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Coordinates: 54°06′39″N 3°13′34″W / 54.1108°N 3.2261°W / 54.1108; -3.2261

Barrow-in-Furness Main Image.jpg
From upper left: part of Central Barrow with Blackpool's skyline also visible, the Dock Museum and Devonshire Dock Hall, Schneider Square, Furness Abbey and Walney Bridge.
Barrow-in-Furness is located in Cumbria

 Barrow-in-Furness shown within Cumbria
Population 2001 Census
Town 59,182
Borough 71,981
OS grid reference SD198690
    - London  222 mi (357 km) 
District Barrow-in-Furness
Shire county Cumbria
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district LA13-LA16
Dialling code 01229
Police Cumbria
Fire Cumbria
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Barrow and Furness
List of places: UK • England • Cumbria

Barrow-in-Furness is an industrial town and seaport which forms about half the territory of the wider Borough of Barrow-in-Furness in the county of Cumbria, England. It lies 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Manchester and 90 km (56 mi) southwest from the county town of Carlisle. The town is situated at the tip of the Furness peninsula bordered only by Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea. Barrow is located some 360 km (just over 220 miles) north-west of London and 60 miles south of the Scottish border.

Historically a part of Lancashire until 1974, Barrow was a small fishing village (consisting of Cornish miners and indivduals originating from Scandinavia) before the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th century (when mass immigration from Scotland and elsewhere in England boosted the size of the local population to what it is today). The building of the Furness Railway allowed iron ore to be transported to the area; the village's location made it ideal for smelting and then exporting steel. During the late 19th Century, Barrow was actually home to the largest steelworks on earth.[1] The natural harbour the booming town possessed allowed the locally produced steel to be put to another use: shipbuilding.[2]

The shipyard became a significant producer of naval vessels and from the 1960s increasingly specialised in the construction of nuclear-powered submarines. The original iron- and steel- making enterprises closed down after World War II, leaving boat building the area's main industry and employer. All of Britain's Vanguard class submarines, which carry Trident nuclear weapons, were manufactured at the facility. With the end of the Cold War and subsequent decrease in military spending the town suffered high unemployment, though the shipyard remains operational and the largest submarine production facility in the UK.[3]

Besides the town's former steelworks and current shipbuilding industry, Barrow is also noted as being the location of Furness Abbey which was once the country's second richest and most powerful cistercian abbey.[4] Amongst some of the events to have brought the town into international attention include the Barrow Blitz and the infamous 2002 Legionnaires' disease outbreak. Barrow has produced numerous sporting personalities, and Barrow Raiders are current champions of rugby league's Co-operative Championship.



The name was originally that of an island—the name 'Barrai' 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.[5]


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.[6] Originally founded for the Savigniac order, it was built on the orders of King Stephen of England in 1123. Soon after the abbey's foundation the monks discovered iron ore deposits, later to prove the basis for the Furness economy. These thin strata, close to the surface, were extracted through open cut workings,[7] which were then smelted by the monks in small bloomeries (early furnaces).[8] 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.[9]

However, Barrow itself was just a hamlet in the parish of Dalton-in-Furness on the Furness peninsula, 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 farm houses in Newbarns (now a ward of the town) which date back to the early 1600s. Even as late as 1843 there were still only 32 dwellings including two pubs.[10]

Furness Abbey

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 to a deep water harbour near Roa Island.[11] The docks built between 1867 and 1881 in the more sheltered channel between the mainland and Barrow Island replaced the port at Roa Island. The increasing quantities of iron ore mined in Furness were then brought to Barrow to be transported by sea.

The investors in the burgeoning mining and railway industries decided greater profits could be made by smelting the iron ore 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.[12] Its success was a result of the availability of local iron ore, coal from the Cumberland mines and easy rail and sea transport. The Furness Railway, who 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.[11] Thus Barrow's population, only 700 in 1851, reached 10,000 by 1864 and 47,000 by 1881, forty years after the railway was built.

Barrow Shipbuilding Works circa. 1890
Cornmill Crossing in 1895 (one of many stations of the Furness Railway), a B&Q and JJB store and gym now exist on the site
The now demolished Buccleuch Street power station and Case's brewery circa. 1940

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.[13]

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 longest tree-lined road in the UK leading away from a central square. Ramsden later became the first mayor of Barrow,[14] which was given municipal borough status in 1867, and county borough status in 1889.[15] The imposing red sandstone Town Hall, designed by W.H. Lynn, was built in a neo-gothic style in 1887.[16] 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.[17] It also commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to design Abbey House as a guest house and residence for its managing director, Commander Craven.[18]

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,[19] 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 airship hangars during the early 1900s.[20] 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.

