Barrow-in-Furness facts for kids
Clockwise from the upper left: Central Barrow with the skyline of Blackpool also visible, Barrow Island, Walney Bridge and Furness College, Furness Abbey, Ramsden Square, Dock Museum and DDH, Barrow Town Hall and St. Mary's Church
Coat of arms of Barrow-in-Furness
|Population||56,745 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||222 mi (357 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||LA13, LA14|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
Barrow-in-Furness (/ / BA-roh in FUR-nəs; commonly known as Barrow) is a town and borough in Cumbria, North West England. Historically part of Lancashire, it was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1867 and merged with adjacent districts in 1974 to form the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness. At the tip of the Furness peninsula, close to the Lake District, it is bordered by Morecambe Bay, the Duddon Estuary and the Irish Sea. In 2011, Barrow's population was 57,000, the second largest urban area in Cumbria after Carlisle. Natives of Barrow, as well as the local dialect, are known as Barrovian.
In the Middle Ages, Barrow was a small hamlet with Furness Abbey, on the outskirts of the modern-day town, controlling the local economy before its dissolution in 1537. The iron prospector Henry Schneider arrived in Furness in 1839 and, with other investors, opened the Furness Railway in 1846 to transport iron ore and slate from local mines to the coast. Further hematite deposits were discovered, of sufficient size to develop factories for smelting and exporting steel. By the late 19th century, the Barrow Hematite Steel Company-owned steelworks was the world's largest.
Barrow's location and the availability of steel allowed the town to develop into a significant producer of naval vessels, a shift that was accelerated during World War I and the local yard's specialisation in submarines. The original iron- and steel-making enterprises closed down after World War II, leaving Vickers shipyard as Barrow's main industry and employer. Several Royal Navy flagships, the vast majority of its nuclear submarines as well as numerous other naval vessels, ocean liners and oil tankers have been manufactured at the facility.
The end of the Cold War and subsequent decrease in military spending saw high unemployment in the town through lack of contracts; despite this, the BAE Systems shipyard remains operational as the UK's largest by workforce and is undergoing a major expansion associated with the Dreadnought-class submarine programme. Today Barrow is a hub for energy generation and handling. Offshore wind farms form one of the highest concentrations of turbines in the world.
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The name was originally that of an island, Barrai, which can be traced back to 1190. This was later renamed Old Barrow, recorded as Oldebarrey in 1537, and Old Barrow Insula and Barrohead in 1577. The island was then joined to the mainland and the town took its name. The name itself seems to mean "island with promontory", combining British barro- and Old Norse ey, but it is more likely that Scandinavian settlers simply accepted barro- as a meaningless name, and so added an explanatory Old Norse second element.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Barrow was nicknamed "the English Chicago" because of the sudden and rapid growth in its industry, economic stature and overall size. More recently the town has been dubbed the "capital of blue-collar Britain" by the Daily Telegraph, reflecting its strong working-class identity. Barrow is also often jokingly referred to as being at the end of the longest cul-de-sac in the country because of its isolated location at the tip of the Furness peninsula.
Barrow and the surrounding area has been settled non-continuously for several millennia. There is evidence of Neolithic inhabitants on Walney Island, and the Furness Hoard discovery of Viking silver coins and other artefacts in 2011 provided significant archaeological evidence of Norse settlement in the early 9th century. Several areas of Barrow including Yarlside and Ormsgill, as well as "Barrow" and "Furness", have names of Old Norse origin. The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded the settlements of Hietun, Rosse and Hougenai, which are now the districts of Hawcoat, Roose and Walney respectively. Despite a rich history of Roman settlement across Cumbria and the discovery of related artefacts in the Barrow area, no buildings or structures have been found to support the idea of a functioning Roman community on the Furness peninsula.
