THE EDGE
VACATION & HOLIDAY GUIDE TO
CUMBRIA & THE LAKE DISTRICT


WHITEHAVEN, CUMBRIA

Whitehaven Cumbria Lake District. Whitehaven is found on about half way down Cumbrias Coast and has an interesting history it was in fact attacked by John Paul Jones the founder of the US Navy. Whitehaven has much to offer the holiday maker

Open Air Market, Whitehaven Town Centre.

Whitehaven
Location:
OS ref
NX 975180
Sheet 89.
More or less
half way down
the Cumbrian
coast.

Whitehaven is
on the coastal
railway line.

Nearest
Towns:


Workington
N on the A595
7.5mls/12km.

Maryport
N on the A595
13mls/21kn.

Egremont
Castle


See also:
Stone Circles

Lakes:
Ennerdale
Water

Wast Water

Cumberland
Mustard

Genealogy

The historic town of Whitehaven is fast becoming one of the prettiest towns in Cumbria as its restoration nears completion. The C18 heart of the town is built on a grid system, with elegant buildings mostly of the same period, and a bustling centre of pedestrianised narrow streets. This restoration followed a number of years of decline in the towns traditional industry of coal mining. Nowadays the town is a jewel on the Cumbrian coast, though still comparatively unknown to visitors from the rest of the UK and abroad. This must surely be a mistake, the town is genuinely worth visiting with its good shopping, busy centre, unique history, impressive architecture and abundance of activities in and around the town.

Whitehaven was built on the instructions of the Lowther family who developed the export of locally mined coal to Ireland. The principal destination was Dublin, at that time expanding at the same rate as London and in desperate need of fuel. The conditions in which the miners of Whitehaven worked were appalling, and there were many deaths. Children, some as young as six, worked in the mines for some two hundred and fifty years. The mines were sunk nearly 1ml below the surface and some extended out beneath the sea, the first of their kind in the country. Whitehaven's prosperity came not only from mining, but also from the trade in coal for Ireland or the burgeoning trade in slaves from Africa. Ships transported slaves to America and the West Indies and carried tobacco on the return trip. Whitehaven became one of Britain's three largest importers of tobacco, rum, spices and sugar and at one time was second only to London as a port.

The American War of Independence interrupted this prosperity. Not only did trade with America suffer but the Government commandeered the ships of the port so that the trade with Ireland was also affected.

On April 22 1778 a former inhabitant of the town, John Paul Jones, now a captain in the American Navy, returned by night with the intention of destroying the harbour defences and burning as many ships as possible. Leading a group of men from his ship the Ranger he landed in the harbour and split his force into two parties. He led his men to the harbour defences and spiked thirty two cannon, effectively rendering them useless. The second group from The Ranger was supposed to have set fire to the many ships in the harbour but instead they all went to an inn to drink (who can blame them). Jones found them and eventually the coal boat Thompson was set alight. Not the greatest action in history on the face of it , but it did have the effect of embarrassing the British considerably. This was not the only action in which Jones took part and his status increased to that of hero. He became an Admiral in the Russian Navy. This was the last time that England was invaded from the sea.

More

EDGE Book Store EDGE Art Gallery
For a great selection of books about Cumbria. For pictures of local scenes by local artists. Watercolours, oils, photography, pastels and drawings.

Towns
Index
Main
Index

Best viewed at 800x600

Copyright EDGE 1997