During World War II, Barrow was a target for the German air force looking to disable the town's shipbuilding capabilities (see Barrow Blitz).[21] 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 everyday 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.[22]

The end of the war saw the beginning of a long decline of mining and steel-making as a result of overseas competition and dwindling resources. The Barrow ironworks closed in 1963,[23] three years after the last Furness mine shut. The by then small steelworks followed suit in 1983,[24] 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-class, Trafalgar-class and Vanguard-class submarines all followed.

Barrow-built Mikasa in Japan in 2005, it was the Imperial Japanese Navy's flagship during the Russo-Japanese War.

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.[25] As a result, the workforce shrank from 14,500 in 1990 to 5,800 in February 1995,[26] with overall unemployment in the town rising over that period from 4.6% to 10%.[3] The rejection by the VSEL management of detailed plans for Barrow's industrial renewal in the mid-to-late 1980s remains controversial.[27] 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.[28]

In the 2002 Barrow-in-Furness Legionnaires' disease outbreak, 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 (see list of Legionnaires' disease outbreaks). 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.[29]

At the conclusion of the inquest into the seven deaths, the coroner for Furness and South Cumbria criticised the council for its health and safety failings.[30] In 2006, council employee Gillian Beckingham and employer Barrow Borough Council were cleared of seven charges of manslaughter, but both admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act. Beckingham, the council senior architect ultimately responsible for health and safety at the centre, was fined £15,000 and the authority £125,000.[31] The borough council was the first public body in the country to face corporate manslaughter charges.[32]



The waterfront

Many areas of the town have seen regeneration in the 1990s, and on 28 September 2007 Barrow's £200 million Dockland regeneration project began. Due to be completed by 2020, the project includes a new 'Barrow Marina Village' which will incorporate an £8 million 400-berth marina, 600 houses, restaurants, shops, hotels and a new state of the art bridge across Cavendish Dock.[citation needed] A large watersports centre is also being built, 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. The Tahitian Princess visited Barrow in May 2009.[33]


The shipyard has been given planning permission to construct a new assembly hall, dubbed 'Son of DDH' in a reference to the existing Devonshire Dock Hall shipbuilding facility. However, the building will not now be used for the construction of aircraft carrier sections as the carrier build will now take place in Glasgow. John Hutton, MP for Barrow, has, however, promised that all seven Astute Class submarines will be built at the shipyard.[34] Following a decline in employment levels at the shipyard over the last 20 years, BAE Systems recently announced that the current workforce of 3,835 could soon grow to 5,000, although this is still only a third of the 14,000 employed in the 1980s.[35]

Possible bridges

The Donghai Bridge in Shanghai, China has a similar structure to the proposed Morecambe Bay Bridge

A second bridge to Walney Island from mainland Barrow is planned to relieve congestion and as an aid to 24-hour access for the emergency services, most of which are based on the mainland.

For many years there have been discussions on the possible construction of bridges across Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Estuary, leading to the Build Duddon and Morecambe Bridges party contesting national elections in the borough of Barrow and Furness, receiving 409 (1.1%) votes in the 2005 general election.[36]

A proposed bridge across Morecambe Bay

This controversial project has recently received much publicity. Construction of the 12 mile structure would create Europe's longest bridge and the 7th longest in the world. Connecting Heysham in Lancashire to Rampside near Barrow, the bridge could also produce 200 MW of renewable energy from a tidal stream system, enough to power over 400,000 homes.

It must be said, though, that results of turbine tests in the Bay, promised for summer 2009, have yet to be seen in the local press. The marine environment of the Bay is notoriously volatile, and some local opinion has doubted whether turbines could function effectively in such a setting.

It has been said that the bridge could, potentially, have an economic impact on the area through increased employment and tourism. It must be noted, though, that this estimate is based largely upon much-vaunted possible savings in journey times to and from Barrow, and that these savings have been exaggerated by many.

