Barrow Civic and Local History Society will hold its first monthly meeting of the year on Friday 26th January. The society was established in 1985 at a time of significant changes in the town. The newly formed Civic Society pledged to preserve the town’s Victorian heritage and encourage a sense of pride.
When fire destroyed the Working Men’s Club and Institute in January 2017 it was hoped that something could be salvaged from such an iconic building, but that is now looking very unlikely. The town’s Victorian heritage is unique and is testament to the efforts of the people who lived here. Barrow Civic and Local History Society is dismayed that nothing seems to be able to save the building, which is now in danger of demolition. However, according to the UK charity The Victorian Society, it seems that this is the fate of many Victorian buildings which become derelict.
It is 33 years since Barrow Civic Society was set up. There have been many changes in the organisation during the intervening years, but our aims are still the same as they were in 1985. If you are interested in learning more about the history of Barrow and the Furness peninsula, you are invited to come along to one of our meetings. Details of our meetings for 2018 can be found on our website, barrowhistorysociety.co.uk.
The first monthly meeting on Friday 26th January will start at 2pm at Trinity Church Centre on Abbey Road. After a short business meeting, the guest speaker at the AGM will be Bill Myers. The title of his talk is “Cumbrian Cooperative Societies.”
Admission, including refreshments, is £2.50 for members and £3 for visitors. At the end of the meeting there will be chance for members to renew their annual subscriptions, which is £3 for a single membership and £5 for a family membership.
Barrow Civic and Local History Society held its first meeting of the year on Friday 26th January. At the beginning of the meeting we paused to remember those members of the society who had passed away in 2017.
During the short AGM that followed, reports for 2017 were given and members of the committee were elected. The guest speaker at the meeting was Bill Myers, whose talk traced the history of the Cooperative movement in the Furness area and explained its impact on local communities. Bill’s extensive collection of photographs emphasised how much the Coop contributed to the daily life of people in the towns and villages. The story of the Cooperative movement is a fascinating one and Bill’s talk gave everyone chance to reflect on their own memories and enjoy the nostalgia of a bygone age. The meeting was very well attended and Geoff Holme gave the vote of thanks.
The next meeting of the society will be held at the Trinity Church Centre on Friday 23rd February at 2pm, when the guest speaker will be Geoff Holme. He will give his talk “Through the Lens: Railways of Barrow”.
Admission to the meeting including refreshments is £2.50 for members and £3 for visitors. Everyone is very welcome to attend.
The guest speaker at the meeting of Barrow Civic and Local History Society at the end of February was Geoff Holme. At the beginning of his talk, Geoff acknowledged the unique legacy of Michael Andrews who had spent over 50 years researching the history of the Furness Railway.
The fact that at one time over 100 miles of track had existed in Barrow and the docks was described by Geoff as “phenomenal.” He traced the story of the Furness Railway back to its early days in 1846, showing maps of the first railway station at Rabbit Hill. We were reminded of the imposing architecture of the Furness Railway General Offices built next to the station between 1855 and 1857. As the population of the town expanded, houses were built in the centre of Barrow and a new station was built, opening in 1882.
Geoff’s collection of photographs emphasised just how quickly landscapes alter, once the railway lines are no longer needed. We were taken on a photographic journey on the workmen’s train from Barrow Island station to Dalton and then on another journey to Rampside station. Geoff’s talk gave people an insight into the extent of the railway in and around Barrow, and everyone enjoyed the talk very much.
The meeting was well attended and Walter Johnston gave the vote of thanks.
The next meeting of the society will be held at 5pm on Friday March 23rd at the Cumbria Archive and Local Studies Centre, Ramsden Square. The Archivist will give an illustrated talk on the diaries of Edward Wadham, agent to the Duke of Buccleuch 1851-
Everyone with an interest in local history is very welcome to come along to the meeting, which will cost £1.50. Meet in Barrow Public Library at around 4.45pm.
Members of Barrow Civic and Local History Society met in March at the Cumbria Archive and Local Studies Centre in the Public Library, Ramsden Square. Archivist Susan Benson gave a short introduction to the types of records kept there, which include deeds, wills, photos, drawings, postcards and maps. She explained that the strong room is currently about 3/4full and that recently workshops have been held on oral history memories.
After the introduction, Susan Benson presented a talk about Edward Wadham, who came to Barrow to work as the land agent to the Duke of Buccleuch from 1851 to 1913. Her talk was based on the transcriptions of diaries kept for sixty years by Wadham , which provide a unique firsthand account of life in Barrow during such a significant time in its history.
Wadham’s diaries give an idea of how involved he became in municipal matters, including being present at the first meeting of the Town Council when James Ramsden was elected Mayor. His diaries refer to the Furness Railway, the Ironworks, and the Saltworks at a time when great changes were taking place in the town. As well as being involved in business, he took an active role in charity work, visiting people in hospital who had been injured in mining accidents. He was keen to support schools and churches and mentions that in 1899 a Nurses Home opened in Barrow.
His diaries refer to family events at Millwood like births, christenings and outings, as well as the technical advances which made an impact like electric light, the telephone and cars. In August 1896 he met Kaiser Wilhelm in the Lake District and in 1901 Wadham went with his family to London for Queen Victoria’s funeral.
Although Edward Wadham played such a key role in Barrow’s history, there is no statue to him nor a street named after him.
The next meeting of Barrow Civic and Local History Society will be on Friday 27th April at 2pm at the Trinity Church Centre, Abbey Road. Dr Suzanne Tiplady will be the guest speaker and will talk about the Bobbin Mills at Force. Admission, including refreshments, is £2.50 for members and £3 for guests. Everyone is most welcome.
The guest speaker at the meeting of Barrow Civic and Local History Society at the end of April was Dr Suzanne Tiplady. Her talk traced the history of the bobbin mills at Force, which is in the parish of Satterthwaite. The name Force derives from a Nordic word meaning waterfall and there had originally been a water-
The site was bought in 1824 by Robert Towers at a time when the large mills in Lancashire needed vast numbers of bobbins. A typical order for a small bobbin mill was for 35,000 gross of bobbins. Working conditions in the bobbin mills were full of obstacles, such as uncovered belts that drove the machinery and the air was full of dust from the wood shavings.
At the time there were 70 Lakeland mills in operation. The bobbin turners were in great demand, working six days a week from 6am until 7pm, their pay depending on the number of bobbins made. The census returns of 1851 show that there were 60 bobbin makers in Satterthwite and, as the population increased, a church, shops and a school were built.
The 1860’s brought great changes to the industry, especially as imports of cotton came to a halt when the American Civil War began. By 1866 there were only 6 bobbin makers working in the mills at Force. Some of the workforce went from Satterthwaite to Barrow and Millom to find jobs in the iron industry and eventually the bobbin mills closed down altogether. Driving along the road through Force nowadays there is little evidence of the thriving industry that once existed there and how much that industry impacted on the area.
The meeting was well attended and Barbara Hawkes gave the vote of thanks.
The next meeting of the society will be held at 2pm on Friday 28th September at the Trinity Church Centre, Abbey Road. Philip Heath will be telling the story of “Heath’s, a family business, from Market Stall to Dalton Road.”
Everyone with an interest in local history is very welcome to come along to the meeting. Admission including refreshments is £2.50 for members and £3 for visitors.