page 2


Fleming Square

Maryport was named in 1756 in honor of Mary Senhouse. Until then it was known as Netherhall after the family seat: still further back it was called Ellenfoot. Sir Humphrey Senhouse, having seen the Lowther and Curwen families prosper as they exploited the coal and iron in their estates and developed the ports of Whitehaven and Workington, began to develop his own industry. In 1740 the Ellenborough Colliery was opened and continued in use until the early1900's. Other mines followed, and soon shipbuilding began as did iron and steel works. Buildings to house the new workers sprang up and the town quickly expanded, unrecognisable from its humble beginnings as a small group of fishermen's cottages.

All good things come to an end. Maryport had a tough time during the Depression, further increased when Workington, not far to the south, opened a new and much larger dock in 1927. This took away even more of Maryport's trade. The last ship was built in 1927. In 1928 the unemployment rate was a terrible 69.5%. The town never again saw such prosperity as it had in the days of Sir Humphrey.

When the Romans came to what is now Maryport they named it Alauna, and used the harbour for supplying the large fort above the town, the outline of which remains.The fort was the headquarters for the line of forts on the west Cumbrian coastal defences, and had a large garrison. The Battery, a former Royal Naval Reserve station, now home to the largest Roman archaeological collection in Britain is situated next to the fort where views of Scotland and the Isle of Man can be enjoyed. There is also a museum at the Tourist Information Centre and an impressive museum and activity centre is soon to be built on the docks.

Maryport has had a number of distinguished visitors: Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and L S Lowry have all stayed here Lowry enjoyed painting the harbour, and Wilkie Collins used Ewanrigg Hall as the setting for his novel 'The Woman in White'. Ewanrigg Hall, on the outskirts of the town, was the home of the Christian family; their son Fletcher Christian of 'Mutiny on the Bounty' fame was born here.





Copyright EDGE 1997