Indeed, the often-broadcast saving in the journey from Manchester to Barrow of 'from two hours down to around one hour' is pure fantasy. The correct figures show that Barrow itself would be helped only marginally, the present journey time of 2h 07' falling to only 1h 42', a saving of a mere 25'.[37]

Moreover, the route to the bridge at Heysham would, as things stand, have to pass through that notorious bottleneck Lancaster town centre, resulting in the loss of much of the 25', and there would inevitably be delays in getting on and off the bridge and in stopping at possible tollbooths, further reducing any marginal saving in time.

Moreover, the present road to Barrow from the M6, the A590, is now a much-improved and fast artery, though if a further reduction in journey time were sought an Ulverston bypass could well be the answer.

Beyond Barrow, the Bay route would help even less, with Ulverston only 1' closer, at best, and this using the A5087, a scenic route unsuited to heavy traffic. As a trumpeted new 'Gateway to the Lakes', the consequent longer journey to Bowness-on-Windermere (for example) via the bridge - and this by a margin of 36' - might fail to please holidaymakers. Again, industrial users would hardly be enamoured by the longer journeys to Millom (15') and Workington (36').

Though Members of Parliament in West Cumbria have hailed the bridge as a saviour for local industry (without, seemingly, looking at the figures), some Members of the European Parliament for the North-West have been less forthcoming.

The project's backers, Bridge Across the Bay Ltd., have been intemperate enough to compare the proposed bridge's importance to that of the Øresundsbron (the Øresund Bridge) near Copenhagen, though that bridge is the only practical road link between Denmark and Sweden and effectively links two halves of a continent.

They have also said of this project that it could be 'our Angel of the North', though the environmental impact to the Bay (as yet unknown) could be enormous, and though the peace and tranquility for which the Furness Peninsula is justly prized by residents and visitors alike would be destroyed at a stroke.

Bridge Across the Bay Ltd. intends to seek planning permission in 2010. Subject to approval and the problematic provision of finance, construction could begin around 2011, and the company estimates the bridge could be completed in 2015.[38][39]

It should be noted, however, that, though the proposal is being discussed by local councils, [40] such a sensitive issue would inevitably be the subject of a Public Enquiry. It is at this time that the crucial issues relating to the survival of this very special bay environment would be addressed in great detail.

Duddon Estuary bridge

A smaller bridge (some 3 km long) crossing the Duddon Estuary linking Askam and Millom would improve transport links to the area, cutting journey times from Barrow to parts of West Cumbria, but would require considerable finance. There has also been talk of building a road and rail tunnel under the Duddon instead of a bridge.[41] There has been increased talk of this bridge since the announcement of Kirksanton on the North side of the Duddon Estuary being shortlisted as a site for a new nuclear power station [42].


Barrow's iconic Grade II* listed town hall

Barrow is the largest town in the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness[43] 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 1800s.[44] Historically it is part of the Hundred of Lonsdale 'north of the sands' in the historic county boundaries of Lancashire.[45] Since the local government reforms enacted in England in 1974 the town has been within the administrative county of Cumbria. It still forms a part of the Duchy of Lancaster. The Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council forms the 'lower' tier of local government under Cumbria County Council.[46] The town, along with Walney Island, is unparished and forms the bulk of the wards which make the entire borough's area. They can be seen in the box below.

Wards/ Areas of Barrow-in-Furness

Barrow Island | Central | Hawcoat | Hindpool | Newbarns | Ormsgill | Parkside | Risedale | Roosecote | Walney North | Walney South


Barrow-in-Furness is situated at the tip of the Furness peninsula on the north-western edge of Morecambe Bay. The town centre and major industrial areas sit on a fairly flat coastal shelf, with a gentle incline leading away from the coast. Ten miles to the north-east is the southern boundary of the English Lake District.

Map of Barrow-in-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 yard 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.


