THIS is a reproduction of the Whitehaven Coast Archeological Survey conducted for the bodies listed below. It is reproduced on this website in an attempt to preserve the contents against any removal from the original web host.



This study has been commissioned by the National Trust with funding support from
West Lakes Renaissance, English Partnerships, The Land Restoration Trust, and the
Cleaner Safer Greener Fund (Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County

The project was undertaken by David Cranstone of Cranstone Consultants (historical
research, field descriptions, gazetteer and report text) and Simon Roper of Ironbridge
Archaeology (photography, GPS survey, and digital mapping). Our first
acknowledgement must be to Jamie Lund (Regional Archaeologist) and Jeremy
Barlow (Property Manager) of the National Trust (Northwest Region) for
commissioning the project and for friendly assistance and support throughout, and to
Paul Belford (Senior Archaeologist, Ironbridge Archaeology) for his helpful and
efficient management of the Ironbridge elements of the project. We are also very
grateful to Dr Peter King and to Simon Chapman for contributing their specialist
expertise, respectively on the Medieval and legal records in The National Archives,
and on the interpretation of the Saltom Pit enginehouse and the Duke Pit fanhouse.

We are also grateful to Robert Baxter, Tom Robson, David Bowcock and other staff
of Cumbria Record Office (Carlisle and Whitehaven), to Michelle Kelly (Museum
Collections Officer, The Beacon), Pamela Telford and Toni Desovskie (Haig Colliery
Mining Museum), Caroline Rhodes and Rosemary Preece (National Coal Mining
Museum), David Clarke and other staff (Mining Records, Coal Authority), to Dr
Richard Newman and Jo Mackintosh (Cumbria County Council historic environment
section), Peter Brash (National Trust ecologist), Wayne Cocroft (English Heritage),
Norman Gray, Andy Guy, Alan Routledge, Ben Russell (Science Museum), and John
Todd, for their helpful assistance and discussion of various aspects of the project. In
addition, Steve and Janet Pearson of Abbey Farmhouse, St Bees, provided warm,
comfortable, and friendly accommodation during fieldwork. In a long-running
project, it is all too likely that other help has been missed from this list; we can only
apologise to anyone whose help has not been acknowledged, and assure them that it is
no less appreciated.

Vol I : Report

Text: David Cranstone, Cranstone Consultants

For The National Trust

June 2007

Cranstone Consultants Phone: 0191-482-1037

267 Kells Lane Fax: 0191-487-2343

Low Fell Email:


Tyne and Wear


Ironbridge Archaeology Phone: 01952 435 945

Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Fax: 01952 435 937

Coach Road Email:






List of Maps/Plans.......................................................................................3

List of Photographs......................................................................................4



List of Statutory Heritage Designations...........................................8

1. Introduction............................................................................................9

Background to Project.......................................................................9

Geology and Topography..................................................................9

Natural Units.....................................................................................11

2. Methodology.........................................................................................13


Historical Research..........................................................................13


3. Chronological Survey..........................................................................19



Later 1st millenium (c 400 to 1150 AD)...........................................22


Medieval Industry.....................................................................28

Post-Medieval to Modern................................................................30



Coal Mining..............................................................................36

Roads, waggonways, railways, and water supply.....................54

The Staithes and harbour environs............................................61

Barrowmouth – fishing, alabaster, and gypsum........................69


Agriculture and Landscape.......................................................75

The Marchon Site......................................................................79

4. Geographical Summary......................................................................83

SW area...........................................................................................83


Marchon/Rhodia Site.....................................................................85

Southeast Area...............................................................................85

The ‘Howgill Ridge’ area..............................................................86

The Harbour environs...................................................................88

5. Management Recommendations........................................................91

6. Conclusion............................................................................................95


Selected Photographs...............................................................................105

Appendix 1: Medieval Industry and Agriculture near Whitehaven

(Peter King)...............................................................................................135

Appendix 2: Saltom Pit engine house (Simon Chapman)......................142

Appendix 3: Duke Pit fanhouse (Simon Chapman)...............................146


Appendix 4: Gazetteer of Sites....................................................................


Maps and Plans..............................................................................................


Fig 1. Overall plan of project area, showing map tile areas.

Fig 2. Tile A (SW area): site locations (1:5000)

Fig 3. Tile A: 1st edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:5000

Fig 4. Tile A: 2nd edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:5000

Fig 5. Tile A: 3rd edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:5000

Fig 6. Tile E: (Barrowmouth mine area): site locations (1:2000)

Fig 7. Tile E: 1st edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:2000

Fig 8. Tile E: 2nd edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:2000

Fig 9. Tile E: 3rd edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:2000

Fig 10. Tile B (SE area): site locations (1:5000)

Fig 11. Tile B: 1st edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:5000

Fig 12. Tile B: 2nd edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:5000

Fig 13. Tile B: 3rd edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:5000

Fig 14. Tile C (central area): site locations (1:5000)

Fig 15. Tile C: 1st edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:5000

Fig 16. Tile C: 2nd edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:5000

Fig 17. Tile C: 3rd edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:5000

Fig 18. Tile D (northern area): site locations (1:2000)

Fig 19. Tile D: 1st edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:2000

Fig 20. Tile D: 2nd edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:2000

Fig 21. Tile D: 3rd edition OS 25” survey, reproduced at 1:2000

Fig 22. Tile D (part): 1790 Whitehave town plan, reproduced at 1:2000

Fig 23. Tile D (part): 1st edition OS 1:500 Town Plan (1863), reproduced at 1:2000


Plate 1. Carlisle Spedding’s Plan 1752 (CROW: TNCB 24/4), north end. (DC)

Plate 2. Carlisle Spedding’s Plan 1752 (CROW: TNCB 24/4), south end. (DC)

Plate 3. Plan of Whitehaven, n.d.[1760s?], showing field system and waggonways
in north end of project area (CROC: D/Lons/W7 Engineering Drawings,
‘Sundry Old Collieries’, p 25). (DC)

Plate 4. South end of project area (Sandwith township): ancient landscape (SR)

Plate 5. North end of project area (Preston Quarter township) from south: 19th
century planned landscape, with 20th century urbanisation (SR)

Plate 6. Wall 28925, showing ‘Cornish hedge’ construction (SR)

Plate 7. Quarry 28936 (SR)

Plate 8. Quarry 28936: graffito of carved head, possibly Stalin (SR)

Plate 9. Anomalous wall 28942: boundary between waggonway 28945 and field
system 28943 (SR)

Plate 10. Barrowmouth mine (28950): lower area (features 28967-28983) from
clifftop (SR)

Plate 11. Barrowmouth mine: engine house 28952, door jamb (SR)

Plate 12. Barrowmouth mine: incline 28955, showing dog-leg produced by
landslipping (SR)

Plate 13. Barrowmouth mine: building 28958 (SR)

Plate 14. Barrowmouth mine: building 28960 (SR)

Plate 15. Barrowmouth mine: building 28963 (SR)

Plate 16. Barrowmouth mine: enclosure 28968 (SR)

Plate 17. Barrowmouth mine: structure 28971 (SR)

Plate 18. Barrowmouth mine: brake-drum mounting 28976 (SR)

Plate 19. Tip 28984 from clifftop (SR)

Plate 20. Structure 28986 (seaward terminal of aerial ropeway) (DC)

Plate 21. Sandwith anhydrite mine (28999; foreground) and Marchon site (29900)
during demolition (June 2006) (SR)

Plate 22. County pit (29011) from W (SR)

Plate 23. Croft Incline: view uphill from N, Kells Square on left (SR)

Plate 24. Waggonway 29030 (low bank across centre) (DC)

Plate 25. Ravenhill Colliery (29035): structure on cliff-edge (SR)

Plate 26. Saltom Pit (29036) from E (SR)

Plate 27. Saltom Pit (29036); design drawing for vertical winder engine in surviving
engine house (The Beacon)

Plate 28. Saltom Pit: rock-cut tank for saltworks 29038 (?) (SR)

Plate 29. Saltom Pit: rock-cut postholes 29040 (SR)

Plate 30. Haig Colliery (29044): headgear from N (SR)

Plate 31. Haig Colliery (29044): east elevation (SR)

Plate 32. Haig Colliery, c 1930s (The Beacon: 1986.152.27)

Plate 33. Howgill Incline (29055), looking uphill (SR)

Plate 34. Cast iron lamp-post 29059 (DC)

Plate 35. Bowling Green area, overall from S, showing possible skittle alley to right
of Jonathan Swift’s House, with Candlestick Chimney and Whitehaven
Harbour in background (DC)

Plate 36. From right: Jonathan Swift’s House (29060; Old Bowling Green (29061);
building 29063; Bowling Green Battery (29062) (DC)

Plate 37. Bowling Green Battery (29062), gun emplacement from E (DC)

Plate 38. Bowling Green Battery (29062), boundary marker (DC)

Plate 39. Wellington Pit (29067): view from north, late 19th century (The Beacon:

Plate 40. Wellington Pit (29067): view from South Beach, 1911 (The Beacon:

Plate 41. Wellington Pit: Candlestick Chimney (29069) (SR)

Plate 42. ‘Harbour Incline’ – inclined viaduct 29071 (SR)

Plate 43. Revetments 29075 and steps 29076 (SR)

Plate 44. Revetments 29078 (to right) and 29080 (SR)

Plate 45. Trackway 29084 (across centre) from S (DC)

Plate 46. Duke Pit fanhouse (29086) from SW (SR)

Plate 47. Duke Pit fanhouse (29086): evasee from SE (SR)

Plate 48. Duke Pit fanhouse (29086) from NW (SR)

Plate 49. Duke Pit fanhouse (29086): fan mounting from SW (SR)


DC = David Cranstone, Cranstone Consultants

SR = Simon Roper, Ironbridge Archaeology


The Whitehaven Coast study area consists of a Y-shaped strip of land extending 4km
along the coast from Whitehaven Harbour south and SW to the base of St Bees Head,
with an extension to the SE from the centre of this area. A historical and field survey
was carried out by Cranstone Consultants and Ironbridge Archaeology in 2006, on
behalf of the National Trust. The bulk of the study area lies on the West Cumberland
Coalfield, but the SW part includes an escarpment and coastal cliffs of St Bees
Sandstone, underlain by seams of alabaster/gypsum and anhydrite.

The survey has revealed little positive evidence of prehistoric or Roman activity,
although there is potential for the discovery of Mesolithic and/or Roman military
archaeology, especially on the sandstone uplands. The cultural history of the area
from the Roman period until final incorporation into England in the 12th century was
complex, and from the 12th century until the Dissolution the study area lay within the
estates of St Bees Priory. Elements of the Medieval field pattern survive at the
southern end, but not elsewhere, reflecting the different Post-Medieval histories of the
two townships involved. The Priory developed very early coal-fuelled saltmaking
within the study area, though the precise site has not been located.

From the 1630s, much of the study area came progressively into the hands of the
Lowther family, later Earls of Lonsdale. They developed a major coal-mining
industry, and by the late 17th century the Howgill and Greenbank collieries were at the
forefront of progress nationally. Early mining was predominantly to the east of the
project area, but spread progressively westwards; in 1729 Saltom Pit was sunk on the
coast, and from this period until the 20th century the area was dominated by coal-
mining and associated waggonways. Major sites include: Saltom Pit, with 18th
century shaft, horse-gin circle, and seawall, and 1820s vertical-winder enginehouse;
Wellington Pit, sunk c 1840 with an impressive surviving chimney and gate-lodge;
Duke Pit, with a surviving 1870 Guibal fanhouse incorporating remains of an 1840
experimental fan ventilator; and Haig Pit, sunk 1916 and retaining its engine house
and horizontal winding engine and headgear. A waggonway system developed from
the 1730s onwards and elements survive, including the impressive 1813 Howgill
Incline running down to the remains of important coal staithes beside the Harbour.
The south side of the Harbour is dominated by an impressive castellated landscape
from the staithes to Wellington Pit, designed by Robert Smirke for the Earl of
Lonsdale in the 1840s; the area also contains complex military, urban, salt-making,
and railway-related features, including the 18th century Old Fort, and a later battery
built into an old bowling green.

The study area also includes considerable remains of the Barrowmouth alabaster/
gypsum mine, active from at least the 1730s to 1907. To the south, the crest of the
sandstone scarp and cliffs contains an impressive group of quarries, of 18th-20th date
with possible earlier origins. The final major industrial activity was the Marchon
Chemical Works, active from 1943 to 2005

The report identifies priorities for conservation, research, and practical management
of the archaeological resource and broader historic environment of the study area.

List of Statutory Heritage Designations

Scheduled Monuments

Gaz No. SM No. Name

28950 35009 Barrowmouth Gypsum Mine

29036 27801 Saltom Pit

29044 27800 Haig Colliery

29072 34982 Old Fort

Listed Buildings

Gaz No. LB Name

29044 26332 Haig Colliery

29060 429157 Jonathan Swift’s House

29072 26166 Old Fort


Background to project

The Whitehaven Coast survey was performed in accordance with a Project Design by
Cranstone Consultants and Ironbridge Archaeology, in response to a Brief and
Invitation to Tender issued by The National Trust in March 2006. Fieldwork and
historical research were undertaken between May and October 2006, and the gazetteer
and report were written over the winter of 2006-7.

The study area consists of a block of land which is the focus of the Whitehaven Coast
Project, part of the broader Whitehaven Regeneration Programme. Partners in the
project include Copeland Borough Council, English Partnerships, The Land
Restoration Trust, West Lakes Renaissance, the Haig Mining Museum and the
National Trust. With funding support from these partners, the National Trust has
been tasked with producing a Development Plan for the Whitehaven Coast which
includes detailed research into the natural and cultural sigificance of the areas. This
report forms a key part of that work.

The study area consists of an inverted-Y shaped strip of land, running for c 2.5 km
south along the coast from immediately behind (but not including) the south side of
Whitehaven Harbour (NX 967 182) to the edge of the St Bees Head sandstone
escarpment at NX 961 157, where it divides into lobes extending c 1.5 km
respectively SW along the north coast of St Bees Head to NX 947 150 (c 1 km short
of North Head), and SE (inland) to the Greenbank area at NX 975 153 (Fig 1). Much
of the eastern boundary is formed by the edge of the modern housing of the
Arrowthwaite, Kells, and Woodhouse areas of Whitehaven; remaining boundaries are
formed by field boundaries of varying antiquity, though not normally marking any
major historic ownership or tenurial boundaries - the study area is therefore arbitrary
in terms of historic property and administrative units. The three ‘arms’ of the study
area have very different topographic and archaeological characters, and are referred to
respectively as the Northern, Southwestern, and Southeastern areas. In addition, a
large area extending from the junction of the ‘arms’ into the Southeastern area was
occupied by a large chemical factory (successively the Marchon, Rhodia, and
Huntsman Works) from c 1950 until closure in 2005; this area is very different from
the remainder in terms of its later-20th-century history and current state, and is
referred to as the ‘Marchon Site’ (in conformity to normal local usage) where
appropriate in this report.

Geology and Topography

The solid geology (British Geological Survey 1998, 2004) of the Northern and much
of the Southeastern areas consists of Coal Measures sandstones, shales, and coal
seams, dipping to the west (typically at c 1 in 10). Topographically this area consists
of a ridge with a flat plateau-like top at c 70-90m OD (broadening and rising
gradually to the south), bounded by coastal cliffs to the west and by the steep slope of
the Pow Beck valley to the east; this valley forms a low-level through route from
Whitehaven to St Bees, separating the high ground to its west from the remainder of

west Cumberland. Much of the crest of the ridge is formed by outcrops of the
Whitehaven Sandstone, a thick bed in the top of the Coal Measures; its often-purple
colour results from oxidation when it lay close beneath the surface of the post-
Carboniferous desert. The main workable coal seams (the Bannock, Prior or Main,
and Six Quarters Bands) outcrop along the lower part of the Pow Beck slope (outside
the National Trust area, though only just outside the end of the Southeast lobe); due to
the dip they are below sea level at the coast, and extend for several miles under the
sea. Thinner seams are also present, including several above the Bannock Band
which do outcrop locally in the coastal cliff and have apparently been worked locally
at outcrop. However the Coal Measures deposits are broken up by frequent small
faults, so the detailed geological structure is considerably more complex than this
summary may suggest; in particular, a pair of east-west faults have lifted a block of
strata extending east from Saltom Pit, bringing the main coal seams here closer to sea
level, exposing the thin upper seams in the cliffs behind Saltom Pit, and interrupting
the outcrop of the Whitehaven Sandstone across the plateau; the re-entrant of the
cliffs behind Saltom Pit reflects this geological feature. The Pow Beck valley follows
a more substantial fault, and (except under Whitehaven town) cuts through the Coal
Measures to below the productive seams; as a result the landward coal seams form
effectively a self-contained coalfield, only connected to the rest of the Cumberland
Coalfield beneath the sea and Whitehaven town. The Coal Measures strata are
overlain by boulder clay and other glacial deposits over much of the area, with the
exception of the coastal cliffs, the north end end of the ridge from Saltom to
Whitehaven Harbour, and the steeper parts of the Pow Beck slope; consequently
exposed surface outcrops of the coal seams will have been very limited.

To the south, the Coal Measures are unconformably overlain by Permian beds,
dipping to the south and consisting successively of the Brockram, the Magnesium
Limestone, the St Bees Shales, and the St Bees Sandstone. The first three of these are
soft and/or thin deposits, and their outcrop is marked by a slight hollow running
across the south end of the ridge, from the coast at Barrowmouth to the Marchon site,
and thence southeast outside the National Trust area; the northeast boundary of the
Permian runs from the north end of the Marchon site to the southeast, just to the east
of High Road then just to the west of Wilson Pit Lane. The Brockram is an unusual
formation, of limestone and volcanic rock fragments cemented with haematite and
baryte; its outcrop on the coast at NX 958 159 is of geological interest. The
Magnesian Limestone appears to be very thin, and contains workable beds of
gypsum/alabaster and anhydrite as well as limestones and shales (gypsum and
alabaster are hydrated calcium sulphate, referred to as gypsum when it is used as a
chemical raw material (mainly for making plaster) and as alabaster when it is
extracted in blocks for use as a monumental stone; anhydrite is anhydrous calcium
sulphate, used entirely as a chemical raw material). The St Bees Shales are a much
thicker formation, though poorly exposed due to the their soft nature; they also
contain some anhydrite. All three deposits are largely masked by boulder clay, except
on their coastal outcrop at Barrowmouth; here however they are involved in major
active landslipping, and are also partly overlain by massive (peri-glacial?) scree
deposits from the St Bees Sandstone cliffs which tower over them to the south. The
presence of limestone (or, strictly, dolomite) in the lower Permian is barely apparent
in the present landscape, but the presence of quarries and limekilns on the 19th century

OS editions indicates that it was exploited to some extent, and it may have had an
influence on earlier vegetation and agriculture.

In contrast, the fourth Permian bed, the St Bees Sandstone, is a thick and hard bed of
red sandstone, and forms a north-facing escarpment, running ENE from North Head
to above Barrowmouth (where it reaches a maximum height of over 130 m OD), and
then SE along the west edge of the Marchon site to Townhead and beyond. The
western part of the scarp forms part of the St Bees Head coastal cliffs (with the
landslipped undercliff at Barrowmouth already referred to), while the SE part forms a
steep slope some 30m high, above the plateau of the Northern Area; the dip slope
drops gradually to St Bees and Rottington, dissected by several small valleys. Some
beds of the St Bees Sandstone form high-quality building stone, which has been
extensively quarried along the scarp crest. The southern boundary of the National
Trust area runs along or just behind the scarp crest, incorporating most of the historic
quarrying and the northernmost fields of the very different dip-slope landscape of
Sandwith, Rottington, and St Bees, most of which lies outside the study area – the
project has indicated that this dramatic change in landscape owes more to historical
ownership and administrative factors than to geology, though this is also a factor.

As already noted, over most of the National Trust area the solid geology is masked by
glacial till (‘boulder clay’), which has presumably dominated soil formation. The
topography within the study area is mostly flat or gently-sloping, with the exception
of the St Bees Sandstone escarpment and the coastal cliffs and slopes. The latter are
vertical and dramatic from Barrowmouth westwards, and landslipped and actively
eroding at Barrowmouth and from Saltom Pit northwards to Whitehaven South Beach.
Between Barrowmouth and Saltom, the base of the main coastal cliff is separated by a
narrow terrace, indicated as a raised beach on the 1:50,000 geological map (though
not on the more detailed but slightly earlier 1:10,000 sheet). Given the very active
coatal erosion, this coastal shelf may have been both wider and more extensive in pre-
modern periods, forming a coastal environment very different from what now

Natural Units

One point arising from the preceding section should be stressed and amplified at this
stage. The National Trust area forms a wholly-new land unit, and is arbitrary in terms
of the natural factors of geology and topography, and the human factors of historical
land units (both administrative and tenurial) and the historical and archaeological
landscape (at least until the later 20th century, when the eastern boundary of much of
the NT area formed as the western boundary of the Whitehaven suburbs).

However, the Trust area forms part of two very ‘real’ land units, in all of these terms.
The south end (the Southwest area and the western hinterland of the Marchon site)
forms part of the natural landscape of the St Bees Sandstone hills, and the human
landscape of Sandwith township, Rottington, and St Bees, centring on St Bees village.
The remainder of the area forms the west half of the natural landscape of the Coal
Measures Arrowthwaite/Kells ridge, the historic township of Preston Quarter, and the
17th-19th century ‘Howgill Colliery’, all bounded to the east by the Pow Beck, and
centred on Whitehaven. The latter is of particular importance – the bulk of the study

area forms the longitudinal west half of a very distinct, unified, and clearly-bounded
natural and historical unit (referred to below as the ‘Howgill Colliery’ in specifically
industrial contexts, and the ‘Howgill Ridge’ in more general contexts), and its history
and archaeology cannot be understood without considerable reference to its broader
context; its management also must take major consideration of this broader
conservation unit.



The research requirements of the project divided into two major elements: historical
research and fieldwork. Initial reconnaissance indicated that, despite generally good
field conditions for observation, many historically-known sites did not survive as
obvious field monuments, and a decision was therefore taken to undertake the
historical research first, with a large element of the fieldwork being to inspect
historically-identified site locations, in order to identify any subtle surviving field
evidence, and to record the current state and assess the prospects for below-ground
preservation even where no visible field evidence could be identified. The wisdom of
this approach was confirmed by the one exception, Barrowmouth, where fieldwork
was undertaken early in the project due to the known presence of dense bracken cover
in summer; in practice the vegetation proved to include extensive bramble and scrub
such that initial inspection in late spring did not yield adequately-interpretable results
until revisit with historic OS mapping.

Historical Research

Prior knowledge and research for the project design indicated that the secondary
literature relating to the site and its environs was very extensive, and that the primary
documentation was also very extensive, and was also widely scattered between a
range of repositories, and in the case of the single main relevant collection (the
Lonsdale Papers in Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle (CROC)), both massive in extent
and drastically under-catalogued, to the extent that only limited consultation would be
realistic within project budgets and timetables (although it was clear that much of the
effectively-inaccessible material had been used (albeit often very selectively) by the
authors of the secondary literature).

The decision was therefore taken to start with a comprehensive read of the secondary
literature, including compilation of as complete a bibliography as reasonably
achievable; the Bibliography for this report is therefore thought to be a nearly-
comprehensive list of the published material relating to the study area and its
environs, and includes numerous sources not cited specifically in the text (either
because their information proved to be irrelevant in detail, or repetitive from one
publication to another, or because the primary source material was located and
consulted, and therefore cited in preference to secondary sources). At the same time,
potential library and Record Office collections were contacted, in order to identify
relevant holdings, and assess their importance and accessibility; Winstanley and
David 2006 formed a useful guide to collections within Cumbria, though it does not
include out-of-county collections.

This desk-based research was followed by research visits to the main libraries and
document repositories identified as containing relevant material. These are:

• The Beacon, Whitehaven. Extensive library of published books, research files
(including copies of primary documents held elsewhere), maps and plans

(mainly copies, and only partially catalogued at the time of visit), and historic
photographs (including both catalogued boxes and uncatalogued albums),
together with the important 1738 Matthias Read painting. As the most
comprehensive, accessible, and easily-used collection, this was used as the
prime research venue
• Cumbria Record Office, Whitehaven (CROW). Extensive local studies library
of published works and research files (both partially duplicating The Beacon,
but with substantial additional material), and major primary document
collections relating to the Whitehaven area; the colliery abandonment plans
(TNCB) and St Bees School and manorial records (YDS 60) proved to be
particularly valuable
• Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle (CROC). The main repository collection for
the county. Holdings include the Preston Quarter and Sandwith tithe maps
(not held at Whitehaven), and the massive and crucial Lonsdale Papers, the
records of the Lowther family (D/Lons/W for the Whitehaven estate).
Unfortunately much of the D/Lons/W collection (including many papers used
by previous researchers, and/or listed in the former (now withdrawn) Record
Office catalogue of the collection) is effectively inaccessible due to storage
and cataloguing problems; use of this collection was therefore limited, and it is
clear that an enormous amount of relevant, and doubtless in many cases highly
important, material remains unconsulted.
• Haig Colliery Mining Museum (HCMM). Extensive collections of artefacts
(part on display), books and mining-related journals (currently not sorted or
catalogued, so not consulted) maps (mainly copies of former-NCB colliery
plans, some now in CROW or CAAM; uncatalogued), and photographs (with
an emphasis on the personal and social, rather than on sites; currently partially
catalogued and not rapidly consultable). The primary document collection is
limited, but includes the important Bateman letter books (first two volumes
now transcribed and printed).
• Helena Thompson Museum, Workington. Winstanley and David (2006, 77)
report that the museum holds the Earl of Lonsdale’s replies to Bateman’s
letters in the HCMM letter-books, but they cannot be traced in the museum
catalogue (Nicci Tofts, pers. com) and are probably within the CROC
Lonsdale Papers; not visited.
• Coal Authority Archives, Mansfield (CAAM). Extensive collection of mine
abandonment plans, complementing the CROW: TNCB collection; the origin
of the separation is not clear. Most plans have been digitised, but in some
instances a combination of large size and poor visual quality caused problems
in obtaining print-outs.
• National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield (NCMM). A small collection of
relevant artefacts and historic photographs (notably the pre-closure Cornwell
photos of Haig Colliery).
• Northumberland Record Office (Mining Institute collection) (NRO). Contains
extensive relevant material, mainly in the North of England Institute of Mining
and Mechanical Engineers collection (NRO 3410), notably colliery viewers’

reports and correspondence. Unfortunately NRO was closed for relocation at
the time of research, so consultation has not been possible; the catalogue is
however available online via .
• The National Archives (TNA). Research was undertaken for the project by Dr
Peter King, a historian and trained solicitor familiar with legal records,
Medieval Latin, and the TNA archiving and cataloguing system; it
concentrated on records relating to Medieval land-holding and agricultural
organisation (largely in records relating to St Bees Priory). It was intended
that Dr King would also consult records of legal actions by the Lowther
family/Earls of Lonsdale relating to the project study area. However
preliminary investigation indicated that TNA held records of a very large
number of cases relating to the Lowthers/Lonsdales, with no means of readily
determining which might be relevant to the project area; this element of
research was therefore abandoned.

The relationships between these collections are sometimes complex, and ‘secondary’
collections such as The Beacon and Haig include copies and extracts, of varying
quality, from original material known or presumed to be in CROC or CROW,
including currently-inaccessible parts of the Lonsdale MSS. In particular, the
machinery drawings in the CROC Portfolios of Engineering Drawings (currently
catalogued in D/Lons/W7, though formerly in D/Lons/W10), themselves a mid-late
19th century bound collection of originals of various earlier dates, are the primary
source for most (probably all) of the drawings in CROW TNCB 28/13 ( a set of re-
drawings for R W Moore’s 1898 paper), and one of these collections appears to be the
source for the various copy drawings of the same engines in the Beacon, Haig, and
Cumbria HER collections – these are much more accessible than the originals, but do
appear to have been slightly simplified in some cases.

Copies of relevant maps and other documents were obtained wherever possible, by
photocopying or hand-held digital photography. Unfortunately Health and Safety
requirements in CROW and CROC required the use of a rather low and unstable kick-
stool for photography of documents laid out on the desk; the height from document to
camera proved to be just inside the minimum focal length of the camera, and the
resulting poor quality of many images is regretted. It should also be noted that many
of the colliery-related plans, both in CROW: TNCB and in CAAM, are faded, stained,
and dirty, and consequently difficult to use or copy; their state does however form an
interesting sidelight on conditions in the former Whitehaven colliery office, where
they were presumably stored. For these reasons, only very limited historical material
is presented as illustrations to this report, the bulk being presented as photocopies or
digital images in the project archive. A full set of OS 1st-3rd edition 1:2500 was
obtained, as A3 photocopies from CROW, and subsequently digitised. This forms the
basis of much of the project mapping. Subsequent OS editions are still in copyright,
and therefore could not be copied. However an annotated copy of the 4th edition 6”
map was consulted in The Beacon; although published in 1957, the relevant area was
last revised in 1930-1945 (with ‘major changes only’ in 1951), and the map is
therefore referred to as ‘OS (1930s revision)’ in this report.

As noted in the previous chapter, the bulk of the study area forms the west half of a
very distinct historic land unit, defined industrially as the ‘Howgill Colliery’ and
referred to more generally in this report as the ‘Howgill Ridge’. Except for the most
site-specific items, most of the primary and secondary literature, and therefore the
Bibliography in this report, relate to this broader unit rather than solely to the
National Trust area.


Fieldwork was undertaken (by DC and SR) primarily in two sessions, in June and
October 2006, though observations were also made by DC at other times, during
reconnaissance and during visits primarily for historical research.

It was initially intended to use Global Positioning System (GPS) extensively for site
mapping and planning, using WAAS-enabled Garmin GPSMAP 60 hand-held
equipment. However, pilot usage of this equipment in the Barrowmouth area (sites
28950 et seq) gave very poor results in terms of accuracy, with displayed error
margins of up to +-17m. This unexpected result may result from limited sky visibility
in this undercliff area (coupled perhaps with unfortunate timing when satellites were
concentrated in the obscured southern sector of the sky), and might have proved
atypical for flatter parts of the study area. However, increasing familiarity with the
area indicated that in practice most archaeological features were either marked on
current OS map base, or could easily be related by visual means or pacing to mapped
features, or were not visible on the ground and were only plottable by overlay from
historic OS and other mapping. The use of GPS was therefore discontinued.

Fieldwork was therefore undertaken using print-outs of digital overlays of the 1st-3rd
OS map editions, together with the 1790 Whitehaven plan and the waggonway routes
and colliery shafts from the 1752 Spedding plan (see below), onto current 1:10,000
digital OS map base (supplied by The National Trust). The locations of all sites
known from this historic evidence were visited (except within the Marchon site – see
below), the field evidence (if any) recorded, and the prospects for below-ground
survival of non-upstanding sites assessed by careful visual examination. The whole
project area was also carefully inspected for field evidence of further sites not known
from the historical evidence. Field boundaries and systems were included in this
recording, and the current agricultural status noted.

In practice, virtually the whole area could be closely inspected, either by direct on-site
walking or by fairly close and unimpeded observation from roads, paths, and pasture
fields. Pasture and stubble fields were entered, by permission of the tenant farmers.
Field visibility was generally good. There were four partial exceptions to this level of

• The Marchon site. This was excluded from fieldwork by the Brief, for Health
and Safety reasons; the major industrial complex was in process of demolition
during the project. By the final stint of fieldwork, most of this site (except for
its NE quadrant) had been cleared, and observation from outside the perimeter
fence indicated no upstanding pre-Marchon features, in an extensive

relatively-flat area variably covered by surviving concrete foundations and
• The Barrowmouth area (including the areas of quarrying on the clifftop
above). Fieldwork here was impeded by difficult field conditions, of dense
undergrowth (including brambles and scrub), broken and uneven ground (due
to very steep natural topography coupled with active landslipping), and very
limited paths – off-path exploration was also inhibited by a strong local
reputation for adders (not positively confirmed by personal observation,
though the habitat does appear highly suitable). Some minor sites known from
historic mapping could not be visited, and it is inevitable that some field detail
will not have been observed.
• The foreshore and coastal terrace. While the foreshore from Saltom Pit
northwards to South Beach was fieldwalked, and the foreshore below
Barrowmouth visited and closely observed, the foreshore between Saltom and
Barrowmouth was not visited due to a total lack of known sites coupled with
lack of access to the coastal terrace and safety considerations on the foreshore
(which showed a disturbing combination of rocks and large boulders with
exceptionally-slippery surfaces). The area was however closely scanned from
the cliff-top, without positive results.
• The area of ‘Jonathan Swift’s House’ and the Old Bowling Green. This area
was excluded from the Brief for fieldwork since it was in private occupation.
In practice, the owner invited the surveyor (DC) in to look at the remains of
the 19th century fort, and outline recording was therefore possible, but was less
detailed than would have been the case with unrestricted access.

Written recording was undertaken by DC, using paper pro formas designed for
compatibility with the NTSMR fields, and sites were numbered directly into a block
of NTSMR numbers (28925-29100), with no separate permanent project numbers.
This sequence includes sites within the Old Bowling Green area (29060-29063), and
also Duke Pit (29085-29086) (outside the National Trust boundary, but a visually-
important feature on a main access route, with considerable display potential – this
site was therefore included in the project coverage at the Trust’s request). These
numbers are arranged in geographical order, from SW to north, and are used for
reference in the following sections where appropriate, with full details in the Site
Gazetteer (Appendix 4). A few further sites, immediately outside the project area but
important to its interpretation or management, were also inspected and recorded; these
have been allocated 2-digit project numbers (01-08), and are included at the end of
the Site Gazetteer. These sites have generally been recorded in less detail. It should
be noted that the context of the NT area also includes Whitehaven Harbour and town;
no attampt has been made to record these, due to their complexity, although their
understanding is clearly important to the understanding and management of the
project area.

Formal record photography was undertaken by Simon Roper (3-digit frame numbers),
though some additional hand-held photography was undertaken by DC (four-digit
image numbers), for features observed during fieldwork after the main photographic


The results of the project are presented as a narrative survey, integrating the historical
and archaeological evidence. This is structured chronologically for the earlier periods
(for which evidence is limited), but is divided by site and topic for the Post-Medieval
period (for which the evidence is extremely rich and varied). Individual sites are
referred to where appropriate by their 5-digit NTSMR number (or 2-digit project
number for sites outside the National Trust boundary).

The history and archaeology of West Cumberland, in its broader regional context, are
surveyed by Higham 1986, McCord and Thompson 1998, Winchester 2000, and the
various papers in Brooks et al 2002 and Brennand (ed) 2006; these provide the
broader context within which the archaeology of the NT area must be assessed.
McCarthy 2002 provides a more local overview, though with a focus on Carlisle and
the Solway Plain, and on the Roman period. However it should be noted that the
West Cumberland coastal area forms a very distinct geological and topographic unit,
isolated from the rest of the region (except the Solway Plain) by the Lake District
fells, and potentially more closely-connected by sea transport (and by view-shed, with
all its psychological implications) to Galloway and the Isle of Man, and little-studied
archaeologically in its own right. The northwest-facing ‘coalfield coast’ from
Maryport to Barrowmouth also differs substantially (both in its natural background
and in its archaeology and history) from the ‘southwest coast’ from St Bees Head to
Haverigg. The ‘North West England’ regional context should therefore be applied
with caution.


There is no positive evidence for human occupation anywhere in the region during the
bulk of the Palaeolithic period, and the whole area was certainly ice-covered and
uninhabitable during the peak of the Devensian (final) glaciation. During the final
waning stages of the glaciation, there is now evidence for Cresswellian (Late Upper
Palaeolithic) occupation in some of the Furness and Cartmel caves, with hints that the
Solway Plain may also have been inhabited (Brennand (ed) 2006, 24-25; Young 2002,
20-22). There is no evidence for or against human activity within the study area
during this period.

During the succeeding Mesolithic period (c 8000-4000 BC), the climate warmed
rapidly to broady-modern temperatures, and the vegetation recovered more slowly to
become dominated by deciduous woodland. Sea-level recovered more slowly, since
the ‘eustatic’ rise in global sea-levels was partially offset regionally by an ‘isostatic’
rise of the land (which still continues), compensating for the removed weight of the
Devensian ice cover. Data for Northwest England in the national assessment of
coastal archaeology (Fulford et al 1997) are dominated by Liverpool Bay, where
isostatic recovery was less pronounced than in Cumbria; the most recent discussion
(Brennand (ed) 2006, 23-26, 30-31) suggests that sea-levels rose from c -20m OD in
the earliest Mesolithic to c -2m OD around 5000 BC, and to high-tide levels of up to
+8m OD at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition (since when sea-levels have oscillated

close to modern levels with relatively slight transgressions and regressions whose
effects may have been cancelled-out locally, by continuing isostatic recovery and by
continuing erosion of the more exposed and/or soft coastal cliffs respectively). In the
earlier Mesolithic, therefore, the NT area will have formed the edge of an abrupt
upland massif overlooking a coastal plain. By the end of the period, however, this
plain was reduced to, at most, a terrace, and may have been replaced by active sea-
cliffs. It is not clear whether the apparent raised beach between Saltom and
Barrowmouth is part of the late Mesolithic sea-level maximum; if so, late Mesolithic
coastal activity may conceivably be preserved beneath beneath later screes and
sediments formed by erosion from the fossil cliff behind, though if not, any
Mesolithic coastal activity will have occurred on destroyed or submerged coastlines
to seawards of the modern coast.

The known Mesolithic sites within the Whitehaven-St Bees area consist of a major
cluster of Later Mesolithic flint scatters, recovered by fieldwalking in the St Bees area
(Cherry and Cherry 1983, 1996, 2002); the nearest of these lies just SW of the SW
end of the National Trust area (Cherry and Cherry 1983, 2; Cumbria HER 3678). No
Mesolithic finds are known from within the study area, but it is not known whether
any of the fields have been walked (by Cherry or any other fieldworkers; Cherry’s
study area certainly did not extend north of the St Bees Head area, though it may have
included the southwestern arm of the Trust area), so this absence may be apparent
rather than real. Many of the sites are close behind the cliffs, and Cherry and Cherry
(2002, 3) suggest that this may reflect use of the seabird colonies as a food source; if
so, further sites may well exist in the fields along the southern boundary of the NT
area, as far as Birkhams Quarry. The Cherrys’ distibution does not extend onto the
Coal Measures coast of the Howgill Ridge, but it is not clear whether any fields here
were fieldwalked. Given the appearance of the important St Bees group of sites
nearby, every effort should be made to develop a programme of fieldwalking after
ploughing within the project area. As already noted, the coastal terrace between
Saltom and Barrowmouth forms another potential locus for Mesolithic activity. In
addition, the Pow Beck valley between Whitehaven and St Bees forms a potential
low-level animal migration route along the coastal lowlands (especially after rising
sea-levels had reached the base of the St Bees Head cliffs, cutting off any route round
the end of this upland), and hunting sites along the sides of this valley would appear
possible; potential locations within the NT area are the crest of the Howgill Ridge
above Harbour View, and the E end of the Southeastern area around Greenbank.

The St Bees cluster of flint-scatter sites appear to have continued from the Mesolithic
into the Neolithic (Cherry and Cherry 2002, 6-7), and the presence of important
Neolithic sites at Ehenside Tarn, Williamson’s Moss, and Monk’s Moor indicates
substantial activity on the coastal strip south from St Bees Head (Brennand 2006, 33).
However there appears to be little evidence as to whether this activity was matched in
the coalfield area. The only evidence from the study area consists of two records
(Cumbria HER 1177, 1190) of polished stone axe finds from Barrowmouth, one
recorded as from the gypsum mine (28950); these are not detailed, and may both refer
to the same find. They do at least indicate some utilisation of the study area,
conceivably timber-gathering or coppicing in Barrowmouth Wood (as this area was
still labelled on the 1st edition OS).

