Ulverston has a long history stretching back to the Romans, but its name dates from the days when the Norsemen were in the area. The 'Ulver' part of the name is from the Norse family name Ulfarr, or 'wolf warrior', and the 'ton' part is from 'tun' or 'homestead'. It became a market town in the 13th century when it was granted a market charter by King Edward I, giving it the right to hold weekly markets and annual fairs. The town's importance as a trading centre was enhanced when it took over from Dalton as the capital of the Furness area, and the arrival of the railway and the building of a canal to the coast provided a further boost. The canal was built by John Rennie to connect the town to the Irish Sea, but it fell into decline with the arrival of the railway.
Ulverston markets itself as a 'festival town', with music, fashion, beer and walking among its myriad festival themes. The Charter Festival in September is a reminder of the town's market charter days. In addition to the festivals, there are regular charity walks across the sands separating Ulverston from the Cartmel peninsula, a potentially dangerous tidal crossing in Morecambe Bay which provides a unique challenge for the participants. In fact the sands are off-limits to anyone without a qualified guide. Morecambe Bay's notoriety as a risky area to cross on foot was highlighted in the news some years ago with the tragic death of a group of Chinese cockle-pickers who were drowned by the incoming tide.
Just outside the town is Hoad Hill with a monument overlooking the town known as the Hoad Monument, or the Sir John Barrow Monument. The monument was erected in memory of the explorer Sir John Barrow, who was born in Dragley Beck in the parish of Ulverston, and who as well as participating in worldwide explorations was one of the founders of the Royal Geographic Society in 1830. There is also a school in the town named after him. Another famous local son was Stan Laurel, who was born in Ulverston in 1890; there is a Laurel and Hardy Museum full of memorabilia relating to the comic duo.
For a list of events in Ulverston see here.
|Photo by Ian Petticrew, via Wikimedia Commons|