Workington - the West Coast.
Welcome to the EDGE Guide to Workington. Workington is a busy town with a market for up to 50 stalls held every Saturday and Wednesday.
The thriving town centre has many historical and architectural points of interest to encourage you to visit. The historic Workington Hall is within walking distance of the town centre, there are also good sporting facilities in the area.
To the south Harrington Marina provides safe berthing for yachts and small sailing dingys.
The town is on the picturesque railway that runs the length of the Cumbrian coast, Workington makes a sensible halfway point on the route.
In truth Workington is not a tourist destination - it being an industrial town. This however, should not discourage you from paying a visit. Workington has an interesting history and does have Workington Hall and The Helena Thompson Museum to stimulate your interest and a very fine church worth visiting.
Workington: a short history: top
Workington's history is similar in many ways to those of Whitehaven and Maryport, in that it was of no great significance until the Industrial Revolution: it was developed largely by the local landed gentry, in this case the Curwen Family.
Workington, however was a late starter compared to its neighbours.
It is likely that the Curwens watched as the Senhouse and Lonsdale families prospered from their investments in their respective ports and decided to try to imitate their success.
The Curwen family had been in the area long before they built Workington Hall in 1380, the town takes its name from them infact, they were originally called Wyrkington, but later took the name Curwen from one of their estates in Galloway in Scotland.
The family can trace their lineage back to Ethelred the Unready, King of England from 979-1016 and Malcolm II King of Scotland from 1005-1034.
The Industrial Revolution (roughly mid C18-C19), created a demand for coal and iron ore, deposits of which were known to be found in the area. Mining began in earnest. The increased demand led to the development of the harbour, Sir James Lowther can be credited with some responsibility for this, he had the harbour wall strengthened in 1776.
The first colliery opened in 1780.
By 1815 there were four pits employing some 400 people. Working conditions in these mines were appalling: children under the age of ten were commonly used.
In 1837 a disaster overtook Workington Colliery. The sea broke into the workings, which extended 3mls out under the sea, and 27 men and boys were lost, as were 28 pit ponies.
A ship building industry began in a small way in the harbour, and by 1846 some 80 ships were registered at the port.
Workington began to boom, John Christian Curwen brought Irish labourers over the sea to work on his estates which included the model Schoose Farm, where he developed many innovative farming practises, some of which are still in use today. The farm is now sadly in ruins.
Incidentally Fletcher Christian of Mutiny on the Bounty fame was a relation of the Curwen family.
Workington: OS ref NX 998285 Sheet 89. Get the OS Map