This lack of local evidence continues throughout later prehistory, though the
important Ewanrigg site near Maryport does at least indicate Late Neolithic-Early
Bronze Age activity within the north end of the coalfield area (Brennand (ed) 2006,
42, 48-50). Given the virtually aceramic nature of the later Bronze Age and the Iron
Age within Cumbria, and the poor potential for cropmark formation, sites of this
period are very hard to locate. An undated oval cropmark enclosure (HER 4701) at
Hannah Moor, on the Red Sandstone hills just to the SW of the project area, may
possibly be of Bronze Age date, and an apparent kite-shaped enclosure (29088) within
the SE corner of the NT area, with other possible cropmark features associated, can
plausibly be interpreted as an Iron Age (or Roman-British) settlement – given the
rarity of later prehistoric sites in the area, this would be of some importance if
confirmed. The place-name ‘Castle Rigg’, documented from 1694 to 1808 as an
enclosure ‘close to Saltom Engine’ (CROC: D/Lons/W6/1-4) may refer to an Iron
Age embanked settlement or even hillfort (conceivably a promontory fort on the
Ravenhill Pit site, or on the cliff edge NE of Saltom Pit), but is not strong evidence in


The Roman army conquered Cumbria in the 70s AD, though the degree of early
Roman penetration into the western coastal strip is unclear. Hadrian’s Wall was
constructed in the 120s, and was continued along the Solway coast by a series of forts
and milecastles, at least as far as Risehow south of Maryport, with further coastal
forts at Burrow Walls (Workington) and Moresby (Wilson 2004, Wilson and Caruana
(eds) 2004, 67). A further fort, perhaps entirely of 3rd-4th century rather than
Hadrianic date, has recently been suggested on the basis of coin finds recorded from
Whitehaven Castle (Caruana and Shotter 2005). However, while this site may well
have close to the Roman-period shoreline of Whitehaven Harbour, it is not obviously
defensible (the name Whitehaven Castle dates only from its rebuilding by Sir James
Lowther in the 1760s), and it seems at least as likely that these finds represent a
discarded Lowther antiquarian collection.

The apparent ‘fizzling out’ of the Solway frontier at Risehow has puzzled many
workers on Hadrian’s Wall, and it has often been suggested that St Bees Head would
have formed a logical terminus for the system (though Collingwood’s suggested
evidence for a fortlet or signal station at North Head has not met with later acceptance
(HER 1187)). This raises the possibility of a fort or signal station within the NT area.
The crest of the Howgill Ridge above Harbour View offers a defensible location
commanding Whitehaven Harbour and offering extensive views across the Solway,
though the absence of any recorded Roman finds from this much-disturbed area
perhaps argues against this. The ‘Castle Rigg’ field-name near Saltom could also
possibly refer to a Roman fort. Observation during project fieldwork also suggests
that the St Bees Sandstone scarp crest from North Head to the hill north of Sandwith
at NX 961 157 would also offer suitable locations, with very wide views across the
Solway and towards the Isle of Man, and in places also sight-lines south along the
coast (though not specifically to the Ravenglass fort site, so far as could be
ascertained). No field evidence was observed during the project, but since all the

relevant fields are either arable or formerly-ploughed long-ley pasture this is
unsurprising; neither fieldwalking nor targetted aerial photography are known to have
been attempted in this area. A single Hadrianic coin-find from School Croft,
Sandwith (HER 13692) does offer slight support for Roman activity in this area. The
possibility of a Roman military site on the high ground along the southern boundary
of the NT area does therefore appear to merit investigation, particularly by aerial
photography under drought conditions.

A faint but very neat rectilinear cropmark (29087) within the NT area just west of the
Croft Incline, though not fort-like, could conceivably be the robbing-trenches of a
major Roman building. However it is suspiciously-parallel to the adjacent field
boundary, of early 19th century origin, and it is thought more likely to be a 19th or 20th
century feature, or an artefact of agricultural practice at the time of photography. If it
should be Roman, it would be great interest – fieldwalking of this area is desirable
after any future ploughing, in order to check for any artifact scatters.

Pollen evidence from the western Lake District shows considerable forest clearance
starting in the later Iron Age, and intensifying in the later Roman period, perhaps
reflecting a slightly warmer and drier climatic fluctuation (Wells 2003, 73, 78).
Within the study area, the possibly-Iron Age cropmark sites referred to above could
equally be of Romano-British or Roman Iron Age date (the latter term is perhaps
more appropriate in view of the very limited Romanisation of rural Cumbria); Roman-
period agricultural use of the area seems likely, whether or not there was ‘native’
settlement and/or any military activity within the Trust area.

Later 1st millenium (c 400 to 1150 AD)

The cultural and political affiliations of Cumbria, and particularly of Copeland, from
the withdrawal of Roman imperial control in c 400 AD to the final establishment of
English rule in the 1150s, were complex; the archaeological evidence is hard to
identify or date, and difficult to relate to the cultural and political picture developed
from the (very limited) historical evidence (Higham 1986; Loveluck 2002; McCarthy
2002; McCord and Thompson 1998, Newman R M 2006).

In the 5th century, ‘Romanised’ occupation clearly continued in at least some of the
forts and vici, with increasing evidence for Christianity and continued use of Latin for
inscriptions, though the bulk of the population probably spoke an early form of
Cumbric (a Brittonic language closely allied to Welsh). The story of St Patrick
(abducted, almost certainly from Cumbria, by Irish pirates) indicates substantial
contact with Ireland, if not always friendly. Interesting, both of the only two
diagnostic small finds of this period from Cumbria are of Irish stylistic affinities – one
comes from Moresby, just up the coast from the study area, and the other from
Mealsgate, on the boundary between the West Cumberland coastal strip and the
Solway Plain (Loveluck 2002, 144). By the later 6th century, the area almost certainly
formed the core of the kingdom of Rheged, a Brittonic kingdom whose rulers came
from Strathclyde, were or became Christian, and whose legends and poetry survive in
part in the later Welsh manuscript of The Gododdin. However during the following
century Rheged was absorbed into the growing and broadly Anglo-Saxon kingdom of

Northumbria, though this may represent inter-marriage and acculturation by the elite,
rather than any broader population movement. There is pollen evidence for a marked
reduction in cultivation and regrowth of woodlands for a period of several centuries
perhaps starting in the 6th century, though the precise dating is unclear and may have
varied widely within the region (Wells 2003, 81-2).

At its 7th-century peak, Northumbria controlled the whole of Cumbria, the Isle of
Man, and at least as far as Whithorn in Galloway (Higham 1986, 250-263). After AD
685, Northumbrian control shrank, but still included Cumbria. Norse raids began
from the 790s on the east coast; there is no documentation from Cumbria at this time.
Much of Northumbria was overwhelmed by a Danish army in the 860s and 870s and
its estates passed into the hands of Danish settlers, but it is unclear how far this
affected Cumbria; Higham (1986, 316-322) argues that this marked a re-establishment
of British-speaking communities, developing into the state of Strathclyde/Cumbria,
and the diocese of Glasgow. He also argues that ‘Cumbria’ was centred on the
northeast of the modern county, and may have actively acquiesced in Scandinavian
setlement of peripheral areas, including the western coastal strip, in the early 10th
century; this settlement formed a Hiberno-Norse ‘reflux’ from Dublin and other Norse
settlements in Ireland, and its language (and no doubt culture) contained a substantial
Gaelic element – the placenames show particularly close similarities with the Isle of
Man. By the 11th century, Cumbria/Strathclyde had been absorbed, at least
politically, into the kingdom of Scotland.

For most of the 11th century, Cumbria remained part of Scotland, with some interludes
of control by the Earls of Northumbria (at least notionally English); however it is not
clear that ‘Cumbria’ included Copeland, and the Scottish border may have followed
the Derwent (McCord and Thompson 1998, 18); the barony of Copeland appears to
have been under English suzerainty by 1086 (Sharpe 2005, 38-9), although it does not
appear in the Domesday Book. Cumbria was taken into English control in 1092,
when William Rufus founded Carlisle castle as a border fortress, but Cumberland was
not constituted as a county until (probably) 1133, and did not include Copeland
(Sharpe 2005). The diocese of Carlisle was also split off from that of Glasgow at this
time; it excluded Copeland, which formed part of the diocese of York. Cumberland,
and seemingly also Copeland, returned to Scottish control in 1135; Carlisle was a
major royal town of David I. Both were returned to English control in 1157, and with
hindsight this was permanent; Copeland was incorporated into Cumberland in the
1170s. The status of Copeland before this date, as a barony under English suzerainty
(except during the reign of David I) but outside any formal administrative system, is
unclear; it seems to bear resemblances to the status of the quasi-independent Welsh
Marcher lordships (eg Whittington - Brown et al 2004), though these remained
outside the English legal system from the Norman period until the 16th century.

The political affiliations of what is now West Cumberland between the end of the
Roman occupation and the final incorporation into England in the mid 12th century
were therefore complex and kalaidoscopic. Linguistically, Anglian (ie
Northumbrian), Scandinavian, British, a few Gaelic, and 12th century English names
are all present - the first and last of these can be hard to distinguish. Cultural
developments within the Whitehaven area presumably broadly followed the political

and linguistic pictures, though geography suggests that the Irish Sea elements
(British, Norse, and Gaelic) may have been particularly strong; Rachel Newman
(2006, 103) argues that the Cumbrian coast had particular links to Chester. In
considering the archaeology of the area, therefore, it is important not to uncritically
assume that ‘English’ models will have applied. This applies also to at least the
earlier part of the Medieval period – cross-Solway links appear to have remained
strong until the onset of the Border Wars in the 1290s, and the inhabitants of the
Whitehaven-St Bees area may well have had closer contact with Galloway and the
Isle of Man than with non-Cumbrian England.

Within the study area and its immediate context, placenames include Scandinavian
(Arrowthwaite, Whitehaven, Sandwith), Anglian/English (Rottington, Preston,
Saltom), and British (Higham 1986, 319 – it is not clear which specific names the
relevant dots refer to).

By the end of the period (and perhaps very much earlier), the study area formed part
of the massive parish of St Bees (Todd 1980, 2003). The ecclesiastical origin of this
are unknown. The earlier historical literature claims that St Bega fled from Ireland in
the 7th century and founded a nunnery, but Todd has shown that much of this legend
was of 17th century origin; St Bega is clearly referred to in the earliest references as
living alone (ie a hermit), and the alleged context, of fleeing to avoid forcible
marriage to a Norse prince, would fit with the late 9th century situation (if it had any
historical reality). Todd (2003) argues that St Bees may have been a ‘minster’
church, most probably of 9th-10th century origin and non-monastic, with an original
parish covering much of Copeland; this latter seems likely, though not necessarily
within the specifically Anglo-Saxon framework assumed by Todd (the large multi-
township parishes described by Winchester (1987, 2000) for the northern uplands, or
the ‘multiple estates’ argued by Glanville Jones and many others within a Welsh
context, would seem equally applicable). (The placename ‘Eaglesfield’, close to the
church, may possibly be an ‘eccles’ name, indicating a ‘mother’ church with wide
jurisdiction and early origins (Gelling 1978, 82-3, 96-8), but is more likely to be of
recent origin (J Todd, The field evidence of high-quality Hiberno-Norse
sculpture associated with the church confirms an important status by the 10th-11th
centuries. There is therefore a strong case for arguing that the study area formed part
of a major early estate and parish centred on St Bees. The placenames Saltom (‘salt-
ton’?) and Preston (priest’s-ton) in or adjacent to the study area may indicate that the
area already performed specific roles within this estate, and their Anglo-Saxon nature
suggests that they, and therefore the ecclesiastical estate, dated from (or before) the
period of Northumbrian domination, rather than from the period of Norse place-


St Bees Priory was founded between 1120 and 1135, probably in the early 1130s
(Sharpe 2005, 64-5), during the first period of clear English control, by William le
Meschin, lord of Copeland (and based at Egremont), as a Benedictine cell of St
Mary’s Abbey, York; the signatories to its inaugural charters included ‘Coremac’ and
‘Gille Becoc [servant of St Bega]’, both Gaelic names and possibly the priests of the

pre-priory church (Todd 2003, 101). Its history has been discussed by Wilson (1905,
1915), who also published its Register or cartulary (in Latin; Wilson (ed) 1915).
There is no modern overall study, though John Todd (1980, 2003) has done valuable
work on specific aspects; in particular, the landscape and land management of the
monastic estate, which included the whole of the National Trust area, has never been
investigated. The historical resources probably exist to do this, in the Cartulary, The
National Archives, the Lonsdale MSS (CROC C/Lons), the St Bees School MSS
(CROW YDS 60), and other papers in CROC and CROW, and this would
undoubtedly contribute considerably to our understanding of the study area in its local
context. For the present project, however, research on this aspect has been limited to
the secondary literature, and to translation and study of the most relevant entries in
the Register by Dr Peter King (Appendix 1).

St Bees Priory had extensive land-holdings on the Isle of Man (Wilson 1915, xiv-
xviii), and the c 1230 grant (Appendix 1) was from Maurice of Man. The Gaelic
signatories to the inaugural charters may therefore have been of Manx rather than
Irish (or Scottish) origin; the possibility of Manx influence on the culture and
archaeology of the study area is therefore real. The Priory also had saltworks, and
probably other interests, at Colvend and near Southernness in Galloway and Redkirk
Point in Dumfriesshire (Cranstone 2006, 48, 50, 59), as well as near Millom and
Burgh-by-Sands in Cumberland.

Medieval and later land-holding and administration in west Cumberland was
complex; the best description for the present area remains Angus Winchester’s
Landscape and Society in Medieval Cumbria (1987, esp. 27-33; Winchester 1978
contains additional detail), since his more recent The Harvest of the Hills (2000)
concentrates firmly on the uplands rather than the coastal lowlands. For ecclesiastical
(and some civil administrative) purposes, the main unit of administration nationally
was the parish; all the agricultural land of the parish paid tithes to support the parish
priest. However in much of northern and western England, many parishes (including
St Bees) were very large and were divided into multiple ‘townships’ or ‘vills’ (often
corresponding to the lands of specific hamlets, though in some the settlement
consisted entirely of scattered individual farms with no known nucleation at all), and
the township rather than the parish was the fundamental administrative unit. To
complicate matters further, in Cumbria (especially Copeland) hamlet-sized early
Medieval ‘vills’ seem to have later been grouped at least for some purposes as
‘members’ or ‘hamlets’ of larger ‘entire vills’; for example, Whitehaven was a vill in
its own right c 1270, but was treated as part of ‘Kirkeby’ (St Bees) in 1324
(Winchester 1978, 66). In 1662, townships became the basic units of Poor Law
administration; normally these ‘poor law townships’ corresponded to the pre-existing
‘vills’, but in some cases the earlier units were amalgamated or divided. Preston
Quarter and Sandwith both formed poor law townships within the parish of St Bees
(Winchester 1978, 57). Township boundaries were first systematically mapped by the
1840s Tithe Maps and the 1860s (in Cumbria) 1st Edition Ordnance Survey (OS);
their boundaries (barring amalagations or sub-divisions) are generally assumed to
have remained constant from the earlier Middle Ages, though this may not always be
the case.

For agricultural purposes, however, the basic unit was the manor, with its manor court
controlled by the lord of the manor (who could be an institution such as a Priory, as
well as an individual); the manor was normally a single estate. A township could
contain several manors, boundaries of manor and township could differ, and at worst
(for the historian) manorial and township boundaries could completely cross-cut; in
west Cumbria, manor and township boundaries did however tend to coincide. Within
a township, lord, freeholders, tenants, and peasants had often-complex rights and
obligations; among these, the lord of the manor held the mineral rights (including
rights of access to land for mining and transport of minerals).

On a broader scale, the whole of western Cumbria from the Derwent to the Duddon
formed the Barony of Copeland (Winchester 1987, 19-21). Within the Barony, the
northeastern and southern areas formed the estates of Cockermouth and Millom
respectively, the remaining area from the Cocker and Derwent to the Esk forming the
lordship of Egremont, with its lordly focus at Egremont and its religious focus at St
Bees. The parish of St Bees may originally have occupied the whole of the lordship;
by the time parish boundaries fossilised in the 12th-13th centuries most of the larger
settlements had attained their own parochial status, but St Bees remained a very large
multi-parish township (including the uplands of Copeland forest as a large detached
area, as well as the main coastal area).

The study area and its immediate context lay entirely within the parish of St Bees. In
terms of townships (as mapped in the 19th century), the Southwest arm of the NT area
lay within Sandwith (which was a separate township to Rottington, wholly outside the
study area); the boundary followed the trough of the St Bees Shale outcrop, running
across unenclosed land from the coast north of the Barrowmouth gypsum mine
(28950), east (largely beneath 20th century tip 28984), then south on a more complex
course through enclosed fields within what is now the west side of the Marchon site,
to leave the study area near Townhead. The remainder of the area was within Preston
Quarter township, which also extended south as a narrow strip to include the Priory
hamlet at St Bees (though not the main village on the other side of the Pow Beck
valley), and NE to include the Brackenthwaite area (though not the town of
Whitehaven itself, seemingly carved-out as a separate township at an early date).

The various land-grants relating to the study area in the records of St Bees Priory,
translated and discussed by Peter King (Appendix 1), presumably relate to manors or
smaller estates, whose boundaries do not necessarily conform to the known townships
(in their early Medieval form, let alone any later amalgamations). However, some
interpretations can be attempted. It would appear that Whitehaven was separated-out
as an estate or manor from at least the 13th century, although its development
subsequently spread into Arrowthwaite manor. The township of Preston Quarter
(possibly a ‘poor law township’ as described above – the name Quarter sounds like a
late coining) appears to have consisted of at least two earlier manors or estates -
Arrowthwaite to the north and Preston to the south. The hamlet of Arrowthwaite
itself lay just to the east of the study area; the estate or manor appears to have covered
the whole northern part of the study area, including the coast from the south side of
Whitehaven Harbour (probably with a boundary to Whitehaven township between
The Beacon and the head of the present harbour) to the boundary with Sandwith

township just north of Barrowmouth; its inland boundary may have run from How
Gill (now occupied by the Corkickle Incline), along the crest of the Howgill Ridge
and close to the NW side of the Marchon site (in modern terms). The area SE of this
(including the Southeast arm of the study area) appears to have formed the manor or
estate of Preston (‘Priest-ton’). The Priory demesne lands (lands farmed ‘in-house’)
appear to have occupied the whole of Preston, perhaps extending into Arrowthwaite
to include Monkwray. This strongly suggests that the name ‘Preston’ reflects the pre-
monastic endowment of St Bees church, passed to the priory at its foundation. It is
not clear whether a lost hamlet of ‘Preston’ ever existed; settlement within the estate
may have ben entirely dispersed, or (perhaps the most likely) the name may have
referred to the settlement round the church at St Bees (which, unlike the main village
on the other side of the Pow Beck valley, was within Preston Quarter township). In
this case the name may have been an Anglo-Saxon alternative (precursor?) to the
Scandinavian ‘Kirkby’.

To the SW, Sandwith formed a separate township and manor, under much less direct
monastic control. Rottington formed a further separate poor-law township, wholly
outside the study area; however some of the more tentative place-name correlations
would place the bounds of Rottington as perambulated in the Register as running
along the east side of Sandwith rather than between Sandwith and Rottington, in
which case they describe part of the south edge of the study area (including a
monastic capraria, probably a specialist goat-farm by analogy with the better-known
vaccaries and bercaries).

Within Preston Quarter, the Medieval landcape has been swept away without visible
trace by Lord Lonsdale’s remodelling of the landscape in the 1830s (see below). Two
18th century maps (CROW: TNCB 24/4 and CROC: D/Lons W/7 Portfolios of
engineering drawings; ‘Sundry Old Collieries’, f 25), and Matthew Read’s 1738
painting, show an enclosed strip-field system around Arrowthwaite hamlet, with the
adjacent study area partly occupied by rather irregular hedged enclosures and partly
unenclosed. Within Sandwith, however, the outlines of the Medieval agricultural
system still survive within the modern field system, with crofts or enclosed strips
running east and west from Sandwith village (outside the study area), and a major
ringfenced enclosure (28929) centred on Tarnflatt Hall and extending from Fleswick
Bay to enter the extreme SW end of the study area – this enclosure may well be of
Medieval origin. The correlation of these features to any of the named features in the
Register documents translated by King, and the location of these on the ground, is
uncertain; substantial information on the Medieval landscape of the Sandwith part of
the study area is probably available if and when a full documentary study is possible.

The importance of Whitehaven during the Medieval period is uncertain. Most studies
of the town (eg Collier 1991, 7-8) assume that it was negligible, on the basis of a
survey of 1566 (Fox 1921), which reported that Whitehaven was only a small village
of six householders, with no licence for loading or unloading, and one nine-ton vessel
crewed by hired fishermen. However this survey was prepared by a commission of
Cumberland landowners, as the (belated) contribution to a national survey by the
Crown, aimed at least partially to curb smuggling – it is not inconceivable that they
had their motives for minimising the importance of any local trade. The limited

to the 14Medieval documentation (Appendix 1; Hay 1979, 11-19) is also at odds with the
survey. The 13th century separation of Whitehaven as a township (Reg 372) implies a
substantial hamlet, and in 1359 it had a chaplain (presumably implying a chapel-of-
ease); it furnished shipping to the Crown in 1172, and had three ship-masters in 1299.
The early 14th-century leases of Whitehaven properties also imply substantial
settlement, the settlement seemingly having overflowed its township boundary into
Arrowthwaite manor. However by 1517, St Bees Priory derived only minor income
from quayage (implying the existence of at least a small built quay) and tollage, on
ships trading largely with the Isle of Man (Tyson 1985, 173); a later-17th-century
Lowther description seemingly referring to the 16th century claims that Whitehaven
had only 3-4 cottages, a small ‘Peer’ of wooden piles and stones serving 3-4 ‘barks’,
and a ruined chapel. It therefore seems that Whitehaven was an appreciable
settlement at least from the 12thth centuries, perhaps mainly a fishing village
but also with some shipping trade. Whether it genuinely shrank to six (or three to
four) householders by the 16th century, or whether the 1566 survey was economical
with the truth, is less clear; there does seem to be some evidence for decline. Nor is it
clear whether the settlement extended far enough along the south shore of
Whitehaven Harbour, beyond the township boundary, to enter the project area.

Medieval Industry

Apart from agriculture, the only Medieval activities clearly documented within (or at
very close to) the study area are coal-mining and salt-making. Of the several known
processes for extracting salt from seawater (Cranstone 2006, 4-5). the dominant
earlier Medieval method (in Cumbria as in most of England and probably Scotland)
was ‘sleeching’. In this process, salt-encrusted silts (formed between spring tides
under dry summer conditions) were scraped up, taken to a saltworks above high-tide
level, placed into filter pits, and the salt leached out using seawater, to form a strong
brine that was then boiled in huts called ‘saltcotes’, normally using small lead pans
over fires of peat or wood. The process required a silty (and therefore marshy or
estuarine) coast. Coal was not normally used as fuel, perhaps because the heat and/or
sulphurous fumes corroded the lead pans. In the late Middle Ages, this process began
to be replaced by ‘direct boiling’, in which seawater (collected in cisterns (‘sumps’)
and settling tanks on the foreshore) was simply boiled, in large iron pans over coal
fires. This process is conventionally considered to have been developed on Tyneside
in the early 15th century. In contrast to sleeching saltworks, direct-boiling sites
(‘pans’) were normally located on rocky coasts (perhaps to obtain cleaner less silty
seawater, or because rock-cut cisterns and tanks were more robust than built stone or
timber ones). As well as its direct importance for salt-making, this process was
probably the first appreciable coal-fuelled industry, and was therefore of wider
importance for the development of coal-fuelled technology more generally (coal has
very different properties as a fuel than peat, wood, or even charcoal, and its successful
use requires the development of new types of furnace and firegrate).

The 13th-century references to coal-fuelled saltmaking in Arrowthwaite are therefore
extremely interesting, especially on a coast that (at least in its modern condition) is far
more suitable for direct-boiling than sleeching. The combination of coal fuel and a
rocky coast does strongly suggest a form of direct-boiling process, although probably

not in the ‘classic’ form that took off in the 15th century; it may well have used lead
pans (or even ceramic pans or vessels), and the coal-burning may well have been
inept by later standards. The documentary evidence indicates coal mining in/under a
cliff or rock, with an adjacent saltworks, with reasonable access (though a road had to
be built), and within Arrowthwaite manor. On geological evidence, the two areas that
match these criteria and have outcropping coal seams (though thin upper seams only
workable at outcrop, rather than the thick seams that were the mainstay of later
mining) in the coastal cliffs are the south side of Whitehaven Harbour, and Saltom
(where faulting exposes upper seams which are below sea level on the reminder of the
open coast). The latter certainly had 17th-century saltpans, behind South Beach
(29074) within the study area, and also further SE. However the place-name Saltom
is almost certainly significant, and the Register grants seem to connect the saltworks
with the coastal strip of waste, though with provision for access across the cultivated
land of Arrowthwaite (whereas access to South Beach would probably have been
along the coast from Whitehaven). There is therefore a strong circumstantial case for
locating this saltworks at Saltom, and a funnel-shaped trackway (CROW: TNCB 24/4
and CROC: D/Lons W/7 Portfolios of engineering drawings; ‘Sundry Old Collieries’,
f 25) from Arrowthwaite hamlet to the clifftop above Saltom may well be the access
route prescribed by the charters. If so, no visible evidence survives (unless the rock-
cut cistern 29038 derives from this works, rather than the 18th century saltpans
associated with Saltom Pit); the site may have been destroyed by erosion or by the
construction of Saltom Pit, but may survive either beneath the Pit or along the
adjacent coast.

In addition to the saltworks of St Bees Priory, and the adjacent Wetheral Priory
works, Calder Abbey also had two saltworks in Whitehaven, first documented in
1152-3 (Thorley 2004, 135, 139). These must have been on Whitehaven harbour,
probably to the east of the National Trust boundary. The difference in place-name
suggests that they were not immediately adjacent to the St Bees and Wetheral
saltworks, and the probable location plus the lack of any reference to coal suggests
that they may have been sleeching works. Other names in the document do not all
appear to be townships, so the implications for the 12th century status of Whitehaven
as a settlement are not immediately clear.

Most of the known Medieval evidence for coal-mining is in relation to saltmaking,
and must refer to the coastal cliffs. However it does seem likely that the outcrops of
the main coal seams, along the lower west side of the Pow Beck valley from
Whitehaven to Greenbank, were already known and exploited to some degree,
especially at the later nuclei of Howgill and Greenbank where ravines cut through any
drift cover and exposed the seams.

The other industry within the study area that may have Medieval origins is quarrying,
for sandstone and/or limestone, though neither is documented in the documents
studied. The origin of the substantial freestone quarries along the clifftops of the SW
end of the study area, and extending along the St Bees Sandstone to Aikbank, is not
known – it may or may not have started within the Medieval period. The outcrop of
the Magnesian Limestone, from Barrowmouth gypsum mine east to the Marchon
works, then SE along High Road and Wilson Pit Lane, would have formed the nearest

source of lime for mortar in the construction of St Bees Priory (and other mortared
Medieval buildings in the area), though the most likely location for any exploitation is
perhaps the area from Wilson Pit Road to Demesne, closest to the Priory, within its
demesne land, and just outside the study area.

Post-Medieval to Modern

For the Medieval and earlier periods, both archaeological and historical evidence
relating to the study area have been very limited, and the purpose of this report has
been to set the local and regional scene, to raise rather than answer questions, and to
stress the need and potential for future research that may produce the ‘hard’ evidence
so lacking at present. For the Post-Medieval period, and especially from the 17th
century onwards, the problem is the reverse; there is a wealth of historical and
archaeological evidence (much of the former unstudied and at present virtually
unstudiable), and the problem is to summarise the main evidence directly relevant to
the sites and landscapes of the study area, within a briefly-sketched wider
background. The use of the study area, and the surviving archaeological field
evidence, are overwhelmingly ‘industrial’, and are dominated by coal-mining and its
infrastructure – even the agriculture, at least within Preston Quarter, is arguably part
of the infrastructure of mining. The section therefore starts with a brief survey of the
background (land-ownership, and the development of Whitehaven town and harbour),
before an industry-by-industry survey of the (mainly) 18th-20th century evidence,
finishing with a discussion of the broader landscape which these industries made up.


St Bees Priory was dissolved in 1538. As noted by Peter King (Appendix 1), the
priory lands were initially leased by the Crown to Thomas Leigh. However the lands,
rectory, and manor were sold in 1553 to Thomas Chaloner, whose son sold it in 1599
to Thomas Wybergh (Wilson 1905, 359). In 1600, Wybergh mortgaged it to George
Lowther; the Lowthers were an old gentry family, and already major landowners
around Lowther and Penrith. In 1630, Sir John Lowther bought a moiety (half-share)
of the manor, and settled it on his younger son Christopher, thus setting up the
Whitehaven branch of the family (Hay 1979, 19-20; Beckett 1981, 14; Collier 1991,
2-3). The Wybergh family remained active in the area; Lowther foreclosed the
mortgage on their remaining moiety in 1663, but did not gain full control and
possession until 1671 (Tyson 1985, 174, 201). Very little is known about the
development of the estates, or of Whitehaven town, during the Leigh, Chaloner, or
Wybergh ownerships, and nothing specific to the study area. This may however
reflect absence of evidence, rather than absence of activity. It does appear that by
1630 the centre of gravity of the estate was already swinging from St Bees to

The Whitehaven-St Bees estate descended from Sir Christopher (died 1644) to Sir
John (active 1663-1706), then to Sir James (active 1706-1755) (Beckett 1981, 14-19;
Phillips 1979, ix-xvii). Sir James bequeathed it to his cousin Sir William Lowther of
Holker; on his death in 1756, it passed to Sir James Lowther of Lowther, thus
reuniting the Whitehaven and Westmoreland estates of the family. Sir James was

created Earl of Lonsdale in 1782, and the estate passed through successive
generations of Lonsdales; the Lonsdale family withdrew from direct management of
their collieries and other industries in the later 19th century, and the Whitehaven estate
was finally sold off in the early 20th century. The first Sir Christopher lived at Old
Hall, Whitehaven, but succeeding generations lived in London and ran their
Whitehaven estates via agents (normally separate estate and colliery stewards).
Almost all the letter-books of correspondence between the Lowthers/Lonsdales and
these agents, from the later-17th to the mid-19th centuries, survive. These, with the
rest of the Lonsdale Papers, form a vast source of historical information, much of it
relating to the study area and individual sites within it, but systematic use of this
material has been far beyond the resources of this project; in practice use of this
material has been restricted to the published or typescript material for 1632-1644
(Hainsworth 1977), 1617-1675 (estate memoranda books; Phillips 1979), 1693-1698
(Hainsworth 1983), plus the many secondary resources that have used the material
(tending to concentrate on the time of Carlisle Spedding as colliery agent (1730-

Just as the study area in the Medieval period can only be understood as part of St
Bees parish and Priory estates, the archaeology and history of the area from the 17th
century onwards cannot be understood without some reference to the development of
Whitehaven town and harbour. The main published surveys for the development of
the town are Hay 1979 (and other editions), Beckett 1981, and Collier 1991; the
development of the harbour in the 18th and 19th centuries is discussed more
specifically by Scott-Hindson 1994.

By the end of the 16th century, Whitehaven contained eight tenements and four
‘camerae’ for bakehouses, and by 1631 there were 24 customary tenants and one
ancient freeholder, mainly located on the west side of Quay Street in the ‘Old Town’
area (Collier 1991, 8-9). These included Old Hall, a name which confirms an earlier
manorial origin, and the settlement was clearly more substantial than indicated in the
1566 survey (though whether this reflects growth during the Chaloner and Wybergh
ownerships, or economical truth in the 1566 survey, is less clear). Sir Christopher
Lowther started the active development of the town, centring on the Market Place
(though the market charter was not granted until 1656) and beginning the grid-pattern
development of the area east of Pow Beck (the modern town centre), though this only
took off under Sir John Lowther after 1663. Collier does not discuss the origins of the
‘New Town’ seemingly a fairly small southward extension of Old Town; it is hard to
see the name being applied after the far more major developments east of Pow Burn
had started, so the development of the town under Sir Christopher (or perhaps under
the Chaloners and/or Wyberghs) may have been rather more substantial than she
indicates. Whitehaven then developed into a substantial town, with major coal-using
industries (mainly along the strip southwards from Old and New Towns towards the
Ginns and Howgill collieries), and substantial warehouses and other port-related
industries within the town itself. In many respects, the importance of the town peaked
around the 1740s, when it was a major transatlantic port, with all the wider
connections (including those to colonialism and slavery) that this implies.

As already noted, Whitehaven existed as a port from at least the late 12th century, and
there are grounds for suspecting that the 1566 survey (much relied on by all the
modern writers) understated its importance. However it was clearly a minor port, and
there is no evidence for any constructed harbour installations, or for any maritime
activity extending into the Trust holding; ships and boats were probably beached on
the head of the natural (progressively silting) inlet, beneath the seaward side of the
modern town centre.

As soon as Christopher (later Sir Christopher) Lowther obtained practical control of
the St Bees/Whitehaven estate in 1630, he commenced active development of the
harbour, as an outlet for his coal and salt; the core of Whitehaven’s prosperity in the
later 17th century was its virtual monopoly of the coal supply to Dublin, though
initially salt (see below) may have been as important. The first ‘peer’ (now the Old
Quay) was under construction in 1632-4, but was being altered or extended in 1636,
by which time there was also a ballast quay (Hainsworth 1977, 9, 13, 64, 194).
However ballast dumping and storms were causing problems in the mid 17th century
(Tyson 1985, 175-7). The Old Peer was extended in 1679-81, and the harbour behind
it deepened by quarrying of sandstone from its bed. This improved loading from a
set of iron ore staithes, already in existence on West Strand on part of the area of the
later coal staithes (below); the location appears to have been close to The Beacon,
possibly extending just into the project area (Tyson 1985, 183). A ‘breastwork’ here
may have been either military or a sea defence. There were also an anchor smithy and
a blockmakers’ shop further NW, near the base of Old Quay. Beyond Old Quay, the
cliffs extending to Tom Hurd rock were already unstable, with a fall onto the saltpans
in 1676, and debris from cliff falls washing into the harbour in 1683; these were
caused by quarrying, and small-scale unofficial coal mining by local inhabitants (of
outcropping thin seams above the main coal, never exploited by the large-scale
Lowther collieries).

The state of the harbour at the end of the 17th century is shown by the various Pellin
plans in CROW; the 1695 plan in particular (CROW: Plan of Whitehaven, 1695;
Collier 1991, 16) shows the Old Pier with the Quay and iron ore staithes to its SE,
while the c 1705 plan (Collier 1991, 17) shows a breakwater or harbour wall to the W
of Old Pier, beginning the westward extension of the harbour. The 1695 plan is
particularly interesting in that it shows Tom Hurd Rock (now a relatively minor
feature on the South Beach foreshore) as a major rock shelf, extending north to almost
opposite the (then) end of Old Pier, and enclosing a narrow inlet of deeper water
running from the west side of Old Pier south beneath what is now the Old Fort and
Wellington Pit area. The ‘Old Salt Pans’ were beside this inlet; its infill deposits
(assuming they survive) could well also contain remains of some of the wrecks for
which Tom Hurd Rock was notorious. Despite concern from Lowther in 1672 and
1680 (Tyson 1985, 177, 188), the Rock appears to have been quarried by 1687-8
(Winchester and Wane (eds) 2003, 104). Lowther granted a lease for quarrying on
the Tom Hurd foreshore in 1692; by 1698 he was again concerned that the quarrying
(partly for grindstones) ‘layes the peer bare’ (Hainsworth 1983, 215-6, 597). To
judge by later maps, the original Tom Hurd Rock was indeed largely destroyed
around this date, no doubt with considerable effects on the coastal erosion of the
South Beach area, as well as on Whitehaven Harbour.

Whitehaven Harbour developed very considerably in the 18th century, as described by
Beckett, Hay, Collier and Scott-Hindson. The enclosure of the South Beach area
began with the construction of New Pier (now Old New Pier) in 1742; this ran west
then north from the contemporary highwater line at Old Fort, the east-west part being
now incorporated into the south wall of the harbour (Beckett 1981, 163). In 1755, a
‘bulwark’ was also built from the west end of South Beach to Tom Hurd Rock, this is
shown on several later 18th century plans (eg this report Plate 3, Collier 1991, 22-23),
and seems to have been finally destroyed by the severe storm of 1796 (Scott-Hindson
1994, 35). The exclosure of South Beach from Whitehaven Harbour was completed
by the construction (by Rennie) of the New West Pier from 1824-30; the limekiln
built into Old Fort was constructed for this (Scott-Hindson 1994, 94-100).


Since salt is the earliest Lowther industry to be documented in any detail, and since,
unlike the other industries to be discussed, its floruit was in the 17th century, it is
logical to discuss it first.

It is not known whether the Medieval salt industry, at Saltom and/or on Whitehaven
harbour, survived to the Dissolution, or continued throughout the Leigh, Chaloner, or
Wybergh ownerships, though in January 1634 Wybergh sold saltpans and coals in
‘Henrie Davies groundes’ to the Lowthers for £88 (one year’s rent or profit) (Phillips
1979, 38). These pans may have been on the edge of Whitehaven town, and therefore
just outside the study area.

The South Beach saltpans (29074)

Sir Christopher Lowther was already building two saltpans near the Quay by
October 1632; these seem to have been quite separate from the Wybergh
saltpans. One of these was in production by (probably) February 1633, though
the other was still under construction. The panhouses contained pans of plate
iron, and were clearly direct-boiling works (Hainsworth 1977, 9, 13, 60-61),
though in March 1633 Lowther appears to have been experimenting with salt
refining (Hainsworth 1977, 60) – in this process, impure imported salt (or, later,
Cheshire rocksalt) was dissolved in seawater, the impurities settled out, and the
brine boiled to produce clean salt. In December 1633, the ‘salt pannes & house’
were worth (or had cost) £280, as compared to £100 each for for the Pier and
coal works; by June 1636 Sir Christopher valued the pier at £303, and the salt
pans at £467, and around this time the pans were using 50 tons of coal per week,
and Lowther was thinking of leasing them out (Hainsworth 1977, 107, 187,
191-2). These pans were presumably those for which design drawings were
prepared by Rowland Jackson in 1631 (Tyson 1999, 215-6), though it is not
clear whether these designs were actually executed; their references to ‘French
salt’ imply salt refining as well as primary production.

On 20th May 1637, the Lowthers leased out the pans, sumps, and tools to two
salters (implying two pans?), David Bibby and Thomas Younghusband,
Lowther guaranteeing the supply of coal. However this agreement was

dissolved on 31st May, the pans being leased to a partnership of Richard
Wybergh and Thomas Lowman on the same terms. This agreement in turn must
have been terminated by 18th February 1638, when Christopher Lowther
engaged three salters to work three pans; Robert Stockdell had Pan A and was
allowed 28 loads (of 32 gallons) of coal per day on a 6-day week; David Bibby
had Pan B with 26 loads of coal; and Patrick Card had Pan C with 13 loads.
The salters had the use of the pans, sumps, and tools. Robert Stockdell was
contracted to deliver 14 bushels of salt ‘with one shake’ per working day, and to
pay two-fifths of the cost of ‘bryne, winding blowers [damper plates for the
furnaces], dressing shovells, creeper and battle shaftes & coles’; David Bibby
was to deliver 13 bushels daily on the same terms; Patrick Card was to deliver
34 bushels of salt, and pay one-fifth of the costs. Patrick Card may have been
engaged on a different basis to Bibby and Stockdell, in which case the relative
size of their pans is unclear; alternatively, Pan C may have been a salt refinery
(Hainsworth 1977, 213-217).

