During the 1800s England saw massive growth in its industry through, what is now known as, the Industrial Revolution. This growth was seen even here in Furness with new industry starting up from steel works to bobbin mills! Industry which was set to shape the area we know today.
At the start of the 1800s Furness was similar to how it had been for centuries with large towns like Ulverston and Dalton generally thriving with the iron mining industry being one of the main employers. But over the course of the coming century things would start to change, dramatically.
|Stott Park Bobbin Mill|
|Example of a coppiced woodland today|
They would be cut down and taken onto site where they could be cut to size and turned on lathes to produce, you guessed it, bobbins. The bobbin industry was a huge one but sadly in the 1970's, with the reduction of wool and cotton mills and the invention of plastics, wooden bobbins became obsolite. All the bobbin mills closed their doors and many were knocked down, thankfully though one of these mills, Stott Park, was saved and is now open today as a visitor attraction. It is run by English Heritage and can be visited 7 days a week throughout the summer months for guided tours around the inside of the mill
where you can even see some bobbins being made!
It is safe to say that several of the bobbins being made in the Lake District were going a short distance to Backbarrow where there was a large Cotton Mill. As mentioned previously the wool and cotton industries were booming and mills were springing up across the country, especially in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Furness at the time was indeed part of Lancashire and un-surprisingly had its own Cotton Mill. The mill at Backbarrow ran until 1868 when a large fire broke out causing many of the machines to fall through the floors of the mill destroying them! The mill was re-built but never re-opened.
|All that remains of the Dolly Blue Factory|
A new woolen mill did however open in part of the rebuilt structure in 1880. Sadly though it didn't last past a couple of years but it wasn't the end of the story at Backbarrow. The whole mill site was bought in 1890 by Johannes Eggestorff who opened a brand new factory producing ultramarine blue powder. This saw the birth of the Lancashire Ultramarine Company, a company which became a huge employer in the area and extremely successful. The factory ran until it sadly closed in 1982 after 92 years of production. The Whitewater hotel now stands where the mill building used to be.
One of the biggest changes to the peninsula in the 1800s was the arrival of the railway and the huge expansion of the small fishing village of Barrow!
|Furness Train Tracks|
The Furness Railway went on to help in the huge, and swift, development of the areas newest town, Barrow.
|A chimney similar to what once dotted the skyline of Barrow|
All this growth led to James Ramsden, in 1871, founding the Iron Shipbuilding Company, which would later, in 1897, become Vickers Shipyard and subsequently BAE Systems. This new company was created to build large ships in the port of Barrow using the processed steel from the local steelworks. These ships could then be distributed around the country and later the globe. This industry grew and grew in the area expanding the town further and today the shipyard is still the main employer of this truly Victorian town.
|What remains of a Lime Kiln in Scales|
We've only spoken about a few of the vast amount of industries in this area, if we were to go into detail about them all I'm sure we would be here for days! However some of the other industries include - rope works, iron works, jute works, slate mines (Kirkby slate mine is still operational), iron mines, brickworks (Askam brickworks opened in 1845 and is still in use today), charcoal burning, tanneries (leather making) and of course fishing!
You can find a host of evidence across the peninsula of these long lost industries from the massive slag banks at Askam to the street names of Barrow. Be sure to keep an eye out the next time you are about in the area and do take a mintue to remember the truly idustrial past of Furness!