Furness /ˈbæroʊ ɪn ˈfɜːrnəs/ FUR-nəs, commonly
known as Barrow, is a town and borough in Cumbria, 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
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
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
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
World War I
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
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.
2.1 Early history
2.2 19th century
2.3 20th century
2.4 21st century
5.2 Ethnicity and language
6.1 Shipyard and port
6.2 Energy generation
6.3 Tourism and leisure
6.4 Regeneration and redevelopment
8.4 Other sports
9.4 Dialect and accent
10 Social issues
12 See also
14 External links
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
Old Norse ey, but it is more likely that Scandinavian
settlers simply accepted barro- as a meaningless name, and so added an
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
See also: Timeline of Barrow-in-Furness
Barrow and the surrounding area has been settled non-continuously for
several millennia with evidence of
Neolithic inhabitants on Walney
Island. Despite a rich history of Roman settlement across
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. 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,
Furness Abbey, one of England's most powerful monasteries 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
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
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.
Barrow Steelworks circa. 1877
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
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
Carnforth on the main line was promoted, as the
Lancaster Railway, by a group led by John Brogden and opened in 1857.
It was promptly purchased by the
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
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone stated his belief that "Barrow would
become another Liverpool". The increasing quantities of iron ore mined
Furness were then brought into the centre of Barrow to be
transported by sea.
Painting of the
Barrow Jute Works
Barrow Jute Works in 1875
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
William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire
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
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
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.
Barrow's shipyard circa. 1890
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.
Map of Barrow dated 1890 showing no development on
Walney Island and
little north of the
The Barrow Shipbuilding Company was taken over by the
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.
Abbey House was commissioned by
Vickers and designed by Sir Edwin
Cornmill Crossing in 1895 (a former goods-depot on the Furness
Railway), a retail park now exists on the site
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 Mikasa, the 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
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
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-built Mikasa was the Imperial Japanese Navy's flagship during
the Russo-Japanese War
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
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.
HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark undergoing fitting out in 2002 at
BAE Systems Marine in Barrow
In a 2002 outbreak of legionellosis in the town, 172 people were
reported to have caught the disease, of whom seven died. This made it
the fourth worst outbreak in the world in terms of number of cases and
sixth worst in terms of deaths. The source of the bacteria was later
found to be steam from a badly maintained air conditioning unit in the
council-run arts centre Forum 28.
At the conclusion of the inquest into the seven deaths, the coroner
Furness and South
Cumbria criticised the council for its health
and safety failings. In 2006, council employee Gillian Beckingham
and employer Barrow Borough Council were cleared of seven charges of
manslaughter. Beckingham, the council senior architect was fined
£15,000 and the authority £125,000. Following the trials the
contractor responsible for maintaining the plant settled a £1.5
million claim by the Council for damages. The borough council was
the first public body in the country to face corporate manslaughter
2006 saw the construction of
Barrow Offshore Wind Farm
Barrow Offshore Wind Farm which has acted
as a catalyst for further investment in offshore renewable energy.
Ormonde Wind Farm
Ormonde Wind Farm and
Walney Wind Farm
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
West of Duddon Sands Wind Farm was
commissioned in 2014 and is currently the largest of the four wind
Barrow's Grade II* listed town hall viewed from Schneider Square
Barrow is the largest town in the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness and
the largest settlement in the peninsula of Furness. The borough is the
direct inheritor of the municipal and county borough charters given to
the town in the late 19th century. Historically it is part of the
Hundred of Lonsdale 'north of the sands' in the historic county
boundaries of Lancashire. Since the local government reforms
England in 1974 the town has been within the administrative
county of Cumbria. It still forms a part of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Furness Borough Council forms the 'lower' tier of local
Cumbria County Council. Since the 2011 local
election, the Labour Party has had overall control of the Borough
council, while the Borough elected 10 Labour and 1 Conservative Party
councillor at the 2013
Cumbria County election. The town, along with
Walney Island, is unparished and forms the bulk of the wards which
make the entire borough's area. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Barrow
are elected annually, and hold the roles of chairman and Vice-Chairman
Furness Borough Council. The borough and former
county borough of Barrow-in-
Furness have been served by 107 mayors,
Sir James Ramsden
Sir James Ramsden in 1867 and continuing through to
incumbent 2015/16 mayor Ann Thomson.