The pans clearly remained in use through the mid 17th century, with occasional
known references (Tyson 1985, 1999). Detailed accounts survive for 1675, by
which time the pans were taking nearly half the coal output from the Three
Quarters Band (seam), the works included at least one substantial pump (for
pumping brine from the foreshore sump to cisterns within the works), and seems
still to have had three pans. However this was precisely the time at which the
coastal salt industry, especially round the Irish Sea, was coming under under
intense competition from Cheshire, where the discovery of rocksalt had led to
greatly increased production and decreased costs. At least one pan was
damaged by a cliff fall in November 1676; part of the site was rented out to
merchants, but at least one pan was brought back into use, only to close by the
early 1680s (when Lowther rented the Bransty pans on the other side of
Whitehaven Harbour); Denton’s 1687-8 Perambulation only mentions the
Bransty pans (Winchester and Wane (eds), 2003, 105).

The location of these pans requires some discussion, since Tyson (1999) places
them actually on the Old Pier. However he himself notes that the Pier would
not accommodate the pans designed by Jackson, and the reference that he
regards as conclusive refers to pans on the Key rather than the pier (in 1669);
Tickell’s 1675 sketch (Tyson 1999, 201) shows two panhouses, one to the W of
the base of the pier, the other very close to the base but not necessarily on it.
Pellin’s 1695 plan (CROW: Plan of Whitehaven, 1695) clearly shows ‘The Old
Salt Pans’ tucked in below the (then) seacliff just west of the Pier and on a
narrow inlet between the main coast and Tom Hurd Rock(at the location of
gazetteer site 29074), and the 1676 cliff fall also indicates this location rather
than the pier itself. However, Pellin only shows two panhouses, so it remains
possible that a third panhouse, and/or the brine pump for the works, was
actually on the pier, or on the Quay to its SE.

The technology of the site also requires brief discussion. Tyson (1999, 202)
assumes that the site was a sleeching works; however all the evidence indicates
that the saltworks was in fact a direct-boiling works (and perhaps also a salt

refinery), as would be normal for a new works of this date. However, Jackson’s
1631 plans show at least four (in one plan six) individual pans within a single
panhouse, and Tickell’s sketch appears to indicate a similar arrangement. It
appears therefore that the 17th century panhouses contained several relatively-
small pans and furnaces, rather than the single large pan and furnace, occupying
much of the building, shown historically by Brownrigg (1748; see below), and
archaeologically by the excavated 18th century Scottish sites at Preston Island
and St Monans (Ewart et al 1996; Ewart and Dunn 1997; Lewis et al 1999) – at
the only other excavated British direct-boiling works (the 16th-17th century Port
Eynon ‘salthouse’ in Wales) the panhouse(s) did not survive (Wilkinson et al

In modern terms, the site of the saltpans as mapped by Pellin lies beneath a
small carpark between Old Fort and the revetments and former railways of
Wellington Pit (along Pellin’s seacliff); however the works, and particularly the
third pan and the brine-collecting and -pumping arrangments, may have
extended substantially beyond this plot, both along the (then) coastline and
down the foreshore. Although the site was re-used for housing and commercial
premises (29075) through the 18th and 19th centuries, archaeological remains
may well survive beneath later stratigraphy; by analogy with Port Eynon, the
foreshore features could be very substantial. Since no direct-boiling saltworks
has yet been excavated in England, and the works appears to have differed
substantially from the excavated but later Scottish works (and from the
unexcavated Scheduled 18th century site at Crosscanonby), its below-ground
archaeology has considerable potential importance.

The Saltom Pit saltpans (29038)

So far as is known, saltmaking within the study area ceased for about 50 years
with the closure of the South Beach works. In 1734-5, however, Carlisle
Spedding (Sir James Lowther’s colliery agent) built two saltpans at the new
Saltom Pit development, the seawater being pumped by one of the colliery
Newcomen engines; the saltpans achieved considerable local success for a while
(Beckett 1981, 135-6). The pumping arrangement was illustrated by Angerstein
in 1755 (Berg and Berg 2001, 285-6); he indicates a substantial masonry sump.
The salt pans were still working in 1760 (CROC: D/Lons/W7/1/16), but had
closed by the 1780s, when one of the panhouses was converted into a foundry
(Dixon 1801).

By far the most detailed known historical description of the direct-boiling
process, and its works, is that by William Brownrigg (1748, 49-72, 287-292).
Since Brownrigg was a Whitehaven doctor, and friend of Spedding, his
descriptions and plates may well draw on the Saltom works, though there is
nothing in the text to confirm this.

The panhouses of the works were presumably within the main Saltom Pit
compound, close to the Newcomen engines; this suggests the north side of the
compound, within the area now destroyed or deeply buried by recent
landslipping. Prospects for archaeological survival are therefore rather poor.

However the sump and other brine-collecting and –transporting channels will
have been on the foreshore, where some survival is likely beneath shingle. A
rock-cut pit on a foreshore outcrop to the NW of the pithead (29038) may well
be part of these arrangements, since it has similarities to elements of the much
more complex rock-cut pits and channels at Bank End, Maryport (Cranstone
2006, 21). However it is rather further from the pithead than might be expected,
and may have other explanations.

Coal Mining

Coal mining was the core of the industrial and economic development of Whitehaven,
and of the archaeology of the study area. The national development of the industry,
and thus the technological and economic context of the Whitehaven industry, is
treated in full in the recent five-volume History of the British Coal Industry (in
chronlogical order: Hatcher 1993, Flinn 1984, Church 1986, Supple 1987, and
Ashworth 1986). This contains only limited, and non-original, coverage of the local
industry. While this may correctly reflect the limited overall economic importance of
the West Cumberland coalfield in terms of national production, it does not reflect the
considerable importance of the Whitehaven industry from the 17th to the early 19th
century in terms of technological innovation. Nor does it reflect the quality of the
surviving field remains of the Whitehaven industry (largely within the NT area),
which is remarkable by national standards. The history of the West Cumberland
industry is discussed in detail by Wood (1988); however Wood’s coverage contains
surprisingly little site-specific detail, and it is clear that enormous amounts of site
information remain to be extracted from the Lonsdale MSS, especially from the
agents’ letterbooks. There is also a considerable historical literature of shorter papers
etc, ranging in date from the late 19th century to the present, and largely drawing
again on the Lonsdale MSS (with a tendency to make repetitive use of the same very
limited selection from within the Lonsdale MSS). Coverage in this report draws
largely on the published sources, plus maps and documents preserved in non-
Lonsdale collections, and material already transcribed into research files at The
Beacon, CROW, and Haig Colliery Museum. It should be noted that almost all this
material derives ultimately from Lowther/Lonsdale management sources, and is
inevitably one-sided; among other biasses, it will systematically ignore any non-
Lowther mining, which may have been appreciable in the early part of the period
(when the Lowthers already held the mineral rights as Lords of the Manor, but did not
yet own all, or initially perhaps most, of the freehold land within the Manor).

The limited evidence for pre-Lowther mining may therefore understate the reality. In
1560, Sir Thomas Chaloner granted 50-year leases to 90 of his tenants, including the
right to mine coal, and in 1586 he granted St Bees School to take forty loads of coal
from his pits in the parish; this indicates a degree of active mining by the landowner
(Wood 1988, 3). The pits, both of Chaloner and his tenants, were presumably along
the outcrops of the seams, including those along the west side of the Pow Beck valley.

Christopher Lowther was already exporting Whitehaven coal to Ireland in 1632
(Hainsworth 1977, 58-60); this may imply that he had taken over pre-existing mines.
In 1633, he valued his coal works at £100, a relatively small part of his assets

(Hainsworth 1977, 107). By 1637, his intention seems to have been to concentrate on
pits in Davis Field and Flatt Field (now under Whitehaven town) to minimise
transport costs, though he was also mining at Woodagreen (where a level was being
driven) and Greenbank (Hainsworth 1977, 192, 214-215). At some point, this policy
of concentrating on mines close to the harbour seems to have included substantial
mining in the scarp behind Old Pier, since in the 1670s the ‘olde mines next ye peere’
were ‘poor and almost spent’ (Makey 1952, 201); these mines must have been within
or immediately adjacent to the Trust area.

Serious planned development of the collieries seems only to have started under Sir
John Lowther, from the 1660s; Sir John started a policy of active acquisition of coal-
bearing land (finally completed, for Preston Quarter, by the 1820s), and of systematic
exploitation of the coal (initially the top, Bannock Band, seam) along the west side of
the Pow Beck valley (Wood 1988, 6-7). According to Makey (1952, 199-200),
Lowther successfully dispossessed freeholder miners at Greenbank before 1675
(when the colliery was producing c 4000 tons/year), in order to develop the area as
one of his integrated gravity-drained collieries; the Lowther-derived documentation
may well therefore under-indicate the degree of earlier mining here. The working of
these collieries is most clearly described by Makey (1952, 195-249). Since the
outcropping seams dipped slightly to the north as well as towards the west, a level
(the ‘Ginns Bannock Band Level on a plan in CROW: TNCB 28/13) was driven from
near Pow Beck (ie below the outcrop of the seam) at the northern end of the ‘colliery’
until it met the dipping seam; it was then carried south in a strict horizontal course
along the seam, thus draining a block of coal between level and outcrop. Man, horse,
and materials access was by ‘bearmouth’ (the local term for a tunnel within the seam,
opening to surface at the outcrop, and dipping into the mine down the dip of the
seam). Coal might also be brought out through the bearmouth, but this involved
carrying or dragging the various containers uphill through the galleries, so more often
the coal was wound to surface by shallow shafts; the winding being performed by
hand-powered windlasses or (from the 1680s) horse-powered ‘gins’. The shafts were
carefully located slightly up-dip (ie to the east) from the level, so that if they were
sunk further to a deeper seam, these deeper workings were not at risk of catastrophic
flooding in the event of any back-up of water in the level.

In many respects, this system of operating continued until the 1730s. The Main (or
Prior) Band was discovered at Howgill in the 1680s c 100ft below the Bannock Band.
Again, a level (the ‘Ginns Prior Band Level’ in CROW: TNCB 28/13) was driven
west then south to drain the seam, though in this case the level started from the base
of a shallow shaft at The Ginns in order to be deep enough to drain the Main Band;
this level was therefore not gravity-draining, and was pumped to surface by a horse-
powered ‘gin’. Even so, the levels were not deep enough to drain large reserves of
coal, and workings soon spread down-dip of the levels, using barrels and underground
‘gins’ to raise water to the levels. In 1700, a further level (plan in CROW: TNCB
28/13) was driven west then south from Thickett (NX 977 162), its pits including
Baxter (just outside the Southeast arm of the NT area, north of High House); a branch
level was driven south from near High House, draining Country Pit. The Ginns water
level was also extended southwards (presumably at a deeper level than the Thickett
Level), eventually passing Gameriggs and Fox Pits and extending as far as Wilson Pit

(Moore 1898, 4). As the amount of water to be raised from the Ginns level grew, the
horse-gin became inadequate, and in 1716 the world’s sixth Newcomen engine was
erected at Stone Pit (to the west of the previous water-gin pit) (Allen 1975). While
this was an innovative and broadly successful solution, workings in the
Ginns/Howgill area had already extended to the dip of Stone Pit, so that arrangements
for raising water to the base of the pit were complex and inelegant from the outset
(Allen 1975, 239). It is not clear how soon the Greenbank pits were connected to the
Ginns water level; in 1715 Fox Pit was only sunk to the Bannock Band, and appears
to have had no connection to the Ginns system (Allen 1975, 239).

Although the Greenbank pits were working in 1675, and throughout the 1693-8 period
of published Lowther correspondence (Hainsworth 1983), the published material
contains frustratingly little site-specific detail. Whenever production or employment
figures are quoted (eg Hainsworth 1983, 694-6), it is clear that Greenbank was very
much secondary to Howgill in importance. Fires and small explosions were common;
the tone of the agents’ comments to Lowther suggests that this was a fairly recent
development, presumably as mining penetrated further from the surface. One
accident, in October 1693, involved Thomas Fox, ‘our old sinker’(Hainsworth 1983,
71, 81) – since pits were often named after their sinker, this suggests an approximate
date for Fox Pit; both Fox and Gameriggs were certainly in production by 1709, when
they produced 141 tons and 169 tons respectively in a week (Fletcher 1878, 277).

The best-known figure in the development of the Whitehaven coal industry was
Carlisle Spedding, many of whose innovations were of national importance (Beckett
1983). Spedding entered the colliery in 1710, at the age of fifteen, became chief
colliery agent in 1730 (succeeding his brother Edward, who had held the post since
1707), and remained in post until his death in an explosion in 1755 (Wood 1988, 21-

Spedding’s best-known achievement was the sinking of Saltom Pit, from 1729 to
1732 (Moore 1898, 4-5; Ward 1991). The pit (Gazetteer 29036-29041) was sunk on
the shoreline west of Arrowthwaite, reaching the Main Band at a depth of c 480 ft. It
formed the first undersea colliery in England (though not in Britain – Culross colliery
in Fife was working beneath the sea from the late 16th century (Hatcher 1993, 99)).
Perhaps more importantly, it also formed a remarkably deep central pumping shaft for
the whole Howgill Colliery area (including Greenbank), allowing mining of a wide
strip of coal from the previous depth limit (roughly below the centre of the Howgill
Ridge) to a line well out to sea. The pit was pumped by a Newcomen engine; an
initial 17” cylinder in 1731 was rapidly replaced by a 35½” in 1732, then by a 42”
cylinder in 1737, and a second 42” engine was added in 1740 (Beckett 1979). The
Newcomen engine, although effective for pumping, could not easily be adapted to
provide rotary motion for winding; winding at Saltom was therefore performed by a
very large horse-gin, of Scottish rather than Newcastle design (Prevost 1965, 308),
whose emplacement can still be seen. The other major surviving feature of the initial
construction is the impressive seawall.

Although Saltom Pit was very successful as a pumping station, transport of its coal
production was more problematic. The only land access to the pithead was by a steep

zigzag track down the cliff (29041). It appears that Spedding initially intended the
coal production to be exported directly from a small harbour at the pit, with transport
from pithead to pier being by a short length of waggonway (still depicted on the 1752
plan); this avoided Whitehaven harbour dues, as well as minimising handling and
transport costs. The harbour was constructed in 1731-2, and exported 861 tons in
1733 and 1607 tons in 1734 (Ward 1991, 137), but it was repeatedly damaged by
storms, and was barely used after 1734. Instead, the coal was led into an adit from the
rear of the pithead, to the base of a shaft from Ravenhill Pit (29035) on the clifftop
above, where it was wound up by a further large horse-gin, and then transported to
Whitehaven Harbour by waggonway (see below). Since Ravenhill Pit was
constructed solely to wind the coal from Saltom (its shaft was never sunk below the
Saltom adit to communicate directly with the coal seams (CROW: TNCB 28-21)), it
formed a very expensive and inefficient solution to the transport problem; if it was
sunk in response to the failure of the harbour rather than as part of the initial plan
(which is unclear from Ward’s text, since this seems to conflate the driving of the adit
with the construction of the surface track down the cliff), it can be seen as a bold if
expensive piece of disaster recovery. The construction of saltpans at the pit, in 1734-
5 (see above) may also be seen as a response to the failure of the initial coal-handling
arrangements, in this case by using coal on-site to avoid the need for transport.

As already noted, Saltom Pit provided deep drainage for the whole of the Howgill
Colliery, which was worked by Spedding as an integrated operation over an area of at
least two square miles. The Ginns engines remained in use, and the main entry to the
mines for miners and horses (definitely in use underground by 1739) was also on the
eastern outcrop SE of Whitehaven town (probably at Howgill bearmouth), by an
inclined tunnel largely within the Main Band seam to Saltom and other working areas
(Prevost 1965, 311). In 1739 Saltom appears to have been the main winding pit.
However Spedding was also responsible for the sinking of Thwaite, King, Duke,
Moss, and Kells Pits within or adjacent to the NT holding, together with other pits
further east (Wood 1988, 23 – the Lonsdale MSS used by Wood also credits Spedding
with the sinking of Fox and Country Pits, but as noted above these are in fact
documented before Carlisle Spedding’s time as agent). These pits were all linked
underground, and could be used for pumping, coal-winding, man-access (routine or
emergency), ventilation (as either upcast or downcast shafts) or any combination of
these, in the Bannock, Main, and/or other seams; the detailed operation of the system
was therefore extremely complex, and the function of individual pits could and did
change quite rapidly. Although some of the eastern pits appear to have been fairly
short-lived, the more western pits such as Thwaite, King, Duke, Kells, Ravenhill and
Saltom, as well as Wilson and Croft Pits sunk later in the 18th century, remained in
use until the late 19th or in some cases 20th centuries.

In 1742, the Trustees of St Bees School leased their coal royalties in Sandwith
township to Lowther, in very dubious circumstances; the rent was far below the going
rate, and the term (867 years) bizarrely long (Wood 1988, 26; Todd 1983). In
practice, the Lowthers never tested this lease to the extent of sinking collieries within
Sandwith, but mined the Sandwith coal entirely from pits within Preston Quarter. It is
not clear whether Fox, Country, or Moss Pits (the nearest pits to the Sandwith
boundary in the 1740s) worked the leased coal at this time; from the later 18th century

Wilson and Croft Pits (both strategically placed just on the Preston Quarter side of the
township boundary) worked the Sandwith coals extensively. The dubious lease came
to light in 1814, and the resulting scandal was a factor in the setting-up of the
Charities Commission and the beginnings of 19th century educational reform; after
protracted litigation the Earl of Lonsdale was forced to pay massive back-rent and
compensation, which allowed the development of St Bees School into a major public

As well as the complex underground connections between the pits (and bearmouths),
Spedding was also responsible for the development of a substantial surface
waggonway system; since this was used entirely for coal transport, the pits served by
the system on the 1752 map (Plates 1, 2) (Saltom/Ravenhill, King, Duke, and
Country within the study area) were presumably the main coal-winding pits at this
time, the layout of the system suggesting that Fox Pit had also been a major winding
pit (see below).

The development of the Whitehaven collieries under Spedding contrasts interestingly
with the development of the Tyneside coal industry through the earlier 18th century.
On Tyneside, with a topography and geology that produced large expanses of Coal
Measures above sea level, and therefore amenable to gravity drainage and to downhill
waggonway transport to the Tyne (and other rivers and harbours), the coal industry
expanded sideways, relying on surface transport by increasingly long and
sophisticated waggonway systems (Lewis 1970; Bennett et al 1990), and the major
development of deep shaft-mining, made possible by steam pumping and (slightly
later) winding, did not occur until the later 18th century. At Whitehaven, Spedding’s
strategy pioneered the use of deep shafts, steam pumping, and centralised pumping
shafts, to expand the industry downwards; this, rather than undersea mining per se,
was probably his major contribution to the development of coal mining nationally.
His vision was also made achievable by more detailed innovations in underground
mining: early use of gunpowder, bratticing of shafts, ‘coursing the air’ as a means of
underground ventilation, the steel mill as a (relatively) safe form of underground
illumination in gassy conditions, and ‘methane drainage’ to vent gas blowers to
surface (including the concept, though not the practical reality, of gas lighting). The
Whitehaven collieries had an international reputation, and were visited and reported-
on by overseas industrial reporters such as the Swedish Angerstein in 1755 (Berg and
Berg 2002) and the French Gabriel Jars in 1765 (Jars 1774, 238-244; unfortunately
there is no English translation of this work).

This allows a more balanced appreciation of Carlisle Spedding than the slightly
hagiographic tone of much of the literature. Spedding’s main contribution appears to
have been the concept of the extensive deep-shaft colliery, draining a wide area for
mining in an integrated manner, and the suite of detailed innovations in underground
technology that made this vision achievable. However his judgement on surface
issues appears to have been less sound; the Saltom harbour was clearly a failure (and
a very expensive failure if Ravenhill Pit, the Saltom waggonway, and the multiple-
handling that they required, were all a response), and the short working life and
apparent rapid alterations to the eastern route waggonways (see below) suggests that
these may also have been less than cost-effective.

The development of the individual pits of the Howgill Colliery through the 18th
century cannot be traced in detail from the published summaries (eg Wood 1988),
though a detailed picture, of considerable importance for the history and archaeology
of coal mining nationally, could undoubtedly be prepared from detailed study of the
Lonsdale MSS and other sources. Gameriggs and Thwaite suffered from explosions
and underground fires in 1743, and King Pit was the deepest in the country when it
was sunk in 1750 (Wood 1988, 37, 40, 49). In 1752 ‘leaders’ were transporting coal
from King, Ravenhill, Thwaite, Kells, Fox and Gameriggs Pits to Whitehaven harbour
(Wood 1988, 46); Wood assumes that all this transport was by waggonway, but this is
hard to reconcile with the waggonway system as shown on the contemporary
Spedding plan (see below). Duke Pit appears to have been sunk at about this time; it
is clearly depicted on Angerstein’s sketch in 1755, with a large conical horse-gin
house, perhaps connected to the shaft by a short rope-race; the presence of a
substantial smoke-trail from this shaft suggests it may already have been used for
forced ventilation, by a coal-burning furnace either on the surface or at the foot of the
shaft (Berg and Berg 2002, 282).

After Spedding’s death in 1755 (in an underground explosion, said to have been in
Saltom Pit), the Whitehaven collieries moved from a period of radical innovation into
one of steady production and more piecemeal development, though in 1793 Howgill
Colliery was still both the deepest and the most extensive in Britain (Wood 1988, 83;
Fisher 1793), King Pit being 160 fathoms deep. By 1765, the Saltom Pit workings
already extended three-quarters of a mile under the sea (Wood 1988, 70: Jars 1774,
238-244). Croft Pit was sunk in 1774 (Wood 1988, 70), and Wilson Pit (immediately
outside the southern boundary of the NT holding) had also been sunk by 1779, when
an explosion killed seven miners (Wood 1988, 99-100); this may be why it was ‘not
working now’ in 1781. Moss Pit was also sunk at some point between 1755 and 1802
(Fletcher 1878, 288-9). By 1781 Croft had been connected to the waggonway system;
in this year the coal-drawing pits were Duke, King, Kells, and Croft, and all sent coal
to the staithe by waggonway (Wood 1988, 101); Saltom was only working in the
Bannock Band, and Fox and Wilson, although listed, were not in production (CROC:
D/Lons/W7/1/18). By 1816, Thwaite Pit was the deepest, at 150 fathoms (Lysons and
Lysons 1816, cxxii).

At Saltom, a massive new atmospheric (ie Newcomen-style) engine was erected in
1782, replacing at least one of the earlier engines and greatly increasing the pumping
capacity (Wood 1988, 84); contrary to some published opinion, this was not housed in
the surviving engine house. A mid-19th century photo (Routledge files, print labelled
W T & N PIC 39a) shows a roofless engine house to the north of the currently-
surviving winding engine house (see below), with gabled east and west walls, a
stepped chimney at its NE corner and seemingly a bob opening in the centre of its
south (long) wall. This must have housed one of the atmospheric engines; its late
survival suggests the 1782 engine, and the bob opening in the side, rather than end,
wall is unusual and similar to the 1795 atmospheric engine house at Elsecar (South
Yorkshire), strengthening the suggestion. Although no longer cutting-edge
technology, the erection of an atmospheric engine for colliery pumping was by no
means old-fashioned; although the new Boulton and Watt engines were much more

fuel-efficient, and much more easily utilised for winding and other rotary functions,
the atmospheric engine was much cheaper to purchase and maintain, and fuel
economy was not important on collieries where small coal would otherwise have gone
to waste. The Saltom engine remained in use until 1866, so it was clearly a successful
development. Unlike the Curwen collieries at Workington, Whitehaven did not
pioneer the use of Boulton and Watt engines for winding in the 1780s. However a
Heslop winding engine was erected at Kells Pit in 1793. Heslop engines were a local
variant on the Boulton and Watt principle, having a separate condenser in the form of
a second cylinder, at the opposite end of the beam from the steam cylinder Fletcher
1878, 292-5). They were manufactured at Seaton ironworks near Workington, and
were widely used in Cumbria. The Kells Pit engine was later moved to Low Wreah
Pit (outside the NT area) (Moon 1973, 15), and eventually to the Science Museum as
the last surviving Heslop engine; it is currently in the Science Museum stores. A
second Heslop engine, built for the Lady Pit at Whingill, was moved to Wilson Pit in
1841 (CROW: TNCB 28/13); its substructures may survive on the site.

The saltworks at Saltom Pit was closed in the early 1780s (if not before), and in 1786
one of the panhouses was converted into an iron foundry to supply wagon wheels,
furnace bars and other cast-iron goods to the collieries. The iron was melted in a
cupola furnace holding over ½ ton, and blown by bellows operated by the (1782?)
engine; this remained in use until at least 1809 (Dixon 1801, 112; CROC: D/Lons/W7
Portfolios of engineering drawings: ‘steam engines’ portfolio, reverse of index). This
was a very early use of the cupola remelting furnace, and a possibly-unique use of an
atmospheric engine to operate bellows.

In 1802, Howgill colliery had 453 employees, of whom 149 were immigrants from
outside the county. The largest numbers (44 and 41 respectively) were from Ireland
and Scotland, the remainder being largely from the other counties of northern
England. This workforce also included 124 women, many of them in underground
jobs (though there were no female hewers – this appears to have been an exclusively
male occupation) (Wood 1988, 87-88, 97-99).

A phase of more systematic updating began with John Bateman’s re-appointment as
colliery agent in 1802 (he had previously served in this role from 1781 to 1791), and
continued under his successor John Peile (agent 1811-1847). The wooden
underground railways were replaced with cast iron between 1802 and 1813. These
were cast in a Lonsdale foundry, but it is not clear whether this was still at Saltom, or
at one of the foundries within Whitehaven town – by 1815 the main foundry was at
Newtown, and was steam-powered. By the same date, there were five working steam
engines on the Howgill Colliery: a ‘powerful’ pumping engine at Saltom; a ‘lesser’
pumping engine at The Ginns (presumably one of the early Newcomen engines, still
in use); and winding engines at Kells, Croft, and Wilson Pits (Wood 1988, 83; Lysons
and Lysons 1816, cxxiii; CROC: D/Lons/W7/1/21, D/Lons/W7 Engineeering
drawings, various). Flat ropes were also introduced for winding, in at least some
pits. The D/Lons engineering drawings contain considerable information on the
engines, other machinery, and their houses; in particular an 1805 winding engine at
Croft was balanced by a chain operating in a shaft at the rear of the engine (the

opposite side to the drawing shaft), which may well survive as an archaeological

Despite its seemingly-perfect location just uphill from the staithes, Duke Pit appears
to have been abandoned by the early 19th century; in 1812 John Buddle (a noted
Tyneside coal ‘viewer’) advised Peile that it should be brought back into use and a
pumping and winding engine installed (CROC: D/Lons/W7/1/20). A winding engine
house was designed in 1817; its plan suggests a vertical winder similar to the slightly-
later Saltom winder (CROC: D/Lons/W7 engineering drawings, steam engines, 67).
An illustration of 1834 (Tomlinson 1834, 835) shows a large building and chimney at
Duke, suggesting that the 1817 design was actually constructed. Piele also deepened
the shafts at Croft and Saltom Pits, in 1818 and 1819 respectively, and installed a total
of nineteen steam engines (Wood 1988, 116-7). These included a vertical-winder
engine at Saltom, whose house forms the dominant surviving feature of the site; this
engine house can be interpreted in considerable detail from the surviving field
remains and the design drawings for the engine (CROW: TNCB 28-13) (Chapman,
Appendix 2). The vertical winder (in which the winding drum was located in the top
of the engine house above the cylinder, connected directly by a crank) was the
predominant 19th century form of winding engine in the Durham and Northumberland
Coalfields, but survivals are very rare – the Saltom engine house, although less early
than has been previously claimed, remains a very important feature. It is interesting
that, although the Saltom engine was a vertical winder, the contemporaneous
Ravenhill winder (forming a second, shorter, lift for the same coal) was a beam
engine, the cylinder operating an external ground-level winding drum via a beam and
crank (CROW: TNCB 28-13). The choice of two different designs may, as Chapman
suggests, reflect the restricted nature of the Saltom site, or perceived differences in
reliability or efficiency for lifts of different height. A new pumping engine was
designed for Saltom (CROC: D/Lons/W7 Engineering drawings, 1st vol, p98),
probably in the late 1830s from its position in the volume, but it is doubtful if this was
ever constructed.

At the time of the Chancery dispute over the St Bees School royalty (1821-1840),
both Wilson and Croft Pits were working the School’s coal beneath Sandwith.
Production of this coal from Croft declined from 138,386 baskets in 1827 to a
minimum of 58,043 in 1839; figures for Wilson Pit in 1832-4 are given for varying
periods, but average out at around 60,000 (baskets?) per annum (CROW: YDS 60/28,

Peile’s main achievement, however, was the sinking and development of the only new
colliery on the Howgill field in the 19th century, at Wellington Pit (Moore 1898, 18;
Wood 1988, 116; Gazetteer 29067-29071). A series of ‘Memoranda’ and ‘Brief
Statements’ from Peile to Lord Lonsdale, in October 1840, November 1841,
December 1842, and May 1844 (CROC: D/Lons/W7/1/22) provide detailed
information on developments in the 1840s, at Wellington and elsewhere, and is the
source for the following description unless otherwise referenced.

Work at Wellington started in 1837; production began from the Main Band in 1843,
and from the Six Quarters in 1845; the total cost of development was £25,000. The

colliery initially had two adjacent shafts, wound by a vertical-winder engine in a
massive engine house (CROC: D/Lons/W7 engineering drawings, 1st vol, 121-145),
though a third shaft was added later. By October 1840, the west and east shafts had
been sunk and walled to 62 and 42 fathoms respectively. Two engine houses were
under construction and their engines were being manufactured; the larger engine was
calculated at 80-90 hp and was intended to wind from both shafts, while the smaller
engine was calculated at 40-45 hp, to wind from the west shaft only, as a temporary
measure during the ‘winning’ of the colliery. The west shaft was planned to meet
workings being extended from Duke Pit. By November 1841, both shafts had been
sunk past the Bannock Band (though the east shaft was still being walled), and were
being deepened to the Main Band. The engine houses were nearly completed
‘adopting the beautiful finish to the job given by Mr Smirke’, and the parts of both
engines were nearly ready. Priorities for the next year included building the detached
chimney to Smirke’s ‘beautiful design’ and connecting it to the boilers by a drift
inland from the boilers meeting a shaft sunk from the base of the chimney; this shows
that the ‘Candlestick Chimney’ was initially intended as a boiler chimney rather than
a ventilation chimney. Other priorities included building the screens and waggonway
to the staithes, cutting back the hillside and building the revetment walls (‘the topping
of these walls by turrets can be done when convenient’), and replacing the old ‘public
stairway to the hilltop’ with a new one (29076). However in December 1842, work
was being delayed by winter weather, and Peile feared it would be 3-4 months before
the pit came into production. The west shaft was completed to the Main Band and the
(smaller) engine was ‘in great forwardness’; the pit top masonry would be completed
in a month, ready for the erection of the headgear. The east shaft was still only sunk
to the Bannock Band, and the engine would not be ready until summer 1843. The
first part of this timetable was almost achieved, as in May 1844 the west shaft had
been in production for 12 months, and Piele’s report concentrated in the development
of the underground workings. However the east shaft was still only sunk to the
Bannock Band, and the main engine not yet erected (though it could be ready in a few
days, and four boilers had already been set); nor had the connection to Duke Pit been
made. The surface walls and terraces were now advanced, and Piele planned a ‘fence
wall … to keep people out’, together with the proposed lodge and gates.

The pithead complex was presumably completed soon after 1844, and the pit brought
into full production. It is shown on the 1st edition OS (25” and 10-ft surveys) and on
various contemporaneous plans and photographs, and visible in the background of
many photographs of Whitehaven Harbour. The complex initially included a yard of
coke ovens built on reclaimed land behind South Beach; these were short-lived, and
the area was re-used for other pithead functions. The dominant surviving feature, the
‘Candlestick Chimney’(29069), initially built as the chimney for the engine boilers,
appears to have been rapidly adapted for ventilation, either by the updraught effect of
the hot boiler gasses or by a separate surface or underground ventilation furnace; this
may reflect the failure of the initial Duke Pit fan (see below). According to local
information, it still vents gasses from the underground workings, the methane being
occasionally ignited by lightning strikes. The other main surviving feature in the
area, a viaduct-like arched structure (29071), originated as an incline for bringing
down stone from Ravenhill Quarry for the construction of the West Pier (see below);
it was not therefore originally associated with Wellington Pit at all, though its survival

suggests it was later incorporated into the colliery complex; it is identified as ‘Old
Incline’ on an 1889 plan of Wellington (CROC: TNCB 10-17).

Wellington Pit was remarkable in a British coal industry context in being designed by
a noted architect (Roberk Smirke), in a castellated Gothic style. This design extended
to the revetment walls between Wellington and the staithes, parts of which survive
(29077, 29078), and to Duke Pit, producing what was clearly an enormously
impressive psuedo-fortified frontage of crenellations, walls and towers, dominating
the Harbour and town. It is clear that this was a deliberate architectural statement by
Lord Lonsdale, though the precise nature of this statement (or statements) is less
clear: was it simply an expression of Lonsdale’s feudal power over the town?; did it
also carry connotations of Lonsdale as defender of the town?; was it a reference to the
Border Wars and defence against Scotland (the ‘defences’ do face towards the
Galloway hills, clearly visible on a fine day)?; was it an expression of Lonsdale’s
anti-Americanism? (In support of the last suggestion, Whitehaven was attacked in the
American war of Independence, the John Paul Jones raid concentrating on the Old
Fort immediately below Lonsdale’s later ramparts – and an earlier generation of Tory
Lonsdales, and their pro-American Whig neighbours the Dukes of Norfolk, had
replayed the War of Independence in their castellated farms named after victories of
their respective sides, across the landscapes of their Lowther and Greystoke estates in
the Penrith area (Wade-Martins 2002, 63-5, Pl 6)). To some contemporary observers,
the fortified landscape may also have conveyed an impression of defensiveness, and
to the modern eye even a hint of Mordor, statements presumably not intended by the
Earl of Lonsdale.

Through the first half of the 19th century, the Whitehaven collieries maintained their
lethal reputation for gas, explosions, and underground fires. The discharge of
methane during the deepening of Saltom Pit from 1819 was such that the gas was
piped to surface and burned off, becoming a nocturnal tourist attraction; it was even
suggested that the pit be turned into a gasometer for illuminating Whitehaven town
(Whitehaven Gazette, 9th April, 16th April, 30th April, 7th May 1821; extracts in The
Beacon research files). Frequently the results were more tragic, with fatal explosions
in study-area pits at Kells (1819; 5 dead), Saltom (1823, 3 dead), Croft (1828 and
1831, 6 and 23 dead), Saltom (1834, 1 dead), Duke (1842 and 1844, 1 and 11 dead),
and Croft (1847, 4 dead) (Wood 1988, 139-140). The 1841 Children’s Employment
Commission report and witness statements (Winstanley (ed) n.d.) give some detailed
insights into working conditions, though the report itself hints that these may have
been ‘sanitised’.

Until the mid 19th century, colliery ventilation was normally by the updraught from a
fire or furnace, in or connected to an ‘upcast’ shaft (Hill 2000, 13-28). The earliest
form nationally appears to have been a firebasket suspended in the shaft, first reported
in the late 17th century. Surface furnaces, connected to the shaft by a pipe or tunnel
(‘drift’) and with a chimney to improve efficiency and draught, were developed in the
early 18th century; Sir John Clerk, who later visited Whitehaven, sketched a surface-
furnace system in 1724, and this may be the purpose of the smoking chimney shown
by Angerstein at Duke Pit in 1755. Underground furnaces, at or connected to the base
of the shaft, were developed in the late 18th century on Tyneside. An interesting

variant of this approach was tried at Duke Pit in 1806; methane was burnt at the base
of the shaft to provide the ventilating draught, though this does not appear to have
been successful in the long term (Hill 2000, 194). This may have been the origin of a
‘church tower like’ feature on the surface at Duke, first depicted on an engraving of
1834 (Scott-Hindson, frontispiece) and therefore pre-dating the first attempt at fan
ventilation here. Underground coal-fuelled furnaces were much more efficient than
surface furnaces, which they largely replaced, and became the normal method of
ventilation in the Whitehaven collieries - the ventilation system was considered
highly efficient by Buddle in 1835 (Wood 1988, 130).

Occasional attempts at mechanical ventilation, by various mechanisms, are known
from the 18th century on, but were not generally successful or widely-adopted until
the invention of the Guibal fan (invented in Belgium in 1859, and first used in
England in 1863) (Hill 2000, 29-49). The construction of a fan ventilator (an 8 ft
steam-driven fan) at Duke Pit in 1840, as part of the Wellington development, was
therefore an innovative development (Wood 1988, 131; Hill 2000, 195; CROC:
D/Lons/W7/1/22). By October 1840, the old shaft at Duke had been repaired, and a
new shaft sunk and lined with masonry; the fan (driven by a 1012 hp engine) had
been completed was producing a ‘steady and good ventilation’. This must be the
approximate date of a plan (CROW: TNCB 27-50) showing both shafts, c 25m apart,
though with no orientation given. The fan was still working effectively in November
1841, but is not mentioned in Peile’s 1842 or 1844 reports; this should indicate that it
was still working reliably and required no comment, though it is possible that it had
already been quietly abandoned. However it was abandoned within a few years,
suggesting problems with reliability, durability, and/or maintenance; its abandonment
forms an obvious context for the adaptation of the Candlestick Chimney for

The design drawings for the 1840 fan installation survive (CROC: D/Lons/W/7
Engineering Drawings, first portfolio, pp 2-5). The engine itself (pp 4-5) was a
vertical rather than horizontal engine; the description as ‘blowing’ engine suggests
that the fan was impelling clean air into the shaft, rather than sucking mine air out (as
was universal in the successful later development of fan ventilation). It was
presumably housed within a complex and rather enigmatic group of buildings (pp 2-
3), centred on the NW shaft and with the SE shaft (the surviving circular tower, at the
north end of the surviving structures) at its west corner. Parts of this layout survivies
to the 1863 OS 10-ft survey. A detailed plan of the pithead and yard in 1869,
immediately before the construction of the Guibal fanhouse, shows the circular air
shaft structure (which still survives, as the N end of the upstanding remains), with the
SE shaft, of narrower diameter, to the SE beyond a rectangular building, and further
buildings to the NE (forming the NW half of the 1840 complex), with an elliptical
internal feature that looks like a boiler (CROW: TNCB 39-30). The SE part of the
1840 complex, beyond the second shaft, had presumably been demolished. This
evidence indicates that some elements of the 1840 ventilation system survive within
the standing structures behind the 1870 fanhouse (see below), with the potential for
considerable archaeological survival to the NE and SE of the upstanding remains;
these remains are potentially of considerable importance.

The Guibal fan differed from its predecessors in being totally enclosed within a
casing. Air was sucked into the fan via an axial inlet through the casing, and expelled
by centrifugal force into a widening chimney (‘evasee’) at one end of the casing. The
original design was improved by Black, Hawthorn & Co of Gateshead, who started
manfacturing fans in 1867 and became the main British manufacturer; one of their
improvements was the substitution of horizontal engines for the vertical engine of the
original Belgian design. The Guibal fan at Duke Pit, whose fanhouse survives, was
manufactured by Black, Hawthorn & Co, designed in 1869, and erected in 1870; it
measured 36 ft in diameter and 12 ft in width (Hill 2000, 51-3, 62). The design
drawings for the buildings (dated March 1869) survive, and give considerable detail
of the fanhouse, evasee, horizontal engine bed, and mountings (CROW: TNCB 99-1)
(Chapman, Appendix 3).