In the Middle Ages the Furness peninsula was controlled by the Cistercian monks of the Abbey of St Mary of Furness, known as Furness Abbey. This was located in the "Vale of Nightshade", now on the outskirts of the town. Founded for the Savigniac order, it was built on the orders of King Stephen in 1123. Soon after the abbey's foundation the monks discovered iron ore deposits, later to provide the basis for the Furness economy. These thin strata, close to the surface, were extracted through open cut workings, which were then smelted by the monks. The proceeds from mining, along with agriculture and fisheries, meant that by the 15th century the abbey had become the second richest and most powerful Cistercian abbey in England, after Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. The monks of Furness Abbey constructed a wooden tower on nearby Piel Island in 1212 which acted as their main trading point; it was twice invaded by the Scots, in 1316 and 1322. In 1327 King Edward III gave Furness Abbey a licence to crenellate the tower, and a motte-and-bailey castle was built. However Barrow itself was just a hamlet in the parish of Dalton-in-Furness, reliant on the land and sea for survival. Small quantities of iron and ore were exported from jetties on the channel separating the village from Walney Island. Amongst the oldest buildings in Barrow are several cottages and farmhouses in Newbarns (now a ward of the borough) which date back to the early 17th century; as well as Rampside Hall, a Grade I listed building and the best-preserved in the town from the 1600s. Even as late as 1843 there were still only 32 dwellings, including two pubs.
In 1839 Henry Schneider arrived as a young speculator and dealer in iron, and he discovered large deposits of haematite in 1850. He and other investors founded the Furness Railway, the first section of which opened in 1846, to transport the ore from the slate quarries at Kirkby-in-Furness and haematite mines at Lindal-in-Furness and Askam and Ireleth to a deep-water harbour near Roa Island. The crucial and difficult link across Morecambe Bay between Ulverston and Carnforth on the main line was promoted, as the Ulverston and Lancaster Railway, by a group led by John Brogden and opened in 1857. It was promptly purchased by the Furness Railway.
The docks built between 1863 and 1881 in the more sheltered channel between the mainland and Barrow Island replaced the port at Roa Island. The first dock to open was Devonshire Dock in 1867, and Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone stated his belief that "Barrow would become another Liverpool". The increasing quantities of iron ore mined in Furness were then brought into the centre of Barrow to be transported by sea.
The investors in the burgeoning mining and railway industries decided that greater profits could be made by smelting the iron ore and converting the resultant pig-iron into steel, and then exporting the finished product. Schneider and James Ramsden, the railway's general manager, erected blast furnaces at Barrow that by 1876 formed the largest steelworks in the world. Its success was a result of the availability of local iron ore and coal from the Cumberland mines and easy rail and sea transport. The Furness Railway, which counted local aristocrats William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire and the Duke of Buccleuch as investors, kick-started the Industrial Revolution on the peninsula. The railway brought mined ore to the town, where the steelworks produced large quantities of steel. It was used for shipbuilding, and derived products such as rails were also exported from the newly-built docks.
Barrow's population grew rapidly. Population figures for the town itself were not collected until 1871, though sources suggest that Barrow's population was still as low as 700 in 1851. During the first half of the 19th century, Barrow formed part of the parish of Dalton-in-Furness, the population of which shows some of Barrow's early growth from the 1850s:
Population of the Parish of Dalton-in-Furness
In 1871 Barrow's population was recorded at 18,584 and in 1881 at 47,259, less than forty years after the railway was built. The majority of migrants originated from elsewhere in Lancashire although significant numbers settled in Barrow from Ireland and Scotland, which represented 11% and 7% of the local population in the 1890s. By the turn of the 20th century, the Scottish-born population had increased to form the highest portion anywhere in England. In an attempt to diversify Barrow's economy James Ramsden founded the Barrow and Calcutta Jute Company in 1870 and the Barrow Jute Works was soon constructed alongside the Furness Railway line in Hindpool. The mill employed 2,000 women at its peak and was awarded a gold medal for its produce at the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle.
