 1835, was of the average value of £250, but it is now worth £300 per annum, having been augmented by William, earl of Lonsdale, and £400 obtained from queen Anne's bounty. The gift of the living is alternately in the earl and seat-holders. The Revd. Thomas Dalton, M.A. is the present incumbent, and Mr. James Moore is clerk.
St. James Church, erected in 1752, occupies an elevated situation at the top of Queen street, and its tower is about 78 feet in height. Its size and style of architecture are not much dissimilar to that of the others. The benefice is also a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the earl of Lonsdale, and incumbency of the Revd. John Jenkins. It too has received a grant of £800, and an augmentation from the earl of Lonsdale, and was returned as of the average annual value of £200. Mr. George Walker is clerk.
Christ's Church, situate in Preston street, was opened for divine worship on the 28th of April, 1847, by the Rev. Richard Parkinson, Principal of the Collegiate Institution of Saint Bees, and a number of other clergymen; and on the 29th of September following was consecrated, and constituted a Parish Church for all ecclesiastical purposes. It is a neat edifice, in the Norman style of architecture, built at the cost of about £2,200, all raised by subscription, except £700 obtained from the Diocesan, and Incorporated Societies. It will seat near 1000 persons, and has a bell turret, surmounted by a cross. The district allotted for this church contains a population of about 4000 souls. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed by government with £150 a year, in the alternate patronage of the Queen and the bishop of the diocese, and in the incumbency of the Rev. John Rimmer. Mr. John Pennington is clerk.
Chapels - There are two Catholic chapels in this town; the one in Duke street, dedicated in honor of the Blessed Virgin, was erected about the year 1780, and greatly enlarged in 1824. The altar piece is a good painting of the Crucifixion, copied from the original in the possession of ----- Braddyl, Esq. Conishead Priory. The other Catholic chapel (St. Gregory) is situate at the south-eastern extremity of the town, on the road leading from Ginns to Corkickle, and was built in 1834, on land given by the late earl of Lonsdale, who also contributed £100 towards its erection. It is a neat building, calculated to seat about 650 persons, and has a stained and several painted glass windows. The enclosure contains a small burial ground, with a house and garden for the priests. Divine service is performed at each chapel, alternately, on every Sunday morning, but always at St. Gregory's in the afternoon, and at St. Mary's in the evening. They are now under the pastoral care of the Revds. William Gregory Holden, and James Duck, and we understand the number of Catholics in the town and neighbourhood is about 2,700. Each chapel has a good organ.
The Scotch Chapel, in James street, was erected in 1695, by Presbyterian Congregationalists, who at that time came over here from Ireland. It is a plain substantial building, in good repair, and has several of its windows coloured or painted. It will seat about 800 persons, and is now under the ministry of the Rev. Joseph Burns.
The Independent Chapel, in Duke street, was built in 1793, and enlarged in 1838, at a cost of about £650, and is now attended by a numerous and respectable congregation. It will accommodate about 800 persons. The Rev. James McFarlane is the present minister. This chapel originally belonged to lady Huntingdon's connection. The Sunday School is attended by about 200 children.
The United Secession (Presbyterian) Chapel, in High street, is a plain building, containing about 550 sittings, and is now under the ministry of the Rev. James Howie.
The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, in Michael street, was rebuilt in 1818, and being galleried round, will seat about 1000 persons. The first Sunday School in the town is attached to this chapel.
The Wesleyan Association Chapel, in Catherine street, was built in 1836, at the secession, and is a neat building, capable of accommodating about 800 hearers. Behind this chapel is a spacious building used as a Sunday School.
The Chapel at Mount Pleasant, which was built in 1789, by Mr. Hogarth, as an episcopal place of worship, has long been occupied by the Primitive Methodists.