Other Guibal fans were also installed at Whitehaven, though the details of date and
location are confused in the literature. A second 36 x 12 ft fan was erected at Croft
Pit, though this cannot be precisely dated; it, or the Duke installation, may have been
the fan erected at ‘Whitehaven’ in 1869, with vanes of pitch pine all of which had to
be replaced by 1876. Two further fans, ‘Whitehaven No. 3 and No. 4’ were also in
use or under construction in 1875 within the Whitehaven collieries, though these may
not have been within the study area (Hill 2000, 49-66). One of these three fans was
presumably that at Kells Pit, identified on the 2nd edition OS (it may well have been
the ‘Croft’ fan, in which case Kells was now acting as the upcast shaft for Croft;
Wood (1988, 178) states, perhaps wrongly, that the 1870 fans were at Wellington and
Duke, with the Kells fan, together with one at William Pit outside the study area,
being constructed in or after 1874).

The 1840s Piele memoranda (CROC: D/Lons/W7/22) also provide information on
other pits; the Howgill pits were clearly being increasingly integrated. At Saltom,
two pumping engines were in use in October 1840 and were lowering the water in the
Duke Pit workings; a new drift to Croft had been completed, and a deep roadway was
being driven towards the St Bees School royalty area. However by November 1841
Peile regarded the pit as ‘anything but satisfactory’ due to excessive divisions of work
and shale partings affecting the quality of the coal; Saltom was indispensible at the
moment, but Peile was keen to close it when Wellington was fully operational and
connected-through; he remained disparaging about Saltom in 1842 and 1844. Duke
was being connected to Wellington in November 1841, and workings were also being
driven towards the Ginns Bearmouth, in order to provide an emergency walk-out ‘line
of retreat’ from both pits. It had still not been connected to Wellington in May 1844.
In 1841-4, Croft Pit was working entirely in the School lands, and Wilson Pit was
providing coal for landsale, though by 1844 Peile was keen to close it – Fox Pit was
still in use as an upcast shaft for Wilson and part of Croft.

Wilson Pit (and presumably the Fox Pit air shaft) was closed for coal-drawing in
1847, and Saltom in 1848, leaving Wellington and Croft as the only working pits in
the Howgill Colliery (though as already noted Duke and Kells shafts remained in use
for ventilation, and Saltom remained in use for pumping until 1866; the Saltom shaft
was retained for access right through to the final closure of Haig Pit in 1986). The
Saltom seawall was repaired following a major breach by the sea in 1852 (CROC:

D/Lons/W7/37/67). A plan of Saltom in 1864, just before closure, shows the final
layout of the pithead in detail (CROW: TNCB 47-16; also much reproduced in the
secondary literature, eg Marshall and Davies-Shiel 1969, 113). The shaft lay in the
centre of the site; it was oval, and bratticed into a drawing shaft to the east, and a
pumping shaft to the west. The drawing shaft had been served by a large gin circle
(seemingly still in place) to the east, and the winding house to the south; since the
boiler house was labelled as ‘old shed’, it is likely that the winding engine and boilers
had already been removed. The pumping shaft was served by the No 1 and No 2
pumping engines, to the north and west respectively, virtually surrounded by boiler
sheds; unusually, the No 2 engine house had a large chimney within its NW corner.
The boiler house to the south of the No 2 engine was served by branches of a tramway
from the adit to the foot of Ravenhill Shaft, running through or (more probably) over
the building. Presumably by this date the tramways were bringing coal in for the
pumping engine boilers; their mapped form may therefore only date from 1847, when
coal-winding finished. It seems likely that the No 2 engine (perhaps the only one still
in use) was the 1782 atmospheric engine, in which case the No 1 engine was
presumably either the 1731 or the 1740 engine. The location of the 1780s foundry
(and earlier salt panhouse) is unclear; the boiler sheds west of either or both of the
engine houses would be logical. The reason for drawing this plan is unclear; it may
that in the aftermath of the 1863 Wellington fire (see below) Lonsdale was
considering closing Wellington and refurbishing Saltom – if so, the decision was the
reverse, the closure of Saltom in 1866 coinciding with the upgrading of Wellington.

Wellington Pit was closed by a major underground fire in 1863; the colliery had to be
flooded by constructing a drift (gently inclined tunnel) from the foreshore at South
Beach to the main shafts (CROC: TNCB 28-36), and was not fully drained and
reopened until 1872 (Moore 1898, 20-21; Wood 1988, 158). Despite this setback, a
major new pumping engine was installed at Wellington in 1866, replacing the 1782
Saltom engine; this was a single-acting high-pressure engine with a 90 inch cylinder
and a 10ft stroke (Moore 1898, 22). Assuming it was the ‘Big Pump’ on a 1907 plan
(CROW: TNCB 37-21), it lay immediately SW of the NW shaft. The shafts and
pitheads were also adapted for winding tubs and cages, instead of the old-fashioned
baskets (Wood 1988, 178). This may also be the date of a 10” coupled horizontal
winding engine, supplied to Wellington by Robert Daglish & Co of St Helens
(CROW: TNCB 35-40); the drawing is only dated to ‘December’, but the technology
seems too advanced for the 1840s, and mention of the Earl of Lonsdale dates it to
before 1888. The distinctive silhouette of Wellington, with the Candlestick chimney,
‘keep’-like engine house, overhead gantries, and headgear, appears in the background
of many 19th and early 20th century illustrations and photographs of Whitehaven
Harbour (eg Scott-Hindson 1994, 6). Wellington had screens (for cleaning and
grading the coal) from its outset; by 1874 Croft also had screens (CROW: TNCB 40-
39), though it is not known when they were installed. By 1872, the Whitehaven
collieries were working up to four miles from the shafts, and up to two miles under
the sea; by 1908 workings stretched nearly four miles offshore.

In 1888, the Earl of Lonsdale gave up direct working of the collieries, leasing them to
the Whitehaven Colliery Company. This marked the end of some 250 years of direct
Lowther control of the Whitehaven collieries. A survey for the new company (dated

January 1889) gives a detailed plan of Wellington Pit surface plus the surrounding
features as far as and including the Staithes (‘hurries’) (CROW: TNCB 10-17). Later
in the same year, an ‘endless rope’ underground haulage system was introduced at
Wellington, driven by a surface steam engine; the precise location of this within
(presumably) the pithead complex is not known (Wood 1988, 177-8).

By the beginning of the 20th century, no new colliery had been sunk for 60 years.
However in 1900-1902, the Ladysmith Shaft (named presumably from the Boer War
battle) was sunk adjacent to Croft Pit. Although the new sinking was initially
considered as part of Croft Pit, in practice the whole colliery was soon renamed as
Ladysmith, and seems to have been totally rebuilt as an up-to-date early 20th century
colliery, with timber headgears, a single winding engine for both shafts, a haulage
engine, an overhead tub circuit with tipplers, screens over the railway (with jigger
screens and picking tables), a small washer, and workshops (CROW: TNCB 33-24).

Wellington was also substantially updated at this time; a Walker Indestructible fan
was installed, seemingly in the main pithead complex, and a new and wider shaft was
sunk to increase coal-drawing capacity (Wood 1988, 178). The new upcast shaft was
connected to the pumping shaft by a drift, c 7 fathoms below surface; the proposal
drawing (CROW: TNCB 39-14) is not orientated, but since the fan shaft was on
higher ground than the pumping shaft it must have been to the SE. The shaft,
fanhouse, and driving engine were therefore presumably within a group of buildings
between the older pithead complex and the Candlestick Chimney, constructed
between the 2nd and 3rd edition OS surveys. In 1907, a new twin-cylinder winding
engine and house was installed (or at least proposed), sited immediately west of the
western (pumping) shaft, the opposite side of the shafts from the older ‘keep’ winding
house, but winding the eastern shaft; the plans also included a ‘creeper’ tub circuit
(CROW: TNCB 37-21). This winding house was re-roofed and substantially altered
in 1917 (CROW: TNCB 99-2).

However in 1910 the pit was the scene of the worst disaster in the history of the
Cumberland coalfield, when 134 miners were killed by an explosion and underground
fire (Redmayne and Pope 1911). Wellington Pit had three shafts (one winding, one
pumping, and one upcast), and was also still accessed by a bearmouth from near
Coach Road (ie The Ginns). The Duke Pit shaft was normally sealed off, but the
Guibal fan was maintained on standby. Wellington Pit was connected to William Pit
(on the other side of Whitehaven Harbour), but was not currently connected to
Ladysmith. At the time of the explosion the mine was being ventilated by the Walker
Indestructible fan, which was 24ft wide and 8 ft wide, and driven by a compound
engine. An underground Sirocco fan was also being installed – this was to be driven
by a wire rope from an electrical ‘driving plant’ at Saltom.

A change of ownership in 1913 resulted in substantial new development (Wood 1988,
209-259). This change is probably the context of a series of ‘lease plans’ (CROW:
TNCB 7-32; undated but clearly from after the sinking of Ladysmith Pit but before
the sinking of Haig), which show details of the contemporary domestic occupation on
the working and former pit sites. Between 1916 and 1918, the new company sunk
Haig Pit, centred on two totally-new shafts (Nos 4 and 5, this numbering presumably

following on from the three shafts at Wellington Pit). Haig worked entirely undersea,
the workings being accessed by long haulage roads and airways driven through or
under the older near-shore workings. Ladysmith was also updated, with the
construction of a power station, a battery of 60 Otto by-product recovery coke ovens,
and a washery (CROW: DH 441/3). Comparison with the 3rd edition OS indicates
that the power station was immediately south of the track from High Road into the
colliery and on to Barrowmouth; the cokeworks was to the north of the track, with
sulphate, exhauster and benzol house to the east, the coke ovens in the centre, and the
washery to the west beside the Corkicle railway; all building groups in the cokeworks
were served by branch-lines and sidings from the Corkicle line. A surface conveyor
for loading small coal into railway waggons was also installed at Wellington (CROW:
TNCB 26-11). In 1923, the construction of the Haig Incline was accompanied by
reorganisation of the railway sidings at Wellington and the Staithes (CROW: TNCB
27-4). However from the early 1920s the economic condition of the collieries
deteriorated, due to national trends exacerbated by the long underground travel-to-
work and haulage distances, the gassy nature of the mines, problems of ventilation,
and the high level of explosions and fires; an explosion killed three miners at
Wellington in 1920, and at Haig 39 were killed in 1922 (when the pit was still under
development; Mottram 1923), 4 in 1927, 13 in 1928, and 27 in 1931. As a result of
these problems Ladysmith closed in 1931, and Wellington in 1932 (though the surface
works at Ladysmith were re-opened, treating and using coal raised at Haig). In 1933,
another new company (Priestman Whitehaven Collieries Ltd) took over. Their
modernisations included a new shaft (the Thwaite Shaft) and supplementary fan at
Haig, an overhaul of the cokeworks at Ladysmith, new workshops at both pits, and
extensions to the coal-screening plant at Haig. However the company failed in 1935,
and the Whitehaven collieries were closed until yet another new company took over
in 1937. They added pithead baths and a new power-house (supplying steam and
compressed air as well as electricity) at Haig. An undated plan (CROC:
D/Lons/W7/30/64) shows the workings at about this date; interestingly, it includes the
Pow Beck valley ‘bearmouths’, drainage levels and access routes (‘travelling roads’),
indicating that these were still open and presumably in some use, if only occasional or
for emergencies; the OS 6” (1930s revision) also shows the developing surface layout,
though the precise date of resurvey is unclear.

Waste from Ladysmith (and perhaps Haig) was tipped on the sloping ground to the
west (OS 6”, 1930s revision), forming the first phase of large tip 28984, though this
was later extended as a tip of cement-making waste from the Marchon works (see
below), and was also re-formed by ‘tipwashing’ to extract remaining coal during the
1980s. Waste from the Ladysmith washery was also tipped into the sea by an aerial
ropeway during the mid 20th century (OS 6” (1930s revision)); The Beacon:
photographs 1986.152.16, .17); feature 29886 (Plate 20) may be the remnants of the
seaward termination of this system.

The Ladysmith site was finally abandoned in 1976, when the coal washery was
replaced by a new plant on the main Haig site (Routledge 2001, 31); at the same time
the Haig Incline was replaced by a conveyor belt to the harbour, re-using its line.
However Haig Pit ceased production in 1984, and the site was cleared for complete
closure in 1986.

Country, Fox, Gameriggs and Moss Pits

Although the Greenbank ‘bearmouth’ lies outside the NT area, the broader
‘Greenbank colliery’ included most of the Southeast Arm of the study area.
Greenbank colliery was already in substantial production in 1675, but specific
pits are not named. Gameriggs and Fox Pits were certainly in production in
1709 (Fletcher 1878, 277), and Country Pit was probably of similar date; in
1715 Fox Pit had only been sunk to the Bannock Band (Allen 1975, 239),
perhaps because the deeper drainage levels had not yet reached this far south.
Gameriggs and Fox were still in production in 1752, and the waggonway link to
Country on the Spedding plan implies that this was a substantial drawing pit.
Fox was still working in 1757 (Wood 1988, 93); it was not producing in 1781,
but was still included in a list of collieries, and remained in use as an upcast
shaft for Wilson and Croft as late as 1841. Moss Pit is poorly documented, but
was clearly part of the 18th century development of the Greenbank Colliery.

Country Pit retains a small spoil tip, though most of the pithead complex was
presumably to the side of this (in currently-ploughed land). Fox appears to have
been returned to cultivation in the 19th century, though the site is now rough
grassland. At Gameriggs, there are no surface remains of the colliery itself,
though the earthworks of a series of associated water-storage ponds survive;
these were probably an important part of the water-supply system for the whole
Howgill/Greenbank colliery. Moss Pit lies immediately outside the NT holding;
it retained a small chimney (for furnace ventilation?) until quite recently, and
may retain good below-ground preservation.

The whole of this part of the study area overlies 17th-19th century workings, at
relatively shallow depth. Colliery plans (eg CROW: TNCB 24/4) show that
these were complex, with very varied patterns of pillar-and-stall working, and
also haulage ways and water levels; they will also contain potentially-important
artefact assemblages of various types.

Duke Pit (Plates 46-49)

Duke Pit was sunk under Carlisle Spedding, and became an important coal-
drawing pit; Angerstein’s 1755 sketch, and several later 18th century plans of
Whitehaven, show a large and very unusual conical-roofed horse gin. It was
then the scene of two experiments in mine ventilation – an attempt to burn
methane at the shaft-bottom as a form of furnace ventilation in 1806, and an
early mechanical fan in 1840. In 1870, a Guibal fan was erected; this formed
the main ventilation for Wellington Pit until 1903, and was retained on standby
until at least 1910.

Much of the fanhouse and associated engine bed and airways survive, and
appear to be the earliest and largest Guibal fanhouse to survive in Britain (Hill
2000, 208-9). The black encrustation on the interior of the fanhouse forms a
grim reminder of underground conditions (it was initially thought that this
might be a physical residue from the 1910 Wellington Pit explosion and fire, but
this now seems unlikely since the Guibal fan was not in use at the time of the

disaster). Some remains of the pioneering 1840 ventilation complex probably
survive within the upstanding structures, with the potential for important below-
ground evidence to survive, especially to the north and east.

Haig Pit (Plates 30-32)

Haig Pit was sunk in 1916-18, with two shafts. A third shaft, with a
supplementary fan, was added on the former Thwaite Pit site in 1933 (though
historic mapping of the precise location of Thwaite Pit is inconsistent, and a
former shaft and pithead complex may therefore lie between the mapped 20th
century Thwaite Shaft and the main Haig Pithead). The colliery closed in 1984-
1986. The site is mapped on the 3rd edition OS (the most recent out-of-
copyright edition); however later OS maps, and air photos, seen at The Beacon
and at Haig Pit Museum, indicate that its surface extent was substantially
expanded during the mid and later 20th century, probably occupying most of the
plateau area between the surviving buildings, the coastal cliffs, and Whitehaven

The main survival is the Scheduled engine house, power hall, and headgear,
containing a fine preserved winding engine. The pumping outlet, and other
cncete outlet structures from the final phases of the colliery, also survive on the
cliffs and foreshore, together with spoil tips on the coastal cliff both north and
south of Saltom Pit.

Kells Pit

Kells Pit was first sunk as part of Carlisle Spedding’s massive development of
the Howgill Colliery. It was probably first connected to the waggonway
between 1774 and 1781, when the Croft Waggonway was constructed. A
Heslop winding engine (the first on the Howgill collery) was erected in 1793;
this was in use in 1815, but was later moved to Low Wreay, and survives in the
Science Museum.

King Pit

King Pit was sunk in 1750 as part of Carlisle Spedding’s development of the
Howgill colliery, and was the deepest pit in England. It appears to have
remained an important winding pit until around 1800. It is labelled as ‘Kingpit
Yard’ on the 1st-3rd OS editions; on the 1st edition it still had waggonway access,
implying industrial use. The site is marked by a ‘beehive’ shaft capping and
plaque; given the extensive landscaping of this area after the closure of Haig
Colliery, the survival of below-ground deposits is uncertain. The opening of a
rock-cut adit also survives, just above high-tide level in the base of the cliff to
the west; this was probably a ‘pumpway’, for discharging water pumped up the
Kng Pit shaft.

Ladysmith/Croft Pit

Croft Pit was sunk in 1774, and was connected to Whitehaven Harbour by the
Croft Waggonway; it remained an important pit throughout the 19th century. A
new shaft, Ladysmith, was sunk in 1900-1902, and the whole pithead area
appears to have been remodelled; although the design drawings for this

reconstruction are labelled ‘Croft Pit’, the whole colliery was soon renamed as
Ladysmith Pit.

The site lies within the Marchon site, and external inspection indicates that no
upstanding colliery features survive; however below-ground remains may
potentially be substantial.

Ravenhill Pit (Plate 25)

Ravenhill Pit was sunk in the 1730s, in order to wind coal from Saltom to the
clifftop, for onward transport by waggonway. Winding was by a large horse gin
until 1822, when a beam winding engine was installed. The outline of the
colliery yard remained in use until at least the 1920s, with waggonway/railway
access indicating some continuing industrial use, probably combined with
domestic cottages; it finally became a coal depot for Haig Pit. Some remnants
of 18th-19th century stone and brick structures survive along the cliff edge,
including part of the curved outline of the horse-gin circle. The remainder of
the area is occupied by derelict concrete yard surfaces; below ground
archaeological remains are likely to survive beneath these, and may be
considerable. The site may therefore have display potential, and is also very
sensitive to damage during any clearance of the modern concrete surfaces.

Saltom Pit (Plates 26-27)

Saltom Pit was sunk in 1729-32, and remained in use (for pumping, and
intermittently for coal-winding) until 1867. It has attracted considerable
attention in contemporary accounts (eg Prevost (ed) 1965, Berg and Berg 2002,
281-286), in the modern historical and archaeological literature (eg Beckett
1979, Beckett 1983, Ward 1991, Wood 1988, 23), and in current conservation-
related ‘grey literature’, including a detailed building survey (LUAU 2000; also
Bullen Consultants 1996, Ed Dennison Archaeological Services 2004, Cumbria
County Council HER files, English Heritage Scheduled Monument Record
27801). These latter form a good factual record of the surviving upstanding
features (with the exception of the important 18th century seawall and its
included features), though there are some issues of interpretation. In particular,
field examination by Simon Chapman (Appendix 2), coupled with discovery of
copies of the design drawings, show clearly that the standing engine house ruin
(variously interpreted in the literature) is that of an 1823 vertical winder.

The north end of the site has been covered or destroyed by a landslip. The
remaining area includes the shaft (original, but capped 1980s), the 1821
vertical-winder engine house with traces of its boiler house, the adit to
Ravenhill Shaft, the seawall, and the sites of one of the atmospheric pumping
engines and its boiler house, a capstan circle (for lifting and lowering equipment
in the shaft, and workmens’ housing. In addition, much of the revetted access
trackway survives on the slope to the east (partially disrupted by landslipping),
and rock-cut features interpreted as post-sockets for the pier, and a collecting
tank for the saltworks, survive on the foreshore to the NW (beyond the

Wellington Pit (Plates 39-41)

Wellington Pit was sunk around 1840, and remained in production until the
1930s. It was a major colliery, with two shafts initially (a third shaft was sunk
later). The pithead complex included headgear, engine houses, coke yards, coal
screens, the Candlestick Chimney, and a gate lodge; later additions and
alterations included a compound engine driving an endless-rope underground
haulage system, and a Walker Indestructible fan. The original construction was
a remarkable piece of early-Victorian architectural design (by Robert Smirke).

Surviving remains include the gate lodge (now a coastguard station) and the
Candlestick Chimney; a circular feature in the paved garden between these
appears to incorporate the remains of a small water pond shown on colliery
plans. The lower part of the site has been extensively landscaped, but may
retain considerable underground remains.

Wilson Pit

Wilson Pit was sunk before 1779, and remained in use until 1847. It was
connected to the Croft waggonway, and was an important coal-drawing pit,
largely working the St Bees School coal beneath Sandwith township.

The site lies immediately outside the NT holding, on the opposite side of High
Road; it appears to be used for storage of agricultural machinery. External
inspection indicates that parts of the boundary wall and a large ramp survive,
the ramp terminating at what is probably a ‘landsale wharf’ for loading coal into
carts on High Road; this is an unusual survival. The site may have potential for
public access and display, possibly forming a focus for the south end of the NT

Roads, waggonways, railways, and water supply

The earliest mapping of the transport network of the coalfield part of the study area is
on the 1752 Spedding plan (Plates 1-2; CROW: TNCB 24/4), and on a map of
Whitehaven bound into a portfolio of engineering drawings (Plate 3; CROC:
D/Lons/7 Portfolios of Engineering Drawings, ‘Sundry Old Collieries’ p25) and
dated by the archivist as probably 1760s (Tom Robson, pers. com.). The former is
very faded and hard to use, and the latter only covers the area from Arrowthwaite
northwards. The paintings of Matthew Read (Burkett and Sloss 1995) also include a
valuable sequence of views of the north end of the area (viewed from across the
Harbour) dating between c 1710 and 1740; the best-known of these, Read’s Bird’s
Eye View of Whitehaven of c 1735 (Burkett and Sloss 1995, 67, Pl 14) is on public
display in The Beacon. Later 18th and 19th century colliery-related plans in CAAM
and CROW add some detail, mainly of waggonways, but are consistently faded, dirty,
and hard to decipher. The Lonsdale MSS in CROC almost certainly contain further
plans, but these are not currently readily accessible. The Tithe Map for Preston
Quarter (CROC: DRC 8/157) unfortunately post-dates the 1830s Lonsdale
reorganisation of the landscape, and only covers a small part of the township and
study area. The first consistent detailed mapping of the whole area is therefore the 1st
edition OS.

By the time of the first mapping, the main road serving the study area was already the
High Road from Whitehaven to St Bees, on broadly its current line, and continuing
south as Byerstead Road. To the south, however, the form of its junction with Wilson
Pit Lane (as later named; the first mappping in 1752 pre-dates the sinking of Wilson
Pit), and a footpath NE across the fields past High House (Gazetteer 29009) suggests
that the primary route in this area was Byerstead Road, the south end of High Road,
and the field path (which does not seem to have continued beyond its junction with
Preston Street/Low Road, north of Greenbank), the remainder of High Road, and
Wilson Pit Lane, being separate-though-adjacent side-turnings off this. By 1752,
however, it appears that High Road had become the main through route, with Wilson
Pit Road as a side-road, and the High House route not mapped (though presumably in
existence as a path). To the north, High Road appears to pass through Arrowthwaite
on the 1752 plan, but had been ‘tidied up’ to more-or-less its present line on the 1760s
plan, though still with a very wide, drove- or green-like, stretch to the south of
Arrowthwaite. Although the zig-zag down past Prospect Terrace was present on all
maps, the 18th century plans do show it consistently taking a less abrupt corner,
running briefly into the east edge of the study area south of Prospect Terrace. The
Preston Street/Low Road route to St Bees (the present B5345) formed a reasonably
straight and well-graded route as far as Coalgrove Bank, but to the south of this it
became much less direct (the modern line being a 20th century straightening), seeming
to be secondary to an east-west route continuing from Wilson Pit Lane past
Mirehouse. This route from Whitehaven to St Bees may not therefore have been as
‘natural’ as it now appears.

In the early stages of Lowther colliery development, coal transport was entirely by
this pre-existing road network, and seemingly entirely by packhorse. The first
attempt and an improved and ‘dedicated’ coal transport system was a ‘coalway’ or
‘causey’ from Woodagreen Pit (in the Ginns area) to the Harbour, built in 1683, and
consisting of a causeway bounded on each side by timber baulks on which the wheels
of carts would run (Gray 2004, 9; van Laun 2006, 24-5; Lewis 1970, 127; Scott-
Hindson 2004, 2; Wood 1988, 11). Lewis and Scott-Hindson interpret this as an
unguided system, whereas Gray argues that guidance for the wheels was provided by
edging timbers outside the main baulks. The precise course and extent of this system
are uncertain; Gray considers that it ran from Woodagreeen and Fire Engine [=Stone]
Pits at the Ginns, along Preston Street to the south side of the Harbour, but van Laun
interprets it as following the line of the later ‘Eastern waggonway’ (see below). The
evidence supports Gray, since early plans of Whitehaven (Collier 1991, 17) show a
‘coalway’ along what is now Preston Street, and none of Read’s pre-1730s paintings
show any feature along the later waggonway line. However, Read’s paintings
(confirmed by 1st edition OS and modern observation) do show Preston Street/Low
Road as a distinctively straight, well-graded, and ‘waggonway-like’ feature,
continuing past The Ginns and the Howgill and Thickett ‘bearmouths’ to Coalgrove
Bank at Greenbank (beyond which its character, as shown on the 1st edition OS,
changed markedly). It does therefore seem possible that the 1680s ‘coalway’
eventually extended right down the contemporary belt of coal-working to Greenbank,
adjacent to the SE corner of the study area. The longevity of the system is also
uncertain; the published 1690s Gilpin-Lowther correspondence does not mention any

specific coalway or causey, but does make it clear that carts as well as packhorses
were in use (Hainsworth 1983, eg 19), while the ‘coalway’ on the 1705 Whitehaven
plan was not necessarily railed by this date.

So far as is known, the first ‘proper’ waggonway system serving the Howgill Colliery
was developed by Carlisle Spedding in the 1730s; this was preceded by an
underground waggonway in 1727, though its precise location is unclear (Lewis 1970,
321-2). The waggonways were of normal timber construction, though it has recently
been suggested that Spedding may have introduced, or experimented with, wrought-
iron plating to the wooden rails, and may also have introduced the rodded point (van
Laun 2006, 37-39). The historical evidence for these suggestion is however
ambiguous, and archaeological evidence would be of great interest. It is however
clear that the waggons had cast iron wheels from the outset (Lewis 1970, 195-6;
Prevost 1965, 307). This was an unusually early use, and suggests Shropshire rather
than Tyneside inspiration; it may also reflect the early availability of coke pig iron
(more suitable for many foundry purposes than charcoal pig) from Little Clifton
furnace. This system and its later development has been extensively discussed in the
literature (Lewis 1970, 127-9, 169-70, 180-1, 183, 189, 195-201, 206-7, 295, 321-2;
Scott-Hindson 2004; Gray 2004; van Laun 2006). However the waggonway names in
the literature are confusing, and the discovery (for this project) of the 1752 Carlisle
Spedding plan (Plates 1-2) allows a considerable reinterpretation of the physical
layout of the system.

The system consisted of two main elements: a western route along the seaward side of
the Howgill Ridge, and an eastern route graded down the eastern (Pow Beck) slope of
the ridge. Both systems fed onto the upper level of the staithes on the south side of
Whitehaven harbour (see below). The western route (generally known as the Saltom
Waggonway, although strictly speaking it ran from Ravenhill Pit rather than from
Saltom itself) was constructed in 1735, whereas the eastern route was probably under
construction in 1738; Read’s A Prospect of Whitehaven (Holker Hall and Askham
Hall versions) and A Bird’s Eye View of Whitehaven show successive stages in its
construction, and make it clear that this was a heavily-engineered and substantial
investment, and that it extended at least to the plateau of the Howgill Ridge near
Prestonhows (rather than merely to Parker Pit east of Arrowthwaite, as implied by
Fisher (1793), and some later writers including Gray) (Burkett and Sloss 1995, 61-67,
Colour Plates 12-14).

By 1752, however, the system was more complex. The western route (shown as
single-track) ran from the rear of the staithes along the cliff top and round the west
and south sides of the Bowling Green (with a right-angle turn at the corner), then
zigzagged very sharply SW to climb onto the plateau; contemporary descriptions and
later plans (eg Howard’s 1790 plan: Hutchinson 1794, Vol II, between 40 and 41)
show that it had turntables at these sharp angles. It then followed the clifftop south to
Ravenhill (on a route partly to the west of its later successors, now destroyed by cliff
erosion and the 19th century extension of Ravenhill Quarry), but also had a branch
(Plate 24) running east then SE, across the crest of the ridge and immediately south of
Arrowthwaite, to join the eastern route. The line shows no sign of heavy engineering
(either in the contemporary sources or in the one length of modern field survival

(29030)), and the ‘loop’ line south of Arrowthwaite must have graded down quite
appreciably in both directions from the crest of the ridge. The 1752 plan does not
show any line from the Bowling Green to Duke Pit along Rosemary Bank. This is
surprising, since this route later formed the main line for loaded waggons, the
Bowling Green line with its sharp turns and turntables being the ‘bye’ line for
returning empty waggons; the loop line past Arrowthwaite would in principle form
an alternative route, but would involve an adverse gradient and two reserve-shunts at
its junctions with the western and eastern main routes. On balance, it therefore seems
likely that a line down Rosemary Bank was already present but was omitted from
Spedding’s plan, the Bowling Green line being the ‘bye’ line (and the loop line to
Arrowthwaite being the ‘bye’ line for the eastern route, and/or a bypass line to allow
transfer of traffic between the two main lines, if either was overloaded or out of

The eastern route, seemingly double-track, ran past Duke Pit (though with no mapped
connection), climbing (at a uniform gradient, visible on Read’s paintings, and today
on the ground) onto the Howgill Ridge north of Preston Hows; this line survives
successively as a hedge-line SE from Rosemary Bank, as a footpath, and as the line of
Lakeland Avenue, with substantial surviving formations along the first two sections.
It was joined by the ‘loop line’ from the western route south of Arrowthwaite, and
also had two side-lines to the east, to pits. The surviving line, in the modern
landscape and on all historic OS editions, ends abruptly just beyond Woodhouse
Road, on the boundary of the NT holding; this reflects the boundary of the 1830s
landscape reorganisation. However the 1752 plan shows it swinging abruptly east
(across the currently-derelict Marchon carparks), leaving the NT holding to run across
the modern Woodhouse Estate (with side-lines to Hinde and Baxter or Bank Pits, then
swinging south to re-enter the southeast arm of the NT holding, terminating at
Country/County Pit. From Lakeland Avenue south, the modern topography shows
that the line must have had a gentle adverse gradient for loaded waggons.

This route is surprising in terms of the pits served. While a decision to route the
waggonway round the head of How Gill, at the expense of a little extra height, seems
perfectly rational, the continued climb to Woodhouse Lane (or rather the unnecessary
climb to Woodhouse Lane from the SE continuation), and the additional length
produced by the tight Woodhouse Lane bend, are harder to explain. It is possible that
the route was designed to reach Country Pit without crossing the Preston Hows
landholding (which may not yet have been in Lowther ownership at this time), but
this does not explain the abrupt Woodhouse Lane turn and wasted height (unless a
more direct route across the Preston Hows land was planned, and permission only
withdrawn by an independent owner after the line had been built to the estate
boundary). A more plausible explanation is that the waggonway system had already
evolved substantially between its origins in the late 1730s, and the 1752 plan. A
continuation of the ‘main route’ south from Woodhouse Lane would run, by a gentle
curve along the east side of High Road, to Fox Pit (and perhaps also Gameriggs Pit),
and would be topographically efficient. It is therefore suggested that the eastern route
was originally laid out primarily to serve Fox Pit, with the route to Hinde, Baxter and
Country Pits as a side-line (either original or later), the Fox Pit section having been
abandoned by 1752. Pursuing this argument further, a document of 1815 in the

Londale MSS (D/Lons/W7/1/21) states that the Scalegill Colliery (to the east of Pow
Beck, around NX 99 14) was first worked under Carlisle Spedding, coal being
brought out by a waggonway ‘up the hill by Greenbank to Howgill [Waggon] Road
connecting about Preston Hows’, and that six horses were required to haul a waggon
up the incline. Not surprisingly, this had been discontinued before Spedding’s death
(perhaps in 1749, when Scalegill colliery flooded (Ward 1989, 183)). The line from
Woodhouse Lane east to Baxter Pit fits this description, and a continuation through
the Mirehouse area, perhaps onto the line of the later railway from Mirehouse past
Scalegill to Moor Row, would be topographically plausible (a continuation from
County Pit, SE via the Stanley Pond area, would also be possible, but would seem less
favourable topographically).

The most probable explanation of the eastern waggonway route, on present evidence,
is therefore that it was originally laid out primarily to serve Fox Pit, with side-lines
rapidly added to serve Hinde, Baxter, and Country, and also Scalegill, but that the
first and last elements of this system (and conceivably further branch lines) had
already been abandoned by 1752, leaving the mapped lines as a fossil of the earlier
more complex system.

Despite its heavily-engineered and well-graded main line, the eastern route was
relatively short-lived; it appears to have closed by 1781 (Wood 1988, 101; van Laun
2006, 28), except for its north end from Duke Pit to the staithes, which remained in
use as part of the Saltom Waggonway main line. Instead, the Saltom waggonway was
extended south past Kells Pit to Croft Pit (by 1781), and later to Wilson Pit (CROW:
TNCB 2-14, 39-35); in 1781 Croft Prior Band coal was the cheapest in total costs per
wagon-load at the staithes and King Pit Bannock Band the most expensive (CROC:
D/Lons/W7/1/18), indicating that surface transport was now only a small part of the
toal cost. This line (the Croft Waggonway) followed broadly the course of the
surviving Croft Incline, but was gently sinuous (CAAM: 1384; CROW: TNCB 19-3).
It was the scene of at least one early locomotive trial; published references to this are
confusing (Marshall 1938, 27-3; Marshall 1953, 55-59), but recent analysis has
established clearly that a Crowther locomotive was tried out in 1816, while leaving
open the possibility that a Trevithick-derived locomotive had also been tried in c 1812
(Guy 2001, 133-4; Rees 2001, 155-6; Rees and Guy 2006, 210-213). The locomotive
was successful in itself, but the trial overall was unsuccessful due either to excess
friction between wheels and track, or to breakage of the (cast iron) rails due to the
weight of the locomotive; any surviving archaeological evidence for the trackbed and
formation would therefore be of great interest. The Croft waggonway also carried
water pipes from Gamerigg to the northern part of the Howgill Colliery; these
remained in use when the Waggonway was replaced by the Incline (CROW: TNCB
39-35) and again may be of archaeological interest.

Like the collieries, the waggonway system was substantially modernised by John
Peile in the 1810s; the experiment(s) in locomotive propulsion may have been part of
this modernisation programme. The wooden rails were replaced with cast iron in
1813 (Wood 1988, 87; Lysons and Lyson 1816, cxxii). At the same time, the steep
waggonway lines down the slope to the staithes were replaced by the Howgill Incline
(29055) (Plate 33), an incline capable of taking strings of three waggons at a time; the

design drawing survives (CROW: TNCB 25-19), giving the precise geographical
relationship to the waggonway which it replaced. The initial design drawing appears
to show a conventional double-track ‘self-acting’ incline, in which the weight of the
descending waggons hauled the returning empties, with a simple brake drum to
control the speed of both. However the incline was presumably too steep for this to
be effective. It was therefore built single-track, and fitted with an ‘air brake’, the rope
from the full waggons operating a piston to pump air into a large receiver or
compressor (Ayton and Daniell 1814, 151-2; CROC: D/Lons/W7 Engineering
Drawings, Steam Engines 29-32, No 3a Patterns 12-13). While self-acting inclines
were common technology by this date, the ‘air brake’ appears to be innovative. It was
rebuilt in 1822 (perhaps suggesting a need to learn from experience), at which point
its design was fundamentally similar to a vertical-winder engine in reverse (CROW:
TNCB 28/13); the modified engine was clearly both reliable and efficient, since it
remained in use until the 1920s.

In 1816, a further, short-lived, railway system was commenced as part of the
construction of the West Pier; part of this system survives (Plate 42). It was intended
to connect Ravenhill (or Thwaitefield) Quarry, newly opened for the purpose, to the
West Pier, and to consist of an incline, from beside the rear of Old Fort to the high
ground below the Bowling Green, and 500 yards of double-track railway; this length
suggests that the railway was intended to re-use the recently-redundant main line of
the Saltom waggonway from the quarry entrance near ‘Jonathan Swift’s House’ (see
below) down Rosemary Bank to Duke Pit, then past the top of the Staithes to the new
incline. By September 1817, when the project was temporarily abandoned, the arches
for the inclined plane were complete except for their parapet walls; this structure still
survives (29071). The incline was presumably completed when a resumption of the
project was agreed in 1823; actual construction of the Pier began in 1824, and
continued until 1830, with an extension in 1836-8 (Scott-Hindson 1994, 83-6, 91-6,

In 1828 most of the Croft Waggonway section, from beside Ravenhill Pit almost to
Croft Pit and also serving Kells Pit halfway along its length, was replaced by the
Croft Incline (Wood 1988, 87) (Plate 23). This was also a gravity incline, but differed
from the Howgill Incline in being long and gentle rather than short and steep; it
therefore had a small engine house to assist in hauling back the empty waggons. The
design drawings for this engine (CROC: D/Lons W7 engineering drawings, 1st vol,
p77) are however dated 1835, perhaps indicating that the incline was originally self-
acting, but the gradient had proved to be too gentle; alternatively, the engine may
have been required for the uphill movement of materials and/or equipment. The
engine was a vertical winder, broadly similar to the 1820 Saltom winder whose house
survives. The initial construction of the Croft Incline presumably dates the wholesale
reorganisation of much of the Preston Quarter landscape (see below), since the Croft
Incline formed the main axis of the new field system. The Incline was first mapped in
1848 (CROW: TNCB 39-35); at this date, pipes from Gameriggs still followed the
slightly more sinuous line of the Waggonway, allowing the lines to be matched in
detail. The extension of the waggonway to Wilson Pit was also still in existence
(though presumably not in use, since Wilson Pit had closed in the previous year); the

accompanying section shows that the waggonway was on a gentle upgrade from
Wilson to Croft.

The non-incline sections of waggonway continued to be horse-hauled until the 1850s
century, when they switched to locomotive haulage; the cast-iron rails were replaced
with wrought iron at this time (though there may have some earlier replacement)
(Scott-Hindson 2004, 8).