The sheltered strait between Barrow and Walney Island was an ideal location for the shipyard. The first ship to be built, the Jane Roper, was launched in 1852; the first steamship, a 3,000-ton liner named Duke of Devonshire, in 1873. Shipbuilding activity increased, and on 18 February 1871 the Barrow Shipbuilding Company was incorporated. Barrow's relative isolation from the United Kingdom's industrial heartlands meant that the newly formed company included several capabilities that would usually be subcontracted to other establishments. In particular, a large engineering works was constructed including a foundry and pattern shop, a forge, and an engine shop. In addition, the shipyard had a joiners' shop, a boat-building shed and a sailmaking and rigging loft.
During these boom years, Ramsden proposed building a planned town to accommodate the large workforce which had arrived. There are few planned towns in the United Kingdom, and Barrow is one of the oldest. Its centre contains a grid of well-built terraced houses, with a tree-lined road leading away from a central square. Ramsden later became the first mayor of Barrow, which was given municipal borough status in 1867, and county borough status in 1889. The imposing red sandstone town hall, designed by W.H. Lynn, was built in a neo-gothic style in 1887. Prior to this, the borough council had met at the railway headquarters: the railway company's control of industry extended to the administration of the town itself.
The Barrow Shipbuilding Company was taken over by the Sheffield steel firm of Vickers in 1897, by which time the shipyard had surpassed the railway and steelworks as the largest employer and landowner in Barrow. The company constructed Vickerstown, modelled on George Cadbury's Bournville, on the adjacent Walney Island in the early 20th century to house its employees. It also commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to design Abbey House as a guest house and residence for its managing director, Commander Craven.
By the 1890s the shipyard was heavily engaged in the construction of warships for the Royal Navy and also for export. The Royal Navy's first submarine, Holland 1, was built in 1901, and by 1914 the UK had the most advanced submarine fleet in the world, with 94% of it constructed by Vickers. Vickers was also famous for the construction of airships and airship hangars during the early 20th century. Originally constructed in a large shed at Cavendish Dock, production later relocated to Barrow/Walney Island Airport. HMA No. 1, nicknamed the Mayfly is the most notable airship to have been built in Barrow. The first of its kind in the UK it came to an untimely end on 24 September 1911 when it was wrecked by wind during trials. Well-known ships built in Barrow include the Mikasa, Japanese flagship during the 1905 Russo-Japanese War, the liner SS Oriana and the aircraft carriers HMS Invincible and HMAS Melbourne. It should also be noted that there was a significant presence of Vickers' armament division in Barrow with the huge Heavy Engineering Workshop on Michaelson Road supplying ammunition for the British Army and Royal Navy throughout both world wars. World War 1 brought significant temporary migration as workers arrived to work in the munitions factory and shipyard, with the town's population reaching to an estimated peak of around 82,000 during the War. Thousands of local men fought abroad during World War I, 616 were ultimately killed in action.
During World War II, Barrow was a target for the German air force looking to disable the town's shipbuilding capabilities (see Barrow Blitz). The town suffered the most in a short period between April and May 1941. During the war, a local housewife, Nella Last, was selected to write a diary of her experiences on the home front for the Mass-Observation project. Her memoirs were later adapted for television as Housewife, 49 starring Victoria Wood. The difficulty in targeting bombs meant that the shipyards and steelworks were often missed, at the expense of the residential areas. Ultimately, 83 people were killed and 11,000 houses in the area were left damaged. To escape the heaviest bombardments, many people in the central areas left the town to sleep in hedgerows with some being permanently evacuated. Barrow's industry continued to supply the war effort, with Winston Churchill visiting the town on one occasion to launch the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable. Besides the dozens of civilians killed during World War II, some 268 Barrovian men were also killed whilst in combat.
Barrow's population reached a second peak in of 77,900 in 1951, however by this point the long decline of mining and steel-making as a result of overseas competition and dwindling resources had already begun. The Barrow ironworks closed in 1963, three years after the last Furness mine shut. The by then small steelworks followed suit in 1983, leaving Barrow's shipyard as the town's principal industry. From the 1960s onwards it concentrated its efforts in submarine manufacture, and the UK's first nuclear-powered submarine, HMS Dreadnought was constructed in 1960. HMS Resolution, the Swiftsure, Trafalgar and Vanguard-class submarines all followed. The last of these are armed with Trident II missiles as part of the British government's Trident nuclear programme.