Furness UK Parliament constituency first came into
existence during the 1885
United Kingdom general election, with David
Duncan of the Liberal Party becoming the first MP for the town. The
seat was won by the Conservative Party in 1892, before being won for
the first time by Labour in 1906. In the subsequent forty years the
seat swung between Conservative and Labour, but since 1945 it has been
generally considered a Labour safe seat. In 1983, the constituency
was expanded to include several commuter towns such as
Ulverston and was renamed Barrow and Furness. It
was subsequently won by the Conservatives, with the victory attributed
to Labour's stance against the nuclear-powered submarines that were
being constructed in Barrow. Following a change in Labour policy
the party won Barrow and
Furness in 1992. John Woodcock has been the
MP for the constituency since the 2010 general election.
Council/ Electoral wards of Barrow-in-Furness
Barrow Island Central
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
Irish Sea coast and is separated from Barrow by the
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
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
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.
Map of Barrow
Aerial view of Barrow and
North West England
North West England (top left)
Main article: Islands of Furness
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
Hardiness zone 9 and has an average yearly temperature of
Climate data for Barrow-in-Furness, England, United Kingdom
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
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
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
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.
St. James' Church, the largest place of worship in Barrow
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
See also: List of places of worship in Barrow-in-Furness
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
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.
Astute-class submarine under-construction inside Devonshire Dock
Hall in 2013
Historically Barrow's economy was dominated by the manufacturing
sector, with the Barrow
Hematite Steel Company and Vickers
Shipbuilding and Engineering being amongst the most important global
companies in their respective fields during the 20th century. In the
present day, manufacturing remains the largest employment sector in
the town with
BAE Systems being the single largest employer. However,
like most of the UK, employment trends have greatly diversified since
the 20th century and there are no other predominant employment sectors
Shipyard and port
Barrow has played a vital role in global ship and submarine
construction for around 150 years.
Ottoman submarine Abdül Hamid
Ottoman submarine Abdül Hamid was
built in the town in 1886 and became the first submarine in the world
to fire a live torpedo underwater, while oil tanker British Admiral
became the first British vessel to exceed 100,000 tonnes when launched
in 1965. The vast majority of all current and former Royal Navy
submarines were constructed in Barrow as well as numerous Royal Navy
HMS Invincible pictured in Florida in 2004 is one of the most
famous ships to have been built in Barrow
BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines shipyard at Barrow is the
largest in the UK by workforce ahead of
BAE Systems Maritime – Naval
Ships in Govan,
Cammell Laird in
Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff in
Belfast. It was expanded in 1986 by construction of a new covered
assembly facility, the
Devonshire Dock Hall
Devonshire Dock Hall (DDH), completed by Alfred
McAlpine, on land that was created by infilling part of the Devonshire
Dock with 2.4 million tonnes of sand pumped from nearby Roosecote
Sands. DDH is the tallest building in
Cumbria at 51 m. With a
length of 268 m (879 ft), width of 51 m (167 ft)
and an area of 25,000 square metres (270,000 sq ft) it is
one of the largest shipbuilding construction complex of its kind in
The DDH provides a controlled environment for ship and submarine
assembly, and avoids the difficulties caused by building on the slope
of traditional slipways. Outside the hall, a 24,300 tonne capacity
shiplift allows completed vessels to be lowered into the water
independently of the tide. Vessels can also be lifted out of the water
and transferred to the hall. The first use of the DDH was for
construction of the Vanguard-class submarines, and later vessels of
the Trafalgar class were also built there. The shipyard is currently
constructing the Astute-class submarines, the first of which was
launched on 8 June 2007.
BAE Systems is currently studying the
design of a new class of ballistic missile submarines. BAE Systems
also has orders for submarine pressure domes for the Spanish Navy.
The shipyard has been awarded contracts for the construction of
submarines which will carry nuclear missiles in a successor programme
to the current Vanguard class containing the Trident system. BAE
Systems is investing £300 million in Barrow's shipyard to construct
buildings capable of manufacturing and assembling the new class of
submarines. This major development is the largest in 25 years at the
shipyard and will see thousands of new jobs created, further cementing
its place as the UK's largest shipyard and one of the few to have seen
continuous contracts since founding over a century ago.
Barrow Offshore Wind Farm
The most recent surface vessels to be constructed in Barrow were
Wave-class tanker RFA Wave Knight and Albion-class amphibious
assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark in the early 2000s
when the shipyard was part of
BAE Systems Marine division. It also
undertook fitting out and commissioning of helicopter carrier
HMS Ocean in the mid-1990s after the ship was built by Kvaerner
Govan in Glasgow.