Whitehaven was connected to the national railway system in the late 1840s, when the
Whitehaven and Furness Junction Railway (the current railway) was constructed. The
waggonway provided direct and downhill transport from the collieries to the staithes,
but had no direct connection to the public railway system (although a circuitous
connection was possible by lines via Wellington Pit, along West Strand, and through
the town centre). A waggonway from Croft Pit to the railway at Mirehouse was
proposed in 1848 (CROW: TNCB 39-35), but was not executed. A line from Croft to
Wellington via Monkwray and Duke (presumably re-using much of the course of
Spedding’s eastern route) seems to have been considered in 1874 (CROW: TNCB 40-
39), but was also not executed. This situation continued until the 1890s, when a
railway and incline was constructed from Croft Pit to the Furness Railway at Corkicle
(Gray 2004, 9-10); confusingly, the incline was named the Corkicle Incline, although
it ran down or very close to How Gill. The south end of this railway lies within the
project area, the embankment surviving from the area boundary to the Marchon Site

The waggonway from Barrowmouth Gypsum Mine (see below) fed into the Croft
Waggonway at the top of the Croft Incline, with connections also to and from the
‘Alabaster Works’. In 1899, a waggonway (Plate 9) was also constructed from
Birkham’s Quarry, on a uniform gentle downgrade through the strip of quarries along
the St Bees Sandstone escarpment to a junction with the Barrowmouth waggonway,
and thence to the sidings at the junction of the Croft and Corkicle lines (Gray 2004, 9-
10). However Barrowmouth mine closed in 1907, and by the 3rd edition OS (1920s)
the line to Birkham’s had been converted into a road or track.

In 1923, the Howgill Incline, to the top of the staithes, was replaced by a new line
from Haig Pit yard via a tunnel under the entrance to Wellington Pit (to the west of
the old Howgill Incline) to harbour level, and thence along West Strand to the Furness
Railway, and to the all-tide ‘wet dock’ at Queen’s Dock on the north side of
Whitehaven Harbour. Although the name ‘Howgill Incline’ was sometimes
transferred to this new line, the name ‘Haig Incline’ is also used in the literature; in
this report, the new route is referred to as the ‘Haig Incline’, and the term ‘Howgill
Incline’ is restricted to the old route to the top of the staithes. The proposal (CROW:
TNCB 27-4) also involved major reorganisation of the Wellington sidings, and the
lines between Wellington and the Staithes; however it is not certain that all aspects of
this proposal were in fact carried out. The Haig Incline remained in use until 1972
when (due to subsidence within the Haig Pit yard) it was replaced by a conveyor
system down the same route, to a hopper on West Strand. This presumably remained
in use until the final closure of Haig Pit in 1986 (Gray 2004, 11).

The Croft and Corkicle railways fell into disuse with the closure of Ladysmith Pit in
1931. However the cokeworks, washery, and workshops at Ladysmith were soon
brought back into use, and the Croft line was used to transport coal from Haig to these
facilities; it is not clear when it was converted from railway to lorry transport. After
1947, the developing Marchon works (see below) also used this line for a while, but
the Corkicle railway and incline were then renovated for the use of Marchon, so that
the Croft route was used by the National Coal Board, and the Corkicle route by
Marchon Products. The Corkicle line finally closed in 1986, as Marchon went over
entirely to road transport.

The surface water supply to the collieries has received little or no attention, reflecting
a lack of research on colliery water supplies nationally. The Howgill Ridge is
virtually devoid of surface water, especially on its crest and seaward side; the only
appreciable streams in or adjacent to the project area are those along the eastern and
southern boundaries of the easterm arm, and even these are small and quite deeply
incised. The higher ground of the sandstone escarpment to the south is also devoid of
surface water, so that there was no prospect for gravity supply, even with long leat
systems. This is reflected in the total reliance on horse and steam power for pumping
and winding, at all periods. However both steam engines and horses need a regular
and reliable fresh water supply; seawater is not suitable, and pumped mine water is
often unsuitable also, due to its acidity and/or mineral content.

A drawing of a pumping engine (The Beacon files) at Scalegill (now Stanley) pond
(NX 984 142, well outside the project area to the SE) in 1822 states that this supplied
water for the Howgill Colliery surface works. Since there is no known evidence of
any relatively high-level surface leat northwards from the Stanley Pond area, this
engine may have raised water from the pond into the south end of one of the higher
water levels from the Ginns or Thickett areas (the Thickett level may have been at a
suitable height, and is known to have extended south through the Greenbank area),
perhaps for pumping up the Gameriggs shaft. Water storage ponds at Gameriggs are
first mentioned in the Bateman letters just after 1800 (transcripts in Haig Colliery
Museum), and are mapped in 1848 (CROW: TNCB 39-35) and on the successive OS
editions. In 1848, they fed via a conduit to Croft Pit, and thence by pipes along the
line of the former Croft Waggonway (and therefore diverging in places from the Croft
Incline) to the Howgill incline at the end of Prospect Terrace, and thence by separate
pipelines to Wellington and Duke Pits. The Gameriggs ponds (29014) remained in
use until well into the 20th century, their form evolving between successive OS
editions; the visible field remains appear to be largely 20th century. A further set of
ponds on the ridge east of Ravenhill (29029), well above the level of the pipeline
from Gameriggs, may have supplied the Saltom and/or Ravenhill engines, in which
case they are of potentially early origin.

The Staithes and harbour environs

The early development of the Whitehaven Harbour area has been outlined above, as
part of the geographical and archaeological background to the project area. The
project area itself includes part of the site of the Staithes, and a strip of harbourside
land from these to South Beach, dominated by the remains of Wellington Pit and its

associated wagonways/railways and revetments, but excluding the actual harbour
wall. The non-colliery and non-waggonway features of the hill above this strip are
also best considered in the context of the Harbour and of Whitehaven town; it is no
coincidence that this area, unlike the rest of the project area is included in the 1863
’10 ft’ OS mapping (a separate, and slightly later as well as more detailed, survey than
the 1861 25” mapping). The general development of the harbour is described by
Beckett 1981, Collier 1991, Hay 1979, and especially Scott-Hindson 1994, and Tyson
(1985) discusses later-17th-century developments in detail; the various publications of
Michael Moon reproduce numerous historic photographs.

In the 17th century, and continuing until the 1730s, coal was brought by packhorse
(and by cart along the ‘coalway’ after 1683) to the quayside, and loaded directly into
ships at low tide; there was no ready access to the top of the low cliff behind West
Strand. This was still the case in Read’s earlier paintings (Burkett and Sloss 1995, 64,
Pl 11-13). There was however a small iron ore staithe on the quayside, east of Old
Quay on part of the site of the later coal staithes, in existence by 1679 (Tyson 1985,
183; Collier 1991, 16-17; Scott-Hindson 1994, 144; Tyson 1999, 201). The area was
completely re-organised in the late 1730s, when both eastern and western waggonway
routes were constructed, joined by a common line along the top of the cliff feeding
into the top of the Staithes (or ‘Hurries’ to use the local term). This was a massive
construction, with a stone lower storey containing vaulted storage bays (and also
smithies and other workshops), on top of which was a massive roofed timber structure
containing several levels of timber gantries, by which waggons were led down to
loading chutes (‘spouts’) which delivered their contents straight into the holds of the
ships. If no ships were in port, the coal could be delivered into the storage bays for
stockpiling, thus avoiding knock-on delays to the waggonways and collieries. The
Staithes are shown on Read’s Bird’s Eye View, and are also illustrated in detail (the
primary source of this drawing is unclear; it is probably in the Lonsdale MSS)
(Burkett and Sloss 1995, 66-7, Pl 14). They extended from behind Old Quay east to
well beyond The Beacon; their west half is within the project area, and some of the
surviving stone walls and revetments in this area probably date from the original
construction. Later 18th century illustrations include a poor drawing by Angerstein in
1755 (Berg and Berg 2002, 282), a much more detailed painting by Askew in 1789
(Scott-Hindson 1994, 29), and Howard’s 1790 plan (Hutchinson 1794, Vol II, 40-41;
Scott-Hindson 1994, 33), and they are described in detail in Dixon 1801 (109-112).
Initially there were four spouts, but by 1801 a fifth had been added.

The staithes remained in use though the 19th century, and into the 20th. Their
waggonway feed was presumably reorganised with the construction of the Howgill
Incline in 1813 (replacing the line along the rear of the Staithes). The upper part was
presumably still of timber in 1834, when a cross-section, seemingly confined to
natural ground and solid structures, shows only the stone lower storey above West
Strand, with a sailing ship moored at the quayside (CROW: TNCB 28-29). However
the timber upper storeys may have been replaced in stone during the year, since the
whole structure appears to be of stone in Westall’s 1834 engraving (Scott-Hindson
1994, frontispiece). A series of drawings in 1835-6 (CROC: D/Lons/W10/
engineering drawings, 1st vol pp 23-36, 51) provide considerable detail and
presumably indicate a reconstruction, though the distinction between ‘as existing’ and

(potentially unexecuted) design drawings is not clear from rapid examination. The
staithes were again altered in 1838, being incorporated into Lonsdale’s castellated
harbour frontage extending east from the new Wellington Pit. The junction of the
Incline with the rear of the staithes was planned in 1863, perhaps for further
alterations (CROW: TNCB 26-4); the OS 10ft survey of the same year also gives a
detailed plan of the railways and external plan. A detailed plan of 1889 (CROW:
TNCB 10-17) shows the direct twin-track rail link from Wellington into the upper
level at the west end, with a single zig-zag track from the Incline into the east end;
both fed directly onto four ‘Hurries’ over the quayside and its railway track, and the
east end of the Staithe structure was now a coal depot (probably at quayside level).
The Hurries were probably already the metal gantries and chutes, in front of the
earlier stone structures, shown on photos by 1902 (Scott-Hindson 1994, 142-144).
The railway lines were again reorganised in 1923, when the Howgill Incline was
replaced by the Haig Incline further west; however since the level of the new lines is
not clear from the ‘proposed’ plan (CROW: TNCB 27-4), and it is not certain that this
proposal was carried out in detail, it is unclear whether this alteration amounted to a
demolition of the staithes, or merely a rearrangement.

Parts of the rear walling of the staithes survives, revetting the cliff on either side of
The Beacon, and below-ground remains (perhaps substantail) may also survive
between this walling and West Strand, and perhaps beneath West Strand. Although at
first site these remains are not impressive, they form a rare and important survival of a
stone-built land-based staithes, very different from the better-known timber-piled
marine staithes such as Dunston (Tyne and Wear) and Blyth (Northumberland).
Broadly-similar structures may have existed on the Tyne (Hair 1844 (1987), 27) and
Wear (I Ayris, pers. com.) but they have not been researched and the quality of any
survivals is not known.

Domestic occupation along the original West Strand (ie from Whitehaven town centre
to the Old Quay) was probably confined to the area east of the project area boundary.
However there was considerable 18th century domestic development above this, both
terraced into the steep slopes (where the terracing, flights of steps, and stubs of non-
modern walling survive) and on the gentler slopes above (currently mown grassland).
This area, extending from the east side of the Howgill Incline SE to beyond Duke Pit,
lies outside the project area and has not been considered in detail. However it is clear
that important below-ground archaeological evidence for the early, and in this area
seemingly low-status, housing development of Whitehaven is likely to survive, in an
area that forms an access route and an immediate context to the project area.

To the west of Old Quay, one enclave of domestic housing (29073), together with
inns and workshops, developed, to the south of Old Fort (see below) and within the
project area. This fossilised the outline of an earlier enclosure, which may have
originated as one of the 17th century saltworks. It lay beyond the industrial area of the
staithes until c 1840, when it was surrounded by Wellington Pit to the west, and the
railways and revetments between Wellington and the staithes to the south. Although
originally in Preston Quarter township, much of the area was transferred to
Whitehaven by the Harbour Acts of 1708 (Scott-Hindson 1994, 12-13), and perhaps
by some of the various later Acts. By the 1847 Whitehaven Tithe Map survey

(CROW: YRR 42/139), the boundary ran along the road beneath the Staithes, turning
west behind Old Pier, then curving NW along the rear of the housing to the
contemporary high-water mark just south of Old Fort. The enclave consisted of
dwellinghouses, yards, workshops, a ‘sail room’, and a pub, with various owners and
occupiers (about half being owned by the Earl of Lonsdale). By the 1863 OS ‘10ft’
survey, the buildings formed an enclosed group round Catherine’s Yard, and included
the Wellington Inn and the Steam Tug Tavern at the east end. The area is currently
occupied by a small car-park, and below-ground archaeological preservation may well
be good.

One further feature within the project area that can be considered as part of 18th
century Whitehaven is the former inn (now known as Jonathan Swift’s House, though
the connection is apocryphal) and bowling green (the ‘High Bowling Green’, to
distinguish it from another green in Whitehaven town), on the clifftop overlooking
Tom Hurd Rock beyond the end of Prospect Terrace (Plates 35-36); their history is
discussed in detail by Goodwin (1990). This area formed part of a substantial land-
holding of the Ribton family, from at least the mid 17th century until 1737, when it
was acquired by the Lowthers; John Ribton, a shipowner, was killed in a fall from the
cliff in 1693 (when the cliff was already said to be unstable). Goodwin suggests the
house was first constructed around 1700, perhaps as a sea look-out for one of the

The bowling green was probably in existence by 1723, when the green in the town
was referred as the Low Bowling Green. In 1737, when it was first clearly
documented, it was clearly well-established and had been rented-out for some while.
As well as thirteen pairs of bowls, the green had two stone rollers, a pair of ‘old’
gaming tables, and a loose bench in the ‘bowl room’; the house contained a kitchen,
parlour, dining room, brewhouse, stable, and back room. The Saltom Waggonway
was constructed round its west and south sides at about this time. The Lowthers
continued the practice of renting-out the bowling green, and its square outline is
visible on most 18th century plans of Whitehaven. It was still in use in 1829, but by
the 1861 1st edition OS survey its outline had disappeared, and its north side had been
destroyed by a substantial encroachment of the cliff; while this may have been caused
by erosion, its regular shape suggests that it was quarried-back for the construction of
Wellington Pit yard, which certainly occupied its base. However a long narrow
enclosure along the east side of its site may have been a bowling or skittles alley,
belonging to the adjacent inn. A pair of gun emplacements (see below) was inserted
into the west bank of the bowling green, either during its use or after its abandonment.

By 1858, the house had become the Red Flag Inn; the name presumably referred to a
warning for firing at the Sea Brows fort to the SW, within Ravenhill Quarry. The inn
lay on the north side of a road or track from Prospect Hill to the fort and quarry, and
seems to have had a yard round its west side; the fine cast-iron gas-lamp post (29059)
by the gateway to Jonathan Swift’s House may have lit the bend in the track and the
entrance to the inn (assuming that it is in situ rather than a modern insertion). The inn
had closed by 1873, but had re-opened as the Old Bowling Green by 1894; it closed
between 1901 and 1914.

The house survives, as a complex and irregular building, its structural history
concealed by rendering. It is in private occupation and has not been closely inspected
for the present project. Most of the bowling green survives, as a neatly-squared flat
area demarcated by grass banks, with the emplacements of the Bowling Green fort
inserted into the west bank.

As a harbour potentially vulnerable to attack from the sea (both by hostile navies and
by pirates), Whitehaven Harbour was defended from at least the time of Christopher
Lowther onwards. The number and location of the defences varied considerably over
time, but the southern mouth of the harbour and the hill above it were one of the key
defensive locations (the other being the north side of the harbour around Bransty and
Redness Point), and many of the fortifications were therefore in or adjacent to the
project area. The fortifications are discussed by Hay (1965, reprinted in Hay 1979,
36-38), Goodwin (1990) and Scott-Hindson (1994, 60-64, 152-5); information in the
following discussion derives from these sources unless otherwise referenced..
Unfortunately the attribution of historical references to specific sites by these authors,
and indeed the names used for the various sites in the contemporary sources, are

To the best of the present author’s understanding, at least seven fortified locations
were present in or adjacent to the project area (in chronological order of construction)

• On Old Quay (1639)
• Platform at base of Old Quay (c 1700)
• Old Fort (1741)
• Half Moon/Lunette Battery (c 1755?)
• Seabrows I/Bowling Green (1778)
• Thwaitefield (by 1820)
• Seabrows II/Volunteers’ (1862-3)

The first reference to defences is in 1639, when Sir Christopher Lowther bought two
pieces of ordnance and requested two more, and proposed to make a fortification ‘on
the peere’ [Old Quay], during an alarm over a rumoured Scotch invasion (Hainsworth
1977, 66), though there is no proof that the fortification was actually constructed.
The beacons (seemingly a widespread network) were also lit. There is no specific
reference to any beacons at Whitehaven, though one (or more) would seem likely; a
location on the end of the Howgill Ridge would offer excellent sight lines from the
north and northeast.

There are few clear references to fortifications for the remainder of the 17th century,
though this may reflect the limited published evidence between the 1640s and the
1690s; the ‘breastwork’ under construction on the quayside near the ore staithes in
1681 (Tyson 1985, 183, 190) may have been defensive, or merely a seawall along the
quay. In 1684 (seemingly – the footnoted reference is not explicitly dated) the
harbour authorities intended to erect a platform for ten guns at the base of ‘the Peer’
(Tyson 1985, 193, 207); this is the location of the ‘Platform’ (29089 – see below), but
the map evidence suggests that it was not actually built at this time. The apparent
absence of any mention in the Lowther correspondence for 1693-8 (Hainsworth
1983), does suggest a genuine lack of active fortifications at this time. However, by

1708 there was a ‘Platform’ where cannon were mounted, at the landward end of Old
Pier (Scott-Hindson 1994, 60); this was probably a distinctive quadrant-shaped
enclosure (29089), immediately NW of the pier base and facing seawards, mapped on
Pellin’s c 1705 plan, but absent on his earlier plans of c 1690 and c 1699 (Collier
1991, 17, 12, 16 respectively). It may have been decommissioned between 1734 and
1739 (Beckett 1981, 199), though its outline is still visible on a 1770 plan of
Whitehaven (Collier 1991, 22) and Howard’s 1790 survey (Hutchinson 1794, Vol II,
40-41). By 1847, its site was occupied by the Hot Baths, though these still fossilised
part of its outline (and therefore perhaps fabric) (CROW: YRR 42/139); this survives
until after the 1863 OS 10ft survey. Most of the site lies under West Strand,
immediately outside the project area, but it may extend into the NT area.

The ‘Platform’ seems to have been rapidly replaced by the Old Fort (29072), whose
construction started in 1741 (English Heritage, Scheduling Description). This was
located immediately west of the base of the (old) New Pier, constructed at the same
time and originally a dog-leg structure projecting NW then NE from the
contemporary shoreline between the Harbour and South Beach (Beckett 1981, 163),
the southern part being later incorporated into the main harbour wall – the Fort
therefore occupied a similar position in the 1740s harbour layout to the Platform in
the earlier layout. The Old Fort consisted of a gun platform, guardhouse, and powder
magazine, surrounded by a perimeter wall. Its guns were shipped out temporarily
during the 1745 Rebellion (when a reference to the ‘Fort’, in the singular, implies that
it was the only fortification at the time), to avoid them falling into Jacobite hands, but
were soon re-instated. The Fort is absent from the 1752 Spedding plan, but is visible
on the ?1760s Whitehaven plan (CROC: D/Lons/W7 Portfolios of Engineering
Drawings) and various maps from 1770 onwards (eg Collier 1991, 22-23; Scott-
Hindson 1994, 181, 183, 185). It was taken by John Paul Jones in the 1778 raid, and
its guns spiked. It remained in use until at least 1824 (with eight mounted 24-pound
cannon and five dismounted 18-pounders in 1820). Its plan is particularly clear on
Harbour plans of 1792 and 1823 (Scott-Hindson 1994, 181, 183), as an L-shaped
structure orientated SW-NE-SE, with a square structure (perhaps the magazine)
against the inner side of its SW limb. By 1834 (Scott-Hindson 1994, 185), however,
the limekiln had been built against its outer N corner, and the rear infilled with further
structures (one of these may have been a mortar mill, built in conjuction with the
limekiln in 1823 (Scott-Hindson 1994, 95); since it is labelled as ‘Fort’ it was
probably still partly in military use. Although the Fort is stated in the literature to
have been abandoned in c 1840, and it was listed as ‘Limekiln and yard’, owned and
occupied the Earl of Lonsdale, in the 1847 Tithe Award (CROW: YRR 42/139), a
memo by Peile indicates that some guns and carriages were still kept there in 1850
(Hay 1979, 38). By the 1863 OS Town Plan survey, the outline still survived, but the
building at the rear had become a smithy.

The NE part of the Old Fort survives as an upstanding monument just outside the
project area, but its footprint (and therefore the Scheduled area) extends into the
project area; excavations in the 1970s showed good below-ground survival in this
area. The excavation also showed that the surviving paved floor sealed artefacts

dating from the 1760s, suggesting that the interior was remodelled during the 1762-3
review of the defences (see below).

The next fortification to be built appears to have been the Half Moon or Lunette
Battery (29064), also referred to as the ‘New Fort’ on the 1770 Whitehaven plan
(Collier 1991, 22), its first mapping (it is not shown on the ?1760s Whitehaven Plan,
though this may be absence of evidence rather than evidence of absence). The 1770
name, and the reference to a singular ‘Fort’ in 1745, indicate that this was not built
until appreciably after Old Fort (contrary to Hay’s and Scott-Hindson’s
interpretations). However it appears to have been erected before 1762, when a review
of the Whitehaven defences, for protection against the French during the Seven
Years’ War, recommended that the Lunette be strengthened (Goodwin 1990, 272).
The construction of the Tom Hurd Bulwerk in 1755 (Beckett 1981, 163) offers a
plausible context. In March 1763 the Harbour Trustees ordered that guns in the
Lunette Battery be dismounted and other guns transferred from Old Fort to the
Lunette, due to the end of the war with France. The Battery stood at the base of the
cliffs, immediately west of the base of the Tom Hurd Bulwerk (or ‘New Mole’) – a
very similar situation to that of the Old Fort and New Pier, and the ‘Platform’ and Old
Quay. In 1778, the guns (allegedly 36 in total) at the [Old] Fort and [Lunette] Battery
were spiked by John Paul Jones, perhaps the only mainland British casualties of the
American War of Independence. It is clearly mapped on Howard’s 1790 Whitehaven
plan (though cut off on some surviving copies). The battery was repaired after severe
sea damage in 1817, and had eight 32-pound cannon in 1820, but appears to have
been abandoned soon after. Although not shown on the 1st edition OS (25” and 10-ft)
it must have survived at least partially, since in 1872 a landslip is recorded as falling
onto its site. There are no visible remains at the foot of the rapidly-eroding cliff
today, although some archaeological remains may survive beneath foreshore deposits.

Not surprisingly, the John Paul Jones raid in 1778 led to an urgent review of the
defences, and in September 1778 the Harbour Trustees ordered that (among other
measures) three 42-pound cannon be mounted on a wooden platform near the
Bowling Green, with a temporary guard house and magazine. Scott-Hindson
considers that this was not done until 1788, when guns were mounted and test-fired;
alternatively, the 1788 commissioning may mark the replacement of a temporary
platform with a more permanent fortification (not necessarily on the same site).

The fortifications were maintained through the Napoleonic Wars, and were put on
alert in 1793 and 1797. While the Old Fort and Lunette were clearly in use, the
number and precise location(s) of defences on the higher ground is unclear, with
rather confusing references to ‘Seabrows’ and ‘Bowling Green’ Batteries, and a
fortification on the cliffs above Half Moon battery; it is unfortunate (and surprising)
that the 1790 plan does not show any fortification on the higher ground. By 1820,
however, there were definitely two fortifications, at ‘Bowling Green’ (with three
dismounted 42-pounders) and ‘Thwaitefield, on the Heights’ (with three dismounted
18-pounders). The simplest interpretation of this evidence is that the 1778 platform,
and any later rebuilding, lay on the west side of the Bowling Green, directly above the
Lunette, while a separate Thwaitefield fort was constructed (at an unknown date,
before 1820) on the crest of the hill further south, in the general area of King Pit and
the Howgill Incline brake house (it seems unlikely that the site of the later Seabrows
II fort, on a shelf at the level of the bowling green and below the final steep slope,

would be referred to as ‘Thwaitefield, on the Heights’). References to ‘Sea Brows’
during this period may refer to either site, or both. However this interpretation is
tentative, and other sites may have existed, presumably near the cliff edge, at any
point between the Staithes and the area of King Pit.

Survival of the Thwaitefield site (not gazetteered) cannot be assessed in the absence
of a location; if it was near the cliff edge, it will probably have been destroyed by
Ravenhill Quarry and/or coastal erosion. The surviving field remains (29062) of gun
emplacements built into the west bank of the bowling green may relate to one phase
of the Bowling Green Fort, though they do not fit the description of the original 1778
timber platform; their location clearly does not conform to the mapped 1860s
Seabrows II fort, although War Department boundary stones suggest that they were
incorporated within its perimeter; althernatively, they may represent a post-1863
extension or replacement for the Seabrows Fort..

The guns at the Whitehaven fortifications were largely dismounted in 1817, following
the end of hostilities. Most of the armaments were removed and shipped to Plymouth
in 1820, leaving some at Old Fort and Half Moon for ceremonial purposes; these were
last fired in 1824, to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of the West Pier. The
remaining guns were withdrawn in c 1830 during the Chartist agitation (except for a
few stored in Old Fort), presumably to avoid the risk of their falling into Radical
hands. By 1847 one battery (presumably Old Fort) remained but had been ‘rendered
useless’. The genuine fortifications were replaced by the Gothick crenellations of
Wellington Pit.

After a prolonged period without effective fortifications, new defences were
constructed in 1862-3 (Hay 1965, 296; Hay 1979, 38; Goodwin 1990, 272-3; Scott-
Hindson 1994, 154-5). These are named by Scott-Hindson as the Sea Brows or
Volunteers’ Battery (seemingly the same site), and were used by the Royal Naval
Reserve. The polygonal outer boundary is already shown on the 1861 OS 25” map,
west of the Red Flag Inn and bisecting the former bowling green, but the battery itself
is only mapped on the 1863 10ft Town Plan; it lay immediately south of the bowling
green (and is therefore not the surviving fortification (Plates 36-38) built into the west
bank of the green, though this may be a later extension or replacement), and had two
gun emplacements with a magazine to the south. The site (29090) could only be
inspected from a distance, but has no obvious upstanding remains. The Battery was
severely damaged by a landslide in 1872, but guns apparently remained in the fort
until c 1918, although no fortification is depicted on the 2nd edition OS. Given the
strategic location of this whole area, the apparent absence of other First or Second
World War fortifications is surprising (The Defence of Britain Project archive
(http.//, checked 20/04/07) shows no sites in or
adjacent to the project area).

The fortifications of Whitehaven clearly merit more detailed research; documentation
will certainly exist in the Lonsdale MSS and Whitehaven Town and Harbour Records,
and also in the War Department records in the National Archives (where at least one
19th century plan exists – Wayne Cocroft, pers. com.). The overall picture seems be a
17th-18th century pattern of fortifications at sea level, typically facing out to sea from

beside each successive outer pier, supplemented (and eventually replaced) from the
1770s onwards by forts and batteries at the top of the coastal cliffs, presumably
reflecting the increasing range of ordnance. The list of seven sites above represents a
minimum, and not all can be accurately located; there is a possibility of below-
ground (and conceivably unrecognised upstanding) remains whithin the project area,
especially along the current and former cliff tops from the north end of Ravenhill
Quarry to The Beacon

Barrowmouth – fishing, alabaster, and gypsum (Plates 10-18)

The Barrowmouth coast forms a very distinct area, totally cut off from the south by
the St Bees Sandstone cliffs, and relatively isolated from the north by rough ground
on the Brockram outcrop and the Carboniferous cliffs beyond – the only relatively-
easy access is from the east, down a steep and landslipped slope from the saddle west
of Barrowmouth farm (in 18th-19th century terms) and the Marchon site (in modern
times). It was in Sandwith township (despite the lack of direct access to or from
Sandwith village), and therefore within the St Bees School mineral royalty, and is
now common land, with grazing rights attached to Townhead farm (Sandwith) and
Rottington Hall (Richard Newman, pers. com.) – this presumably reflects much
earlier arrangements. At the time of the Sandwith Tithe Map (CROC: DRC 8/169) in
1843, the area was known as ‘The Baurgh’, and was pasture owned and occupied by
the Earl of Lonsdale; the Lowther-Gilpin correspondence (below) implies that it was
Lowther land by the 1690s. However on the 1st edition OS it is named as
Barrowmouth Wood; it may be that the flatter parts (now largely bracken-covered)
were grazed, while the steep screes and cliffs were occupied by the remnants of
scrubby woodland. It was also known as ‘Caput Bay’ in the late 17th century.

The first consistent references to the area come in the published Lowther
correspondence for 1693-1698 (Hainsworth 1983), largely in letters between Lowther
and William Gilpin (his estate steward) and John Gale (his colliery steward) – this
may be a ‘window’ of available information, with further material in the earlier and/or
later unpublished Lowther letters, as suggested by the one reference quoted by Tyson
(1985, 191), a 1682 mention of alabaster in the ‘quarry at Sandwith Baugh’; it was
known that this could be burnt to make a ‘hard floor’, but it is not clear whether it was
being actively exploited (either for plaster or as monumental stone). In 1697, the St
Bees fishermen were using Barrowmouth in preference to St Bees bay, despite the
lack of either a safe landing place or a ‘house for fishermen’ (probably a shelter and
store for nets and other equipment, rather than a dwelling); herring were plentiful.
Gale prepared a map or plan (not known to survive); it would be possible to
accommodate a few boats, but no large fishing fleet, and the ‘race’ (seemingly a strip
of sand and gravel with rocky foreshore on each side) by which boats entered could
be widened. The ‘precipise’ on which four boats could be lodged could be adapted to
take eight (later increased to 26) ‘by digging downe the face of the brow and laying
the stones underneath in a graduall ascent’, and Gale recommended the construction
of a net-drying place and a lighthouse. After correspondence over the winter of 1697-
8, Lowther seems to have approved these plans; however there is no positive
indication that they were actually carried out. Intriguingly, the last letter (in April

1698) also mentions the discovery of ‘marble’ at Barrowmouth by Gilpin and the
possibility of future exploitation; this may have been a carvable bed of alabaster,
providing a further context for the inception of alabaster/gypsum mining (Hainsworth
1983, 416, 421, 476, 479, 481, 492-3, 495-6, 497, 501-2, 507-8, 514, 533, 541, 571).

However the ownership of the alabaster rested with St Bees School as mineral lord,
not with Lowther as surface landowner (something of which, one suspects, the School
may have had to remind the Lowthers). Surviving documents therefore appear in the
St Bees School records, starting with a run of leases (from the school to a succession
of tenant partnerships) from 1739 to 1818, and a bundle of letters for the period 1835
to 1844 (CROW: YDS 60/ 77/1-10 and /11 respectively). Some further details are
contained in CROW:YDS 60/84 (several huge bundles of documents, not catalogued
in detail, relating to the 19th century dispute between the School and Lord Lonsdale
but including some later documents and transcripts of earlier material; it was not
possible to search this collection fully). There is nothing to indicate whether the 1739
lease marked the start of alabaster extraction, or is merely the first survival of a series
of leases which had started earlier. It allowed ‘alabaster stone and freestone … to be
dugg quarryed or gott in the Rocks within the floodmark on the foreshore, or in the
Barf, Rocks, Quarries and Seabanks thereto adjoining’. Further leases through to
1803 repeated these rights (though with changes in the rights of the Governors to take
freestone – see below). Although these leases clearly relate to the Barrowmouth area,
there is nothing to indicate the precise location of the workings, nor whether they
were surface quarries or underground mines (or rather ‘underground quarries’ – an
underground working for dimension stone was often referred to as a quarry rather
than a mine).

The next lease (CROW: YDS 60/77/9), in 1811, was a complete redrafting. The
terms were now £60 reserved rent, for a production of up to 400 tons of alabaster per
year, plus rights to freestone, with a further rent of 3s/ton on any additional alabaster.
The lessees were also required to leave pillars to support the roof, or to prop the roof
with timbers; this shows that the workings were by now underground. The lessees
were also entitled to take marl without further payment, though there is no indication
as to whether this was actually done (unless a large surface feature (28977) is a marl
pit with a later adit driven from within it). This lease was renewed in 1818, though
with the rent reduced to £50.

A plan of the Barrowmouth mine bound into one of the Engineering Drawing
portfolios in the Lonsdale MSS (CROC: D/Lons/W7 Portfolios of engineering
drawings: ‘Sundry Old Collieries’, p 32) may originate from this period; it is undated,
but looks 18th century in style, and is bound before an 1823 plan (p 43), of Croft Pit
workings but showing an ‘alabaster hole’ at Barrowmouth, in a volume that seems to
be put together in date order. This shows three ‘bearmouths’ to the south of an east-
west high water mark, and running through a brown-coloured area (perhaps red
sandstone scree) into sinuous and totally irregular workings, seemingly terminated to
the SW by a fault. The mine cannot be precisely located, but the orientation of the
shoreline suggests that it was to the SW of the surviving mine complex. This is also
the location indicated on the 1823 plan, which gives no detail. At first sight, the 18th
century map appears to show a mine at the base of cliffs, entered from the foreshore.

However, with the strata in this area dipping to the south, such a working would
rapidly dip below sea level. If the ‘high tide mark’ is taken as the base of the cliff, the
location matches the end of track 28965 on the 1st edition OS, at c NX 9560 1558.

There is then a gap in the records until 1835 (though Tyler (2000, 78-9) asserts that
the mine was working in 1832). Since this corresponds to the legal dispute between
Lord Lonsdale and St Bees School over coal royalties, it may well be that the mine
was caught up in the dispute. In December 1835, a William Penney of Barngill
proposed to Peter Hodgson of Whitehaven (the School’s solicitor) to take the royalty
of the ‘alabaster or gypsum stone’ for 21 years at a rent of 6 pence per ton, on a
minimum production of 480 tons per annum, with liberty to ‘work and mine’
(implying an underground working) and to take out the alabaster by road or by sea
(CROW: YDS 60/77/11). However in April 1836 Matthias Dunn (presumably the
well-known colliery viewer) was asked to report on the mine. His report in the
following month (in CROW: YDS 60/84) was scathing – the mine had been worked
in an irregular way, pillars had given way, levels had fallen in, and the mine had
become inaccessible. The collapse had happened since William Penney had taken on
the mine in the previous November (if this date is accurate, therefore, Penney’s
December letter may have been formalising an existing informal arrangement),
though it may not have been his fault; ‘from the scanty and limited manner in which
the mine has for years past been worked it has yielded but little profit’. Workings
extended about 400 yards from the level mouth with ‘collateral’ workings, and the
bed of alabaster or gypsum varies from 5ft to 26ft in thickness. However the mine
was potentially valuable.

Hodgson clearly used this report to insist on a higher rent, as in June Penney declined
to take the mine on the proposed terms – he would be unable to dispose of 2000 tons
per annum, as his main market, Liverpool, only consumed 7500 tons p.a., and the
Carlisle alabaster was considered much superior. However he would be prepared to
give one shilling per ton (presumably with no minimum production) provided the
School would pay £3-400 to ‘put the place in proper order’. Presumably Hodgson
was able to get a better offer, though with hindsight Penney may have been
vindicated; in 1844 Hodgson had to give notice to quit to a Messrs Metcalf and
Nicholson (CROW: YDS 60/77/11).

This may provide a precise date for the acquisition of the mine by John and Billy
Hamilton, of a seemingly-eccentric local family. They renamed the area as ‘Port
Hamilton’ and, according to Tyler (2000, 79), constructed paths, ponds, a mock
harbour, and a lake, and adorned the pleasure grounds with alabaster statues, a model
castle, and a small menagerie. At around this time, the site was the subject of a
marvellous High Victorian Guide to Port Hamilton by one Joseph Hodgson (Hodgson
n.d.) – Hodgson was ‘one of Whitehaven’s real characters’ (Hay 1979, 158-9), and
since he worked as a plasterer at some time after 1850 it is not impossible that he was
connected to the Hamiltons. According to Hodgson, Port Hamilton was already a
picnic-place, and the ‘Castle’ served teas; it was accessed from Barrowmouth farm by
a ‘difficult’ cart road. The main house was a two-storey building (with Mr
Hamilton’s holiday-flat on the upper floor, and a workman’s lodging below), with the
Castle and Museum below it, and the area was still partly wooded. There were three

seams of gypsum, which was used for making plaster; the main adit was 200 yds long,
with pillar-and-stall workings on each side, and the workings were 8-12 ft high.
Hodgson also claims that Barrowmouth farm had been used for smuggling and an
illicit whisky still, and that an ‘interview’ with an old sweetheart at Lingydale was the
real purpose of the John Paul Jones raid on Whitehaven.

Comparison with the 1st edition OS, and an 1855 plan of the mine ‘wrought by Mr
John Hamilton’ (CROC: D/Lons/W7 Portfolios of engineering drawings: ‘Sundry
Old Collieries’, p 50) suggests that the main house was at Gazetteer site 28978 or
28979, and the Castle and Museum at 28970. The mine was accessed by adits at
28979 and just south of 28970, and the underground workings consisted of regular
pillar-and-stall workings. Both the location and the form of this working confirm that
it was a totally separate mine from that mapped in CROC: D/Lons/W7 Portfolios of
engineering drawings: ‘Sundry Old Collieries’, p 32, and in view of Dunn’s
comments it probably replaced the old mine after 1836. A third level on the 1st
edition OS, but not shown on the 1855 plan, was probably driven shortly after 1855;
feature 28971 is close to its site, but is probably of later date. Tyler (2000, 79)
identifies these as the Nos 1, 2 and 3 adits respectively, working in 1863 in a gypsum
bed 8-12ft thick.

The Hamilton operation appears to have closed at some date between 1863 and 1888,
when the mining sett was leased by John Thomlinson of the Joseph Robinson
Company, who were already working gypsum at Knothill near Carlisle (CROW: DH
220); John’s nephew Joseph Thomlinson was installed as manager. The new
company constructed the powered incline that now dominates the site, with the engine
house and sidings at its top and a waggonway to the mill (see below) between
Barrowmouth farm and Croft Pit; these came into operation in 1890, though the pink
colour of the gypsum caused problems with the sale of plaster (Tyler 2000, 86). They
also drove new levels (Nos 4 and 5, the old and new Low Levels) eastwards into the
base of the slope near the bottom of the incline; both are shown on a plan that seems
to pre-date 1896 (CROW: YDB 40/49), with the eastern (28959) already replaced by
the western (28961). There was a pump house (28958) at the mouth of No 4, and a
weigh house (28960) at the mouth of No 5. The base of the powered incline was
connected by a second, self-acting, incline to the old No 2 Level, now the High Level;
the brake drum for the self-acting incline survives, ex situ (28976). The workings
from the High and Low Levels connected via a circuitous route passing under the
head of the powered incline. Tyler (2000, 85) also shows a major working extending
SE from this circuit, behind the No 4 level – primary evidence for this has not been
located by the present project, but it presumably represents post-1896 workings. In
1899, R W Moore and a John Shanks prepared a series of cross-sections which can be
identified as the No 5 level (with No 4 to its east), arched through a massive boulder
scree, together with a plan and sections of a seemingly-different adit, also driven
through massive scree (CROW: TNCB 47-3). The involvement of Moore, and the
location of these drawings in the NCB colliery plans archive, suggests that the
Whitehaven Colliery Company may have had some involvement in the mine (unless
Moore was simply taking on extra work as a mine surveyor).

Joseph Thomlinson was killed in an accident on the incline in 1900. By 1903, work
was concentrated on the No 5 level; production seems to have increased, but the mine
was still not profitable. It therefore closed in 1908, as the company decided to
concentrate on their Knothill workings (Tyler 2000, 88-90).

In its earlier years, the mine was probably worked for alabaster, ie as a monumental
stone. It is not clear when the use as gypsum, ie for plaster production, replaced
alabaster production, though Hodgson’s history as a plasterer suggests that this had
occurred by the 1850s. At some stage (perhaps during the Hamilton ownership) an
‘alabaster mill’ was built, between Barrowmouth farm and Croft Pit, and adjacent to
the head of the Croft Incline. This was referred to as an ‘alabaster and cement
manufactory’ in the 1888 lease to Robinsons (CROW: DH 220), and was clearly
already in existence; a ‘future extension’ marked on the lease plan does not seem to
have been constructed. By 1896, the mill had waggonway connections from the mine
and to the Croft Incline, with a kiln beside the line from the mine (CROW: YDB
40/49). The mill presumably ground the gypsum for use as plaster, and also calcined
it for cement-making; according to Tyler (2000, 86-7), it was producing fireproof
cement blocks from 1890, and by 1895 these were being shipped to London.