The end of the Cold War in 1991 marked a reduction in the demand for military ships and submarines, and the town continued its decline. The shipyard's dependency on military contracts at the expense of civilian and commercial engineering and shipbuilding meant it was particularly hard hit as government defence spending was reduced dramatically. As a result, the workforce shrank from 14,500 in 1990 to 5,800 in February 1995, with overall unemployment in the town rising over that period from 4.6% to 10%. The rejection by the VSEL management of detailed plans for Barrow's industrial renewal in the mid-to-late 1980s remains controversial. This has led to renewed academic attention in recent years to the possibilities of converting military-industrial production in declining shipbuilding areas to the offshore renewable energy sector.
2006 saw the construction of Barrow Offshore Wind Farm which has acted as a catalyst for further investment in offshore renewable energy. Ormonde Wind Farm and Walney Wind Farm followed in 2011, the latter of which became the largest offshore wind farm in the world. The three wind farms are located west of Walney Island and are operated primarily by DONG Energy, contain a total of 162 turbines and have a combined nameplate capacity of 607 MW providing energy for well over half a million homes. West of Duddon Sands Wind Farm was commissioned in 2014 and is currently the largest of the four wind farms.
Barrow is situated at the tip of the Furness peninsula on the north-western edge of Morecambe Bay, south of the Duddon Estuary and east of the Irish Sea. Walney Island, to the west of Barrow, surrounds the peninsula's Irish Sea coast and is separated from Barrow by the narrow Walney Channel. Both Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Estuary are characterized by large areas of quicksand and fast-moving tidal bores. Areas of sand dunes exist on coasts surrounding Barrow, particularly at Roanhead and North Walney. The town centre and major industrial areas sit on a fairly flat coastal shelf, with hillier ground rising to the east of the town, peaking at 94 metres (310 ft) at Yarlside. Barrow sits on soils deposited during the end of the Ice Age, eroded from the mountains of the Lake District National Park, 10 miles (15 km) to the north-east. Barrow's soils are composed of glacial lake clay and glacial till, while Walney is almost entirely made up of reworked glacial morraine. Beneath these soils is a sandstone bedrock, from which many of the town's older buildings are constructed.
Barrow town centre is located to the north-east of the docks, with suburbs also extending to the north and east, as well as onto Walney. The towns of Dalton-in-Furness and Askam-in-Furness are the other sizable settlements of the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness. Barrow is the only major urban area in South Cumbria, with the nearest settlements of a similar size being Lancaster and Morecambe. Other towns nearby include Ulverston, Millom, Grange-over-Sands, Kendal and Windermere.
The town is sheltered from the Irish Sea by Walney Island, a 14 mile (22.5 km) long island connected to the mainland by the bascule type Jubilee bridge. About 13,000 live on the isle's various settlements, mostly in Vickerstown, which was built to house workers in the rapidly expanding shipyard. Another significant island which lay in the Walney Channel was Barrow Island, but following the filling of the channel to create land for the shipyard it is now directly connected to the town. Other islands which lie close to Barrow are Piel Island, whose castle protected the harbour from marauding Scots, Sheep Island, Roa Island and Foulney Island.
Barrow on the west coast of Great Britain has a temperate maritime climate owing to the North Atlantic Current and tends to have milder winters than central and eastern parts of the country. The town lies in Hardiness zone 9 and has an average yearly temperature of 10.4 °C.
|Climate data for Barrow-in-Furness, England, United Kingdom|
|Record high °C (°F)||12.8
|Average high °C (°F)||6.7
|Average low °C (°F)||3.9
|Record low °C (°F)||-10
|Precipitation mm (inches)||71.1
|Source: MSN Weather|
The Barrow council district, which includes adjacent urban areas, had a population of around 69,100 according to the 2011 census. This is 4% less than the 2001 figure of 71,900, and the highest percentage population loss in the country between 2001 and 2011. The Office for National Statistics states Barrow's population as being in long term decline with a projected population of around 65,000 by 2037. This is largely a result of negative net migration.
