page 5

The History of Carlisle

The entrance to Carlisle Castle.

Although Carlisle was little affected by the Jacobite Rising of 1715, trouble from Scotland loomed once more with the landing on the west coast of the Old Pretender's son Charles Edward ('The Young Pretender' - 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'), in July 1745. He raised the Jacobite standard once more his army reached Carlisle in early November. Carlisle surrendered without a fight, the city militia deserted and the citizens panicked.

Charles Edward's progress into England faltered and stopped at Derby for lack of support. He retired northwards, pursued by the Duke of Cumberland, and retreated through Carlisle, which surrendered to the Duke after two days of heavy pounding by cannon. Savage and often unjust judgement followed for the citizens and the garrison who had welcomed Charles Edward. The severed heads of those executed remained impaled on spikes on the city walls for 10 years. Carlisle was the last city in England to be besieged in war.

The years which followed saw the development of such manufactures as textile spinning and weaving, fish hooks, whips, candles and soap. In the 1750s new roads were built between Newcastle and Carlisle, and between Carlisle and the rapidly expanding west coast ports of Maryport, Whitehaven, Workington and Silloth. Around the turn of the century Telford and Macadam engineered main roads into Scotland to replace the miry trackways of the reivers. In 1838 the railway from Newcastle was opened after ten years of construction. A canal from Port Carlisle to the north west of the city, on the Solway Firth, led to a brief period of shipbuilding, but it soon closed and was replaced later by a railway. It was the railway which secured the future of the city - at one time no less than 8 busy lines centred on Carlisle, and six of them remain in operation today. Later on, brewing, tyre and food manufacture and building contracting developed. Today Carlisle is the largest producer of manufactured food in Europe.

In 1812 living conditions were so bad that hunger riots occurred. In 1819 the weavers of Carlisle petitioned the Prince Regent to be sent to America to escape the terrible conditions in which they lived and worked. In the middle of the C19 up to 25,000 people had only 5,000 houses. Only in the last years of the century did matters improve with the erection of hundreds of new houses to the west of the city walls.

Since then the balance between material progress and general prosperity has been established. The twentieth century has been one of continual improvement for the city and its people over the conditions of its harrowing past of centuries of war, fire and destruction. Today it is a peaceful and friendly town. Its small size adds to its charm: its city centre is made up of historic buildings within easy reach of and in harmony with each other, embodying in their new found serenity the spirit of the modern city.




Copyright EDGE 1997