Quarrying (Plates 7-8)

The quarries along the St Bees Sandstone escarpment, and the cliffs of North Head
which continue this westwards, form a dramatic visual feature of the archaeology, but
are surprisingly little-documented in the available records. All of this area fell within
Sandwith township, and the St Bees School mineral royalty; the royalty grants, in
Letters Patent of 1583, 1585, and King James (taken from a 1916 transcript in
CROW: YDS 60/84/2), covered mines and quarries, but with no specific mention of
stone quarrying (or indeed of coal or alabaster). There was quarrying, probably by
Lowther rather than the School, at Sandwith Baugh by 1682 (Tyson 1985, 191), but it
is not clear whether this was for stone or alabaster, or both. The first positive mention
of stone-quarrying appears to be in 1687-8, when Denton refers to export of
grindstones from ‘St Bees cliffs’ (Winchester and Wane (eds) 2003, 105). As noted
above, the sequence of alabaster leases from 1739 onwards (CROW: YDS 60/ 77/1-
11) included rights for the tenants to extract freestone. From the second lease (1753)
on, however, the leases also allowed the Governors themselves to take and carry away
stone, at two shillings per boatload. This was repeated in 1767, but was specified
more tightly as freestone in 1777 and 1784; in 1786 (but not in 1796 or 1803) the
governors’ rights to freestone were further limited as being ‘for the use of the said
free Grammar School’. However, the final surviving leases in this series, in 1811 and
1818, gave the freestone rights to the lessees, with no mention of the Governors or of
boat transport. A legal opinion of 1784 (in CROC: YDS 60/84/2) confirmed that the
1583 grant gave the School royalties of alabaster and freestone ‘within the
floodmark’. However the Governors did not appear to have a right of land access to
the quarries, only by sea; this was unfortunate, as one of the tenants had locked-off a
gap in the hedge giving access to the lessee’s workings. Unfortunately, none of these
documents indicate the precise location(s) of the quarries. The initial reliance on boat
transport shows that the quarries were in the coastal cliffs (though not necessarily
within the project area), and may indicate that they were in the vertical cliffs towards

North Head (Gazetteer sites 28926, 28932, 28934, 28936, and 28938; 28934
especially was probably accessed by sea and rope rather than land). In this case, the
dispute over land access in 1784 may indicate that quarrying had spread east of
Birkham’s into the area above the Barrowmouth undercliff; however it may equally
reflect a switch of emphasis towards road transport, as cart roads replaced packhorse

No later documents relating to the quarries have been identified, but a certain amount
can be gleaned from map evidence. In the western cliffs, the 1838 Sandwith Tithe
Map (CROC: DRC 8/169) shows quarries 28938 (the later Birkham’s), 28932, and a
quarry largely beyond the western end of the project area but perhaps including
28926. All were owned by Alexander Couthard; they were tenanted respectively by
George Tallentire and John Gadds, William Nicholson and Robert Turner, and
George Hilton. Further east, the later Aikbank Quarry (28947) was owned by
Anthony Thompson of Townhead, and occupied by Thomas Fisher (who also
occupied the fields to the south); a quarry just to the west (the east end of 28946) is
also marked, but it is not clear whether this was part of the Thompson/Fisher holding.
Birkham’s (not named as such on the Schedule) had access by Birkham’s Lane, and
also by a track or path down onto the Baurgh above Barrowmouth – given the
topography, this may have been a sledge-run rather than a horse or cart track. The
remaining quarries were accessed by paths along the cliff edge. Given the earlier
history, it is noticeable that none of these quarries were counted as part of Lonsdale’s
holding of The Baurgh, though one access to Birkham’s did run across the Lonsdale

Quarries 28926 and 28934 had seemingly closed by the 1st edition OS survey, since
their present ‘footprints’ are shown unannotated. 28932 was still active, but had
closed by the 2nd edition survey. 28936 was presumably opened up after 1838; it was
active on the 1st edition OS, but was disused by the 2nd edition. Birkham’s Quarry
was active on the 1st edition, with road access via Birkham’s Lane (though no longer
by any route down onto the Baurgh); its footprint continued to expand on the 2nd and
3rd edition surveys, and it remains in intermittent use today. Further east, Aikbank
Quarry (though not named as such) and quarries below it in the cliff to both the W
and the NE were clearly very much in production on the 1st edition OS, though their
access was now by tracks from their floors, contouring along the upper slopes of the
Baurgh. Aikbank had attained its final form by the 2nd edition survey, though it was
not labelled as disused and may therefore have closed soon after the survey rather
than before; the quarries below it (28946 and 28954) appear to have been very active
between the 1st and 2nd edition surveys. However, in 1899 a waggonway (see above)
was driven though these quarries, connecting Birkham’s Quarry to the Croft Incline
system. Construction of the west end of this waggonway involved realigning a length
of field boundary east from the Birkham’s Lane junction; the new boundary (28942)
was constructed in the distinctive triangular-coped walling of the Croft Waggonway
system (sticking out like a sore thumb from the surrounding stone hedges), suggesting
that the waggonway was constructed by the Whitehaven Colliery Company, who may
therefore have held Birkham’s Quarry. The waggonway cut off the access to Aikbank
Quarry, and seems to have largely destroyed or buried the field evidence for the
earlier quarries through which it passed; however the rockface of its SE side was

edition OS survey; it may well have supplied
rubblestone or aggregate to the Marchon developments.
extensively cut back by further quarrying. By the 3rd edition OS survey, the
waggonway had already been converted into a track, which however still gave direct
access from Birkham’s Quarry into the colliery transport system. Finally, the quarry
(28948) in the ‘nose’ of the sandstone escarpment behind Barrowmouth farm did not
come into use until after the 3rd

The overall picture of quarrying along the St Bees Sandstone escarpment is of a
development from small quarries along the seacliffs to the west, probably exporting
their stone mainly by sea and with land access predominantly from Sandwith and St
Bees, to larger quarries along the escarpment above the Baurgh, exporting their stone
by road and waggonway and increasingly accessed from Whitehaven and from the
colliery transport system. With the exception of the final quarry 28948, all the
quarries appear to have worked for freestone (‘dimension stone’). Although no
individual quarries can be identified as pre-19th century in date, it is clear that
quarrying began at latest in the 18th century, with a much earlier origin perfectly
possible; field survival of these earlier phases may be identifiable by detailed
research. Collectively, the quarries form a fine grouping illustrating the development
of freestone quarrying over a substantial period, and a landscape of cliff-quarrying
probably comparable to the better-known examples of Purbeck and Tintagel.

The quarries also host a very fine collection of graffiti, probably ranging in date from
at least the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st (the most recent example noticed
was dated 2002), and clearly a living tradition. Even the clearly-recent examples are
carefully carved and (with very few exceptions) refreshingly non-pornographic. One
particularly notable example (Plate 8), in quarry 28936, is a carefully-carved human
face, bearing a distinct resemblance to Stalin – if so, it forms an interesting
commentary on the landscape of power which it overlooks. Whatever the detailed
interpretations, this collection of graffiti clearly forms a valuable piece of social
archaeology, and an archaeological voice of the working individual, perhaps in
resistance to the voice of the lords and institutions which dominates the visual

In addition to the St Bees Sandstone, the Carboniferous Whitehaven Sandstone was
also extensively quarried, notably at Tom Hurd Rock from at 1687 to around 1700
(Hainsworth 1983, 215-6, 597; (Winchester and Wane (eds) 2003, 104-5), and at
Ravenhill Quarry (29050). This latter quarry extends along the clifftop from just
north of Saltom Pit all the way to the Bowling Green, and has been a substantial
feature; its north end removed a substantial length of the original Saltom Waggonway,
and its floor contained a rifle range at the time of the 1st edition OS survey. It was
originally approved (as a quarry in ‘Whaite Field’) in 1816, to supply stone for the
construction of West Pier, and probably opened in 1824 when construction actually
started (Scott-Hindson 1994, 83, 93-6), but clearly remained in use for a considerable
period, presumably supplying building for a range of industrial and urban structures.
Unfortunately, however, its surviving remains are much-damaged by cliff erosion,
landslipping, and late 20th century landscaping.

The project area also contained a little limestone quarrying, along the outcrop of the
Magnesian Limestone below the St Bees Sandstone escarpment. Two quarries along
this outcrop (28991 and 29006) are shown on the 1st edition OS. However they are
now covered by the Ladysmith washery tip and the Marchon site respectively, so have
no visible remains. From the 1950s to 1972, shale or marl was quarried from the base
of the escarpment within the Marchon site for use in the anhydrite acid/cement
production process (see below).

Agriculture and Landscape (Plates 4-5)

With the exception of the coastal terrace along West Strand and South Beach
(effectively part of Whitehaven harbour and town), the project area can be considered
as an agricultural landscape into which industrialisation progressively intruded; by the
mid 18th century industry was the economically-dominant land-use, but in terms of
physical extent agriculture remained dominant well into the 20th century. The
framework of this landscape still reflected the Medieval divisions between Preston
Quarter (or its predecessors) and Sandwith townships, and the field systems around
Sandwith and Arrowthwaite villages. It is likely that considerable information on the
development of this landscape survives in the St Bees School MSS (CROW: YDS 60)
for Sandwith, and in the massive Lonsdale MSS collection (CROC: D/Lons/W) for
Preston Quarter; however for the present report research has perforce been confined
to the most accessible material. For Sandwith, this consists effectively of the 1838
Tithe Award and Map (CROC: DRC 8/169), which forms a detailed survey. For
Preston Quarter, conversely, Read’s paintings (Burkett and Sloss 1995), the 1752
Spedding plan and 1760s (?) Whitehaven town plan show the field systems of the
north end, and various written surveys and colliery plans potentially add detail;
however the 1844 Tithe Award and 1846 Map (CROC: DRC 8/157) give remarkably
little detail, reflecting the earlier 19th century reorganisation of the township (see

Within Sandwith, the earliest elements of the field system were probably the strip-
crofts behind the tenements on the village street (outside the project area), and the
large oval enclosure (28929) centred on Tarnflatts Hall (extending just into the project
area). By 1838, the whole of the township was enclosed, the interior of the oval
enclosure being sub-divided into linear sinuous strips (possibly derived from ridge-
and-furrow, though not of ‘classic’ reversed-S form); the one field within the project
area was named Long Dyke End, the only ‘early-sounding’name within the study
area. The area between the oval enclosure and the village, and north to the wastes
along the cliff and sandstone scarp, was divided into straight-sided and broadly sub-
rectangular fields, though without the ruler-straightness of classic 18th century
enclosure. The Earl of Lonsdale held the Great Tithes as rector of St Bees, while the
Small Tithes were shared between the curates of the three Whitehaven churches.
However he was not a major landowner – within the study area he owned only the
Baurgh and three fields on the eastern township boundary above the (modern)
Marchon site, farmed by a Thomas Fisher and probably forming part of Lingidale or
one of the other Preston Quarter tenant farms. The remainder of the study area was
tenant farmland with various ownwers and occupiers, at least some of whom had their
farms within Sandwith village. The biggest holding, occupying most of the study area

west of Birkham’s Lane, was owned by Alexander Coulthard and occupied by John
Mawson; it was centred on Birkhams Farm, though it is doubtful if this was still
occupied. Most of the land was arable, with only limited amounts of pasture.

The modern landscape is little changed from that shown in 1838, though there has
been some amalgamation of fields, and relocation of boundaries around the expanded
quarries; almost all the fields within the project area are under arable or short-ley
pasture, though many fields to the south of the area boundary are under longer-term
pasture. The majority of field boundaries consist of ‘stone hedges’ rather than stone
walls, with varying degrees of scrub and living hedge on their tops (the more formal
hedges being on the sheltered east-sloping ground along the east edge of the
township). The stonework of the ‘stone hedges’ (where visible) varies in character;
there are scattered areas of edge-laid or herringbone work, though these often give the
impression of being repairs rather than primary construction. Although this style of
construction is often referred to as ‘Cornish’, and is most prominent in Cornwall and
Devon, this author’s impression is that it is widespread in Irish Sea coastal areas.
However it does seem different to the normal range of Cumbrian drystone walls and
hedges, and may point to some degree of ‘Irish Sea’ influence; it is a distinctive local
feature that should be maintained, and would merit more detailed research by an
expert on walls and boundaries.

In Preston Quarter, the Lowthers were substantial landowners from the 1630s
onwards, as well as holding the tithes and the mineral lordship. However there were
also substantial non-Lowther landholdings; it was Lowther policy to acquire land in
the area whenever possible, though it took until (probably) the early 19th century for
the Lowther/Lonsdale ownership to be complete. The 18th century sources (notably
Read’s paintings) show a landscape of long narrow hedged fields on the slopes from
High Road down to Pow Beck, with reversed-S shapes hinting at enclosure of open-
field strips (perhaps the Arrowthwaite townfields to the north, and the monastic
demesne fields to the south). To the east of High Road, the area between Saltom and
(roughly) the north end of the Marchom site was occupied by rather irregular fields,
whereas the north and south ends appear to have been open pasture or waste (the
fomer, between a wide track towards Saltom and the crest above the Harbour,
probably being ‘Thwaite Field’).

The Lonsdale MSS include a series of detailed written surveys of Arrowthwaite and
Woodhouse, by Pellin in c 1700 (CROC: D/Lons/W6/1-2). Arrowthwaite contained
the ‘disjoyned’ enclosures of ‘Muncherra’ [Monkwray] (two enclosures,10 and 3
acres), Kells (8 acres), Castle Riggs (12 acres), Wheat Butts (1 acre), Millam
Meadow, and Stades Meadow; Castle Riggs is identified in an 1808 survey (below) as
being ‘near to Saltom Engine’, and Kells was also probably at least partly within the
project area. Most of the Woodhouse enclosures were probably outside the project
area, though Upper and Lower Sea Fields (2 acres each) may from their names have
been within (perhaps south of Kells). As already noted, the name Castle Riggs may
refer to an Iron Age or Roman defended site; it should be noted that the name is first
recrded c 1700, long before Whitehaven Castle was so named.

Two further written surveys (CROC: D/Lons/W6/3-4), one of 1808 and the other
seemingly slightly earlier, give detailed schedules of farms including Barrowmouth
(‘a small elevated place adjoining the sea, some of which is very Banky and bad to
cultivate but the tenant [David Robson] being an industrious man manages it tolerably
well’; it contained 61 acres, the majority cereal stubble with some meadow and
pasture) and Castlerigg (‘lays quite upon the hill near to Saltam Engine the ground is
in general good but lays very high and much exposed to the sea winds, I was an eye
witness to a Close of good barley being totally destroy’d by ill ravages’; it now
contained 84 acres in 13 fields). It appears that some amalgamation, and perhaps
enclosure from waste, had occurred between 1700 and 1808, but the traditional fabric
of the rural landscape appears to have been unscathed; scattered references in the
published literature indicate that grazing and fodder for the colliery horses was a
major factor in land-use, and the Lowthers may also have wished to maintain small
holdings for the use of miner-farmers; there is certainly no indication at Whitehaven
of the major enclosure and model-farm building programmes of their Westmorland
estates. It is noticeable that Prestonhows and Far Prestonhows do not appear in any of
the surveys seen; this may indicate that they did not come into Lowther ownership
until after 1808.

The area also contained a windmill, located east of the project area near Nelson
Terrace (Tyson 1988). A windmill (seemingly a post mill, very rare in Cumbria) was
present by 1640, and was replaced by a post mill in 1666. This was blown down in
1748, but was rebuilt, and a second mill (a tower mill) constructed nearby. The post
mill was demolished by 1816, but the tower mill seems to have remained in use until
the later 19th century.

However the 1844/1846 Tithe Award and Map present a very different picture from
the earlier maps and surveys. The township contained 1304 acres of arable, 1319
acres of meadow and pasture, and only 35 acres of woodland. Abbey Farm [by St
Bees Priory], Demesne Farm, and Burton High Farm, all well to the south of the
project area, were exempt from tithes – these were presumably the former monastic
demesne lands. For most of the township, the great tithes had been ‘merged in the
said Lands’; this area consisted of Whitehaven Castle Farm with the Monkwray Farm,
Cold Grove Bank, Stanley Farm, Bell House, Standing Stones, Jericho, and Joppa
Farm (all owned by Lonsdale, and occupied by various tenants), Banks Hall and
Kelswick Croft Field (owner-occupied by separate individuals). It would appear
therefore that Lonsdale had unilaterally abolished the tithes over most of the
township, in advance of the Tithe Act. The Whitehaven Castle/Monkwray and Cold
Grove Bank farms presumably extended into, and occupied most of, the project area;
the remaining units are either elsewhere in the township, or unlocated. However a
tithe award was made on one field, Stainer field, part of the Monkwray estate, and
owned by Lonsdale and occupied by John Boadle. This was the field immediately
north of Kells Pit, immediately outside the project area; it may not be coincidence that
it was later the site of the Kells Square housing development. The accompanying
Tithe Map shows only a limited area centred on Stainer Field, a simple rectangular
field extending from High Road to the Croft Incline (distinguishable from the earlier
Croft waggonway by its very straight line), and part of the present rigidly-rectilinear
laoyout, first fully mapped on the 1st edition OS. The earlier field systems known

century farm units (such as Castle Riggs
and Kells) had also disappeared. It is interesting that the 1 edition OS farms of
Preston Hows, Far Preston Hows, Barrowmouth and Lingidale are not named in the
Tithe Award; presumably they were classed as merely parts of Whitehaven
Castle/Monkwray or Cold Grove Bank (unless they were post-1844 subdivisions of
these estates).
from the 18th century maps had largely disappeared (with possibly some surviving
traces in the Saltom area, and around High House where boundaries are controlled by
natural stream gullies), as had most mappable field remains of the 18th century
wagonways and collieries. Many of the 18thst

The landscape of Preston Quarter had therefore been massively reorganised, at some
date between 1808 and 1844. Since the field system west of High Road is clearly set
out around the Croft Incline, which forms its axis, it is likely to date from the
construction of the Incline in 1828 (see above). At this stage, therefore, the
landscapes of Preston Quarter and Sandwith diverged totally in character, along a
boundary which reflected the Medieval township division.

The surviving landscape of Preston Quarter is effectively that set out in (presumably)
1828, and first fully mapped by the 1st edition OS, except where it has been modified
by later industry. It consists of ruler-straight boundaries, largely hedges or low banks
except alongside the Croft Incline and other waggonways, where the boundaries are
formed by triangular-coped stone walls, with areas of alternate flat and on-edge
coping giving a vaguely ‘castellated’ effect; these centre on areas such as the
waggonway/road junction opposite Ravenhill Pit, and seem to be making a mild
statement of importance, possibly a reference to the castellated façade above
Whitehaven harbour.

The Marchon site (29000) (Plate 21)

The final element of the study area is the Marchon site, a major Post-War chemical
factory which dominated the landscape of the area for much of the later 20th century,
and also dominated the economic life of Whitehaven for much of this period, as
Marchon grew and coal mining declined. The history and development of the site
have recently been described by Routledge (2005 – this book also contains extensive
historic-photo coverage), and its state and process-flow in 1978 is described by
Albright & Wilson (1978); there are also shorter discussions in Hay (1979, 131-140),
Schon (1956), and Tyler (2000, 11-59, concentrating on the Sandwith Anhydrite
Mine), and research files and documentary collections in The Beacon and CROW.
This survey has also benefited from a private file of notes and records, kindly loaned
by Alan Routledge. The site was owned by Marchon Products (together with sister
companies such as Solway Chemicals) as an independent company from 1943 to
1955. In 1955 Marchon Products was taken over by Albright & Wilson Ltd but
maintained its name as a subsidiary; in 2000 the site was sold to Rhodia who closed
large parts of the works, in 2002 the detergents business was sold to Huntsman
Surface Sciences, and in 2005 the last remaining plant was closed. Despite these
changes in ownership, the site was and is almost universally known locally as ‘the
Marchon site’, and this name is therefore used thoughout the report.

Marchon Products Ltd was set up in London in 1939, but moved to Whitehaven in
1940, due to destruction of its original premises in the Blitz. Various premises in
Whitehaven and Hensingham was used, for the production of firelighters and washing
powders, until the company moved to the Ladysmith site in 1943.

Marchon initially took over the disused tar works at Ladysmith; although the colliery
itself had closed, other parts of the surface works including the power station and
washery remained in Colliery Company use, serving and treating coal from Haig
Colliery. With the end of the War, the works was expanded by relocating industrial
buildings from munitions works at Drigg and Sellafield; it was still producing
firelighters, detergent intermediates, and a limited range of fat-related chemicals. In
1948, the company decided to expand and to concentrate on detergents, and new
purpose-built buildings were added to the works, which now occupied an expanding
area north of the access road from High Road to Ladymith Pit, and east of the railway
lines. However it was still dependent on bought-in, and often imported, phosphates
and ‘primary’ organic chemicals.

The essential starting-point for the manufacture of organophosphate detergents was
sodium tripolyphosphate. This was produced by reacting phosphoric acid with
caustic soda or soda ash (sodium carbonate); phosphoric acid in turn was produced by
reacting imported phosphate rock (from Morocco) with sulphuric acid. The sulphuric
acid was itself produced on site; initially this process used imported elemental sulphur
but due to world shortages Marchon quickly went over to an alternative process using
anhydrite or gypsum (calcium sulphate), and producing cement as well as sulphuric
acid; the anhydrite was mixed with shale or marl, and roasted in a kiln (a rotary metal-
shelled piece of plant, rather than an earthfast structure) to produce sulphur trioxide
gas plus cement clinker. The impetus for this development was the realisation that
(quite fortuitously) the works lay adjacent to the major anhydrite/gypsum resources of
the Permian beds beneath Sandwith; these were therefore exploited by the sinking of
Sandwith Anhydrite Mine (discussed below) from within the site. The sulphuric and
phosphoric acid plant was built south of the Ladysmith road, and west of High Road.
Construction started in 1952, and the works came on-stream in 1955, producing
100,000 tons of sulphuric acid per year. Further kilns and acid and phosphate plant
were added in the following decade, together with an increased range of organic-
chemical plant. Two more kilns and a new acid plant were commissioned in 1967-8,
bringing production of ‘heavy’ primary chemicals to 350,000 tons of sulphuric acid,
350,000 tons of cement, and 165,000 tons of phosphoric acid per annum. The vastly-
increasing demand for phosphate rock led to the installation of a major conveyor-belt
and silo system at Whitehaven Harbour, from which the material was transported by
road to a massive polygonal store (‘the cathedral’, perhaps from a slight resemblance
to Liverpool Roman Catholic cathedral) at the NW corner of the Marchon site (and
virtually overlying the site of Croft Incline engine house).

However the economics of the anhydrite process for sulphuric acid production were
becoming unfavourable. From 1973 to 1976, therefore, the anhydrite kilns were
progressively replaced by three new sulphur burners, producing 525,000 tons of
sulphuric acid per annum (the largest production in the UK) This process did not
produce cement. A new phosphoric acid plant was also commissioned. As well as

feeding into organic chemical production at Whitehaven, this plant also supplied a
Marchon fertiliser works on Humberside.

The organic side of Marchon’s production was diverse, in raw materials, processes,
and products. However the core of the business was the production of fatty alcohols
by high-pressure hydrogenation of vegetable fatty acids; the first major plant to
undertake this was opened in 1954. Mauch of the fatty alcohol production was
reacted with sodium tripolyphosphate to produce detergents, shampoos, and other
toiletries. Enhancements to the organic chemicals side also continued through the
1960s, 1970s and 1980s, including both production plant and blending and drumming
facilities. Employment at the site increased from 39 in 1944, to 673 in 1953, 1200 in
1954, 1650 in 1956, and 2300 in 1978, before going into rapid decline through the
1990s to the final closure; it was therefore a major factor in the economy and society
of Whitehaven, and West Cumberland as a whole, from the 1950s to the 1990s.

It is not clear when effluent discharges from the plant into the Irish Sea began; the
massive development of the works in the early 1950s, and in particular the
construction of the first anhydrite/cement kilns and acid plant, may well provide the
context. By 1989, there was local and national concern about discharges, both of
surfactants (detergent-related chemicals, producing foam slicks on the sea), and of the
heavy metals arsenic, cadmium, lead, uranium and zinc (from impurities in the
phosphate rock); the radioactive uranium discharge aroused particular concern.
Marchon was successfully prosecuted by Greenpeace in 1989 for illegal toxic
discharges into the sea; shortly afterwards Greenpeace divers blocked the outflow
pipe at Barrowmouth, and were themselves prosecuted, and the issue attracted
considerable national publicity. As a result, in 1991-2 the company abandoned the
production of acid on site, importing phosphoric acid from Morocco and treating it in
a new plant (the Rafinate Plant) on site to remove the heavy-metal contamination,
which was reacted with lime and burnt in a rotory kiln, converting it into a rock-like
material whioch was tipped in a landfill site occupying the south end of the Site
(between Townhead and the Wilson Pit junction). The redundant ‘cathedral’
phosphate-rock store was converted into a covered waste water lagoon in which
surfactants were broken down by bacterial action, thereby resolving the other major
effluent problem. Features 28987-28989 form the surviving archaeological evidence
for these sea discharges.

Demolition of the redundant anhydrite/cement kilns appears to have been a dramatic
element in the appearance of the plant in its later years, and the closure of acid
production led to a considerable contraction. Following a complex series of
ownership and managerial changes, the site was taken over by Rhodia in 2000, and
partially leased to Huntsman in 1992; both companies rapidly ran down and closed
the various production units. The phosphates plant closed in 2002, and demolition of
all disused plant began. The works finally closed in June 2005.

Demolition of the plant was in progress during fieldwork for the current project (for
which reason internal inspection of the Marchon Site was not possible), and by
autumn 2006 much of the site had been reduced to ground level, consisting largely of
concrete yard, road, and floor surfaces (as far as could be seen from outside the

perimeter fence). However features of the effluent discharge system still survive to
the west of the main plant and on the coast north of Barrowmouth (28987-28989).
Despite their recent date and unbeautiful appearance, these form an interesting relic of
the nationally-important confrontations over pollution in the late 1980s, and are also
part of a wider ‘landscape of waste disposal’, including the nearby
Landsmith/Marchon waste tip, and archaeological evidence of coal-waste tipping
from the cliffs into the Irish Sea.

The Sandwith Anhydrite Mine (28999) formed an important, if physically separate,
element of the Marchon Site from the 1950s to the 1980s, providing the raw material
for the anhydrite process of manufacturing sulphuric acid and cement. The mine
worked anhydrite beds in the Permian marls beneath the St Bees Sandstone
(previously worked near outcrop by the Barrowmouth alabaster/gypsum mines). The
main worked beds occupied an area of around 1000 x 1000m, around 450-600 ft (c
150-200m) deep under Hannah Moor (halfway between Sandwith village and
Tarnflatt Hall, and centred around NX 955 148), with some workings further SW, just
north of Fleswick Bay at up to 1000 ft (c 300m ) deep; all the actual workings were
outside the project area. The beds were only c 100-150m above the older coal
workings of Croft/Ladysmith Pit; the mine was therefore a safety lamp mine, due to
the possibility of methane seepage.

Sinking of the mine started in 1952, with the driving of two parallel drifts
(downwardly-inclined tunnels) at a gradient of 1 in 7.25, into the base of the Permian
scarp from the SW corner of the Marchon site north of Townhead; the mine came into
production in 1955. Ventilation was provided by a Scirocco fan, at surface adjacent
to the portal of the South Drift. Most other services (pumps, air compressors, winding
engine for haulage on the Drift) were located underground, though the anhydrite was
crushed at surface. The surface plant, occupying a 40-acre site adjacent to the drift
portals, consisted of conveyors, crushing and drying plant, storage silos, kilns, cement
crusher, and clinker store; the sulphur trioxide product was fed into the acid plant to
the east, within the main works (Grindrod 1956). Until 1972, shale for mixing with
the anhydrite (in order to produce the cement clinker by reaction with the calcium
component of the anhydrite) was extracted from Hutbank quarry just north of the
mine. In 1972, this was replaced by underground extraction of marl from above the
anhydrite, in the Fleswick district of the mine.

However, as noted above the anhydrite process had become uneconomic, and was
progressively replaced by sulphur-burning from 1973 to 1976. The mine was
therefore closed in 1976; it was mothballed until 1984 (in case it became economic to
re-open), but was finally abandoned in 1984, when the drifts were sealed. Inspection
from outside the Marchon perimeter indicates that the drift portals survive; it is not
clear whether any other surface features of the mine also survive.


The detailed historical and archaeological results of the project have been presented in
the previous chapter. For management purposes, however, a geographical
presentation is often preferable; this section therefore forms a geographical summary
of the results, arranged from SW to north.

Southwest Area

This part of the project area forms part of the historic farming landscape of Sandwith
township, with stone-hedge field boundaries (quite ‘Celtic’ rather than typically
Cumbrian in form) of various dates, showing progressive enclosure (Plates 4, 6). The
extreme west end includes part of a very large oval ring-fenced enclosure (28929)
centred on Tarnflatt Hall. There is a major concentration of Mesolithic flint scatters
on St Bees Head, the known examples (from fieldwalking in 1960s-70s) ending just
outside the NT boundary; it is not clear whether the fields within the Trust area have
ever been walked. The clifftop area, and the scarp crest east to the edge of the
Marchon site, have excellent views to the north, and would be a logical site for
Roman forts or signal stations, either from the Hadrianic ‘Solway frontier’, or from
late Roman coastal defences. No sites are known, but previous search seems to have
been confined to North Head itself, and there are no known drought-condition APs.

The main visible archaeological features are a strip of freestone (St Bees Sandstone)
quarrying along the clifftop, almost continuous from the western boundary of the
project area to Aikbank Quarry (28947). These were active from at least the 18th to
20th centuries; earlier working (with or without substantial surviving remains) is
entirely possible. Most of the quarries are well preserved, with evidence of working
methods on the rockfaces, internal features within the quarry floors, and/or access
routes (Plate 7); many show a tradition of well-carved (and non-pornographic!)
graffiti, extending right up to the present (a carefully-carved set of initials dated
‘2002’ was noted) and including at least one human face, perhaps Stalin (Plate 8).
The quarries are also probably of some wildlife value, both as bird-nesting habitats
and as botanical environments.

The cliff top and scarp crest give fine views over both the project area and the
Sandwith historic landscape; the Birkhams Quarry car-park in particular offers
opportunities for display and interpretation of many aspects of the archaeology,
ecology, and geology, including the contrast between the Sandwith ancient landscape
of continuity and negotiation and the Preston Quarter landscape of 19th century
discontinuity and imposed power (Plates 4, 5). The coast path from here east passes
though the quarries, using the line of a short-lived waggonway (Plate 9).

Barrowmouth (Plates 10-18)

The Barrowmouth area, tucked in beneath the sandstone cliffs and extending north
along the coast to the edge of enclosed fields on the Howgill Ridge, forms a very
distinctive micro-landscape, probably unique within NW England. As well as its

archaeological importance, it is also within a SSSI and Geological Conservation Site,
and is clearly of considerable ecological value.

Barrowmouth gypsum/alabaster mine (28950 et seq) is Scheduled, as one of the best
field monuments of gypsum mining in England. The presence of alabaster here was
known by 1682, and there is documentary evidence for mining and quarrying from
1739 to 1907. The area is only accessible by a single path; the upper part of this
follows the original path/packhorse track access, but the lower part uses the late 19th
century incline. The earlier alabaster extraction appears to have been within the steep
slopes at the SW end of the area; this area is now virtually inaccessible, due to
landslipping and dense undergrowth. At some date between 1836 and 1855, mining
switched to the NE part of the site, with levels and buildings adjacent to the lowest
zigzag of the packhorse track (which in this area is now disused and densely
overgrown with bracken); the terrace below these workings was occupied by a cluster
of buildings and enclosures (possibly originating much earlier as a fishing hamlet,
though no positive evidence for this has been seen), including a ‘museum’ and tea-
room; interesting artefact assemblages derived from these activities are likely to
survive within rubbish deposits. In the late 19th century, the centre of operatons
shifted again, to the south end of the site, with the construction of the Incline and the
driving of levels from near its base, into the screes below the cliffs to the south; the
most prominent mining features therefore date from the final twenty years of
extraction, from the late 1880s to 1907.

The mid-19th to early-20th phases of the site are well preserved at a ruin/earthwork
level; almost all features mapped on 1st-3rd OS editions can be located, but detailed
survey is impossible due to dense undergrowth. However the site is under severe
medium-term threat due to a combination of coastal erosion with major rotational
landslipping. The only way to halt this process would probably be major civil
engineering to both protect the coast and halt movement of the toe of the landslip; this
is probably both disproportionately expensive, and environmentally unacceptable. An
alternative strategy would be a programme of major vegetation clearance, followed by
detailed survey and excavation in advance of progressive destruction; however this
would probably have substantial adverse effects on the ecological and amenity value.
A further alternative, only very recently becoming possible, might be LIDAR survey;
it would appear that this technology is now capable of surveying through vegetation
cover (Bewley et al 2005; Devereux et al 2005), and Barrowmouth might provide a
useful test-bed for its application under very challenging conditions.

To the east of the mine itself, substantial remains survive of the late 19th century
Incline and engine house at its top, and of the waggonway sidings and track leading to
the site of the alabaster/plaster works; the earlier packhorse and (according to mid-
19th-century references) cart-track also survives to the north of the rail features, in the
hollow between these and the Marchon/Landysmith tip. To the south of the
waggonway, the landscape passes into the bottom of the sandstone quarries, which in
this area are mainly 19th-early 20th century in date.

A fishing harbour at Barrowmouth is documented in the 1690s (though it is not quite
certain that the plans were executed). Two possible locations have been identified

(28982 and 28983), on the foreshore west and north respectively of the mine; remains
appear slight, but would be threatened by any major coastal works.

The area N of Barrowmouth mine, including the Ladysmith/Marchon tip (28984)
(Plate 19) (which is of ecological interest) and various colliery tipping and Marchon
waste disposal features (28985-28989), form a ‘landscape of disposal’ (Plate 20)
which, though definitely not ‘scenic’ in any conventional sense, has some historical
value (especially in view of the late 20th century controversies over marine discharges
from the Marchon site).

Marchon/Rhodia Site (29000) (Plate 21)

The Marchon site was in the process of clearance during fieldwork for the project; it
is understood that all buildings and structures will be removed, though it is not clear if
this will include the portals of the Sandwith Anhydrite Mine. The landscape at the
time of fieldwork consisted of flat ground (probably partially landscaped during
construction of the works) with concrete and tarmac floor and yard surfaces, and no
apparent archaeological interest. However below ground remains of the
Barrowmouth Alabaster Works (28996; actually at least in part a 19th century plaster
manufactory), Croft/Ladysmith Pit (29023), and Croft Incline engine house (29025)
may survive and are potentially important. Below-ground remains of other gazetteer
sites may also exist.

Southeast Area

The southeast ‘spur’ of the project area is separated from the reminder of the historic
landscape by the Marchon Site; parts of it are arable, but the north and west sides
consist of ‘urban fringe’ semi-derelict grassland. The roads and paths have probably
evolved from the Medieval landscape, but the field pattern and boundaries form part
of the early 19th century Lonsdale reshaping of Preston Quarter, which has also
removed most upstanding earlier archaeological features. However the below-ground
archaeological survival is potentially far more interesting than the slightly
unprepossessing modern appearance might suggest. Both the 19th century (and
earlier?) farms within the area lay on the west side, beside High Road; their sites are
occupied by a derelict industrial unit and car-park respectively, but below-ground
survival should be carefully evlaunated in advance of any redevelopment or
landscaping of these.

The east side of the area lies close to the outcrop of the main coal seams, and formed
part of the late 17th century Greenbank Colliery – surface workings and mining-
related features may extend into the project area (possibly including crop-mark
features 29088), and important underground workings will certainly survive at
shallow depth beneath (and may pose a substantial constraint on any developments in
this area, as well as having considerable positive archaeological potential). This area
(both inside the project area and outside to the east) probably forms the best un-built-
over survival of the very important 17th-18th century Howgill/Greenbank colliery.

There were several 18th century pits within the area (though only County Pit (29011)
survives as an upstanding feature (Plate 22)), dating from the last phase of colliery
development down-dip from the outcrops, before the switch to deep drainage via
Saltom Pit. Several lengths of mid-C18th waggonway are known from the 1752 plan,

and earlier and/or later branches may also exist – no earthwork survivals have been
identified, but any below-ground remains may be valuable for understanding the
development of the waggonway system, both in terms of its evolving plan layout and
the gradients and ‘formations’ used. The Gameriggs reservoirs (29014) formed an
important element of whole Howgill Colliery water supply system from at least the
late 18th century onwards, supplying by pipes right down to Ravenhill Pit and the
Howgill Incline. The visible features are mainly C20th, but the area is likely to retain
complex below-ground archaeology.

There are also several important surviving features just outside the project area –
Wilson Pit (02), Moss Pit (04), Greenbank ‘bearmouth’, and perhaps Greenbank
tileworks (05) (the survival of this site is uncertain, in dense woodland). These need
to be considered in management strategies; Wilson Pit and Greenbank bearmouth in
particular may have potential for public information and display.

The ‘Howgill Ridge’ plateau

The southern part of this area remains in agricultural use, whereas the north end is
occupied by extensive mown grassland. The coastal cliffs appear reasonably stable to
the outh of Saltom Pit, with remains of a coastal terrace (perhaps a raised beach)
below them; further north, however, the cliffs are unstable with very active erosion
and landslipping.

The fields (29028) between the Croft Incline and the cliff are a fine example of the
early 19th century Lonsdale layout, using the Incline as the axis of the system (Plate
5). Although devoid of visible archaeology, these fields are not known to have been
fieldwalked, and occupy a similar position relative to the cliffs to the Mesolithic flint
scatters round St Bees Head; this area therefore offers the potential to research
whether the concentration of Mesolithic activity was genuinely confined to St Bees
Head, or extended onto the Carboniferous coastline. The cliff between Barrowmouth
and Ravenhill bottoms out onto a terrace, perhaps a raised beach. If this dates from
the late Mesolithic sea-level maximum, it may have Mesolithic coastal occupation,
conceivably very well preserved beneath scree falls from fossil cliff, and under threat
from coastal erosion. Within the SE corner of the field system, a cropmark (29087) is
interpreted by Cumbria HER as a rectilinear structure/feature. This ‘feature’ may be
merely an artefact of modern agriculture, but if genuine it has potential to be a
substantial Roman building.

The Croft Incline (29026) is an important element of the C19th colliery transport
system, and remains the main modern access route along the area (Plate 23). It
replaced the Croft Waggonway (29027), on a slightly more sinuous route deviating
from the line of the Incline in places. The Waggonway was the scene of early
experiments with steam locomotion in the 1810s – these failed due to breakage of
rails, so archaeological evidence for the formation and trackbed is potentially
important for understanding the early development of railways nationally. The
waggonway also carried pre-1830s water pipes from Gameriggs to the north end of
the Howgill Colliery – these are important for understanding the colliery water supply
system, and potentially for the early 19th century development of piped water supplies
more generally. Part of the 1752 waggonway survives to the east of Ravenhill Pit, as
a low earthwork in pasture (29030) – this is the only visible survival within the

project area of the early phases of waggonway development, and seems to contrast
with the much more heavily-engineered and carefully-graded eastern route east of
Arrowthwaite. The walls of the later Croft waggonway, incline and tracks in this area
have an interesting heirarchy between triangular and ‘castellated’ copings.

