Sadly, many people will associate the name Whitehaven with the tragic events that took place on 2 June 2010 when a local taxi driver went on the rampage with a gun leaving 12 people plus the perpetrator dead and an entire community traumatised. However, this awful event should in no way put people off visiting the town, which retains the elegant appearance bestowed on it when it was laid out in the 17th century as Britain's first post-medieval planned town, largely thanks to the Lowther family of the local Lowther Baronetcy. In fact, the town's Georgian architecture is one of the reasons it has been voted as one of the top ten seaside resorts in the UK.
Whitehaven has had an interesting and eventful past, most notably in 1778 during the American War of Independence when John Paul Jones led a naval attack against the town, which is considered by some to have been the last invasion of England. The economic mainstays used to be mining and shipping, but these industries have since declined. The docks and harbour were built in the 18th and 19th centuries and today are mostly used by fishing boats and leisure craft. The harbour features include a disused lighthouse built in 1730. There is a museum by the harbourside called The Beacon which tells the story of the town's maritime history. Pride of place in the museum goes to a goblet made in 1763. Another interesting little museum is The Rum Story, which promises to transport visitors to an exotic Caribbean island, and manages to combine displays on an African village, a slave ship and Cumbrian cottages all in one place. . For those interested in the town's industrial heritage there is the Haig Pit Mining and Colliery Museum which is located on the cliffs above Whitehaven, with magnificent views to the Isle Of Man and the south of Scotland.
Whitehaven's big event of the year is the WhitehavenFestival in June, incorporating a food festival and a maritime festival. There are also a number of sailing events each year courtesy of the marina. Whitehaven is at the western end of the C2C cycle route as well as being on the Cumbrian Coastal Way. A short distance south of the town is St Bees head, which is looked after by the RSPB. The bird colonies that can be viewed from the clifftop paths include the only nesting black guillemots in England.
Map of the area.
|Photo by Phil Williams, via Wikimedia Commons|