Climate data for Barrow-in-Furness, England, United Kingdom
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13
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[47] 26 January 2008


of which:
Male 35,092
Female 36,888
by age:
0-15 16-74 75+
14,993 51,228 5,759

Barrow's population increased from the low thousands in the early 1800s to 60,000 in less than twenty years. Since the start of the 20th century the population of the town has gradually diminished to just under 60,000. The Barrow council district, which includes the surrounding area, has a population of 71,980 according to the most recent census, placing it 326th out of the 376 local authorities in England and Wales (however the population density of 900 /km2 (2,300 /sq mi) ranks 147th out of 376).[48] Barrow-in-Furness can be regarded as the largest town in Cumbria, Carlisle in the north of the county having city status. People from Barrow are known as Barrovians.[49]

Population in the 19th century
Year 1801 1811 1831 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Population[50] 1,958 2,078 2,702 4,684 22,513 40,343 58,172 62,694
Population in the 20th century
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population[50] 67,354 72,360 73,394 74,447 75,509 76,619 75,902 72,192 72,645 73,704 71,979

The female life expectancy at birth is 80.40 years, and male life expectancy is 74.80 (The respective figures for England are 81.14 and 76.92).[51]


2008 estimates state 94.1% of Barrow's population as indigenous White British, and ethnic minority populations in Barrow stand at 5.9%, the breakdown of which is shown in the table below.[52] The first people to settle in what is now Barrow were the Celts and Scandinavians followed by the Cornish although in the late 19th century there was mass immigration from Scotland and other parts of England. Thus the distinction between these immigrants and the previous native population is not clear from the table below.

Ethnic Group % of Overall Barrow Population % of Ethnic Minority Population Population Further Breakdown
White British 94.10% N/A 67,658 89.7% White English, 2.8% White Scottish, 0.6% White Welsh
Other White 1.90% 34.54% 1,366 0.7% Polish, 0.3% Germans, 0.2% Canadians, 0.1% Yugoslavs, 0.1% Kosovars, 0.1% Americans, 0.4% Other
White Irish 1.00% 18.18% 719 0.6% Northern Irish, 0.4% Irish
East Asian 0.90% 15.25% 647 0.4% Chinese, 0.3% Filipinos, 0.2% Thais and Other
South Asian 0.80% 13.79% 575 0.4% Indian, 0.3% Pakistani, 0.1% Other South Asian
Mixed Race 0.70% 12.06% 503 0.4% Mixed White and Black, 0.1% Mixed White and Asian, 0.2% Other Mixed
Black 0.40% 6.89% 288 0.3% African, 0.1% Caribbean
Other 0.20% 3.64% 144 Largely Latin Americans and Arabs

Country of birth

St. James', Barrow's largest church

The 2001 UK census states that 93.56% (67,345) of the borough's population was born in England, 2.86% (2,061) in Scotland, 0.63% (451) in Wales, 0.68% (486) in Northern Ireland, 0.32% (231) in the Republic of Ireland and 0.06% (43) in the Channel Islands. 0.61% (441) of the town's 2001 population were born in the rest of Europe, although numbers are likely to be currently much higher, due to significant immigration from Eastern Europe (in particular Poland) to Barrow. Barrow has the eighth fastest growing non-indigenous white community of any town or city in the country, at 15.9% growth between 2004 and 2005, only Exeter, Lancaster, Colchester, Hull, Durham, Leeds and Bristol were faster growing.[53] Barrow has also seen a huge increase with other ethnic minority groups, and the growth rate for most groups is around 2 times faster than national average.[54] The Asian born population represented 0.50% (363) of Barrow's population, 0.35% (253) of people were born in North America, 0.23% (177) of people were born in Africa, 0.12% (83) of people were born in Oceania, 0.04% (27) of Barrovians were born in Latin America, and 0.02% (11) of people were born in some other place.[55]


In the 2001 census 58,322 Barrovians stated themselves as being Christian. People stating no religion or chose not to state numbered 13,234 combined. The second largest religion in Barrow is Islam with a population of 182 Muslims. Other religious populations are as follows: 72 Buddhists, (nearby Conishead Priory, the first Kadampa Buddhist centre in the west, is home to around 100 Buddhists[56]) 46 Hindus, 25 Jews and 96 with another religion.[48]

Out of the 56,987 age 16 or over in 2001, 43.81% were married, 26.26% single, 9.57% widowed, 9.36% divorced, 8.98% re-married and 2.01% separated (but still legally married).[57] The Total Fertility Rate of Barrow is 1.54, lower than North West England's rate (1.66) and England's (1.65).[58] 162 Barrovians were working in the Armed Forces in 2001[59] Barrow has one of the highest percentages of people on benefits in the entire United Kingdom, at 23% of the working age, it is much higher than England's average of 14%.[60]



