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Whitehaven, Cumberland

Historical Description

Whitehaven, a municipal and parliamentary borough, market-town, township, and four ecclesiastical parishes in St Bees parish, Cumberland. The town stands on the coast, 12 miles SSW of Maryport, and has two stations on the L. & N. W. R. and Furness railway, and a head post office. It began to acquire importance under the influence of the Lowther family, and by exporting coals in 1666 rose rapidly to a considerable seaport town, was attacked in 1778 by Paul Jones, became a parliamentary borough with one representative in 1832, and is a seat of petty sessions and county courts and a port. It is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors, who act as the urban district council. It stands upon a rich coalfield extending 3 miles outward beneath the sea. There are four coal mines, two to the N and two to the S of the town. Iron ore is found in abundance, and is largely exported. The town lies on a small bay, and is enclosed by hills. It is well built, and supplied with water from Ennerdale Lake, and was in 1893 lighted by electricity. The Castle, a seat of the Earl of Lonsdale, is a plain quadrangular mansion erected by the first Earl of Lonsdale. There are four banks, a police station, a county court-house, a town-hall, with public offices and assembly-rooms, public baths, a theatre, a subscription library, a free library, a custom-house, a market-hall, four churches, numerous dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a cemetery, and a race-stand. The workhouse holds over 400 inmates. A fever hospital was opened in 1895. The Whitehaven and West Cumberland Infirmary was established in 1830 and enlarged in 1857. Four newspapers are published, and markets are held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The chief manufactures are bricks, tiles, earthenware, cabinet ware, and spun tobacco; there are also iron foundries, engineering works, steam flour and saw mills, tanneries, breweries, coke ovens, cement works, and quarries. The chief imports are West Indian, American, and Baltic produce (i.e. grain and timber), and the chief exports are iron and coal. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in 1895 was 67 (12,069 tons). The entries and clearances each average 2450 (297,000 tons) per annum. The harbour is artificial, and was formed by Rennie, is entirely tidal, and comprises a north pier running out 800 feet, a west pier running out with a bend 1350 feet, and six other piers in different directions. A patent slip was constructed at the expense of Lord Lonsdale. The Queen's Dock, finished in 1876, is approached through the N harbour, and has a depth of from 16 to 22 feet. There are also an inner harbour and a wet dock, and many quays to facilitate the loading and unloading of vessels. At the end of the W pier, which has a railway over its whole length, is a lighthouse with a revolving white light, and at the end of the N pier is a lighthouse showing a fixed green light Steamers sail regularly to Liverpool, Ramsey, Douglas, Dublin, and Belfast. The municipal and parliamentary boroughs are co-extensive, with an area of 1693 acres, and a population of 19,236.

The township comprises 127 acres of land and 52 of water and foreshore; population, 12,182. The ecclesiastical parishes are St James, St Nicholas, Trinity, and Christ Church, and are all in St Bees parish. The livings are vicarages in the diocese of Carlisle; net value of St James, £200 with residence; gross value of St Nicholas, £195 with residence; net value of Trinity, £300 with residence; gross value of Christ Church, £291. Patron of St James and Christ Church, the Earl of Lonsdale; of Trinity, the Earl of Lonsdale and pewholders alternately; of St Nicholas, trustees. The parish church of St Nicholas was rebuilt in 1883, is in the Gothic style, and consists of chancel, nave, aisles, and an embattled tower. Holy Trinity and St James' consist of chancel, nave, aisles, and tower. Christ Church is in the Early Norman style, and consists of nave, aisles, and turret. There are Congregational, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Methodist, Christian, and Plymouth Brethren chapels, nine schools, and various charities.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyCumberland 
Poor Law unionWhitehaven 
WardAllerdale above Derwent 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Whitehaven from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Cumberland is available to browse.


Online maps of Whitehaven are available from a number of sites:

Villages, Hamlets, &c


Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Cumberland, 1615 is available on the Heraldry page.

RegionNorth West
Postal districtCA28
Post TownWhitehaven