Ethnicity and language
The 2011 census states 96.9% of Barrow's population as White British, and ethnic minority populations in Barrow stood at 3.1%. Other ethnic groups in Barrow include Other White 1.3%, Asian 1.0%, Mixed Race 0.5%, Black 0.1%, Arab 0.1% and all other ethnic groups represented 0.1% of the population. The first people to settle in what is now Barrow were the Celts and Scandinavians followed by the Cornish. Most Barrovians however are descended from immigrants from Scotland, Ireland and other parts of England who arrived from the late 19th century onwards. Barrow has significant Chinese (in particular those originating from Hong Kong), Filipino, Indian, Thai and Kosovan communities as well as a Polish population which partly dates back to World War II, however in general Barrow has a much lower proportion of ethnic minorities than national average.
Barrow's Chinese connections were the subject of a documentary on Chinese state television in 2014. The programme covered diplomat Li Hongzhang's fact finding mission to the town's steelworks and shipyard in 1896 as well as the 2012 discovery of a hoard of Chinese coins discovered in Barrow dated around a similar time that have been suggested as having been brought over by sailors or labourers. The Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding is a charity with a branch based in Barrow that aims to develop relations with the British Chinese community and the general British population. It was established in 1975 and publishes the quarterly China Eye magazine.
In 2011 93.2% of the borough's population was born in England, 2.6% in Scotland, 0.6% in Northern Ireland and 0.5% in Wales. 3.1% of the town's 2011 population were born elsewhere in the world, 1.3% of which were born in the European Union. The five most common foreign countries of birth were Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, the Philippines and India.
According to the 2011 census, 98.8% of Barrovians spoke English as a main language, although around 40 languages are spoken in the town with Polish, Chinese, and Tagalog prevailing as the second, third and fourth most common main languages (0.3%, 0.2% and 0.1% of the population respectively). Of the 797 Barrovians who had a main language other than English, 82.9% can speak English well to very well.
In the 2011 census 70.7% of Barrow's population stated themselves as being Christian. People stating no religion or chose not to state totalled 28.4% combined. Other religious groups represented 0.9% of the population, with Islam and Buddhism prevailing as the first and second most common groups. Conishead Priory, the first Kadampa Buddhist centre in the west, is home to around 100 Buddhists and is located off the Barrow to Ulverston Coast Road within the South Lakeland district. Historically Barrow was home to a notable Ashkenazi Jewish community that peaked in size during the 1930s with a synagogue in the town. Despite this it closed in 1974 and only a dozen Jews were recorded by the 2011 census.
Barrow's principal road link is the A590. This runs to Barrow from the M6 motorway via Ulverston, skirting the southern Lake District. Just north of Barrow is the southern end of the A595, linking the town to West Cumbria. The A5087 connects Barrow's southern suburbs to Ulverston via a scenic coastal route. Abbey Road is the principal road through central Barrow, whilst Walney Bridge connects Barrow Island to Walney Island.
The possibility of a bridge link over Morecambe Bay is occasionally raised, and feasibility studies have been carried out.
Bus services within the town are operated by Stagecoach North West. There is no specifically designated bus station, although many bus routes start and end near the town hall. The original bus station, since demolished, was known for its role in a 1970s television commercial for Chewits sweets. As well as local suburban and village services, longer distance buses run to Millom, Ulverston, Bowness, Windermere and Kendal.
Barrow-in-Furness railway station provides connections to Whitehaven, Workington and Carlisle to the north, via the Cumbrian Coast Line, and to Ulverston, Grange-over-Sands and Lancaster to the east, via the Furness Line – both of which connect to the West Coast Mainline. Numerous daily trains run to Manchester. The station handles over 600,000 passengers annually. Barrow has a second railway station, Roose, which serves the suburb of the same name.
Furness Abbey, Barrow's third main line station, closed in 1950. There was also a station on Barrow Island, for commuters between the shipyard and nearby towns served by the Furness Railway. This railway link was severed in 1966 when the famous cradle bridge across the docks was closed permanently for safety reasons. There were also stations at Piel, Rabbit Hill, Rampside, Ramsden Dock and Strand.