BAE Systems viewed from Walney Island

The BAE Systems Submarine Solutions shipyard at Barrow is one of the largest shipyards in Britain. It was expanded in 1986 by construction of a new covered assembly facility, the Devonshire Dock Hall (DDH), completed by Alfred McAlpine plc, on land that was created by infilling part of the Devonshire Dock with 2.4 million tonnes of sand pumped from nearby Roosecote Sands.[61] 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 the second largest shipbuilding construction complex of its kind in Europe.[62][63]

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.[64] The first use of the DDH was for construction of the Vanguard-class submarines, and later vessels of the Trafalgar-class submarines were also built there. The shipyard is currently constructing the Astute-class submarines the first of which was launched on 8 June 2007.[65] 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.[66]

BAE Systems has obtained planning permission from Barrow Borough Council for the new Central Assembly Shop dubbed 'Son of DDH' which will provide over 700 new jobs, initially in construction of a large section of the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. (hull lower block 3).[67][68] Despite the large fall in numbers employed by the shipyard, Barrow retains a high proportion of workers in the manufacturing industry. In September 2008, Barrow was named as the most working class location in the UK, based on a series of measures devised to judge the lifestyle of the people. Ironically in the 1870s Barrow had more aristocrats per head than anywhere else in the country.[69]

HMS Bulwark of the Albion-class landing platform docks.

The shipyard does not build submarines exclusively: it undertook fitting out and commissioning of helicopter carrier HMS Ocean in the mid-1990s (although the ship was built by Kværner in Govan, Glasgow), and construction of Wave Class tanker Wave Knight and Albion Class amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.

HMS Astute is the most recent vessel to be launched in Barrow



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). 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 nearby Sellafield plant.[70]

In 1985, gas was discovered in Morecambe Bay, with the products processed onshore at the gas terminal in Rampside, south of the town.[71] A new 30 turbine wind-farm which has recently been built in the Irish Sea off the coast of Walney Island, although the electricity generated is sent by undersea cable to Heysham.[72]

James Fisher & Sons plc, 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,[73] was founded in Barrow in 1847[74] and is the largest company to have its headquarters situated in Cumbria.[citation needed] Annual revenue stood at almost £90 million in 2007 (up 55% from £57 million in 2006), as well as staff numbers standing at over 1,000 worldwide, with 120 of those in the Barrow headquarters.[75]

Other major employers include the NHS, through Furness General Hospital, which employs 1,800 staff[76] and the Kimberly Clark paper mill which has 400 employees.[77] 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.


Tesco has two locations in Barrow which employ hundreds of staff each

Below is a list of how many people were employed by each sector (2001 UK Census), the percentage in brackets is that of the total working population of Barrow. The + or - signs at the end indicate whether the percentge employed in that sector is slightly higher +, much higher ++, slightly lower- or much lower—than England's average.[78]

  • Manufacturing - 8,087 employed (28.03% of the town's working population) ++
  • Retail: 4,671 (16.19%) -
  • Health and Social Work: 3,635 (12.60%) ++
  • Real estate, renting and business activities: 1,852 (6.42%) –
  • Construction: 1,797 (6.23%) -
  • Education: 1,765 (6.12%) -
  • Hotels and Catering: 1,730 (6.00%) ++
  • Transport Storage and Communication: 1,490 (5.16%) -
  • Public Administration and Defence: 1,427 (4.95%) -
  • Other: 1,179 (4.09%) -
  • Finance: 471 (1.63%) –
  • Electricity, Gas and Water supply: 379 (1.31%) +
  • Agriculture: 252 (0.87%) -
  • Fishing: 8 (0.03%) +


An example of the scenery, just south of the town in Rampside

Being only around 20 minutes from the Lake District,[79] Barrow has been referred to as a 'gateway to the lakes',[80] a status which could be enhanced by the new marina complex and planned cruise ship terminal.[81] Barrow itself has several tourist attractions, including the Dock Museum. The museum tells the history of Barrow's shipbuilding, as well as offering gallery space to local artists and schoolchildren. It is built upon and around the old graving dock.[82] Barrow also has a popular indoor market, which features a food hall as well as stalls selling clothes and other goods.[83][84] Barrow has been described as the Lake District's premier shopping town, with big name shops mingling in with small local ones,[85] and being home to Portland Walk Shopping Centre.[86] The town also features Hollywood Park - a leisure facility with restaurants, shops[85] and Cumbria's largest cinema.[87] The town also features several other retail parks.[88] The Park Leisure Centre is a fitness suite with a pool, set in the 45-acre (18 ha) Barrow Park.[85] Walney Island has two world renowned[citation needed] nature reserves as well as several golf courses, and Furness Abbey on the outskirts of Barrow was once the second richest and most powerful Cisterian abbey in the entire country. Both locations are significant tourist draws.