The Society of Friends have a meeting house in Sandhills lane, attended by a highly respectable congregation. There are in the town two small chapels belonging to the Baptists, one of which is in Charles street, and was enlarged in 1842; the other at Gore's Buildings, and was erected in that year, but neither has a regular minister at present. Here is also another small Christian community, under the ministry of the Rev. George Bird, late of the Established Church, and their place of worship is at the Guinea warehouse.
Religious Institutions - The Copeland District Committee, for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, was established in 1824, and is supported by the clergy and others of the established church in this deanery. The annual subscription is not less than one guinea, and the number of books distributed during the year ending March 1846, was 230 bibles, 238 testaments, 541 prayer books, and 5719 miscellaneous books and tracts. Its accounts for the same year amounted to £225 13s. 0¼d. The earl of Lonsdale is patron, the Rev. R. Parkinson, B.D., president, E.H. Heywood, Esq., treasurer, the Revds. J. Hodgson and T. Dalton, secretaries, Mr. T. Boustead, assistant secretary and keeper of the depository, 18 Lowther-st. The Independants have a branch of the London Missionary Tract Society, and the average annual contributions amount to about £60. Here are also Missionary and other Societies, belonging to the Wesleyans, Baptists, &c.
Charitable Institutions - The Infirmary and Dispensary occupy a large building in Howgill street, with a Fever Hospital, or House of Recovery attached, and these united institutions are conducted similar to those at Carlisle and other places. A Dispensary has existed in the town since 1783, and a House of Recovery since 1819, but the Infirmary was only established in 1830, and a great benefit of such an invaluable institution has every year since become more apparent. During the first thirteen years of its existence, the number of patients averaged between forty and fifty annually, and in 1844, the number of patients admitted was 104, a very great increase upon the average of former years, and during the first six months of the present year, there have not been less than 112 admitted, being more than the number admitted during the whole of any preceding year, and the refusals during the same period have been nearly as many, owing to the low state of the funds, and not from any want of accommodation. In 1831, the first year of its institution, the subscriptions amounted to £287; in 1841, they had fallen to £231; and in 1846, they had still further decreased to £216, whilst the number of patients was yearly increasing. The total receipts for the year ending 31st December, 1846, amounted to £381 18s. 6d. and the disbursements to £343 7s.; and the stock on hand at the same time amounted to £2203 9s. 4d., viz., Whitehaven Harbour Bonds, 4 per cent £900; 3 per cent consols on £1200, cost £966 8s. 3d.; Whitehaven Joint Stock Bank, £295 10s. 4d. and Whitehaven Bank for Savings, £41 10s. 9d. The Right Hon. the earl of Lonsdale is president of this truly admirable institution, and there are five vice presidents. John Peile, Esq., is treasurer; Mr. Armistead, secretary, Robert Falcon, M.D. and John Stanley, M.D. consulting physicians, Mr. Dawson and Mr. Fox, consulting surgeons, Messrs. Mitchell, Mossop, Burns, Dr. Wilson, Parkin, J.B. Wilson, Clarke, Fidler, and Thompson, surgeons, Mr. Francis Ianson, house surgeon, and Mrs. Jane Holliday is matron.
The Ladies' Charity, which affords relief and assistance to married women in childbed, at their own houses, and to widows whose husbands have died during their pregnancy, resident in the town and suburbs, was instituted in 1805. The Ladies' Benevolent Society, for visiting and relieving the sick poor, was formed in 1818. Here is also a Blanket and Clothing Society, "not only to supply the poor with cheap clothing, but also to enable them to deposit small sums, and to pay for articles of clothing by such trifling instalments as they can conveniently spare." The Soup Kitchen, in Queen street, furnishes the indigent with £50 worth of nutritious soup, in winter, pursuant to the bequest of the benevolent Matthew Piper, Esq., who bequeathed the interest of £1000 for that purpose.