Between 1885 and 1932, the Barrow-in-Furness Tramways Company operated a double-decker tram service over several miles, primarily around central Barrow, Barrow Island and Hindpool.
Barrow/Walney Island Airport (IATA airport code: BWF, ICAO: EGNL) is a former commercial airport and Royal Air Force base currently owned by BAE Systems who operates two Beechkraft Kingair B200 and one B250 aircraft which fly to various destinations across the UK every weekday, including Bristol, Glasgow, London and Manchester. The airport's runways take on a triangular form, the longest runway is almost 4,000 feet (1,200 m). In 2016 BAE Systems and DONG Energy submitted plans to redevelop and expand the airport. Manchester Airport is the closest major airport, with direct links to Barrow railway station and about two hours away by road.
Despite being one of the UK's leading shipbuilding centres, the Associated British Ports' Port of Barrow is only a minor port. Historically, the Isle of Man Steam Packet and the Barrow Steam Navigation Company (a subsidiary of the Furness Railway and later London, Midland and Scottish Railway) operated a number of steamers and passenger ferry services between Rampside and Ramsden Dock and Ardrossan (Scotland), Belfast (Northern Ireland), Blackpool, Douglas (Isle of Man), Fleetwood and Heysham. All services had ceased operation by the mid-20th century.
For a short period during the early 1880s transatlantic travel was possible from the town. The Anchor Line operated a fortnightly service utilising three of its steamships, Alexandria, Caledonia and Columbia, between Barrow and New York City via Dublin. There are proposals to construct a cruise ship terminal in Barrow as part of the Waterfront redevelopment project.
Barrow, although one of the country's smallest local authorities contains a wealth of natural and built heritage assets, which includes 274 Listed Buildings and four SSSIs. The 2015 Heritage Index formed by the Royal Society of Arts and the Heritage Lottery Fund placed the borough as seventh highest of 325 English districts with especially high scores relating to nationally important landscape and natural heritage assets and industrial heritage assets.
Barrow is one of Britain's few planned towns. The town centre is distinguished by its Victorian and Edwardian era civic buildings, such as the Town Hall, Main Public Library, former Technical School, former Central Fire Station, Salvation Army Building, Custom House, National Westminster Bank, The Duke of Edinburgh Hotel, St. George's Church, St. Mary's RC Church and St. James' Church. Oppositely, several distinctive buildings have been demolished in Barrow since the mid-20th Century as a result of neglect or war damage, amongst the most iconic are Abbots Wood, Barrow Central Railway Station, Infield House, North Lonsdale Hospital, Scotch Buildings and the Waverley Hotel. Lancaster architects Sharpe, Paley and Austin were prolific throughout the development of Barrow. A number of Barrow's landmark buildings were constructed from locally sourced sandstone, evident from the high number of brown and red coloured stone buildings in the town. Similar materials were used in a number of local buildings in the early 20th Century, and often accompanied by terracotta. There are also an increasing number of modern office buildings as well as the shipyard's construction halls which dominate much of Barrow's skyline. Despite much of Barrow having been constructed from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries, architectural styles vary greatly across the town from the Art Deco John Whinnerah Institute to the Byzantine style St. John's Church, Neo-Elizabethan Abbey House and Tudor Revival Vickerstown estate.
Barrow has 8 Grade I listed buildings, 15 Grade II* and 249 Grade II buildings. The majority of Grade I listed buildings and structures are in and around the Furness Abbey complex while many Grade II* listed buildings in the town are 19th century tenements on Barrow Island including the Devonshire Buildings. There are a number of Conservation Areas across Barrow named as such for their architectural or historical significance, they include Barrow Island, Biggar, Central Barrow, Furness Abbey, North Scale, North and South Vickerstown and St. George's Square. Historically Barrow's skyline was dominated by shipyard cranes and industrial chimneys, although little evidence of this remains in the present day with the last hammerhead crane – the iconic yellow crane of Buccleuch Dock – being dismantled in 2011, despite calls for listing status like the smaller Titan Clydebank in Glasgow. The tallest building in Barrow is Devonshire Dock Hall at 51 metres (167 ft). Also worth of note are the turbines of Ormonde Wind Farm located just off the coast of Barrow which stand at 152 metres (499 ft).