Associated British Ports Holdings
Associated British Ports Holdings owns and operates the Port of Barrow
which can berth vessels up to 200 m (660 ft) long and with a
draught of 10 m (33 ft). The four main docks include
Buccleuch Dock, Cavendish Dock,
Devonshire Dock and Ramsden Dock, with
the latter handling almost all of the port's cargo. Buccleuch and
Devonshire Docks are utilised primarily by BAE Systems, while
Cavendish Dock the largest by surface area is now a reservoir.
Principal traffic includes the export of condensate by-product from
the production of gas at the
Rampside Gas Terminal, wood pulp and
locally quarried limestone which is exported to
Scandinavia for use in
the paper industry. The port, which has deep water access, also
handles the shipment of nuclear fuels and radioactive waste for BNFL's
James Fisher & Sons, a service provider in all sectors of the
marine industry and a specialist supplier of engineering services to
the nuclear industry in the UK and abroad, was founded in Barrow
in 1847. It is listed on the
London Stock Exchange and is the
largest company to have its headquarters situated in Cumbria.
Annual revenue stood at £307 million in 2012 (up 15% from £268
million in 2011), as well as staff numbers standing at over 1,500
worldwide, with 120 of those in the Barrow headquarters.
Numerous vessels are registered at the Port of Barrow, with the
majority being owned by James Fisher & Sons and International
Nuclear Services/Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited.
West Shore Beach at
Earnse Bay with
Black Combe visible in the
In 1985, gas was discovered in
Morecambe Bay, and to this day the
products have been processed onshore at
Rampside Gas Terminal
Rampside Gas Terminal in south
Barrow. The complex is operated jointly by
ConocoPhillips. Directly adjacent to
Rampside Gas Terminal
Rampside Gas Terminal is
Roosecote Power Station
Roosecote Power Station which was the first CCGT power station to
supply electricity to the United Kingdom's National Grid. Although
originally coal-fired, the station became gas-fired until it was
mothballed in 2015.
Barrow and its wider urban area form part of 'Britain's Energy
Coast', and has one of the highest concentrations of wind farms in
the world, the vast majority are located offshore and have been built
during the early 2010s. All four of these wind farms are located off
the coast of
Walney Island, including the 108 turbine West Duddon wind
farm, 102 turbine
Walney Wind Farm, 30 turbine Barrow Offshore Wind
Farm and 30 turbine Ormonde Wind Farm.
Walney Wind Farm
Walney Wind Farm was the
largest offshore wind farm in the world upon completion, in 2015 it
received Government consent to be trebled in size.
DONG Energy and
Scottish Power maintain a wind farm operations base with 30 full-time
staff members at the Port of Barrow.
Heysham nuclear power stations are also located within
25 miles (40 km) of Barrow.
Tourism and leisure
South Lakes Safari Zoo
South Lakes Safari Zoo on the outskirts of the borough is one of
Cumbria's top tourist attractions
Although it is at the end of a peninsula, Barrow is only around 20
minutes from the Lake District, Barrow has been referred to as a
"gateway to the lakes" and "where the lakes meets the sea", a
status which could be enhanced by the new marina complex and planned
cruise ship terminal.
Barrow itself has several tourist attractions that support just over
1,000 jobs; the town saw a higher growth in tourist expenditure during
the 2000s than
Cumbria as a whole and had about 2.3 million overnight
stays during 2008. Barrow's most popular free-entry tourist
attraction is the Dock Museum. The museum tells the history of Barrow
(including the steelworks industry, the shipyard and the Barrow
Blitz), as well as offering gallery space to local artists and
schoolchildren. It is built upon and around an old graving dock.