In 1825, Joshua Dixon, Esq. M.D. left a legacy of £50 to be distributed amongst the poor who do not receive parochial relief; and the following benefactions are dispensed by the churchwardens, to the poor at Trinity Church, annually at Christmas :- £7 18s., the interest of £200 left about seventy years ago, by the Rev. Thomas Sewell, for twenty poor widows; £5 the interest of £100 bequeathed in 1773, by Joseph Glaister, Esq.; £4 4s. being part of the interest of £400 vested in Government Stock 4 per cents and bequeathed in 1819 by Mrs. Birkhead.
Provident Institution - Amongst these may be enumerated a Lodge of Freemasons, two Lodges of Odd Fellows, a Lodge of Foresters, a Mariners' Friendly Society, a Carpenters', a Rechabite, and a Hibernian Society, and two benefit societies belonging to the miners, &c.
The Savings' Bank is also a provident institution, which affords to the humbler classes a profitable investment for their savings, on good security. It was first established here in 1818, and its deposits now amount to about £80,000 belonging to 2348 depositors, seven Charitable, and twenty-six Friendly Societies. William Miller is treasurer, and Isaac Hayton, secretary. It occupies a large and handsome building in Lowther street, and is open every Saturday evening, from six to eight.
Workhouses - Whitehaven Union18 - There has been no new workhouse built here since the formation of the Union, the old workhouse for the township of Whitehaven, and at Ginns, for Preston Quarter, being considered sufficiently capacious. The former of these is situated in Scotch street, and was built in 1743, at the cost of a considerable sum, "borrowed upon tickets not exceeding £25 each, bearing interest for thirty-one years," after which the payment of the principal commenced, and was all paid off in 1780. It was considerably enlarged in 1795, so that it is now capable of containing two hundred persons, and is appropriated for the reception of female paupers. The Preston Quarter Workhouse is appropriated to the male paupers, and in consequence of some recent alterations is now calculated to hold about two hundred inmates. The Union comprises the following 23 townships and parishes, viz., Arlecdon, Cleator, Distington, Egremont, Ennerdale and Kenniside, Gosforth, Haile, Harrington, Hensingham, Lamplugh, Lowside Quarter, Moresby, Nether Wasdale, Parton, Ponsonby, Preston Quarter, Rottington, St. Bridget's, St. Bees, St. John's, Sandwith, Weddicar, and Whitehaven, containing in 1841, a population of 30,202 souls, and covering an area of 81,209 acres. The population and area of each district is as follows :- Whitehaven, 16,635 souls, 3570 acres; Egremont, 6623 souls, 34,217 acres; Harrington, 6944 souls, and 43,422 acres. The board of Guardians consists of thirty-two, viz., six for Whitehaven, three for Preston Quarter, two for Egremont, two for Harrington, and for all the rest, one guardian each. The following are the officers :- Chairman, William Lamb, Esq.; Vice Chairman, Mr. Wm. Wilson; Treasurer, Mr. Peter Cameron, manager of the Joint Stock Bank, Whitehaven; Auditor, R. F. Yarker, Esq., Ulverstone; Clerk & Superintendent Registrar, Mr. Jno. B. Postlethwaite, Solicitor, Whitehaven; Chaplain, Revd. John Hodgson; Relieving Officer and Registrar of births and deaths for Whitehaven district, Mr. John Mawson, Church street; Relieving Officer for St. Bees district, Mr. John Walker, Gill; and registrar, Mr. Mossop, Hale Long, 15, Preston street; Registrar for Cleator, W. Kitchen; Relieving Officer and Registrar of births and deaths for Distington, Jeremiah Gunson; Registrar of marriages, John Jackson and Richd. S. Whiteside, spirit merchants, Whitehaven; Medical Officers, Robert Lumb, Church st. for Whitehaven district; Isaac Mossop, Queen st, for Preston Quarter; William Maxwell Johnston, for Harrington district; William Reeves, for Egremont district; and James Bryden, for Gosforth district; Master and Matron of the Workhouses, Henry and Mrs. Sturgeon; and Jane Wilson is Sub-matron for the Whitehaven workhouse. William Benson is schoolmaster for the Preston Quarter workhouse, and Barbara Wetters is schoolmistress of the other. All the magistrates of the district are ex officio guardians, and the meetings are held every Thursday at the Savings' Bank, Whitehaven. There were for the quarter ending 24th December, 1846, 1914 paupers relieved, at an expense of £1579 3s. 7d. exclusive of £38 19s. 0d. registration, and £10 7s. 0d. vaccination fees. The total expenditure of the Union for the year ending March, 1844, was about £6830; for 1845, £7620; for 1846, £7470; and for 1847, £7800. The number of paupers now (July, 1847) in the workhouses, is 127 males and 150 females, and the number of children in the schools is about 130, viz., 70 boys and 60 girls.