In terms of housing, the majority of dwellings in Barrow are Victorian terraces. At 47.0% of local housing stock in 2011, the figure is much higher than England's average of 24.5%. 29.7% of dwellings are semi-detached, 12.09% detached and 10.2% flats, maisonettes or apartments. Great variety in housing styles is a feature across central Barrow, Barrow Island, Hindpool, and Vickerstown. Most were built around a grid design in accordance with plans drawn up by James Ramsden.
Barrow has produced several musical performers of note. They include Thomas Round, a singer and actor in D'Oyly Carte productions of Savoy Opera as well as Glenn Cornick, the original bass guitarist in the rock band Jethro Tull. Paul MacKenzie, bass player with 1980s Preston-based thrash metal band Xentrix, is from Barrow. More recently, hip-hop DJ and record producer Aim has had considerable commercial success.
Several notables in Art and Literature have come from Barrow. Artist Keith Tyson, the 2002 Turner Prize winner, was born in nearby Ulverston, attended the Barrow-in-Furness College of Engineering and worked at the then VSEL shipyard. Constance Spry, the author and florist who revolutionised interior design in the 1930s, and 1940s, moved to the town with her son Anthony during World War I to work as a welfare supervisor. Peter Purves, later a Blue Peter presenter, began his acting career with 2 years as a member of the Renaissance Theatre Company at the town's Her Majesty's Theatre.
During the mid-20th century, Barrow contained a wealth of theatres/cinemas including the Coliseum, Electric Theatre, Essoldo, Her Majesty's Theatre, Hippodrome, Pavilion, Ritz, Roxy, Royalty Theatre and Tivoli. All but the Pavilion and Roxy have since been demolished, most recently in 2004 with the demolition of the Apollo (formerly the Ritz). The Canteen Media & Arts Centre – known simply as "The Canteen" – and The Forum are now the main venues for theatre, while the Vue Cinema in Hollywood Park is the only cinema in the town.
In fictional works, Barrow and Vickerstown on Walney Island featured in children's show The Railway Series, which developed into Thomas the Tank Engine, as the point where the fictional Island of Sodor connected to mainland Britain and the national rail network.
A number of the Lake Poets have referred to locations in present day Barrow, with one notable example being William Wordsworth's 1805 autobiographical poem The Prelude which describes his visits to Furness Abbey. The Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa wrote a series of sonnets called "Barrow-on-Furness" (sic). His "heteronym" Álvaro de Campos lived in Barrow when he was studying ship engineering, but Pessoa himself had never visited, and mistakenly assumed that "Furness" was the name of a river. According to narrative exposition in Chapter five of Dorothy L. Sayers' 1926 novel Clouds of Witness, Inspector Charles Parker, Lord Peter Wimsey's friend and eventual brother-in-law, attended Barrow-in-Furness Grammar School. Renowned novelist D. H. Lawrence was in Barrow during the outbreak of World War I and wrote about his experiences in the town. The 2015 novel Career of Evil by J. K. Rowling's pseudonym Robert Galbraith was largely set in Barrow.
There is one paid-for evening daily paper, the North West Evening Mail. There is also a weekly freesheet called the Advertiser, which is delivered to most households in the Furness area. Both are owned by independent publisher the CN Group, formerly Cumbrian Newspapers.
Barrow is served by one commercial radio station, The Bay, which broadcasts from Lancaster and serves the area around Morecambe Bay. Another commercial station, Abbey FM, ceased broadcasting in February 2009 when it went into administration. The BBC's local radio service is BBC Radio Cumbria, who have studio facilities in the town.