Walney Island has two world-renowned nature reserves (the 130 hectare
(0.5 sq mi) South
Walney Nature Reserve and the 650 hectare (2.5
North Walney Nature Reserve). Both nature reserves have
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Site of Special Scientific Interest designation, as do the Duddon
Sandscale Haws to the north of the borough. Barrow has a
number of beaches which are popular in the summer with sunbathers,
kitesurfers and caravanners. They include Earnse Bay, Biggar Bank,
Roanhead and Rampside. The first two of these provide views of the
Isle of Man
Isle of Man and
Anglesey on exceptionally clear days. The wider
borough has more than 60 km of coastline. The Park Leisure
Centre is a fitness suite with a pool, set in the 45-acre (18 ha)
Barrow Park. The historic ruins of
Furness Abbey and Piel Castle,
which are both managed by English Heritage, are also popular tourist
South Lakes Safari Zoo
South Lakes Safari Zoo is one of Europe's leading
conservation zoos and has been voted Cumbria's best tourist attraction
in five non-consecutive years although it has a checkered history; it
lies within the borough of Barrow-in-
Furness on the outskirts of
Dalton. The zoo underwent a multi-million pound expansion during the
mid-2010s. It now holds thousands of animals and covers an area of 51
acres (21 ha) making it one of the Northern England's largest
Piel Island and castle are a popular attraction in Barrow
Barrow has been described as the Lake District's premier shopping
town, with 'big name shops mingling with small local ones'. The
town centre is home to a large indoor market and Portland Walk
Shopping Centre. Barrow has many retail and leisure parks for a
town of its size, including Cornmill Crossing, Cornerhouse Retail
Park, Hollywood Park,
Hindpool Retail Park and
Walney Road Retail
Park. Between them they host a number of supermarkets,
electrical, home furnishing, clothing and discount stores, gyms,
restaurants and Cumbria's largest cinema. Other modern visitor
attractions in Barrow include the growing leisure destination at James
Freel Close (consisting of an indoor kart racing complex, bowling
alley, indoor skate park, trampoline centre and gym), as well as
'Lazer Zone' in
Hindpool Road's former Custom House and a similar
lazer quest, 'escape room' and play centre in the former Hitchens
Building on Buccleuch Street.
Regeneration and redevelopment
The Central Yard Facility, photographed in July 2017, is at the centre
of BAE Systems' £300 million redevelopment
Duke of Edinburgh Hotel
Duke of Edinburgh Hotel and
Emlyn Hughes House
Urban regeneration has been ongoing in Barrow since the 1990s.
Portland Walk Shopping Centre
Portland Walk Shopping Centre opened in 1998 anchored by
part of a major reconstruction of Barrow town centre. Around the same
Hindpool Retail Parks and
Dock Museum were constructed over
various former industrial sites in Barrow, including the dry dock, the
Barrow Jute Works
Barrow Jute Works and the Barrow Steel Works. Recent construction
projects in the town also include the £43 million expansion of
Furness College's Channelside campus, £22.5 million Furness
Academy new build, £14.5 million central Barrow flood relief
scheme, £8.5 million Barrow police station, £5 million town
centre redevelopment scheme, £4 million
Scottish Power Wind Farm
operations centre as well as the North Central Renewal Area, shake
up of the town's residential and retirement homes and a number of
large-scale hotel schemes catering for the influx of contractors
working for BAE Systems.
The Waterfront is an ambitious ongoing £200 million Dockland
regeneration project, which began in 2007. The project includes a new
'Barrow Marina Village' which will incorporate an £8 million
400-berth marina, 650 homes, restaurants, shops, hotels and a new
state of the art bridge across Cavendish Dock. A large watersports
centre is also proposed, with the possibility of a cruise ship
terminal. Some cruise ships are already scheduled to dock in Barrow,
mainly for tourists to visit the Lake District, although there is no
official cruise ship terminal yet. Developments have stalled
since 2010 when the
Northwest Regional Development Agency was
disbanded and essential government funding was lost. Despite this
Barrow Borough Council has since purchased land needed to make the
development a reality and currently controls 95% of the site. The
executive director of the council has stated construction of the
Waterfront could resume by 2017 as economic prospects improve and has
pledged funds to conduct a market testing exercise. The allocation of
Growth Deal investment (2014 - 2021) will make improvements to the
Barrow Waterfront Enterprise Zone far more secure  In 2014 a
£300 million investment into the shipyard was announced by BAE
Systems, in anticipation of the new generation of UK nuclear
submarines. Construction will take up to eight years and
create thousands of new jobs at the shipyard thereafter. Amongst
proposals are an extension to the DDH complex and new buildings in the
central yard area off Bridge Road on Barrow Island (a site formerly
mooted for a huge construction hall for the construction of Queen
Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier sections which the yard failed to win
contracts for), these will house pressure hull units ready for shot
blasting and painting, and be a place for joining submarine equipment
modules. Redevelopment of the 5.8 hectare central yard area
commenced in 2016. It is to be dominated by the Central Yard Complex
Facility which upon completion will measure 178 m (584 ft)
long, 94 m (308 ft) wide and 41 m (135 ft) tall,
only 10% smaller than the volume of the pre-expansion Devonshire Dock
Other large scale developments associated with BAE include a
30,000 m2 (320,000 sq ft) logistics centre which was
constructed in the Waterfront Business Park in 2015 and a
8,100 m2 (87,000 sq ft) central training facility which
is proposed at
Buccleuch Dock Road.