Free Schools- The National School, which was commenced in 1814, occupies a large building at the top of Wellington Row, erected in 1824; and in 1835, was cemented, repaired, and palisaded, at the cost of about £150 by the munificence of Mr. John Pennyfeather. It affords education to about 450 boys and girls, under the superintendence of Charles Davis and Elizabeth Hudson.
The Marine School was founded in 1817, by Matthew Piper, Esqr. of Whitehaven, a member of the Society of Friends, who munificently endowed it with £2000 navy five per cent annuities, vested in the hands of fifteen trustees, "for the education of sixty poor boys resident in the town of Whitehaven, or the neighbourhood, in reading, writing, arithmetic, guaging, navigation, and book-keeping." The school, which is situate in High street, was erected by the earl of Lonsdale, and opened in 1822. Prior to being admitted, every boy must be able to read the New testament, and be above eight years of age: none are allowed to remain more than five years. "Although this school is intended to convey such nautical instruction as shall qualify its pupils to act as mates and masters of vessels, they are not placed under any obligation to go to sea, as the name of the institution may be supposed to imply." George Harrison, Esq. is the treasurer and one of the trustees, and Mr. Wm. Scott is the master.
The Infant School, at Ginns, where the rudiments of instruction are imparted to about 80 children, was instituted in 1818.
St. Nicholas' Infant and Sunday School, in Scotch street, which was erected in 1846, is a neat building, calculated to hold 500 children, and is now attended by about 300, who are instructed by Miss Ellen Gaythorp, and two assistants.
Both these schools are liberally supported; and by a judicious and pleasing interchange of exercise and instruction, there is soon experienced a gradual development of the bodily and mental powers of the children, who pay only one penny per week each.
The British School, in Ginns, under the same roof as the Infant School, was established in 1845, and is now attended by about 90 pupils, who pay 2d. a week each, for reading, writing and arithmetic, and 4d. for grammar and geography. It is conducted on the Lancastrian system, and the room is capable of containing about 140. Mr. Jno. Pleace is master of the school.
Trinity Church School, in Newtown, is a neat and commodious building, erected about 1837, divided into two well-ventilated compartments, capable of containing about 800 children. It is now attended by about 120 boys and 60 girls, who pay 1d. each for reading, and 1½d. for writing, arithmetic, &c. The late Mr. Pennyfeather, who had been for many years head gardener to the earl of Lonsdale, subscribed £100 towards the erection of this school; and, as an acknowledgement for his benevolence, a handsome tablet has been erected here. He was also a liberal benefactor to several other charitable institutions in this town. John Pennington and Agnes Butler are master and mistress.
The Catholic School, at Ginns, also partly supported by subscription, is now attended by 60 boys and 50 girls. The school is conducted by John Kinsella and Elizabeth M'Alister.
Besides the day schools, several hundred children receive gratuitous instruction at the various Sunday schools in the town, and none need be suffered to grow up in ignorance, without acquiring at least the rudiments of learning, however abject the poverty of their parents.