Barrow lies in the Granada TV – North West England region with the main signal coming from the Winter Hill transmitter near Bolton. There is also a relay transmitter at Millom whose signal can be received in the northern end of the town.
Various television personalities were born in the district. Dave Myers was a biker born in Barrow, and found fame as one half of television cookery duo the Hairy Bikers. Karen Taylor is a TV comedian best known for her BBC Three sketch show Touch Me, I'm Karen Taylor. Steve Dixon is a newsreader for Sky News, while Nigel Kneale was a well-known film and television scriptwriter. The UK's top Thai demo chef and celebrity 'Chef Ooy' has also lived and worked in Barrow for the last 25 years.
Wartime diarist and local housewife Nella Last's memoirs were adapted for television, with parts of the town used in filming. The resulting programme, Housewife, 49, written by and starring comedian Victoria Wood, was broadcast by ITV in 2006. It won two BAFTA awards – one for Best Single Drama, the other for Best Actress (Victoria Wood). CITV children's show The Treacle People had two villains named Barrow and Furness. Myles Wright also was born in Barrow and lived in the nearby village of Marton.
Barrow-in-Furness is the connection between England and the fictional Island of Sodor in the Thomas the Tank Engine TV series, as well as in the Railway Series books by the Rev. W. Awdry, on which the TV series is based.
Dialect and accent
Furness is unique within Cumbria and the local dialect and accent is fairly Lancashire-orientated. Until 1974 Furness was an exclave of Lancashire. As with Liverpool for example however, the Barrovian dialect has been influenced by large numbers of settlers from various regions. During the town's rapid growth from 1860 onwards, thousands came to Barrow from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and elsewhere in northern England. As Glaswegian and Geordie dialects mingled in Barrow numerous more migrated from Lancashire and other parts of England which in effect created the noticeably Northern Barrovian dialect. In general the Barrovian accent tends to drop certain letters (including H and T).
There are many pubs and working men's clubs in Barrow. Barrow has fourteen of the latter, one of the highest number per capita of any British town. There are also many bars and clubs found primarily in Barrow town centre on Duke Street and Cornwallis Street. Popular venues on Duke Street include the following bars: Jefferson's, the Buddha Bar, Bar Cairo and the Drawing Room. They did have a Yates's but the building was deemed unsafe and has since been demolished. Cornwallis Street – often dubbed the "Gaza Strip" by locals – is currently undergoing a multi-million pound renovation with the former Martini's being the flagship renovation into Club M. Other clubs on Cornwallis Street include: Kavanna's, O'Sullivan's and Skint. Between 2004 and 2010 Barrow was home to one of North West England's largest nightclubs, the 2,500 capacity Blue Lagoon occupied the entire hull of the former Danish ferry Princess Selandia which has now left the town. Barrow's largest nightclub is now Manhattans which opened on Cavendish Street in late 2011.
A traditional favourite food in Barrow is the pie and particularly the meat and potato pie. Pie shops are common, and Green's of Jarrow Street is noted as a favourite of Barrow-born celebrity chef Dave Myers and journalist Martin Tarbuck who declared them to be Britain's best pies in a book dedicated to the subject.
Barrow was also the home of soft-drink company Marsh's, which produced a distinctive sarsaparilla flavoured fizzy drink known as Sass. Marsh's was purchased by Purity Soft Drinks of Birmingham in 1993, and the company stopped producing Sass in 1999. Remaining bottles have subsequently sold for high prices as a collector's item. A new product, labelled "Barrow Sass", was launched in 2014 in a bid to replicate traditional Sass. The coasts around Barrow have rich cockle beds from which cockles have traditionally been gathered, although numbers have been low following intensive gathering during the early 2000s, in the run up to the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster. One of England's few remaining Oyster farms can also be found located in the Biggar area of Walney. Traditional Cumberland sausages are less associated with Barrow itself than the rest of Cumbria, but are readily available from the surrounding rural area. Cumbria has produced a number of famed dishes and is home to countless Michelin Guide restaurants, one of which is located in Dalton.
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Tesco is a significant employer, with several outlets across Barrow
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