Barrow's principal road link is the A590, linking it to Ulverston, the Lake District and to the M6 motorway.[89] Just north of Barrow is the southern terminus of the A595, linking the town to Whitehaven, Workington and eventually Carlisle.[89] The possibility of a bridge link over Morecambe Bay is occasionally raised, with feasibility studies currently underway.[90] Walney Bridge connects Barrow Island to Walney Island.


Bus services within the town are operated by Stagecoach North West. There is no specifically designated bus station, although many buses start and terminate their routes near the town hall. The original bus station was known for its role in a 1970s television commercial for Chewits sweets before its demolition.[91] Other services link Barrow with outlying villages as well as longer distance routes to Dalton-in-Furness, Ulverston 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. It handles 503,800 passengers annually.[92] 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, used to enable workers at Vickers Limited (as it was then known) to commute directly 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.

Other transport


Barrow/Walney Island Airport operates two Beechkraft Kingair 250 aircraft which fly to various destinations every weekday, including Manchester, Bristol and Blackpool. It is owned and operated by BAE Systems (IATA airport code: BWF, ICAO: EGNL). The longest runway is almost 4,000 feet long. It is one of two airports in the county, the other being Carlisle Airport (which alongside Barrow once served as a commerical domestic airport). The nearest international airport is Blackpool International Airport, although most people from Barrow use the larger Liverpool and Manchester airports.


Despite being one of the UK's leading shipbuilding centres, Barrow is only a minor port. The only ferry links are between Roa Island and Piel Island, but there are proposals to create a cruise ship terminal.[93]


Holker Street, the home of Barrow A.F.C.
Craven Park, the current home of Barrow Raiders

Barrow A.F.C.

Barrow A.F.C. are in the Conference National division of English football.[94] The team, founded in 1901, are nicknamed "the Bluebirds" and play their home games at the Holker Street stadium.[95] The side were members of the Football League until they were demoted in 1972.[95] In 1990, they won the FA Trophy beating Leek Town 3-0 in the final at Wembley Stadium, London.[96] Football players born in Barrow include England internationals Emlyn Hughes[97] and Gary Stevens,[98] as well as Harry Hadley,[99] and Vic Metcalfe.[100] Of current professional footballers, Wayne Curtis,[101] Morecambe striker, and Iran Under-20 and Hibernian winger Shana Haji[102] both hail from the town.

Holker Old Boys F.C.

Holker Old Boys, based at Rakesmoor Lane, are the town's second most successful football team, and they play in the North West Counties Football League Division One.

Barrow RLFC

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.[103] The professional team, Barrow Raiders, whose home games are at Craven Park, play in The Championship. 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,[104] with the word "border" later dropped. Players who were born in the town and played at a professional level include brothers Ade[105] and Mat Gardner[106] and Willie Horne.[107] The latter captained Barrow to their Challenge Cup victory and represented Great Britain at an international level. He was inducted in to the "Barrow Hall of Fame" along with former Barrow players Phil Jackson and Jimmy Lewthwaite.[108]

Motorcycle Racing

Barrow-in-Furness 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. 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 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.[109] 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.[110]



Furness is unique within Cumbria and the local dialect tends to be more Lancashire-oriented. Until 1974 Furness was an exclave of Lancashire. As with Liverpool for example, the special local dialect has been influenced by large numbers of settlers from various regions (predominantly Scotland, England and Ireland). In general the Barrovian dialect tends to drop certain letters (including h and t); for example holiday could be pronounced as 'oliday, with more emphasis on the letter o. Similarly the word "hiya" which could be pronounced "'iya" with emphasis on the letter i. Another example is with the letter t where twenty is often pronounced "twen'y" (again an emphasis on the n could occur); see Cumbrian dialect as well as Lancashire dialect for more information.