Newspaper, Literary Institutions, Places Of Amusement, &c. - "The Cumberland Pacquet," published every Tuesday by Mr. Robert Gibson, at No. 26, King street, is the oldest newspaper in the county, having been established in 1774, by Mr. Ware. It advocates tory, or conservative principles, and has an extensive circulation in the south-west parts of Cumberland. "The Whitehaven Herald," was commenced in 1830, and is now published by Mr. George Irwin 13, Lowther street. It favors the whig policy. Two other weekly newspapers have been published here, viz., the "Chronicle," which only lived a very short period; and the "Gazette," which was continued from 1819 to 1826, when it was purchased by the proprietor of the "Pacquet."
The Mechanic's Institute, established in 1844, occupies a room in Duke street, and now consists of 160 members, who pay 5s. per annum each. It possesses a good library, amongst which are some valuable works. There was a Mechanics' and an Apprentice Library and Institution formed here in 1825, but not having been sufficiently patronized, was, after a few years, discontinued. The present admirable institution is steadily progressing, though we are sorry to find it has not yet received that liberal support from the gentry of the town and neighbourhood, which it justly merits, and its importance deserves. In this institution there are four classes, viz., a phonographic19, a discussion, a drawing, and singing class; and here is a small museum, consisting of some curious fossils, with various coins, relics, &c.; there is also a museum at No. 27, King street, tolerably well supplied with geological specimens and other curiosities.
The Subscription Library was commenced in 1797, and now occupies a handsome building in Catherine street, erected by the late earl of Lonsdale. It consists of about 10,000 vols., and has at present 168 subscribers of one guinea per annum each. Every new member pays one guinea at his entrance. Mr. J.F. Lowes is secretary, and Mrs. Rothery is the librarian. The News Room, in the upper part of the public office, Lowther street, is very elegantly fitted up, and ornamented with paintings of the late earl of Lonsdale, William IV, and her present majesty. It is attended by 87 annual subscribers of one guinea each; it is well furnished with London and provincial newspapers : Mr. Peter Sherwen, is president; Mr. J.W. Wilson, vice president; and Mr. Thomas Brocklebank, secretary. There is also a "Temperance News Room," at No. 2, Tangier street, established in 1847, and has now about 40 members.
The Theatre is a neat structure, in Roper street, erected in 1769, and at the usual prices will hold about £60; but the taste for dramatic literature has been for some time on the decline in this town, owing, perhaps in some measure, to the rare appearance of any theatrical luminary, and the general lack of talent introduced. Mr. John Caple is the present lessee.
The Cricket Ground and Bowling Green, at the end of Howgill street, cover an area of about six acres, and has been given for the purpose by the late earl of Lonsdale. It affords a healthy and innocent recreation to the young gentry of the town, and is well supported by about 160 members, who subscribe 10s. per annum each. There is also a Bowling Green near Mount Peasant, at which several amuse themselves during the summer months. On the West Strand is a convenient suite of cold, warm, and shower Salt Water Baths, erected by the town and harbour trustees, in 1814. Tickets to admit a whole family, 15s. a year; a single person, 10s. and non-subscribers, 1s. 6d. for each bath. Hannah Lachlison is bath-keeper. Although this town is not resorted to as a watering place, the sands on the north side of the harbour are not ill-adapted for that purpose; and the inclination of the beach towards the sea is so gradual, that bathing may be safely performed at all times of the tide.