Other major employers include the National Health Service, through
Furness General Hospital, which employs 1,800 staff, the Kimberly
Clark paper mill which has 400 employees, BAE Systems' Land and
Furness Building Society which is one of the
twenty largest of its kind,
Cumbria County Council and Barrow Borough
Council. Amongst many retailers that have established themselves in
Barrow, the furniture store
Stollers is noted as being one of the
largest shops of its kind in the UK.
Craven House is headquarters of James Fisher & Sons, the only
Barrow company on the
London Stock Exchange
Tesco is a significant employer, with several outlets across Barrow
According to the 2011 census, 78.2% of males aged 16–64 and females
aged 16–59 in Barrow were economically active. This figure is higher
than the North West and
England averages. 73.8% of the population
was employed, which again is higher than regional and national
averages; the unemployment rate stood at 5.6% which is lower than both
averages. Despite this the percentage of people claiming key
benefits, which is independent of the unemployment figure, is much
higher than both averages at 21.0%, or almost a quarter of all
Barrovians of working age. The most common form of benefit
received was the Incapacity Benefit, claimed by 11.0% of the adult
population, while 4.0% claimed Jobseeker's Allowance, which is on a
par with the national average.
The list below shows how many people were employed in certain sectors
according to the 2011 census. Little change has occurred over the
10-year period since the previous census; Barrow still has a much
higher percentage of workers in the manufacturing sector than the
national average, ranking third in 2011 behind Corby, Northamptonshire
and Pendle, Lancashire. South West
Cumbria has one of the
UK's most self-contained workforces, and Barrow itself has the sixth
lowest proportion of people who travel outside of the country for
work. In 2001, 76% of the working age population in Barrow
commuted within 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) for work, when compared to
England average of 54%. A significant proportion of the
town's population are employed at the
Sellafield nuclear facility and
GlaxoSmithKline plant in Ulverston.
Manufacturing: 6,570 employed (21.0% of the town's working population)
Wholesale and retail trade: 4,728 (15.1%)
Human health and social work: 4,539 (14.5%)
Construction: 2,387 (7.6%)
Education: 2,381 (7.6%)
Accommodation and food service activities: 1,962 (6.3%)
Public administration and defence: 1,913 (6.1%)
Transport and storage: 1,296 (4.1%)
Administrative and support service: 1,055 (3.4%)
Professional, scientific and technical: 1,000 (3.2%)
Information and communication: 496 (1.6%)
Financial and insurance: 492 (1.6%)
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply: 441 (1.4%)
Water supply: 264 (0.8%)
Real estate: 221 (0.7%)
Mining and quarrying: 165 (0.5%)
Agriculture, forestry and fishing: 122 (0.4%)
Other: 1,225 (3.9%)
Walney Bridge (officially Jubilee Bridge) links Barrow Island to
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
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
Chewits sweets. As well as local suburban and
village services, longer distance buses run to Millom, Ulverston,
Bowness, Windermere and Kendal.
Furness railway station viewed from Abbey Road
Furness railway station provides connections to Whitehaven,
Workington and Carlisle to the north, via the Cumbrian Coast Line, and
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.
Walney Island Airport (IATA airport code: BWF, ICAO: EGNL) is a
former commercial airport and
Royal Air Force
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
Port of Barrow is only a minor port.
Isle of Man
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
Ramsden Dock and
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
New York City via Dublin. There are proposals to
construct a cruise ship terminal in Barrow as part of the Waterfront
Holker Street, the home of Barrow A.F.C.
Barrow A.F.C. and Holker Old Boys F.C.
Barrow A.F.C. are in the
Conference National division of English
football. The team, founded in 1901, are nicknamed "the
Bluebirds" and play their home games at the Holker Street
stadium. The side were members of the
Football League until they
failed to be re-elected in 1972. In 1990, they won the FA Trophy
beating Leek Town 3-0 in the final at Wembley Stadium, London.
