|Businesses in Silloth||Towns and Villages of Cumbria|
(See also Solway Coast Discovery Centre)
Backed by the Lakeland fells and situated on the shores of the Solway Firth, the former Victorian spa resort of Silloth-on-Solway boasts a 1 ½ mile long promenade offering views across the water to the hills of southern Galloway in Scotland. Wide uncrowded beaches (the tides make swimming unsafe), tree-lined streets, and a 36 acre green make the town with its cobbled streets a pleasant place for a quiet holiday.
A yearly kite festival in July is an enjoyable spectator sport with kite fliers coming from far and wide. You can watch experts flying kites with 1, 2 and 4 lines, team formation kites, giant kites, and even a display of the exciting sport of kite buggying. There is music, storytelling and entertainment included in this free festival. Solway holds a market on Thursday and Sunday, and on August Bank Holiday Monday, its annual Carnival. A Silloth resident once held the title of biggest liar in the world, earned in an annual competition.
Silloth is a busy dock with a small fishing fleet that specializes in Solway shrimp. Another local event includes a fishing boat race, jet-ski racing, speed boating, and sea canoeing. The Silloth Lifeboat Station is an essential service, providing life saving in emergency situations. An 18-hole golf course was the ‘home’ course of Celia Leith (1891-1978), the most celebrated woman golfer of her day.
The planned town of Silloth was engineered by the Carlisle and Silloth Bay Railway as a railhead and port in the 1850's. Liverpool architects designed the streets, built hotels, gasworks, baths and lodging houses. The Victorians, impressed with the health giving benefits of sea bathing, came in droves after a doctor said the air was cleaner and healthier than anywhere else. The amusement arcade was once a Victorian bathing spot offering hot, cold, swimming and plunge baths. Like many other Victorian seaside towns, “bathing machines” (wheeled huts pulled by horses) transported bathers straight into the sea.
There was once a 1000-ft long and 25 ft wide Victorian pier by West Beach. Steamboats left from here for Liverpool, Dublin, The Isle of Man, and Whitehaven. A railway along its length carried passengers and goods to and from Silloth Station. Unfortunately, during the 1940's the pier rotted and was washed away.
Overlooking the green, Christ Church, of grey granite imported from Ireland, dates from 1870. The church, in the Early Decorated style, consists of a chancel, a nave with five bays, aisles, and a tower containing eight bells. The church registers date from 1872.
But Silloth existed long before Victorian times. Romans (Silloth is built astride the extension of the Roman Wall), Vikings, Saxons, Normans, and pirates all visited the shores. The monks of nearby Holme Cultram Abbey cultivated the land, created a salt industry, and farmed the Solway Marshes. They stored the grain in barns known as “lathes” near the sea. “Sea Lathes” was later corrupted into Silloth. The monks also developed a port at Skinburness to export the wool from their sheep. The 13th century village was washed away in a storm, and the monks moved their markets to Newton Arlosh.
With beaches stretching 8 miles south, the coastal area is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Inter-tidal saltmarshes and wildflower covered sand dunes are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Rare birds (the Solway shore is famous for its pink-footed geese) and plants inhabit the area. Grune Point, a grassed and shingle spit north of Skinburness is an ideal spot for birdwatching. The famous landscape artist J. M. Turner painted the beautiful sunsets over the Solway Firth.
Silloth is on the B5301 B5302 10 miles (16km) NW of Wigton.
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