Markets, &c. - The Markets are held on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and are well supplied with all kinds of provisions, especially on Thursday, which is the principal market. The Market Place, which is surrounded with well-stocked retail shops, is tolerably spacious, having been enlarged, and rendered more commodious in 1764, by throwing an arch over the Pow, or Poe Beck, which runs under the town. It now extends from King street to Irish street, and contains two neat market houses, rebuilt in 1813, from designs by Smirke; one of these is for poultry, butter, eggs, &c., and the other is the Fish Market, which is generally supplied with several kinds of fish. A passage from the Market place to the New Market, where glass, earthenware, and other commodities are exhibited for sale. Chapel street divides the Shambles20 into two parts, viz. the Low Market, extending to King street and George's Market, which leads to Church street. The Corn Market is held in Duke street. The two Butcher Markets are private property; the High Market belongs to Mr. Thomas Robinson, and the Low Market to Mr. Rd. Barker. A slaughter house is attached to the former, and a very convenient one for the Low Market has been lately erected in the Newtown. Formerly the harbour occupied that part of the town on which the buildings between Strand street and Chapel street now stand. The gut which separated them was filled up early in the last century, the stone bridge which crossed the Pow, opposite the Golden Lion, was removed, and the rivulet covered over as at present.
Banks, &c. - There are two banks in this town, viz. the Bank of Whitehaven, and the Whitehaven Joint Stock Bank. The first bank established in Whitehaven was opened in 1786, by Messrs. T. Hartley, M. Hartley, and S. Potter; another was established in 1793, by Messrs. Moore, Hamilton, Harrison, Serjeant, and Co.; another, under the firm of Johnston, Adamson, and Co. suspended payment during the panic of 1825; and these commercial institutions are now concentrated in the Bank of Whitehaven, of which Stanley Dodgson, Esq. is manager. The Joint Stock Bank was established under the Act 7th Geo. IV c. 236, and now occupies a large building in Queen street. Peter Cameron, Esq. is manager.
The Lonsdale Hotel, the first stone of which was laid 26th September, 1846, is one of the largest and most magnificent buildings of the kind in the north of England. It is in the Lombardian style of architecture, and was erected by the earl of Lonsdale, at an immense expense, from a design and under the superintendance of Mr. Barnes, of London. Mr. Hugh Todhunter, of Whitehaven, was the builder. It covers an area of 6000 superficial feet, being 100 feet in length, and 60 in width. There are about eighty rooms, including a spacious ball room, a large public coffee room of more than 1200 feet superficial area, sitting rooms, bed rooms, &c. It is situate at Bransty, contiguous to the Whitehaven Junction Railway Station, and is a great ornament to the town and harbour. There are three other excellent hotels in Whitehaven, besides several comfortable inns, &c.
Railways - The Whitehaven Junction Railway was opened 18th March, 1847; and the Whitehaven and Furness Junction Railway is now in progress, which, when completed, will afford the most direct and expeditious transit from this town to Lancaster and the south. The line proceeds from Whitehaven along an open valley which extends southward to St. Bees, and thence near the coast to Ravenglass, from whence it proceeds to Millom, and across the Duddon sands till it joins the Furness Railway. The present Station at Bransty, for the Whitehaven Junction Railway, is to be superseded by a very extensive one, covering a large area. The valley above alluded to is supposed to have been anciently occupied by the sea, and this opinion is supported by the appearance of the soil, and the discovery of an anchor several years ago, at a considerable depth under ground, about half way up the vale. The small rivulet called Poe, a corruption of Peau, which runs through this valley, denotes a black boggy ground covered with small yellow flowers.
Government Of The Town And Harbour - 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 the purpose of building quays, piers, &c.; and several other Acts extending their power have since been passed. Twenty of the trustees are elected triennially; fourteen are chosen by the inhabitants who pay harbour dues, and six are appointed by the lord of the manor, who is one permanently. Their jurisdiction extends northward from the old quay to Redness Point21. The following are the names of the present trustees :- the earl of Lonsdale, colonel Lowther, Rev. Henry Lowther, Rev. John Jenkins, John Harrison, Esq., Thomas Hartley, Esq., George Buckham, James McMinn, major Spedding, Richard Barker, John Dawson, John Bell, James Bell, William Lumb, sen., William Miller, John Peile, Peter Fisher, Thomas Mitchell, captain Pew, John Moore, and Henry Jefferson. The Harbour Office is at the West Strand, and the following are the officers :- Mr. E.H. Heywood is secretary and treasurer, Mr. Anthony Nicholson, harbour master, and Mr. Joseph Hodgson, collector.