The lower decks of the Princess Selandia are occupied by the Blue Lagoon nightclub

There are countless pubs and working men's clubs located across Barrow—Barrow has fourteen of the latter, one of the highest number per capita of any British town.[111] 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: Jeffersons, Chambers, The Lounge, Bar Cairo, Yates's. Cornwallis Street – often dubbed the Gaza Strip by locals – is currently undergoing a multi-million pound renovation with the former Martinis being the flagship renovation into Club M. Other clubs on Cornwallis Street include: Circus Circus, Kavannas, O'Sullivans, Scorpio and the nearby floating Blue Lagoon Nightclub which has multiple floors like many other Barrow clubs although with a capacity of 2,400 it is the town's largest club.


Barrow has produced several musical performers of note. They include Thomas Round, a singer and actor in D'Oyly Carte productions of Savoy Opera[112] as well as Glenn Cornick, the original bass guitarist in the rock band Jethro Tull.[113] The father of Simply Red's Mick Hucknall was born in Barrow before moving to Manchester.[114] In addition, Paul MacKenzie, bass player with 1980s Preston-based thrash metal band Xentrix, is from Barrow.[115] More recently, hip-hop DJ and record producer Aim has had considerable commercial success.[116] Les Muscutt, jazz banjo player and guitarist was born in Barrow in Furness in 1942. The family moved to East Ham in London where Les became a professional musician at age 15.

Shortly after the Second World War, an Old Tyme Dancing trio was formed by Wyn Large (piano), Felix Lee (piano accordion) and Reg Powell (drums). This group entertained three or more times a week at several venues in the town and surrounding districts and was very popular with those locals who enjoyed keeping Old Tyme dancing alive. Wyn Large was succeeded by Billy Steele in the 1960s after which the group became known as the Felix Lee Trio until it disbanded in the 1970s due to its ageing members.

Expressive arts

The Duddon Valley near Barrow

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.[117] Constance Spry, the author and florist who revolutionised interior design in the 1930s and 40s, moved to the town with her son Anthony during World War I to work as a welfare supervisor.[118] 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.[119] The Canteen Media & Arts Centre - known simply as "The Canteen" - and Forum Twenty Eight are the main venues for theatre.


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.[120]

The great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa wrote a poem called "Barrow-in-Furness". His "heteronym" Álvaro de Campos lived in Barrow when he was studying ship engineering.


Ramsden Square in Barrow town centre is home to many fine buildings including Barrow Public Library

Barrow is one of Britain's few planned towns and has many fine buildings to show for it.[121] There are many old and distinctive buildings in the town centre, mostly from the Victorian era, such as the town hall, old fire station, the 'Nan Tait' Centre, Salvation Army building and public library. There is also an increasing number of modern office buildings as well as the shipyard's cranes and construction halls which dominate much of Barrow's skyline. Barrow has 8 Grade I listed buildings, 15 Grade II* and 249 Grade II buildings.[122]



Barrow is served by one commercial radio station, The Bay, which is broadcast from Lancaster and serves the area around Morecambe Bay. Another commercial station, Abbey FM, ceased broadcasting in February 2009 when it went into administration.[123] The BBC's local radio service is BBC Radio Cumbria, who have studio facilities in the town.[124]


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.[125]


Barrow lies in the Granada TVNorth 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, before he found fame as one half of television cookery duo The Hairy Bikers.[126] Karen Taylor is a TV comedienne best known for her BBC Three sketch show Touch Me, I'm Karen Taylor.[127] Steve Dixon is a newsreader for Sky News,[128] while Nigel Kneale was a well-known film and television scriptwriter.[129] Peter Purves, the sixth presenter of Blue Peter also lived and worked in Barrow for a time.

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, starring comedienne 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).[130][131] CITV children's show The Treacle People had two villains named Barrow and Furness.[132]


Furness Academy North Site, formerly Thorncliffe School
Nursery schools 13
Infant schools 5
Junior schools 5
Primary schools 15
Secondary schools 5
Private schools 1
Colleges 2
Universities 1*
* University of Cumbria partly sited in Barrow

Education in the state sector is provided by the local education authority, Cumbria County Council. There are fifteen primary schools, five infant schools, five junior schools and many nurseries. Five secondary schools were created following the reorganisation of Barrow's selective tri-partite secondary education system in 1979: Parkview School, St. Bernard's Catholic High School, Walney School, Thorncliffe School and Alfred Barrow School. Three schools - Parkview, Thorncliffe and Alfred Barrow closed in August 2009 with a new Furness Academy due to take their place from early September 2009 on the Parkview and Thorncliffe sites - initially in the existing buildings there, which are planned to be replaced by state-of-the-art building on both sites within three years. In addition to publicly funded education, the town has one private school, Chetwynde, which has fee-paying pupils from nursery to sixth form level.[133]