Kells Pit (07) lies immediately outside the project area, and is largely built-on (with
some visible survival of wall-stubs). This was the original location of the ‘Low
Wreay’ Heslop engine, an important early steam engine preserved in store at the
Science Museum.

Ravenhill Pit (Plate 25) was sunk in the 1730s; it was never a colliery in its own right,
serving only to wind up coal from Saltom Pit. This was initially done by a horse-
whim (of which part of the outline is visible, replaced in the early 19th century by a
steam winding engine. The site (29035) is currently an eyesore, but retains some
visible archaeology along the cliff edge, and potentially important archaeological
remains beneath modern concrete; this site may have display potential.

Saltom Pit (29036-29041) (Plates 26-29) is an 18th century development of
outstanding importance, marking the first undersea coal-mining in England, with an
early use of the Newcomen engine, and forming part of a remarkable and nationally-
outstanding development of coal-mining technology, as an integrated exploitation of
the Howgill ridge. Visible features include the 18th century seawall, horse-gin circle,
and cottages, and an 1820s vertical-winder engine house; below-ground remains of
three successive Newcomen-style engine houses, and an 18th century saltworks later
converted into an iron foundry, may also survive. The site is a Scheduled Ancient
Monument. Features on the foreshore to the NW (not currently Scheduled) are
interpreted as remains of the short-lived 1730s harbour, and of the seawater-collecting
tanks for the saltworks. The site is under threat from landslipping and coastal erosion,
though the cliff behind the upstanding features appears stable. Most of the site,
except for the seawall, has been recorded to a decent standard.

The coast between Saltom and South Beach is unstable and rapidly eroding, with few
archaeological features of much interest (the King Pit adit (29047) is the best of
these). The top of the cliff is occupied by Ravenhill Quarry (29050), which appears
to retain limited interest and forms a buffer between the eroding cliff-face and any
intact archaeology on the plateau behind the quarry lip. Access along the foreshore is
tricky due to boulders and very slippery conditions, and there is a potential hazard
from cliff falls. Access through Ravenhill Quarry is currently impossible due to

The surviving buildings (Plates 30-32), and their internal machinery, at Haig Pit
(29044) are a Scheduled Monument, and are of great importance both to colliery
archaeology nationally and to local history and identity; preservation and high-quality
display is essential. The site is currently run by a community group; while this clearly
has problems in terms of funding and organisation, it has great strengths in terms of
active community involvement. There are possibilities for wider museum-type
display on and around this site.

At the N end of the plateau, the Howgill Incline brake house (29054) housed a
remarkable 1820s ‘air brake’, effectively a vertical winder in reverse; the winding
cable operated a piston in an air cylinder to provide braking. The site is on
landscaped ground, but design drawings show that much of the mechanism was
housed at basement level, and substantial remains may well survive. There is
therefore potential for excavation and display.

The Harbour environs

The extreme north end of the project area, occupying the north-facing slope from the
end of the Howgill Ridge plateau down to Whitehaven harbour, forms a dense and
complex historic landscape in which maritime and coastal, urban, coal-mining,
transport, military, leisure, and symbolic elements are physically juxtaposed and
interlinked. This landscape therefore has an an overall importance beyond that of its
individual components. The boundaries of the project area are archaeologically
arbitrary; the whole landscape is focussed on Whitehaven Harbour, which lies
immediately beyond its NE boundary, while the SE boundary cuts across a continuing
strip of dense and important archaeology, which continues through the west edge of
Whitehaven town, and south along the west side of the Pow Beck valley to terminate
adjoining the SE corner of the project area at Greenbank.

The area of ‘Jonathan Swift’s House’ (29060) (Plates 34-38) is of considerable
interest, containing the house itself (the oldest building in the study area, seemingly
incorporating late 17th century fabric), and substantial remains of both an 18th century
bowling green (29061) (and perhaps a 19th century skittle alley), and a fort (29062)
built into the W side of this. The fort may date either from 1778- c 1820, or from
after 1863; it is probably of Schedulable quality. There are no visible remains of an
adjacent fort mapped in 1863. The area, and particularly the fort, is under major
threat from coastal erosion. Other 18th-19th century fortifications may have existed
within the general area, but cannot be accurately located on present evidence.

To the east of Jonathan Swift’s House and the bowling green, the sloping ground is
crossed by the Howgill and Haig Inclines, connecting the collieries on the plateau to
the Staithes and Harbour. The Haig Incline, to the west, is of 20th century date and its
remains are of only moderate importance (though they do have archaeological value,
and also form a historically-appropriate route connecting the harbour to the rest of the
Trust holding). The Howgill Incline, however, is a prominent and archaeologically-
important feature (Plate 33). However its interior is currently inaccessible, and its
survival is interrrupted by housing and gardens along Harbour View (where it passes
out of the project area for a short distance).

To the NE of the bowling green, the brow of the coastal slope is occupied by the
upper level of Wellington Pit (Plates 35, 39-41), including the prominent and iconic
Candlestick Chimney, with the former gate lodge (now the Coastguard Station) to the
east at the end of the access road; both were designed by Robert Smirke, and form
prominent elements in the Earl of Lonsdale’s castellated landscape towering over the
harbour. Between the two, the modern landscaped garden fossilises the ‘footprint’ of
this part of Wellington Pit and incorporates some colliery fabric; the circular
flowerbed in its centre formed a small reservoir for the colliery.

The remainder of the project area forms a strip just above sea-level, running from the
coast at South Beach, behind the quays and piers of Whitehaven Harbour, to the
project area boundary at The Beacon. The SW end of South Beach is formed by the
remains of Tom Hurd Rock on the foreshore. This was connected to the land by an
18th century breakwater, with the Half Moon/Lunette Battery at the base of the cliffs;
both have been largely destroyed by coastal erosion, though some remnants may
survive on the foreshore.

Tom Hurd Rock originally extended NE as a long reef, to the area of Old New Quay.
The area behind this, comprising the modern foreshore and the land back to the steep
slopes, is reclaimed ground, the reclamation spreading progressively westwards from
the 17th to the 20th centuries. Beneath this infill, the former sea inlet forms a potential
area of survival for remains (both of actual ships and of artefacts) of some of the
wrecks for which Tom Hurd Rock was notorious. The current low cliff between the
foreshore and reclaimed land is eroding back through 20th century colliery waste,
tipped from Wellington Pit and perhaps remodelled during later 20th century
‘reclamation’ and landscaping of the colliery site. However further erosion, and any
coastal protectioon works that may be considered, will threaten the archaeological
deposits of Wellington Pit.

Wellington Pit (29067-29070) was a major development of c 1840 (Plates 39-41);
surviving features include the monumental ‘Candlestick’ chimney and gate lodge
above the coastal slope, together with coal-handling features, waggonway and railway
lines, and castellated revetment walls above the harbour (Plates 43-44). The colliery
was designed by Smirke, and its monumental and castellated design is unique in
Britain. Substantial below-ground remains of the engine house and pithead may
survive beneath the 1960s landscaped bank from Candlestick Chimney down to the
South Beach area. The area has safety issues (following a recent fatality); it also has
considerable potential for display (with or without excavation to expose further
structures), and is a major access point to the NT holding.

The eastern part of the South Beach area also includes an enclave of C19th housing
(29073; likely to survive as below-ground archaeology beneath a modern car-park),
which itself is on or near the site of a C17th saltworks (29074) which may also
survive archaeologically. The west side of this enclave is marked by a prominent
‘viaduct-like’ arched stone structure (29071) (Plate 42). This originated as an incline,
connecting Ravenhill Quarry to the construction of West Pier. It was commenced in
1816, brought into use in 1824, and used until at least 1830; its survival suggests that
either the incline itself, or the spaces under the arches, were reused in some capacity
for Wellington Pit or the enclave of housing.

The incline originaly terminated beside the rear wall of Old Fort (29072). Although
the visible remains of this fort lie immediately outside the project area, the Scheduled
area reflects the original ‘footprint’ and extends into the area beside the end of the
surviving arcade.

The area between South Beach and The Beacon is dominated by the impressive and
complex castellated revetments of Lonsdale’s harbour frontage (Plates 43-44), with
West Strand below. The whole of this area is highy sensitive archaeologically,
including the sites of earlier roads and railways along West Strand, the c 1700 gun
platform beside the base of Old Quay, an anchor smithy and blockmaker’s, and

potentially other structures behind the historic quayside. To the east of the castellated
revetments, the visually less-impressive walling formed part of the substructure of the
very important 18th- early 20th-century coal staithes (29079), extending to The Beacon
(and beyond, outside the project area); further remains should survive under the turf
banks and the modern road.

Although formally outside the project area, the Duke Pit fanhouse (Plates 46-49)
forms a prominent fature of the landscape, beside a main access route into the north
end of the project area; it was therefore included in the project at the request of the
Trust. Duke Pit (29085) was sunk in the mid 18th century; the main survival is the
1870 Guibal fanhouse (29086), seemingly incorporating remains of an earlier 1840s
fanhouse (a pioneering example). The coal- or soot-stained interior of the fanhouse is
a stark reminder of underground conditions. It should be noted that only parts of the
1840s and 1870 fanhouse complexes survive as upstanding structures; the reminder of
both is likely to survive as below-ground archaeological features around the standing
monument, and forms an kntegral part of the wider monument. This is one of the best
preserved fanhouses in the country, and its importance is enhanced by the survival of
elements of the 1840s attempt at mechanical ventilation. It is undoubtedly of
Schedulable quality. Further below-ground archaeological remains of the 18th-19th
century colliery, including a major conical horse-winding engine, are likely to survive
in the vicinity. The site lies on a main access route to the project area, and has
considerable display potential.

As already noted, the features in and adjacent to the NE corner of the study area form
one end of a strip of very interesting and important archaeology (08) (including
standing buildings, ruins, and below-ground deposits), extending from The Beacon
almost continuously to The Ginns, and more intermittently via the Howgill
‘bearmouth’ to Greenbank and the SE corner of the project area. This strip broadly
follows the outcrop of the Bannock Band and Prior Band coal seams; it was the locus
of the main 17th and early 18th century mining, and forms an integral and essential part
of the broader Howgill colliery, of which the study area includes the western part.
Recording, understanding and preservation of this strip is therefore essential to the
understanding and preservation of the project area. Since it connects the NE and SE
corners of the study area, and includes features and areas with considerable display
potential, it also has the potential to contribute substantially to the management and
visitor development of the project area.


The management and development of the conservation and tourism potential of the
poject area is clearly fraught with considerable complexities, as well as great
potentials. The following recommendations are made for management of the sites
and landscape; site/area-specific recommendations follow the order of the previous
(geographical) section, and are followed by broader recommendations for
management and management-related research.

Southwest Area

• The sandstone uplands of the Sandwith area lie immediately beyond the
known limits of a substantial concentration of Mesolithic flint scatters.
Fieldwalking after ploughing of any fields within this area should be
encouraged or commissioned, to check for continuation of Mesolithic flint
sites, and also for any evidence of Roman military activity
• The strip of quarries along the northern cliffs and scarp of the sandstone
uplands requires more detailed recording, including a record and study of
the lively tradition of graffiti
• The study area includes a small part of the complex historic landscape of
Sandwith township, with Medieval (and perhaps earlier) origins. The
Trust should actively encourage hisorical and achaeological research on
this landscape as a whole


• The Barrowmouth Gypsum Mine area is of considerable archaeological,
ecological, and landscape value, but poses major problems of
conservability in view of the threat from coastal erosion and landslipping.
There is a need for careful discussion of practical options for the future of
this site, taking account of the archaeological, ecological, and geological
interests; English Heritage and Natural England should be consulted in
view of the statutory designations. There is a clear need for a
comprehensive detailed survey (currently impractical due to dense
undergrowth and ground conditions); LIDAR may now form a practical
and rapid means of obtaining the measured survey without, or in advance
of, major vegetational clearance (though field verification and detailed
written recording would also be required for any full record)
• The area NE of Barrowmouth forms an interesting, if not wholly
attractive, ‘landscape of disposal’; any unthought-through urges to tidy
up this area should be resisted

Marchon/Rhodia Site

• Evaluate preservation of Gazetteer sites, especially Barrowmouth
Alabaster Works, Croft Pit, and Croft Incline engine house, in advance of
any ground disturbance (including removal of concrete pads and
foundations from Marchon works).

Southeast Area

• Although of little visual archaeological interest, this area overlies the
early shallow underground workings of the Greenbank Colliery, and the
pits within and adjacent to the study area form the only part of the pre-
Saltom colliery to fall within the project area. Their preservation
(including any below-ground survivals of pithead features) is therefore of
more importance than their poor visible survival might suggest.
• The area also contains lengths of known and inferred mid-18th century
waggonway, which may survive as below-ground archaeological deposits;
the ‘formation’ and gradients of these short-lived waggonways is of
interest, especially in relation to the longer-lived Western and Eastern
main routes.
• The development of the Gameriggs reservoir system, from the 18th to the
20th century, is also of interest.
• The study area also extends to the edge of the zone of archaeological
interest along the Pow Beck valley, and has several specific archaeological
sites (notably Greenbank bearmouth and Wilson Pit) in rural or urban-
fringe land immediately outside its boundaries; it is therefore important
that management of this area is integrated with, and develops the
potential of, its wider setting.

The ‘Howgill Ridge’ plateau

• As with the Sandwith uplands, the agricultural parts of the Howgill ridge
lack known Mesolithic or Roman archaeology, but form an area where
both should be atively looked-for. Fieldwalking of these fields after any
future ploughing, and careful evaluation in advance of any ground
disturbance, is therefore recommended. Geophysics of possible cropmark
29087 may be desirable (but responses may be poor on boulder-clay
• Re-erection of the Kells Pit Heslop engine on its original site is probably
impractical, but re-erection within the area (at Haig Pit?) should be
explored (in consultation with the Science Museum), as part of a broader
local story of steam including Ginns and Saltom Newcomen engines,
1810s steam locomotion experiments, Saltom Pit vertical winder, and
Haig Pit C20th in situ steam engine
• Ensure sympathetic management of Ravenhill Pit site, especially in view
of unattractive current state. Removal of the current concrete surfaces is
potentially a threat to surviving below-ground features and deposits;
conversely, excavation and conservation of these features may generate
substantial display potential
• The conservation issues at Saltom are complex, but the site is of special
importance and merits substantial expenditure if necessary. While the
very long-term future may not be sustainable (especially in the event of
sea-level rise), my impression is that repair and strengthening of the
seawall (after detailed recording) would secure the medium-term future.

Any works here should also consider the possibility of Medieval
saltmaking on or near the later Saltom Pit site.
• The surviving, and Scheduled, engine house and power hall at Haig
Colliery, with its preserved engine, is of major national importance for
the archaeology of the coal industry, is of considerable visual and iconic
quality, and is an important focus for local community identity and
history. Again the conservation issues are complex, and need careful
consideration, in discussion with the local community
• The Jonathan Swift’s House area is an enclave of private occupation
within the study area, containing important remains of the bowling green
and at least one fort, as well as the standing Listed building. The area
(especially the fort) is under consdierable threat from coastal erosion and
landslipping; at a minimum, detailed survey and recording is required,
and there is a strong cae for excavation in advance of destruction.
Careful consideration of the conservation issues here is needed, in
consultation with the owner/occupier

The Harbour environs

• Wellington Pit and its immediate surroundings form an area of important
archaeological deposits, including potential wreck sites, saltworks,
military, and domestic/urban features as well as the obvious colliery and
related features. Given the potential quality of below-ground survival,
and the road access, this area has considerable display potential. It is also
under long-term threat from encroaching coastal erosion. Recommend
careful consideration of how best to develop the very positive potential of
this site, in the light of safety issues (notably from cliff falls and coastal
• The whole strip from Wellington Pit past Old Quay to The Beacon (and
continuing along West Strand beyond the project area) is highly sensitive
archaeologically, with a dense concentration of known historic features
and a high probability of activity even in locations where no specific
known site is plotted. Below-ground disturbances in this area should be
miminised, and closely monitored or conducted as archaeological
excavations in cases where they are unavoidable
• The Duke Pit fanhouse is of considerable importance, now enhanced by
the presence of remains from the earlier 1840 attempt at fan ventilation.
This site encompasses the whole historic ‘footprint’ of Duke Pit, as well as
the upstanding structure; substantial and important below-ground
remains are expected around this upstanding structure. The site has
considerable research and display potential, and the whole ‘footprint’
should be considered as of Schedulable quality.

Further Research

• The historical record relating to the study area is remarkable in its
diversity and richness, as well as in the range of repositories in which it
can be found; in many respects, the present report has only scratched the

surface of this resource. There is a considerable need for further research
on many aspects of the history, and every opportunity should be taken to
encourage this, whether by Trust-funded research, encouragement of
local voluntary-sector groups, or other means
• In particular, the Lonsdale MSS in Carlisle Record Office form a huge
resource, much of it barely tapped despite the extent of pre-existing
research. Large parts of the Lonsdale MSS are currently either totally
uncatalogued, or inadequately catalogued and effectively unavailable for
research. It is understood that a programme of cataloguing, funded by
the Lonsdale estate, has recently commenced, but that this will (on the
current programme) be partial and selective. The Trust should negotiate
actively with CROC and other relevant bodies to ensure that the Londale
Whitehaven Estate papers are fully catalogued and made available for
research. In view of the importance of this archive to the management
and understanding of the project area, the Trust and its management
partners should be prepared to contribute actively to the costs of making
the archive accessible, as well facilitating other avenues such as local
community initiatives
• Management, amenity development, and regeneration of the project area
need to take full account of the wider historic and archaeological context,
including the whole of the former Howgill/Greenbank colliery area, and
especially the strip of archaeologically important remains from The
Beacon to Greenbank; this includes conservation of the impressive and
vulnerable derelict/ruined structures in the Rosemary Lane area, and
perhaps the development of circular historic trails and walks that connect
the two ends of the NT holding via the Ginns/Greenbank strip, and/or the
18th century waggonway line above these
• There is a surprising lack of good quality archaeologically-orientated air
photography covering the study area; the few known APs have not been
taken under best conditions for either crop-, parch- or soil-mark
visibility. The Trust should therefore be alert for the development of
good conditions (ie mainly severe summer droughts), and should obtain
or commission targetted archaeological air photography the next time
suitable conditions occur
• Finally, current changes in heritage protection legislation offer the
prospect for wider-ranging integrated designations and management
agreements. The final form of the new system is not yet clear, and
detailed recommendations are therefore premature; however the
prospects for, and benefits of, more widespread statutory heritage
designation(s) should be explored with English Heritage once the new
system is in place


The survey has demonstrated that the Whitehaven Coast study area comprises a
complex archaeological landscape of quite exceptional quality and importance as a
whole, as well as containing a large number of sites of individual importance. It is
clear that the project area is also of considerable ecological and geological interest,
and indeed the relationships between the geology and the natural and historic
landscapes forms one of the striking features of the landscape with considerable
potential for research, management, and public information.

For the prehistoric and Roman periods, the study area contains little demonstrable
activity on current knowledge, although there is the potential for important
discoveries (especially for Mesolithic coastal settlement and Roman military activity).

From the 12th to the 16th centuries, the project area formed part of the complex
monastic landscape of the St Bees Priory estates. Parts of the agricultural landscape
survive within the multi-period rural landscape of Sandwith township at the south end
of the study area. Further north, the agricultural landscape of Preston Quarter
township has been largely over-written by a 19th-century landscape of industry and
imposed power. The contrast between these landscapes, especially as seen from the
cliff path, is itself a striking element of the overall landscape. However there is
historical evidence for important monastic coal-mining and saltmaking within Preston
Quarter, probably in the Saltom Pit and/or South Beach areas; archaeological
evidence for this saltmaking has the potential for important contributions to the
understanding of early coal-fuelled industry.

Major development of the coal-mining industry bgan in the 1630s, initially in close
association with salt-making, though by the end of the 17th century the coal-export
trade to ireland had become dominant. The Howgill and Greenbank Collieries,
developing westwards from the Pow Beck valley into and under the project area, were
at the forefront of technological progress nationally; given the importance of the
British coal industry to British and world industrialisation, an international
importance can be argued. The major upstanding feature of this development is
Saltom Pit; however this must be seen in its context, and the remains of Ravenhill,
King, and Kells Pits, the associated waggonway systems both within and outside the
study area, and the ‘bearmouths’ and other features of the Pow Beck valley, all form a
part of this integrated mining landscape.

In the early 19th century, developments in rail transport were at the cutting edge of
progress; the main visible (and very impressive) feature of this phase is the Howgill
Incline, but below-ground remains of the Howgill Incline brake house, the Croft
waggonway, and the Croft Incline and engine house are also of importance. The
Heslop engine from Kells Pit also survives (though currently in store at the Science
Museum), and could potentially be returned to the area as an attraction, and an
important element in the themes of coal mining and steam power. Wellington Pit was
sunk rather later in the century; its Candlestick Chimney forms an iconic survival, and
the remains of the Duke Pit fanhouse, a well-preserved 1870 Guibal fan installation

but also incorporating elements of a pioneering 1840 fan installation, are of
considerable importance. These features also form the backdrop to the monumental
castellated landscape of the south side of Whitehaven Harbour, designed by Robert
Smirke in conjunction with the sinking of Wellington Pit, and incorporating important
survivals of the coal staithes and railway/waggonway systems. The area also retains
important genuine military features at Old Fort and the Old Bowling Green.

The final, 20th century, phase of coal-mining was dominated by Haig Colliery, where
the engine house, winding engine and headgear survive. This site is clearly of great
importance to the local commuity, as well as being a monument of national

In addition to the coal-dominated industry of its northern part, the project area also
includes the substantial remains of the Barrowmouth alabaster/gypsum mine, active
from at least the 1730s to 1907. This forms a very rare survival nationally, and is also
a remarkable natural and historic landscape with a very distinctive sense of place, as
well as posing complex conservation issues. Finally, the sandstone scarps and cliffs
above Barrowmouth display an impressive group of 18th-20th century quarries, with an
interesting and ongoing tradition of high-quality graffiti illustrating the voice of local
working people within an industrial landscape otherwise dominated by the ‘voice’ of
the ruling Lowther family.

The importance of almost all aspects of the Medieval and Post-Medieval landscape,
and its individual monuments, is greatly enhanced by the survival of remarkably-
detailed documentation, in the Lonsdale MSS and elsewhere. The preservation, full
catlaoguing, and accessibility for research of this documentary record is therefore
itself an important management objective.


The Bibliography for this report is intended, as far as possible, to be a comprehensive
list of the published historical and archaeological material relating to the study area
and its environs, includes sources not cited in the text. It also includes other non-local
and non-area-specific sources referenced in the report. Sources not consulted in the
preparation of the report are included in [square brackets]. Where possible, relevant
material has been copied, and in presented in ring-binder files in the site archive.

Albright & Wilson Ltd, 1978. The Marchon Story (supplement to Summit, April-June
1978 issue; copy in The Beacon)

Allen, J S, 1975. ‘The 1715 and other Newcomen engines at Whitehaven,
Cumberland’, Trans. Newcomen Society, XLV, 237-268, Pl XXXVI-XXXVII

Anon, n.d, a. List of Colliery Explosions of Great Britain from 1849 up to 1965
(typescript pamphlet on sale at Haig Pit)

Anon, n.d, b. Wellington Pit Explosion, May 11, 1910 (contemporary pamphlet;
photocopy reprint on sale at Haig Pit)

Ashworth, W, 1986. The History of the British Coal Industry. Volume 5 1946-
1982: The Nationalized Industry (Oxford: Clarendon Press) [no specifically-
relevant material indexed]

Ayton, R and Daniells, W, 1814 (1978). A Voyage round Great Britain between the
years 1813 and 1823, Vol 1 (reprinted London: Tate Gallery and Scolar Press)

Barrow, G W S, 1999. ‘King David I, Earl Henry and Cumbria’, TCWAAS, 2nd
Series, LCIX, 117-127

Bailey, M R (ed), 2006. Early Railways 3: Papers from the Third International Early
Ralways Conference (Sudbury, Suffolk: Six Martlets Publishing)

Beckett, J V, 1979. ‘Newcomen Engines at Whitehaven, Cumberland 1727-40’,
Trans. Newcomen Society, 49, 149-152

Beckett, J V, 1981. Coal and Tobacco: the Lowthers and the Economic Development
of West Cumberland, 1660-1760 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Beckett, J V, 1983. ‘Carlisle Spedding (1695-1755), Engineer, Inventor, and
Architect’, TCWAAS, 2nd Series, LXXXIII, 131-140

Bennett, G, Clavering, E, and Rounding, A, 1990. A Fighting Trade: rail transport in
Tyne coal 1600-1800 (Gateshead: Portcullis Press)

Berg, P, and Berg, T, 2001. R R Angerstein’s Illustrated Travel Diary, 1753-1755
(London: Science Museum)

Bewley, R H, Crutchley, S P, and Shell, C A, 2005. ‘New light on an ancient
landscape: lidar survey in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site’, Antiquity, 79,
No 305 (September 2005), 636-647

Brennand, M, (ed) 2006. The Archaeology of North West England. An
Archaeological Research Framework for North West England: Volume 1,
Resource Assessment (CBA North West, ALGAO, and English Heritage)

British Geological Survey, 1998. Sheet NX 91 NE (Whitehaven). Solid and Drift
Edition. 1:10,000 (Keyworth, Nottingham: British Geological Survey)

British Geological Survey, 2004. Whitehaven. England and Wales Sheet 28.
Bedrock and Superficial Deposits. 1:50,000 Geology Series (Keyworth,
Nottingham: British Geological Survey)

Brooks, C, Daniels, R, and Harding, A, (eds), 2002. Past, Present, and Future: The
Archaeology of Northern England (Durham: Architectural and Archaeological
Society of Durham and Northumberland, Research Report 5)

Brown, P, King, P, and Remfry P, 2004. ‘Whittington Castle: the Marcher Fortress of
the Fitz Warin Family’, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and
Historical Society, LX XIX, 106-127

Brownrigg, W, 1748. The Art of Making Common Salt … (London)

Bullen Consultants, 1996. Saltom Pit – Whitehaven. Scheduled Ancient Monuments
– Cumbria Monument No 31. Scoping Study for Coast Protection Works
(Unpublished report, CCC HER files)

Burkett, M E, and Sloss, D, 1995. Read’s Point of View: Paintings of the Cumbrian
Countryside. Mathias Read 1669-1747 (Skiddaw Press)

Calvin, R, 1989. Coal dust explosions 1803 to 1984 and the part limestone dust
played in coal mine safety (typescript pamphlet on sale at Haig Pit)

Calvin, R, n.d. Coal (typescript pamphlet on sale at Haig Pit)

Caruana, I, and Shotter, D, 2005. ‘A collection of Roman coins from Whitehaven,
Cumbria’, TCWAAS, 3rd Series, V, 79-87

Cherry, J, and Cherry, P J, 1983. ‘Prehistoric Habitation Sites in West Cumbria: Part
1, the St Bees Area and North to the Solway’, TCWAAS, 83, 1-14

Cherry, P, and Cherry, J, 1996. ‘Coastline and Upland in the Cumbrian Neolithic’, in
Frodsham, P (ed), 1996, Neolithic Studies in No Man’s Land (Nothtern
Archaeology, 13/14, 61-66

Cherry, P J, and Cherry, J, 2002. ‘Coastline and Upland in Cumbrian Prehistory – a
Retrospective’, TCWAAS, 3rd series, II, 1-19

Children’s Employment Commission, 1841. Report …(typescript extracts of
Cumberland evidence, Haig Pit Miniong Museum)

Church, R, 1986. The History of the British Coal Industry. Volume 3 1830-1913:
Victorian Pre-eminence (Oxford: Clarendon Press) [no specifically-relevant
material indexed]

Clare, T, 2004. ‘Coastal change and the western end of Hadrian’s Wall’, in Wilson
and Caruana (eds) 2004, 39-51

Collier, S, with Pearson, S, 1991. Whitehaven 1660-1800 (London: HMSO)

[Collins. G, 1693. Great Britain’s Coasting Pilot ]

Colvin, H et al (eds) 1980. Architectural Drawings from Lowther Castle,
Westmoreland. Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain,
Architectural History Monographs, vol 2

Cranstone, D, 2006. Solway Salt Project, 2005-6: Report and Site Assessments
(unpublished report to English Heritage, Historic Scotland, Cumbria County
Council and CWAAS)

Devereux, B J, Amable, G S, Crow, P, and Cliff, A D, 2005. ‘The potential of
airborne lidar for detection of archaseological features under woodland
canopies’, Antiquity, 79, No 305 (September 2005), 648-660

Dixon, J, 1801. The Literary Life of William Brownrigg MD, FRS, to which are
added an Account of the Coal Mines near Whitehaven and Observations on the
Means of Preventing Epidemic Fevers (Whitehaven)

Eastwood, T, 1931. The Geology of the Whitehaven and Workington District
(London: HMSO)

Ed Dennison Archaeological Services 2004. Saltom Pit, Whitehaven, Cumbria. Brief
for a Conservation Plan (Unpublished report, CCC HER files)

English Heritage, n.d. Scheduled Monument Description. Monument CU 492: Old
Quay and Old Quay Lighthouse

English Heritage, n.d. Scheduled Monument Description. Monument 27800: Haig

English Heritage, n.d. Scheduled Monument Description. Monument 27801: Saltom
Coal Pit

English Heritage, n.d. Scheduled Monument Description. Monument 34982:
Whitehaven Old Fort

English Heritage, n.d. Scheduled Monument Description. Monument 35009:
Barrowmouth Gypsum and Alabaster Mine

Ewart, G, Stewart, D, and Dunn, A, 1996. 'Preston Island: archaeological research
and excavations', Tayside and Fife Archaeological Journal, 2, 1-26

Ewart, G and Dunn, A, 1997. A Man worth His Salt (Fife Council)

Fisher, J, 1794. ‘Observations and Inquiries made upon and concerning the coal
works at Whitehaven, in the County of Cumberland, in the year 1793’, Trans.
Royal Irish Academy, V, 266-? [typescript copy in Cumbria HER]

Fletcher, I, 1878. ‘The Archaeology of the West Cumberland Coal Trade’, TCWAAS,
III, 266-313

Flinn, M W, 1984. The History of the British Coal Industry. Volume 2 1700-1830:
The Industrial Revolution (Oxford: Clarendon Press)

Fox, P H, 1921. ‘Cumberland Ports and shipping in the reign of Elizabeth’, TCWAAS,
NS21, 74-80

Fulford, M, Champion T, and Long, A, (eds) 1997. England’s Coastal Heritage
(London: English Heritage)

Gelling, M, 1978. Signposts to the Past: Place-names and the history of England
(London: Dent & Sons)

Goodwin, J, 1990. ‘Early Bowling-Greens in Whitehaven’, TCWAAS, 2nd Series,
XC, 267-278

Gray, N H, 2004. ‘The Waggonways and Inclines of Whitehaven’, Cumbrian
Railways, Vol 8 No 1, 9-12

Grindrod, J, 1956. ‘Solway’s New Cement Plant and Anhydrite Mine’, Pit and
Quarry (December 1956), 102-3, 128 [copy in Routledge files]

Guy. A, 2001. ‘North eastern locomotive pioneers 1805 to 1827; a reassessment’, in
Guy and Rees (eds) 2001, 117-144

Guy, A, and Rees. J (eds), 2001. Early Railways (London: Newcomen Society)

Hainsworth, D R (ed), 1977. Commercial Papers of Sir Christopher Lowther 1611-
1644 (Gateshead: Surtees Society Vol CLXXXIX)

Hainsworth, D R (ed), 1983. The Correspondence of Sir John Lowther of
Whitehaven, 1693-98. A Provincial Community in Wartime (Oxford: British
Academy Records of Social and Economic History, NS7)

Hair, T H, 1844 (1987). Views of the Collieries in the Counties of Northumberland
and Durham (reprinted Newcastle upon Tyne: Davis Books)

Hatcher J, 1993. The History of the British Coal Industry. Volume 1: Before 1700
(Oxford: Clarendon Press)

Hay, D, 1965. ‘The fortifications at Whitehaven’, TCWAAS, LXV, 291-297

Hay, D, 1979. Whitehaven: an illustrated history (2nd edition. Whitehaven: Michael

Hill, A, 2000. The History and Development of Colliery Ventilation (Matlock Bath:
Peak District Mines Historical Society)

Higham, N, 1986. The Northern Counties to AD 1000 (London and New York:

Hodgson, J, n.d. [1850s?]. Hodgson’s Guide to Port Hamilton and Fleswick Beach
(Whitehaven) (reprinted 1989, Friends of Whitehaven Museum)

Hughes, E, 1965. North Country Life in the eighteenth century (London: Oxford
University Press)

Hutchinson, J, 1794a. The History of the County of Cumberland. Vol I (Carlisle)

Hutchinson, J, 1794b. The History of the County of Cumberland. Vol II (Carlisle)

Jars, G, 1774. Voyages Metallurgiques …, Vol 1 (Lyons)

Lancaster University Archaeological Unit [LUAU] 2000. Saltom Pit, Whitehaven,
Cumbria. Archaeological Fabric Survey. (Unpublished report, CCC HER

van Laun, J, 2006. ‘New light on the wooden waggonways at Whitehaven harbour’,
in Bailey (ed) 2006, 23-39

Lewis, J, Martin, C, Martin, P, and Murdoch, R, 1999. The Salt and Coal Industries
at St Monans, Fife, in the 18th and 19th Centuries (Glenrothes: Tayside and Fife
Archaeological Monograph 2)

Lewis, M J T, 1970. Early Wooden Railways (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul)

Loveluck, C, 2002. ‘The Roman-British to Anglo-Saxon Transition’ – social
Transformations from the Late Roman to Early Medieval Period in Northern
England, AD 400-700, in Brooks et al 2002, 127-148

Lysons, D and Lysons, S, 1816. Magna Britannia; being a concise topographical
aacount of the several counties of Great Britain, Vol 4 (London: Cadell and

Makey, W H, 1952. The place of Whitehaven in the Irish Coal Trade, 1600-1750
(MA Thesis [unknown university]; copy in The Beacon)

Marshall, C F D, 1938 (rep. 1971). A History of British Railways down to the year
1830 (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

Marshall, C F D, 1953. A History of Railway Locomotives down to the end of the
year 1831 (London: the Locomotive Publishing Company Ltd)

Marshall, J D, and Davies-Shiel, M, 1969. The Industrial Archaeology of the Lake
Counties (Newton Abbot: David & Charles)

McCarthy, M, 2002. Roman Carlisle & the Lands of the Solway (Stroud: Tempus)

McCord, N, and Thompson, R, 1998. The Northern Counties from AD 1000 (London
and New York: Longmans)

Moon, M J, 1973. Bygone Whitehaven (Beckermet: Michael Moon) [15- Wellington
Pit; 41- Kells Pit engine]

Moon, M and S, 1976. Bygone Whitehaven, Volume Two (Beckermet: Michael
Moon) [23-24 – 3 photos of the ‘Hurries’]

Moon, M and S, 1982. Bygone Whitehaven, Volume Four (Beckermet: Michael
Moon) [17 – Saltom Pit photo]

Moon, M and S, 1984. Bygone Whitehaven, Volume Five (Whitehaven: Michael
Moon) [28, 61 – harbour views inc. Wellington Pit]

Moon, M, 1987. Views on the Whitehaven and Furness Railway, 1852 (Whitehaven:
Michael Moon) [reprinted and enlarged from Linton, J, 1852. A Handbook of
the Whitehaven and Furness Railway]

[Moore, R W, 1893-4. ‘Whitehaven Collieries’, Trans Federated Institute of Mining
Engineers, VII ]

Moore, R W, 1898. Historical Sketch of the Whitehaven Collieries [consulted as
C20th typescript, The Beacon]

Moore, R W, 1905. ‘Coal Mining’, in Wilson J (ed) 1905, 348-384

Mottram, T H, 1923. Explosion at the Haig Pit, Whitehaven, on the 5th September
1922 (London: HMSO, Cmd. 1796) [part-copy in Haig Pit files]

Newman, R M, 2006. ‘The Early Medieval Resource Assessment’, in Brennand (ed)
2006, 91-114

Nicholson, J, and Burn, R, 1777. The History and Antiquities of the Counties of
Westmorland and Cumberland, Vol II (London; reprinted 1976, Cumbria
County Library)

Phillips, C B (ed), 1979. Lowther Family Estate Books 1617-1675 (Gateshead:
Surtees Society Vol CLXXXIX)

Prevost, W A J (ed), 1965. ‘A trip to Whitehaven to visite the coalworks there in
1739. By Sir John Clerk’, TCWAAS, 2nd Series LXV, 305-319

Redmayne, R A S,. and Pope, S, 1911. Report on the causes and circumstances
attending an explosion and underground fire which occurred at the Wellington
Pit, Whitehaven Colliery, on the 11th May 1910 (London: HMSO. Command

Rees, J, 2001. ‘The strange story of the Steam Elephant’, in Guy and Rees (eds)
2001, 145-170

Rees, J, and Guy, A, 2006. ‘Richard Trevithick and pioneer locomotives’, in Bailey
(ed) 2006, 191-220

Routledge, A W, 1999. Then and Now: Whitehaven (Stroud: Tempus)

Routledge, A W, 2001. Around Whitehaven: the Second Selection (Stroud: Tempus)

Routledge, A W, 2005. Marchon: the Whitehaven Chemical Works (Stroud:

Schon, F, 1956. The development of a chemical industry in West Cumberland ((LSE
seminar paper – typescript in The Beacon)

Scott-Hindson, B, 1994. Whitehaven Harbour (Chichester: Phillimore)

Scott-Hindson, B (ed. Austin, A), 2004. ‘Early Wooden Waggonways at
Whitehaven’, Cumbrian Railways, Vol 8 No 1, 2-8

Sharpe, R, 2006. Norman Rule in Cumbria 1092-1136 (Kendal: CWAAS Tract
Series XXI)

[Shipp, T, ???. Excursions to Barrowmouth, south of Whitehaven (Cumberland
Geological Society) ] [cited by Tyler (2000), but not located for this project]

Supple, B, 1987. The History of the British Coal Industry. Volume 4 1913-1946:
The Political Economy of Decline (Oxford: Clarendon Press) [no specifically-
relevant material indexed]

Thorley, J, 2004. ‘The Estates of Calder Abbey’, Trans. Cumberland & Westmorland
Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, NS IV, 133-162

Todd, J M, 1980. ‘St Bega: Cult, Fact, and Legend’, TCWAAS, 2nd Series, LXXX,

Todd, J M, 1983. ‘The Headmaster, the Provost, and the Earl: the Affair of the St
Bees School Mineral Lease, 1812-1817’, TCWAAS, 2nd Series, LXXXIII, 163-

Todd, J, and Todd, M, 1999. ‘Archbishop Grindal’s birthplace: Cross Hill, St Bees,
Cumbria’, TCWAAS, 2nd Series, XCIX, 185-194

Todd, J M, 2003. ‘The pre-Conquest Church in St Bees, Cumbria: a possible
minster?’, TCWAAS, 3rd Series, III, 97-108

Tomlinson, C (ed) 1834. Cyclopedia of Useful Arts, Vol 1 (London)

Tyler, I, 2000. Gypsum in Cumbria (Keswick: Blue Rock Publications)
[Barrowmouth Alabaster Mine; pp 78-90]

Tyson, B, 1985. ‘Some harbour works in West Cumberland before 1710’, Trans.
Ancient Monuments Society, NS 29, 173-208

Tyson, B, 1986a. ‘Some aspects of Whitehaven’s development before 1700’, Trans.
Ancient Monuments Society, NS 30, 149-185

Tyson, B, 1986b. ‘Andrew Pellin’s Surveying Career at Whitehaven, 1688-1705’,
TCWAAS, 2nd Series LXXXVI, 163-183

Tyson, B, 1988. ‘Two Post-mills at Whitehaven in the 17th century’, TCWAAS, 2nd
Series, LXXXVIII, 177-191

Tyson, B, 1999. ‘The Whitehaven Pier Saltpans 1632-86 and their Accounts 1675-
77’, TCWAAS, 2nd Series, LCIX, 195-220

Wade-Martins, S, 2002. The English Model Farm (Macclesfield: Windgather Press
and English Heritage)

Ward, J E, 1989. ‘John Spedding’s Account of Horses used in the Whitehaven
Collieries etc., from 1715 onwards’, TCWAAS, 2nd Series, LXXXIX, 181-186

Ward, J E, 1991. ‘The sinking of Saltom Pit, Whitehaven, TCWAAS, 2nd Series, XCI,

Wells, C, 2003. ‘Environmental change in Roman north-west England: a synoptic
overview of events north of the Ribble’, TCWAAS, 3rd Series, III, 67-84

Wilkinson, P F, Locock, M, and Sell, S, 1998. 'A 16th-century saltworks at Port
Eynon, Gower', Post-Medieval Archaeology, 32, 3-32

Wilson, J, 1905. ‘Priory of St Bees’, in Wilson J (ed) 1905, 178-183

Wilson, J (ed), 1905. The Victoria History of the County of Cumberland. Vol 2

Wilson, J, (ed), 1915. The Register of the Priory of St Bees (Durham and London:
Surtees Society Vol CXXVI)

Wilson, R J A, 2004. ‘Introduction: the Roman frontier on the Solway’, in Wilson
and Caruana (eds) 2004, 19-38

Wilson, R J A, and Caruana, I D (eds) 2004. Romans on the Solway (Kendal:

Winchester, A J L, 1978. ‘The Medieval Vill in the Western Lake District: some
problems of definition’, TCWAAS, 2nd Series, LXXVIII, 55-69

Winchester, A J L, 1987. Landscape and Society in Medieval Cumbria (Edinburgh:
John Donald)

Winchester, A J L, 2000. The Harvest of the Hills: Rural Life in Northern England
and the Scottish Borders, 1400-1700 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)

Winchester, A J L, and Wane, M (eds), 2003. Thomas Denton: A Perambulation of
Cumberland 1687-1688, including descriptions of Westmorland, the Isle of Man
and Ireland (Cumbria Record Office MS D/Lons/L12/4/2/2) (Boydell Press:
Surtees Society Vol CCVII)

Winstanley I (ed), n.d. Children’s Employment Commission: The evidence,
Cumberland Coalfield (typescript pamphlet on sale at Haig Pit)

Winstanley, M, and David, R, 2006. A Guide to Cumbrian Historical Sources
(Lancaster: Cente for North-West Regional Studies, Lancaster University)

Wood, O, 1954. ‘A Cumberland Colliery During the Napoleonic War’, Economica,
February 1954, 54-63

Wood, O, 1988. West Cumberland Coal 1600-1982/3 (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series

Young, R, 2002. ‘The Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Periods in Northern England: an
Overview’, in Brooks et al 2002, 19-27


Plate 1: Carlisle Spedding’s Plan 1752 (CROW: TNCB 24/4), north end. (DC)

Plate 2: Carlisle Spedding’s Plan 1752 (CROW: TNCB 24/4), south end. (DC)

Plate 3: Plan of Whitehaven, n.d.[1760s?], showing field system and waggonways in north end of
project area (CROC: D/Lons/W7 Engineering Drawings, ‘Sundry Old Collieries’, p 25). (DC)

Plate 4: South end of project area (Sandwith township): ancient landscape (SR)

Plate 5: North end of project area (Preston Quarter township) from south: 19th century planned
landscape, with 20th century urbanisation (SR)

Plate 6: Wall 28925, showing ‘Cornish hedge’ construction (SR)

Plate 7: Quarry 28936 (SR)

8: Quarry 28936: graffito of carved head, possibly Stalin (SR)

Plate 9: Anomalous wall 28942: boundary between waggonway 28945 and field system 28943

Plate 10: Barrowmouth mine (28950): lower area (features 28967-28983) from clifftop (SR)

Plate 11: Barrowmouth mine: engine house 28952, door jamb (SR)

Plate 12: Barrowmouth mine: incline 28955, showing dog-leg produced by landslipping (SR)

Plate 13: Barrowmouth mine: building 28958 (SR)

Plate 14: Barrowmouth mine: building 28960 (SR)

Plate 15: Barrowmouth mine: building 28963 (SR)

Plate 16: Barrowmouth mine: enclosure 28968 (SR)

Plate 17: Barrowmouth mine: structure 28971 (SR)

Plate 18: Barrowmouth mine: brake-drum mounting 28976 (SR)

Plate 19: Tip 28984 from clifftop (SR)

Plate 20: Structure 28986 (seaward terminal of aerial ropeway) (DC)

Plate 21: Sandwith anhydrite mine (28999; foreground) and Marchon site (29900) during
demolition (June 2006) (SR)

Plate 22: County pit (29011) from W (SR)

Plate 23: Croft Incline: view uphill from N, Kells Square on left (SR)

Plate 24: Waggonway 29030 (low bank across centre) (DC)

Plate 25: Ravenhill Colliery (29035): structure on cliff-edge (SR)

Plate 26: Saltom Pit (29036) from E (SR)

Plate 27: Saltom Pit (29036); design drawing for vertical winder engine in surviving engine house
(The Beacon)

Plate 28: Saltom Pit: rock-cut tank for saltworks 29038 (SR)

Plate 29: Saltom Pit: rock-cut postholes 29040 (SR)

Plate 30: Haig Colliery (29044): headgear from N (SR)

Plate 31: Haig Colliery (29044): east elevation (SR)

Plate 32: Haig Colliery, c 1930s (The Beacon: 1986.152.27)

Plate 33: Howgill Incline (29055), looking uphill (SR)

Plate 34: Cast iron lamp-post 29059 (DC)

Plate 35: Bowling Green area, overall from S, showing possible skittle alley to right of Jonathan
Swift’s House, with Candlestick Chimney and Whitehaven Harbour in background (DC)

Plate 36: From right: Jonathan Swift’s House (29060; Old Bowling Green (29061); building
29063; Bowling Green Battery (29062) (DC)

Plate 37: Bowling Green Battery (29062), gun emplacement from E (DC)

Plate 38: Bowling Green Battery (29062), boundary marker (DC)

Plate 39: Wellington Pit (29067): view from north, late 19th century (The Beacon: 1994.461.77)

Plate 40: Wellington Pit (29067): view from South Beach, 1911 (The Beacon: 1994.349.6)

Plate 41: Wellington Pit: Candlestick Chimney (29069) (SR)

Plate 42: ‘Harbour Incline’ – inclined viaduct 29071 (SR)

Plate 43: Revetments 29075 and steps 29076 (SR)

Plate 44: Revetments 29078 (to right) and 29080 (SR)

Plate 45: Trackway 29084 (across centre) from S (DC)

Plate 46: Duke Pit fanhouse (29086) from SW (SR)

Plate 47: Duke Pit fanhouse (29086): evasee from SE (SR)

Plate 48: Duke Pit fanhouse (29086) from NW (SR)

Plate 49: Duke Pit fanhouse (29086): fan mounting from SW (SR)


This report has been prepared on behalf of Cranstone Consultants in connection with
the Historic Landscape Survey of a study area west and southwest Whitehaven, for
the National Trust. This report result largely from an examination of The Register of
the Priory of St Bees [hereafter cited as ‘Reg.’, with charter number (not page)], and
will concentrate on the study area, but also look at its wider context. Correlations
with place-names and locations within the study area have been added by David


St Bees Priory (in the village of St Bees, then called Kirkeby) was founded between
1120 and 1135 as a cell of the Abbey of St Mary York, probably initially with a prior
and six monks. This involved the conversion of an existing parish church into a
priory (Reg., 2). The church had a dependent chapel at Egremont, and it should thus
be classified as an old minster (Blair 1988). The wider parish (including the
chapelries) extended ‘from Whitehaven to (the river) Keekle as the same falls into
(the river) Ehen and the Ehen into the sea’ (Reg. 2). There is a more detailed
description of the ‘franchise of St Bees’ (probably a smaller area), which (unusually)
perambulated the boundary anti-clockwise. Omitting here an earlier section, it left

‘The Keekle at Priestgill (Prestgyll);

And by Priestgill across the middle of a moor called Wythmore to the Becz
stanes now inclosed in an enclosure called Harras (Arras) Park;

And by the said Becz stanes to a sitchet [small stream] out of the said inclosure
that descends (? – dissendit) in a certain great lez beyond and next Howthwaite
[now Brackenthwaite];

And so by the said lez gill to the sea next Whitehaven. (Reg. 370).

These are bounds of the parish and of the franchise of St Bees, but it is clear that the
Priory did not own all land within it. The original grant was of seven carucates,
perhaps 820 acres, with the grants of others being confirmed (Reg. 3). The study area
is within these boundaries, but does not adjoin them.

Another charter relates more directly to Whitehaven itself. Richard Lucy (perhaps in
the 1200s) gave all the land of Salter, of Wyndbergh and of Whitehaven contained in
certain bounds (which may include all these places or just the last).

They ‘started at Whitehaven where the river that divides Hothwaite [now
Brackenthwaite] and Bransty falls into the sea;

ascending the river to the bounds of Hothwaite to the gill that divides Corkekyll
and Hothwaite;

following the gill to a rivulet that divides Preston and Hensington;

and following the rivulet to the sea’ (Reg. 372).

This seems to be wholly outside the study area. A further charter adds Flatth (Reg.
373), which is where Whitehaven Castle later stood.


The northern part of the study area was in the manor of Aringthwaite or
Hayringthwaite (now Arrowthwaite). This property was granted by Abbot Clement
(1161-84) of York Abbey to Reginald son of Dermot at a perpetual rent of 9 shillings:

‘From Howgill to Pol [now Pow] to the sea;

Further from Howgill to Haigescoc;

(And) from Eikescoc by a sitchet [small stream] to the sea (Reg. 178).’

This is clearly the area west and southwest of Whitehaven town, including the
northern part of the study area. How Gill was the side-valley of the Pow Beck now
occupied by the remains of the (confusingly-named) Corkicle Incline (running NE
from NX 969 166). The editor of the Register suggested that Haigescoc or Eikescoc
was High Staith (which is not named on 19th or 20th century maps). However the
second spelling raises a possible equation with Aikbank (the 19th century quarry at
NX 959 156 (28947)), in which case the boundary would join the Preston Quarter/
Sandwith boundary (as documented by the 19th century Tithe Map) near the ‘nose’ of
the St Bees Sandstone escarpment above Barrowmouth farm and Lingidale, and the
‘sitchet’ would run west down the valley occupied by the recent Ladysmith/Marchon
tip, thus following the boundary of Sandwith township; this would indicate that
Preston Quarter as demarcated on the 1st edition OS was made up of the earlier land
units of Arrowthwaite and Preston. The mouth of the ‘sitchet’ may be the ‘place
called the Waterfall’ (mentioned in Reg. 181 – see below). However by another
charter, this Reginald gave the Priory,

‘All right and claim that I have or now could have in all the waste both in plains
[open ground] and woods in the territory of Ayringthwait saving to me and my
heirs common [rights]’ (Reg. 180).

In c.1230, Maurice of Man granted to York Abbey and to the Prior and Monks of

‘A pleck in the territory of Ayringthwaite … for the construction of a salina as
there seems expedient to them with free entry and exit by the route (iter) that I
gave to the monks of St Bees … [with] all estovers [i.e. the right to take wood
for building, fuel etc] and easements both on land and water as seems expedient
for the same salina (Reg. 177).

From this it is evident that both St Bees and Wetheral Priories had salinae in
Ayringthwaite by this date. A salina was a works of some kind for making salt; its
exact nature will probably only be deduced from archaeology, but the grant of
estovers may indicate the presence of a wooden building or that fuel was used to boil

The grant to the Priory of St Bees does not seem to appear in their register, but there
seems to have been a dispute over their respective rights between it and Reginald son
of Maurice of Ayringthwaite, which was settled by mutual charters by which they
respectively confirmed each other’s rights. This may have related to the
interpretation of the grant of the Ayringthwaite waste (quoted above). Prior Nicholas
of Langton (1256-82) granted to Reginald

The wood and waste in the bounds of Ayringthwaite with all our right … and all
the right that we have or could have;

And it should be lawful for [Reginald] to do within the said waste and wastes in
both wood and plain [i.e. open ground] and in all else … as seems expedient;

Saving to us and our successors the way to our salina and sea coals in the rock
(rupes – cliff?) and under the rock to make salt where we are accustomed to
take coals;

And us and our successors and our tenants common in open times

And Reginald in exchange releases to us

A follatem (meaning obscure; another version has fossatem – ditch) from the
south to the head of the croft of Robert son of Stephen to the sea between the
house Alexander Hippli’t (or Hippling) and the house of Robert son of Stephen;
and so towards the east by the sea towards Wythost haven pol (Whitehaven pol)
and around by the water to the way next the head of the follati

And he releases and quitclaims

[All the rock] from the yard (orto) of Reginald the Querure to the place called
the Waterfall in length and from cultivated land upon the rock to the sea in

And it will not be lawful for Reginald to licence any one to place a mine
(minum – ?) in the place once built in the vill of Ayringthwaite;

And if the monks desire to come within the bounds of Ayringthwaite they shall
be taken account of again (rescaciabantur) without damage and if they come
into corn or meadow to make amends according to the custom of the country;

Further the Prior and monks may make all improvements and commodities in
the said lands and rocks without impediment from me or my heirs’ (Reg. 181).

The only known combination of cliffs and stream in this general area is where the
stream west from Barrowmouth farm reached the coastal cliffs (now channelled as
modern drain (28988), on the 19th century boundary between Sandwith and Preston
Quarter and already suggested as the ‘sitchet’ in Reg. 178). Similarly, the ‘yard of
Reginald the Querure’ sounds like one of the Whitehaven properties mentioned
below, perhaps below the cliff on the south side of the harbour, on the
Arrowthwaite/Whitehaven boundary. If these suggestions are accepted, the release
and quitclaim covers the whole length of cliff and uncultivated coastal strip within
Arrowthwaite, from the Whitehaven boundary to the Sandwith boundary.

By another charter with precisely the same witnesses – and thus probably of the same
date, Reginald made a grant of

all the land in certain bounds – from the way from the ditch at the head of the
croft of Robert son of Stephen [etc. – otherwise as above] …

And I except that the said prior and monks have a way to their salina and sea
coals in the rock and under the rock to make salt where indeed they are
accustomed to take coals (Reg. 181)

The subsequent documents concerning Ayringthwaite are a series of leases of property
at Whitehaven, but evidently within the bounds of Ayringthwaite. These were made
by Thomas of Wymundam and his wife (and later widow) Margaret, who was
daughter and heiress of Nigel of Ayringthwaite, with various dates from 1315 and
subsequent surrenders of these grants (Reg. 182-206). These are followed by
Margaret’s grant of Ayringthwaite to Roger de Sutton in Galtres in 1330 (Reg. 192),

and finally his grant of it to the Priory in 1335 (Reg. 207-11). This was described as
14 messuages 6 tofts 124 acres of land 8 acres of meadow 1 acre of wood 40 acres of
waste 10 acres of moor 14 acres of marsh and 12d rent in Ayringthwaite and
Whithofthaven [Whitehaven] (Reg. 211). This part of Whitehaven within
Ayringthwaite was probably on the west of the Pow Beck in the area near the market
place described as ‘old tenure and freeholds’ by Collier et al. (1991, 8).

The only other evidence of mining is an undertaking by John abbot of Holmcultram
(1237-55) to pay a rent of six silver pence for a mine in the land at Whitehaven of St
Bees Priory. This was to continue as long as both parties wished (Reg. 410). The
register contains no evidence of iron production in the study area. The only
references to this are elsewhere. Two charters refer to half an acre in Blomelands in
Whitehaven (Reg. 161 and 163). The name might be derived from bloom, that is, a
mass of iron (with slag) that was the immediate product of smelting iron, but a single
place name is too little to rely on. Being east of the Pow Beck, Blomelands was in
any event outside the study area.

In conclusion, the monks were making salt, and were mining coal for the purpose,
evidently for boiling seawater. The mine was probably in the cliff. Wetheral Priory
was evidently also making salt, but may have used wood as fuel; certainly there is no
evidence of them mining coal. The St Bees’ salina may date from the undated grant
by Reginald son of Dermot of his wastes. This must date from the late 12th century.
Wetheral’s grant is dated c.1230.


South of Ayringthwaite, there is no evidence of anything non-agricultural. Some of
the land belonged to the separate manors of Sandwith and Rottington, but the
remainder appears to have been managed as demesne of the Priory; Demesne (farm)
still survives at NX 973 144, presumably within Preston. The only charter referring
to Preston and Sandwath (now Sandwith) is one granting the Priory and its ‘men in
Kirkeby [St Bees village], Rotington [now Rottington], Sandwath [now Sandwith],
Preston, Whithaven and Hothwaite [now Brackenthwaite] the right of turbary [i.e. to
cut peat as fuel] in a marsh in Moriceby [Moresby] called Wythemir, both in marsh
and moor’ (Reg. 73).

In the mid 13th century – in the time of Prior Nicholas (1258-85) - there were a series
of charters (Reg. 414-437) relating to Rotington. In some Benedict of Rotington
granted small parcels of land there to the Priory. However, others agreements
concern the priory’s bercaria (probably a sheep walk or farm, rather than a sheep-
pen) and capraria (perhaps goat-farm rather than –pen, by analogy with the far
commoner vaccaria). Initially this was for 80 years (reg. 418), but apparently became
perpetual. Benedict of Rotington demised and conceded

All my land on Howteberge which is called Poteruns, where the bercaria is
made and other buildings built at the will of the monks without any reservation
by these bounds;

As the aforesaid Poteruns extends to the sea;

And from <it> as the rean (rana – balk) extends to Michelknaphowe, which
Michelknaphowe always remains uncultivated;

And from <that> by the bounds of St Bees to the sea;

Further that the land that lies between Michelknaphowe and the said boundary
should not at all further ascending to be ploughed (?) in width 40 feet where less
it extends to the sea;

Further that whenever it happens that Howtberge lies uncultivated it will not be
lawful for the Prior and monks to plough or sow the land called Poteruns.

Further I demise and concede to the prior and monks pasture for 100 sheep and
40 goats going and regoing anywhere in the pasture of Rotington with free entry
and exit to the said pasture whenever year by year it happens to lie as my own
sheep <have it>.

And be it known that the whole land below the way that leads from the mill of
St Bees to the chapel of St Michael of Rotington and so by the same way to the
hall of Rotington freely lies to the said 100 sheep of the monks from Easter to
Michaelmas (Reg. 418).

There was an earlier (much briefer) grant for 5 years from Pentecost 1247 (Reg. 420).

In 1261, Benedict granted the Priory for 80 years

All my land of Kirkehaven to Knaphou in breadth two rods except Berh where it
extends less towards the sea;

And lineally from Knaphou as the bounds lie towards Raise;

Ascending to Astinhole and so of the Rayse of Astinhole as the bounds lie to
Brundeshole [Brunildhole in Reg. 428];

And so from Brunsdhole (sic) to Potronkirke;

And further from Potrokirke [Poutronkirke in Reg. 428] to the Lord Prior’s
goat-pen or -farm (capraria);

And so from the said goat pen ascending by the rean [balk] of the land of the
church and descending to Grenehougap;

And so from the land of the church descending into the sea (Reg. 427).

Reg. 428 is identical to 427 except spelling, which may be more consistent and thus
more reliable. Reg. 429 (undated time of Prior Nicholas) concerns Benedict’s
complaint that the prior’s sheep pen was a nuisance, evidently because sheep were
straying into cultivated land. Reg. 430 and 437 concerns rights in a mill that was
evidently on the boundary between the lands of St Bees and Rottington.

The bounds of Rodynton, which may be the same as those quoted from Reg. 427 were
again perambulated on 6 October 1474 in settlement of a dispute between Christopher
Sandes (owner of Rodyngton) and the Priory, by a jury consisting of four men from
Kirkeby, four from Sandwith, four from Rodyngton and Nicholas Johnson of Seecote:

These begin their passage at the south corner of a ditch of Christopher Sandes
next the watercourse that divides by convention the land of the Prior from the
land of Christopher Sandes;

Thence it makes its passage by the said ditch of Christopher to a certain little
watercourse called Knaphowe Syke

Then by the upcast of the plough to the division or balk directly under

Then by the balk ascending to Knaphowe where there is a heap of stones;

Then by a certain division to the great balk under the Rayse;

Then by the said balk as far as its summit;

Then crossing towards the north to the Rayse, where there is a heap of stones;

Then by a certain division and opening (or aperture) of land to the goat
pen/farm of the Prior;

Then ascending north by the next balk from the goat pen/farm to the land of the
Church of St Bees;

Then descending by the said land towards the sea to the upcast of the plough;

Then to Grenehowgapp by the upcast of the plough;

Then into the sea (Reg. 493).

Appended to the published Register are a number of illustrative documents. These
include a lease dated 21 November 1540 by Henry VIII’s Augmentation Office to
Thomas Leigh for 21 years at a rent of £98.11.8d. This relates to the priory demesne
and may be useful in elucidating the boundaries relating to Rottington:

The House and scite of the late monastery <description> 1½a

And also close called Holme 16a lying next the sea [16a]

And one close meadow called Sykerre 12a

And one close land called Milne flatte 24a

And one close land called Pete Groves 8a

And one close land called Middle Walle Flatt 20a

And one close land called Greenhowe Flatte 30a

And one close land called Swarthow and Hye Demane 50a

And one close land called Benehowe 5a

And one close land called Parke Pasture with 14 a meadow in all 30a

And also the herbage of a close of wood called Stonylathe 70a

A meadow next to the bridge 9a

A close of and called Wraye bank 6a

A pasture for sheep on the moors or the ‘hefe’ called Sandwath Mershe

And other pasture on the moors called Lowsewater

And also a Grange called Salter Grange <general description>

AND the King also demised the Rectory of Kyrkeby beycoke and
appurtenances and the chapels of Lowsewater, Ennerdale and Wasdale and

Except great trees and woods …

And Advowson of Kirkby Beycock

And tallages

And all kinds of buildings within the scite and precinct of the late monastery,
which the King has imposed to be prostrated and swept away (Reg. App. CV).

to Thomas Leigh for 21 years at a rent of £98.11.8d

Demesne is at NX 973 144; Benhow Wood occupies the gully east of the modern
B5345 road at NX 977 149 with Roskapark Wood to the west of the B5345 (both
named on the 1st edition OS); Stonylathe may well be Stanley at NX 981 140;
Greenhowe may possibly be Greenbank or even Prestonhows; Wraye Bank may well
be Monkwray; and Pete Groves could possibly be Mirehouse. The Priory demesne
land therefore appears to have come close to, or even into, the SE corner of the study
area; it is tempting to see it as including the whole of Preston to the Ayringthwaite

This in turn suggests that Grenehouegap in the earlier documents may be the trough
west from Prestonhows to Barrowmouth (Sandwith Baurgh on the Tithe Map), in
which case these documents seem to be describing the later Sandwith/Preston Quarter
boundary; this would seem to imply that Sandwith was at that time part of Rottington
township (or manor?). In this case, several of the place-names would lie on or close
to the southern boundary of the study area, with the goat-farm perhaps on the
Barrowmouth/Birkhams cliffs (an eminently suitable location). However The Berh
(in various spellings) is generally taken in the literature as referring to St Bees Head;
a wholly different interpretation in which the perambulation follows the later
Rottington/Sandwith boundary west to Fleswick Bay (about a mile outside the
southern boundary of the study area) is therefore at least as likely. This question
could probably be resolved by systematic research on the documentation, of all
periods, for Preston Quarter, Sandwith, and Rottington.


Blair (ed.), J. Minsters and Parish Churches: the local church in transition 950-1200
(Oxford Committee for Archaeology: Monograph 17, 1988).

Collier, S. and Pearson S. 1991. Whitehaven 1660-1800 (London: HMSO).

Wilson (ed.), Rev. J. The Register of the Priory St Bees (Publications of the Surtees
Society CXXVI, 1915).


The standing engine house ruin on the site of Saltom Pit has attracted much interest
and speculation regarding its use and age. Its structure has been most ably recorded
by Lancaster University Archaeology Unit (2000) who have compiled a series of
drawings detailing the elevations and plan of the building. However, the interpretation
of the function of the building has to date been varied and indeterminate, much
confusion arising from the fact that significant early steam pumping engines were
erected at this single shaft location. Saltom Pit was located near the foreshore on the
furthest point west where it could drain colliery workings to the east, and in addition
became the access shaft for the first undersea coal workings in the area.

A drawing (1) based on a plan of the colliery surface layout shows the existing engine
house as being for a winding engine, positioned to the south of the shaft. To the west
and north are shown two separate pumping engine houses, the sites of which are now
covered by a mass of clay and rocks which have slipped down from the cliffs above.
These buildings may have been demolished when the engines inside were scrapped
after cessation of pumping in 1866 but their outline or foundations may still exist
beneath the landslide.

The plan above referred to also depicts to the east of the shaft a horse-gin, a remnant
of which still remains in the form of a curved stone retaining wall. This gin adjoined
the half of the shaft used for winding so it is reasonable to assume that it was the
means of drawing coal up the shaft. Another gin, or more probably a capstan, is
indicated to the south-west of the shaft beyond the winding and pumping houses and
would be necessary for maintenance of shaft and pumping equipment.

In addition, two photographs exist taken of the site about 1860 when coal drawing had
ceased but pumping was still in operation. Both views show at least one rope running
out from the surviving building and over the shaft headgear.

During July 2006 copies of drawings of both the winding engines at Saltom Pit and
Ravenhill were located; the former dated 1823 and the latter 1822.

In plan the engine house is rectangular and divided into two compartments, east and
west. The eastern compartment appears never to have been completely enclosed, there
is no north wall and the east wall has been finished short so there has never been a
north-east corner. A cast-iron bearing remains in the thickness of the east wall, and
another exists opposite to it in the central dividing wall. Both are at first-floor level
and indicate the position of a winding drum in the eastern compartment. Evidence
from the 1860s photograph and the drawing of 1823 show that around the drum were
two parallel paths on the sides of which were projecting guides; these were for
accommodating flat ropes coiling upon themselves upon the drum. Winding of corves
was by the conventional two-rope arrangement, as one rope coiled onto the drum the
other uncoiled.

The whole building had a gabled roof; the south gable would have been complete but
the north was only half because of the shortened east compartment which was only
roofed as far as the end of the east wall. This protected the drum from the weather
whilst the wall facing the shaft was totally open, an arrangement which was common
for early nineteenth century winding and hauling engines where the drums were in a
room separate from the engine (2).

Fixed on the drumshaft and next to the central wall was a flywheel, possibly twice the
diameter of the winding drum. Towards the north end of this wall a stub of timber
projects through it just below the centreline of the winding drum, and at a similar
height towards the south end of the wall is a small lever mounted on a bracket, the
drawing proves these two items to have supported an underslung brake band
operating on only the lower half of the flywheel. From the lever a rod would have led
vertically down the wall to a crank fixed on the end of a rotative shaft running
through the wall into the western compartment where a long lever attached to the end
of the shaft would have terminated in a foot pedal operable by the engine driver.

The drawing of 1823 shows a vertical single-cylinder winding engine of Crowther
patent design, very much a feature of the Northumberland and Durham coalfield,
inside the outline of a building very similar to the one at Saltom Pit. Although the
drawing states it to have been erected at Saltom Pit in 1823, it is reasonable to assume
that the drawing specifically relates to the engine, not the building.

Located within the western compartment was the engine and using measurements of
the building and applying these to the drawing, a scale can be determined. From this a
scaled distance from the centreline of the drumshaft down to the bottom of the
cylinder suggests the latter to have been below the present floor level by about one
foot and therefore the bedstone upon which it stood may still lie hidden. Scaling also
suggests the stroke of the engine was 6 feet.

A significant feature of the Crowther vertical engine was the use of two horizontal
cast iron beams, one on each side of the engine, to support the upper end of the piston
rod. They were positioned one slightly above the other, their inner ends joined by
linkages which were attached through their centres to the upper end of the piston rod,
to ensure the rod ran truly vertical. Here was also attached the lower end of the
connecting rod, the upper end of which was attached to a crank which drove the drum
around. As the cylinder, perhaps two feet in overall diameter, was located very close
to the central dividing wall, a recess has been made in the wall to prevent these
linkages actually touching it. No doubt it also helped to avoid scraped fingers and
knuckles if these linkages needed maintenance.

An interesting feature, worthy of further research, concerns the attachment of the
lower end of the connecting rod to the rest of the engine, which conventionally was
done through the linkages as described above (3). However, the 1823 drawing shows
it being attached to the inner end of one of the beams requiring the vertical axis of the
cylinder to be offset a few inches from the horizontal axis of the drumshaft, a strange
complication which for some unknown reason may have been unique to this engine.
In some engines one of the beams was extended outside the wall of the building to

drive a pump, particularly advantageous when shaft sinking, but not applicable in this
case. Confirmation that the engine was built as drawn lies in the fact that the vertical
groove in the wall, mentioned above, and necessarily on the axis of the cylinder, is
offset several inches from the centre of the remaining drumshaft bearing.

The outer ends of the two horizontal beams are depicted as terminating on pivots
mounted on T-shaped brackets projecting out from the central dividing wall, one of
these still survives at the southern end fixed in place by 6 bolts; at the northern end 6
boltholes indicate where that bracket was fixed.

The original wooden floor is indicated by rectangular holes for supporting joists so
the vertical cylinder would have been at least half below floor level, its top is
indicated by a cut-out in the side of the central wall. The valve gear was operated by a
vertical plug rod from beneath the southern beam so the engineman would drive it
positioned a little to the south-west of the cylinder. From such a position a clear view
may be had northwards to the ‘bank’, the ground level at the top of the shaft, through
a large doorway in the north wall of this compartment set a couple of feet above floor
level to match the ground outside. And of course this position is only a short distance
from where the brake crankshaft came through the central wall.

A vertical single cylinder winding engine of the Durham-coalfield type is preserved at
Beamish Museum although about 30 years later in date. Its major difference from
Saltom is that the whole engine and drum is accommodated within one room as
instead of a central wall there is a massive timber A-frame to support the inner end of
the drumshaft. Another single cylinder vertical engine remains at Glyn Pits (ST
266999) in South Wales and is at present undergoing restoration. This example retains
its reels for flat ropes and has a central dividing wall although the vertical piston rod
runs between conventional guides with a jaw-ended connecting rod.

Presumably the choice of a vertical engine for Saltom was made because of the
restricted ground area as the engine chosen for the top of the Ravenhill shaft (NX
9653 1737) is depicted as being a beam engine to operate the winding drum. The
erection of both of these engines within two years, to replace horse-gins, shows a
major capital investment for which John Peile appears to have been responsible. He
was placed in charge of the Whitehaven collieries in 1811 when Mr. Bateman retired
and under his direction they made great progress. In 1819 he expanded the workings
of the Saltom Pit to reach further seams so presumably adopted new winding
equipment to increase the output (4).

Simon Chapman

25 July 2006


(1). Industrial Archaeology of the Lake Counties. J. D. Marshall and Michael Davis-Shiel. Pub.
Michael Moon, 1977. P.113.

(2). See picture of Warden Law Hauler, Hetton Railway, NZ 368504, in The Private Railways of
County Durham. C. E. Mountford. I. R. S. 2004. p.128.

(3). Single Cylinder Vertical Lever Type Winding Engines As Used In The North East Of
England. Alan Hill. De Archaeologische Pers. 1986.

(4). Historical Sketch of the Whitehaven Collieries. R. W. Moore. F. I. M. E. 1900 (?) P.632.
Author’s copy.



John Peile became in overall charge of the Whitehaven collieries in 1811 and greatly
expanded them in subsequent years. In 1819 he sank a new shaft at the Duke Pit from
the surface to the Six-Quarter seam.

Historical Sketch of the Whitehaven Collieries. R. W. Moore. F. I. M. E. 1900 (?), 632. Author’s copy.

In 1841, a fan was erected at the upcast at Duke pit for the ventilation of the workings in the main band
and six-quarters seam at that pit. The fan was 8 feet in diameter and 4 feet wide. It was driven
by a high-pressure engine with a cylinder 12 3/8 inches in diameter by 3 feet stroke, and
produced 23,000 cubic feet of air per minute. This was the first attempt at mechanical
ventilation at the Whitehaven pits, but it could not be considered a great success; and the
collieries continued to be ventilated by underground furnaces, as hitherto, until 1870, when a
Guibal ventilator was erected at the Duke pit on the advice of Mr. G. B. Forster.

A number of drawings located by David Cranstone during the course of this
investigation illustrate the surface layout of Duke Pit in the mid-nineteenth century.
Within a walled enclosure are several buildings clustered around two shafts; a narrow
oval-shaped shaft to the south-east lies several yards away from a larger circular shaft,
described as ‘Air Shaft’, to the north-west. This latter shaft was probably the one sunk
in 1819, the oval one dating from the previous century. Between the two shafts was
located a ‘Coal Whimsey Engine House’ which seems to have wound coal in the
earlier oval shaft while the newer shaft possibly had a furnace at its base to induce

About 1840 a ventilating fan was installed, as above described, connected to the oval
shaft by a constructed airway, and described as a ‘Blowing Machine.’ Details are
scarce but no air flow is indicated to the axle of the fan, suggesting that it may have
appeared and worked like the paddle of a river steamer pushing air towards the small
diameter coal-drawing shaft. No wonder it was not considered a great success!

An intriguing arrangement of drive to the fan is revealed. A pair of Table engines are
shown sharing a common bedplate; each single-cylinder vertical engine drove a
crankshaft beneath itself on which was fixed a medium diameter spur wheel. Between
the two spur wheels and meshed with them was a small one located on a shaft, on the
other end of which was a large pulley and an even larger flywheel. From the pulley
ran a drive band, possibly made of ropes, to a small pulley on the end of the fan axle,
so that as the two engines rotated at a steady rate the fan would revolve considerably

A general layout plan of the site is easily identifiable as such in spite of the top of the
drawing pointing to the south-west. It does not show the above fan arrangement so
could be dated pre-1840 or alternately about 1870 as it shows very faintly the outline
of the Guibal fanhouse erected at that time. This was located a few yards to the south-
west of the two shafts so as not to interfere with their active operation during
construction (although this fails to explain why the fanhouse was not located with the
centre of the fan directly opposite the 1819 air shaft, a more efficient situation).

The workings of Wellington Pit had been connected with those of Duke Pit which
then became the upcast for Wellington.

Iron & Coal Trades Review, 19 June 1903, 1711

The Wellington Pit of the Whitehaven Collieries

The ventilating plant consists of a Guibal fan, 36 ft. diameter, and 12 ft. in width, driven direct by a
single engine, with a cylinder 30 in. diameter by 30 in. stroke. It has piston valves worked
with a steam pressure of 70 lb. Per square inch. The steam is generated for this engine by two
Galloway boilers, 26 ft. by 7 ft. The revolutions per minute of the fan are 60. The water gauge
is 3.2 in. The quantity of air per minute is 54,000 cubic feet. A Walker’s indestructible fan is
in course of erection.

Although a Guibal fan was the most modern of mechanical ventilators in 1870 it
fairly soon became outdated and with the underground workings greatly expanded by
1903 the erection of another fan was clearly a necessity. Presumably this was built at
one of the Wellington shafts while the Guibal fan still operated for a few years longer
although the Coal Mines Act of 1911 required airflow reversal which was impossible
with a Guibal fan without major rebuilding.


Although the structure of the Guibal fanhouse is to a totally standard design, in
keeping with the other mining buildings around Whitehaven harbour it has had
architectural embellishments applied. The top of the exhaust chimney, or evasee, has
crenellations and the whole of the exterior displays only stonework although much
brickwork has been used in construction. The fan chamber was totally enclosed, and
the slots around the circumference at the exit to the evasee are still retained. Located
in these was a movable shutter (now missing) which could be raised or lowered to suit
operating conditions in an attempt to achieve maximum efficiency. Chains or a rope
from the shutter went up the evasee, over a pulley then across to the outer wall,
through a small hole and over another pulley before ending at a fixing point on the
near outside wall near to the ground. Certainly the outer pulley remains. Also at the
evasee base is an access passage into the fan chamber, another feature usually present
in medium to large Guibal fanhouses.

During ‘discovery’ of this fanhouse in 1969 the wall between fan and engine room
was demolished; originally it would only have had a small opening through it to
accommodate the bearing and central crankshaft of the fan. Unfortunately the wall
was not replaced, only alterations made to prevent any of the building collapsing and
to provide a metal fence to allow people to view the interior of the fan chamber. A
massive concrete lintel supports the roof of the chamber above the fence with a
pebble-dash finish to the arched wall above; very practical but failing totally in terms
of historical accuracy and aesthetic appeal.

No walling of the engine room survives but the foundations which supported the
engines do so. Very clearly marked out on these are the holding-down boltholes and
crank pit showing that two horizontal engines were once fitted, a common
arrangement with a ventilating fan on whose successful operation depend the working
of the colliery. The outline of the engine to the west of the crankshaft appears larger

and better defined, suggesting it drove the fan most of the time. To the east the outline
is less defined and the crank pit has been roughly modified suggesting the engine on
this side was classed as the stand-by, ready to be coupled up to the fan if the regular
engine broke down or needed maintenance. On the other side of the fan the large
circular hole in the wall through which air from the mine was drawn has been bricked
up, fortunately without disturbing the characteristic casting spanning the opening to
support the other fan bearing. This casting is supported by two vertical columns and
may be the only one in Britain still remaining in its original position.

Ideally the fanhouse should have been located so that the opening described was
immediately adjacent to the shaft for maximum efficiency in extracting the air from
the mine. For whatever reason, this did not happen and a broad passageway was built
a few yards in length to connect fan and Duke Pit top. Stone walling surrounds the top
of the shaft, possibly earlier than the fanhouse, but to make it airtight a impressive
brick roof has been added, through the centre of which appears to be a hole for a
winding rope. Against the west end of the fanhouse is an airlock which provided
access to the interior of the passageway.

The air passage runs along the outer side of the fan chamber, but its outbye end after
the opening to the fan has been destroyed. The remaining part of the outer wall of the
passage at this point is very low and has a large bearing mounted upon it, and
evidence of another; these may be evidence of a second motion winding or hauling
engine, perhaps even installed after the fanhouse became disused. A small winding
engine for shaft inspection work is a possibility, although the 2nd edition Ordnance
Survey 1:2500 map shows a standard gauge siding running from the bottom of the
Howgill Incline up to Duke Pit so a small hauler for working coal wagons up this
branch is also possible.

The eighteenth century oval-plan shaft was located a few yards to the north-east of the
evasee end of the fanhouse and excavations in this area might reveal something of the
layout of the intriguing ‘Blowing Machine,’ one of the earliest and almost successful
attempts at mechanical ventilation.

Several Guibal fanhouses exist in the country but Duke Pit is probably the largest:

Huntcliff 1874 – 1906 30 ft. x 10 ft Scheduled NZ 697214

Lazenby 1872 – 1903? 30 ft x 10 ft Nominally preserved NZ 580188

New Bank 1869 – 1900? 30 ft x 10 ft Foundations only NZ 566185

North Loftus 1876 – 1900? 12 ft x 4 ft Ruined NZ 710192

Skelton Shaft 1874 – 1900? 30 ft x 10 ft Partly ruined NZ 637169

New Hawne Colliery,

Halesowen, West Midlands. 16 ft x 5 ft Listed

Simon Chapman

25 July 2006 (Revised 7 April 2007)