The Public Office, in Lowther street, is a neat stone edifice, erected in 1807. The lower part contains the court room, where petty sessions are held for this ward every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, when two or more of the following magistrates are on the bench, viz. - the Rev. John Jenkins, Rev. Henry Lowther, Robert Jefferson, Esq., George Harrison, Esq., Thomas Hartley, Esq., Gilfred William Hartley, Esq., Robert Brisco, Esq., major Spedding, captain Isaac Shaw, captain Irwin, and Edward Stanley, Esq., for whom Mr. Richard Armistead is clerk. A Court Baron, for the recovery of debts under 40s., is held here every month under the lord of the manor. The County Court, which came into operation in March, 1847, for the recovery of debts not exceeding £20 is held monthly in a large room at the Globe Hotel, Duke street. Mr. W.J. Lyne is clerk, and Mr. T. Bell, bailiff.
The Police establishment consists of a superintendent, (George Goodman), one serjeant, and nine men, and the Station is at 19, King street, where there is also a lock-up. The House of Correction, in Peter street, is a prison where delinquents are confined for fourteen days; and previous to the erection of this building all the delinquents were confined in the workhouse, Scotch street. Mr. Robert Cowen is the keeper. 22
By the Reform Bill of 1832, Whitehaven received the privilege of returning one member to Parliament, and its first representative, after a severe contest with Isaac Littledale, Esq. who contested the borough on the liberal interest, was M. Atwood, Esq. who resigned in July, 1847, when he was succeeded by the present member, R.C. Hildyard, Esq. who was elected without opposition.
The Port of Whitehaven comprises within its jurisdiction the harbours of Workington, Harrington, Ravenglass, and Millom, with all the intermediate coast, extending from Midstream, in the river Duddon, to about three miles N.W. of Workington, a distance of about 44 miles; and it also included Maryport, until 1841, when that town was made an independent port. Its extent seaward is ten fathoms of water. The port of Carlisle comprehended all the coast of Cumberland, till about the reign of Charles II, when the first custom house was erected at Whitehaven. The present large and convenient Custom House, situate at the West Strand, was repaired in 1811, and considerably improved about six years ago. The following are the custom house officers :- W.S. Roe, Esq. collector; Mr. Robinson Simpson, chief clerk, with three assistants; Mr. John Mackinley, comptroller; Mr. Richard Mangham, searcher; Mr. William Marshall, landing waiter; and Mr. Alex McBride, tide surveyor; with three tide waiters, five boatmen, and three lockers and weighers. Mr. William Hodgson is sub-collector at Workington, and Mr. D.C. Pagan, comptroller; and Mr. Thomas Pasley is tide surveyor at Harrington. Mr. John Lamb, coast waiter at Ravenglass; and Mr. John Kerr, tide surveyor at Millom.
The Excise Office is in New Lowther street, and the following are the officers :- Joseph Longrigg, Esq., collector; William S. Moore, collector's clerk; Edward Pickering, supervisor; John Booth, permit writer; and D.I. Flattely and G. Paploe are the other officers.
Amongst the Worthies who were born or flourished at Whitehaven, are the following :-
Anthony Bacon, Esq., who was born in this town, raised himself, after his thirtieth year, by his talents, from a master mariner to the rank of one of the first merchants in London, and had a seat in the House of Commons during three successive Parliaments.