In the further education sector there are two colleges.[134] Barrow-in-Furness Sixth Form College concentrates on teaching A-level subjects,[135] while Furness College specialises in vocational courses.[136]

The town's main library is the Central Library in Ramsden Square, situated near the town centre.[137] 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,[138] whilst until 1991 the library also housed the Furness Museum, a forerunner of the Dock Museum.[139] Smaller branch libraries are currently provided at Walney, Roose, Ormsgill and Barrow Island.[137]

See also


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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Barrow-in-Furness is in Cumbria.

Get in

Train journey from the South crosses Morecambe Bay on two viaducts. A beautiful thrilling train journey, one of England's best.The main road in the town is the A590 which leads to the M6 motorway at junction 36. Trains run to Barrow from Carlisle, Manchester and Liverpool.

Get around

The town centre is easily accessible on foot from the train station. Regular bus services run throughout the town, covering most areas.

  • Furness Abbey is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1123.
  • South Lakes Wild Animal Park [1]
  • BAE Barrow Sports Club, home of BAE Rugby, Football and reigning double winners BAE Barrow 'B' cricket team [2]
  • Dock Museum for a history of Industrial Barrow [3]
  • Visit local beaches at Roanhead and Walney.

The former has magnificent views over the Duddon Estuary and Western Lakeland fells. One of the finest views in England. It also ha a fine unspoilt beach that stretches for a couple of miles, sandhills and nature reserve. Walney Island also has impressive views and sandy beaches. At the southern end is a bird sanctuary and light house. To the north another nature reserve and sandhill system

  • Visit Piel Island. Piel can be reached by ferry from Roa Island connected to the mainland by a causeway, or on foot at low tide from Walney. Piel has a ruined castle and pub. On a sunny day pure bliss. If walking from Walney, please be careful to check tide times and make sure you leave plenty of time. If in doubt do not use this route.
  • Visit Furness Abbey. A fantastic Cistern Abbey set in a beautiful quiet vale, with lovely walks in all directions
  • Join the fun at Barrow & Furness Striders. Meet 7.30 Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Holker Old Boys football club, Rakesmoor Lane for a gentle run in friendly company. Don't forget to bring some pennies for a drink afterwards.
  • Visit Holker Street home of Barrow AFC.Undefeated at Wembley, eat your hearts out MUFC fans.
  • Visit Prince of Wales pub at Foxfield, £3.50 return train fare from Barrow. Best pub in England immediately opposite stop in Foxfield. Real ales, home cooked food. Please note not open on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • Drive or cycle the coast road from Barrow to Ulverston. Hugs the northern shore of Morecambe Bay, with magnificent views, sandy beaches, frequent picnic spots and watering holes.
  • Dock Museum for displays and stories of local history. Combine with walk around industrial area to see Europe's most advanced shipyard and also along Walney Channel promenade.
  • Visit Dalton, much loved neighbouring town. Has its own castle and zoo. Entrance into zoo is expensive but can be reduced to £6 per adult by bringing a receipt from local Morrisons supermarket. Buy a newspaper get entrance for £6. Offer ends 31st Dec 2009. Not available Bank Holidays.
  • Outlying attractions, include Holker Hall (Motor Museum, Gardens, Stately home), Grange-over-Sands (genteel Victoran seaside resort), Ulverston (busy market town, traditional cinema, loads of real ale pubs, Laurel & Hardy museum), Broughton (small market town, brilliant pubs), and South Western lakes, Coniston, Langdale, Dunnerdale, Eskdale, Wasdale for England's best walking


Portland Walk in Barrow town centre hosts a range of shops, most of them branches of a national chain. The Body Shop has recently opened, as has a large New Look store. Other shops include Debenhams, Marks&Spencer, Topshop, Evans, Game, WHSmith, JJB Sports and Clarks. Barrow also has Tesco, Morrison's and an ASDA. For more interesting purchases, it is probably better to visit Ulverston.


Pies. Local delicacy baked on premises at local outlets

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