Twenty years later, on 8 May 2010, Barrow repeated the feat, beating
Stevenage Borough 2-1 after extra time. Barrow were bought by
Texas-based businessman Paul Casson in 2014 with a 5-year plan of
returning the team to the
Football League and completely redeveloping
Holker Street, including the addition of three new stands.
Football players born in Barrow include
England internationals Emlyn
Hughes and Gary Stevens, as well as Harry Hadley, and
Vic Metcalfe. Of current professional footballers, Wayne
Morecambe striker, and Iran Under-20 and Hibernian winger
Shana Haji both hail from the town.
Holker Old Boys F.C., based at Rakesmoor Lane, are the town's second
most successful football team, and they play in the North West
Football League Division One.
Main article: Barrow Raiders
Craven Park, the home of Barrow Raiders
Rugby league is a well-established sport and the town is considered as
one of the game's traditional heartlands at professional and amateur
levels. The professional team, Barrow Raiders, whose home games
are at Craven Park, played in the Championship until 2011 but as of
2012, they now operate in the league below, known as Championship One.
In the 1950s the side played in three
Challenge Cup finals, winning
the last of these against
Workington Town. In the 1997 reorganisation
of the sport the original Barrow RLFC team merged with Carlisle Border
Raiders to form Barrow Border Raiders, with the word "border"
later dropped. Players who were born in the town and played at a
professional level include brothers Ade and Mat Gardner and
Willie Horne. The latter captained Barrow to their Challenge Cup
victory and represented Great Britain at an international level. He
was inducted into the "Barrow Hall of Fame" along with former Barrow
players Phil Jackson and Jimmy Lewthwaite.
At a local level, eight amateur rugby league teams participate in the
Barrow & District League. They include Askam, Barrow Island,
Dalton, Hindpool, Milliom,
Ulverston and Walney
Barrow is home to two large golf clubs. Barrow Golf Club, founded in
1922, is situated in
Hawcoat and covers some 6,209 yards
(5,678 m) with 18 holes.
Furness Golf Club, founded in 1872,
is the sixth oldest golf club in
England and is possibly the more
famous of the two. It is located on
Walney Island, just 50 yards
(46 m) from the Irish Sea. It also offers an 18-hole course, a
shop and other facilities. The
Furness Golf Centre is located on
the outskirts of Barrow close to
Roanhead and is home to a 14-bay
driving range, golf shop, swing studio and the Fairway Hotel. The
hoaxer Maurice Flitcroft, known as the "world's worst golfer" lived
and worked in the town.
Barrow has staged speedway racing at three venues since the pioneer
days in the late 1920s. The first track was at Holker Street. This
venue had a revival for a short spell in the early to mid-1970s being
utilised by the short-lived Barrow Bombers. In 1930 the sport moved to
Little Park but this a somewhat hazy venue. The sport had a revival in
1978 at Park Avenue Industrial Estate but this was relatively short
lived. Barrow is home to the
American Football club,
formed in 2011 the club originally trained at Memorial Fields on
Walney Island before establishing training grounds elsewhere in Barrow
and Ulverston. The Terriers play in the North West conference of the
BAFA's National League alongside the likes of the Manchester Titans
and Merseyside Nighthawks.
One of the town's most notable annual sporting events is the Keswick
to Barrow (K2B), a 40-mile (60 km) walking and running event that
has taken place every year since 1967 between Keswick and Barrow. The
event has raised millions for charity and regularly sees in excess of
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
Royal Society of Arts
Royal Society of Arts and the
Heritage Lottery Fund
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.
See also: Listed buildings in Barrow-in-
Furness and List of tallest
buildings and structures in Barrow-in-Furness
View of Barrow looking south from the Slag Bank including (left to
right) Fells of the Lake District, Thorncliffe Crematorium, Ormsgill,
Holker Street, Hindpool, St. James' Church, Piel Castle, the Town
BAE Systems Central Yard Facility and
Devonshire Dock Hall, the
new Barrow Police Station,
Walney Bridge and Walney
Channel, Vickerstown, the Irish Sea,
Walney and Ormonde Wind Farms and
Walney Island Airport
View of Barrow looking east across
Walney Channel including (left to
right) Fells of the Lake District, Slag Bank,
Furness College, St.
James' Church, the Dock Museum,
Devonshire Dock Hall, BAE Systems
Central Yard Facility and
Vickerstown, a model village built on
Walney Island around 1900
Red brick and terracotta were popular building materials at the turn
of the 20th century in Barrow - a style which is imitated to this day
Barrow is one of Britain's few planned towns and the spacious
tree-lined avenues within parts of the town centre are more akin to
the layout of a much larger city. 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
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
John Whinnerah Institute
John Whinnerah Institute to the Byzantine style St.
John's Church, Neo-Elizabethan Abbey House and Tudor Revival
Barrow has 8
Grade I listed
Grade I listed buildings, 15 Grade II* and 249 Grade II
buildings. The majority of
Grade I listed
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,
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
Titan Clydebank in Glasgow. The tallest building in Barrow
Devonshire Dock Hall
Devonshire Dock Hall at 51 metres (167 ft). Also worth of note
are the turbines of
Ormonde Wind Farm
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
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
The Forum, Barrow's largest theatre and arts venue
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
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
In fictional works, Barrow and
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
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.
D. H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence was in Barrow during the outbreak of
World War I
World War I and wrote about his experiences in the town. The 2015
Career of Evil
Career of Evil by J. K. Rowling's pseudonym Robert Galbraith was
largely set in Barrow.
Portland Walk, one of Barrow's primary retail areas
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, Heart North
Lancashire and Cumbria, which broadcasts from Lancaster and serves the
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
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.
Barrow has a large number of public works of art, including statues of
prominent political figures and sporting personalities
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.
Furness is the connection between
England and the fictional
Island of Sodor in the
Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas the Tank Engine TV series, as well as in
the Railway Series books by the Rev. W. Awdry, on which the TV series
Dialect and accent
Main article: Barrovian
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
Barrovian accent tends to drop certain letters (including H and
The Crow's Nest on Barrow Island, a typical
Victorian era public house
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
Cumbria has produced a number of famed dishes and is home
Michelin Guide restaurants, one of which is located in
The majority of housing within the town is terraced, built for working
Having emerged as mixture of working class cultures from across
Ireland in the 19th Century, subsequent low levels of
migration and a continued tradition of industrial employment mean that
Barrow's culture still reflects many of the traditions of the British
Working Class. In September 2008, Barrow was named as the most
working class location in the United Kingdom, based on a series of
measures devised to judge the lifestyle of the people. The
research was carried out by Locallife.co.uk which determined that
there is a fish and chip shop, working men's club, bookmakers or trade
union office for every 2,917 people (Crewe, Doncaster, Wolverhampton
and Preston completed the top five of 'the most working class places
in Britain'). This is in direct contrast to the 1870s when a
developing Barrow had more aristocrats per head of the population than
anywhere else in the country.
In the 2015 Indices of Deprivation, Barrow was ranked as the 44th most
deprived district in
England (out of a total of 326). The
equivalent figures for 2007 and 2010 stood at 29th most deprived and
32nd most deprived respectively. The Indices of Deprivation is
based on income, employment, education, health, crime and barriers to
housing and services and living environment. Within these
subcategories, most notably Barrow ranked as the 5th most deprived in
terms of health deprivation and disability, and in huge contrast,
324th most deprived in terms of access to housing and services (i.e.
3rd least deprived). In the 2010 Indices of Deprivation, the
majority of areas in Barrow Island, Central, Hindpool,
amongst the 3% most deprived areas in the country, while large parts
of suburban Barrow including
Roose were amongst the 25%
of least deprived areas in England.
Furness General Hospital, the primary hospital for Barrow and South
The principal hospital in Barrow is
Furness General Hospital, operated
by the University Hospitals of
Morecambe Bay NHS Trust and located on
the outskirts of the town. As of July 2010 there were 12 NHS GP
practices/doctors' surgeries and 5 NHS dental surgeries in
Barrow. The life expectancy[when?] for males in Barrow is 76.0
years (compared to the
England average of 77.7) and 80.9 years for
females (compared to the national average of 81.8). The 2001 UK
Census showed that 63.12% of Barrovians were in good health, 23.63% in
fairly good health and 13.25% in bad health. This compared to
England's averages of 68.76%, 22.21% and 9.03% respectively; thus in
general people in Barrow are in a slightly worse state of health than
England as a whole. A 2009 NHS in depth publication on health
in Barrow indicated that eight years later the population of Barrow is
still in worse health than the national average. The opening
statement of the publication read, "The health of people in
Furness is varied. Many indicators are significantly worse
England average, including violent crime and binge drinking
adults (an estimate). However, a number of indicators are similar to
the average, such as GCSE achievement and healthy eating adults (an
estimate), and a fifth of indicators are significantly better than
average, including physically active children and adults." Barrow
has the tenth worst rate of
Incapacity Benefit claimants for mental
illness in the country. The NHS also identified Barrow as having
significantly worse figures than the
England average in the fields of
deprivation, child poverty, violent crime, breast feeding initiation,
children's tooth decay, binge drinking adults, over 65s 'not in good
health', hospital stays for alcohol-related harm, male and female life
expectancy, deaths from smoking and early deaths from cancer. As
against this, as stated earlier the proportions of physically active
children and adults in Barrow is significantly higher than the England
average, whilst the town also has much lower numbers of drug misusers,
diabetes sufferers and road accident injuries and deaths. All
other aspects of the health of Barrow's population were stated as more
or less level with nationwide average.