The Rev. Thomas Bacon23, who published, in a large folio volume, A Digest of the Laws of Maryland, a volume of Sermons, and the System of the Revenue of Ireland. He was contemporary with the author of 'Pamela.'24
William Brownrigg, M.D., F.R.S., who, while in the practice of medicine in this town, employed his active mind in an investigation of the nature of those exhalations which produced such extraordinary effects in the coal mines; from this he was led to inquire into the nature of mineral waters; and it has been stated that he first suggested to Dr. Priestley the imitation of Pyremont water by impregnating it with carbonic acid gas; and that he was equally entitled to the merit of discovering the nature of Calybeate waters. He made several communications on these subjects to the Royal Society, in 1741, and was consequently elected a member of that learned body. In a letter laid before the Royal Society in 1746, he described an apparatus contrived to convey the carburetted hydrogen gas, or, as it was then called, fire damp, in a constant stream from the pit into his laboratory, where many experiments were made upon that subtle body. He was well acquainted with the subterranean productions of his native county. He died in 1800, aged 88 years.
Joshua Dixon, M.D., of Whitehaven, published a Life of Dr. Brownrigg, and a treatise on Air, Fevers, &c.
Henry Nutter was a celebrated portrait painter, but died in great distress, at Carlisle, owing to his intemperate habits.
James Spedding, Esq., who died in 1789, was the last of a family famed for great ingenuity and attainments in philosophy.
The celebrated Dean Swift25 was brought over here by his nurse, a native of Whitehaven, and received the rudiments of his education in this town.
About the year 1803, the Rev. David Williamson published "Lectures on Civil and Religious Liberty," also "Political Debates and Correspondence with the Rev. John Newton, of London. He was pastor of the United Secession Church in this town.
William Chambers, schoolmaster, who died in 1778, published several works on Navigation and Algebra, and was a person well known in his time as a writer in the English and Irish Diaries.
* Total number of vessels belonging to Cumberland, in 1840, 502; tonnage, 73,372.
We have heard a curious relation respecting these real or imaginary stones, viz., that the inhabitants believed them to be enchanted warriors, and gave them the appellation of "Deead Ring, or Circle," and occasionally "Corpse Circle" - corrupted into the word Corkickle, the name which the locality now bears.
Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847
1. In the original text, Whitehaven is
included in the St. Bees entry.
2. Solway Frith - now Solway Firth.
3. "break", sic; brake.
4. The authors hugely over-estimated the life of the West Cumberland coal field - not a single deep mine remains, although there is still some open-cast mining.
5. "chaldron" - an obsolete coal measure.
6. "culm" - either coal dust, or anthracite coal.
7. Druids - the authors' history is off-beam here. The Whittengomotte, or as it is usually given today "witenagemot", was the Saxon parliament. The druids were pre-Roman, i.e. had been dead for many centuries before the time of the Saxons.
8. "Withy" - willow
9. Tintoret - Tintoretto, 1518-1594; Guido - presumably Guido de Siena, fl. 1260-80; Snyders - Frans Snyders, 1579-1657.
10. "custos rotulorum" - keeper of the rolls.
11. The Lowther statue has been moved a short distance to the front of one of the court houses.
12. Galloways - not, as I thought at first, the breed of cattle, but a breed of horse. Fourteen stones is about 100 Kgs.
13. "staith" - wharf.
14. "hogshead" - about 52 gallons, or 240 litres.
15. "fathom" - six feet.
16. "metal" - i.e. the surrounding rocks.
17. St. Nicholas was rebuilt in 1883.
18. The paragraph on the Whitehaven Union is garbled in the original text, with lines out of sequence, and possibly some text missing. I have "restored" the paragraph, but it should be read with caution.
19. "phonographic class" must refer to the older meaning of the word - short-hand.
20 "Shambles" - usually a meat market.
21. Redness Point is about half a mile north of Whitehaven.
22. After the description of the police force, there is a section describing the accounts of the harbour, which I have omitted.
23. Anthony Bacon and Thomas Bacon were brothers (personal communication, Jerry Keiser).
24. "Pamela" was written by Samuel Richardson; his dates are 1689-1761.
25. Dean Swift - presumably Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels; 1667-1745.
For archery in Whitehaven, see Sports and Festivities.
All photos © Steve Bulman.
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman