Like other towns and villages in the area, Barrow-in-Furness grew prosperous thanks to the local iron ore deposits. What started out as a rural village was transformed into a thriving industrial and shipbuilding centre. The ore was sent to steelworks all over the country, and in the late 19th century Barrow's own steelworks was the biggest in the world. Reminders of this prosperous Victorian era abound in the town, most notably in the form of the red sandstone town hall and the wide, tree-lined streets. The layout of the town can be attributed to James Ramsden, the first Mayor of Barrow and superintendent of the railway, who was responsible for making Barrow into a "planned town", and who also set the shipbuilding industry in motion. Barrow has a history of submarine building, including such models as the "P" class HMS Poseidon and Trident nuclear submarines. There is footage on the British Pathe website of the launch in 1929 of HMS Poseidon from "Vickers - Armstrong's famous yard". The Dock Museum tells the story of Barrow's industrial past.
Barrow's public park, which was designed by the landscape artist Thomas Mawson, has been restored to the original plans, and in 2007 received the Landscape Heritage and Conservation award. On the north-east edge of the town is Furness Abbey, which held sway over many of the communities in the area in its heyday, in fact the monks' influence even extended to the Isle of Man. The abbey was founded in 1123 by Stephen Count of Boulogne, and was second only to Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire for its wealth and power as a Cistercian monastery. However, the abbey fell foul of Henry VIII during the English Reformation and was destroyed in 1537. Among the notable figures buried at the abbey is one of the kings of Mann and the Isles and some of the Bishops of Sodor and Man. Recently, a hoard of medieval treasure was unearthed at the abbey during the excavation of the grave of a wealthy medieval abbot. The remains of the abbey are open to the public and are run by English Heritage.
Map of the area.
|Photo by Rosalind Mitchell, via Wikimedia Commons|