Barrow's new main police station (under construction) in June 2015
Policing is by
Cumbria Constabulary, which alongside the county of
Cumbria was formed in 1974. Previously the town was policed by
Furness Borough Police. Barrow previously had one full-time
police station in Market Street in the Central ward. A new
multi-million pound building was built on James Freel Close on
Hindpool and is the town's only police station, with
extra jail cells and improved facilities. Several consecutive annual
Cumbria Constabulary entitled the '
Safety Strategic Assessment' have stated that overall crime in Barrow
is declining, with some indicators far better than the national
average. Despite this, crime levels as a whole are higher than
the national average: 2013 statistics show crime levels in the borough
as the 16th worst in the UK; most notably, Barrow has amongst the
worst rates of alcohol misuse in the country. Between July and
December 2013 Barrow saw an average of 7.39 crimes per 100 of the
population; the UK average was 6.57. Incidents of anti-social
behaviour stood at 7.83 per 100 in Barrow, cf 5.02 in the UK.
Burglary averaged 0.53 per 100 in 2013 while the national average was
1.00 per 100. Robbery averaged 0.02 in Barrow and 0.07 nationwide,
shoplifting 0.72 and 0.53 and vehicle crime at 0.31 and 0.58.
Violent crimes and sexual offences occurred at a rate of 1.70 per 100,
significantly higher than UK average of 1.06 and ranking the area as
the 29th worst out of 348 in the country. Crime rates remain the
highest in deprived areas of inner wards such as Central and
See also: List of schools in Barrow-in-Furness
The Copper Box building at
Furness College's Channelside campus
Furness Academy was established in 2009 and opened a new site in 2013
Education in the state-funded sector includes fifteen primary schools,
five infant schools, five junior schools and many nurseries. The three
secondary schools in the town are:
Furness Academy, St. Bernard's
Catholic High School and
Chetwynde School is an
all-through school for children aged 4 to 18. Formerly an independent
school, Chetwynde became a state-funded free school in 2014.
In the further education sector there are two colleges.
Furness Sixth Form College concentrates on teaching A-level
Furness College specialises in vocational
courses. Although there is no higher education institution based
Furness College teaches several foundation degrees and a
small number of Bachelor's and Master's programmes accredited by the
University of Cumbria,
University of Lancaster
University of Lancaster and the University of
The town's main library is the Central Library in Ramsden Square,
situated near the town centre. The library was established in
1882 in a room near the town hall, and moved to its current premises
in 1922. A branch of the County Archive Service, opened in 1979 and
containing many of the town's archives, is located within adjoining
premises, whilst until 1991 the library also housed the Furness
Museum, a forerunner of the Dock Museum. Smaller branch libraries
are currently provided at Walney,
Roose and Barrow Island.
Borough of Barrow-in-Furness
Furness (UK Parliament constituency)
List of people from Barrow-in-Furness
List of ships and submarines built in Barrow-in-Furness
Listed buildings in Barrow-in-Furness
List of places of worship in Barrow-in-Furness
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Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Media related to Barrow-in-
Furness at Wikimedia Commons
Furness travel guide from Wikivoyage
Ceremonial county of Cumbria
Boroughs or districts
City of Carlisle
Borough of Allerdale
Borough of Barrow-in-Furness
Borough of Copeland
District of Eden
District of South Lakeland
See also: List of civil parishes in Cumbria
Grade I listed
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings
Coat of arms
Port and Shipyard
Port of Barrow
Bishop of Barrow-in-Furness
Place of Worship
Borough of Barrow-in-Furness
North West England
Districts and Wards of the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness
Borough of Barrow-in-Furness
North West England