Businesses in Ulverston Towns and Villages of Cumbria


(See also Swarthmoor Hall , Conishead Priory , Heritage First , Laurel and Hardy Museum , The Lakes Glass Centre)

Market Cross Ulverston By TheButlerUlverston, marking the start of the 70 mile Cumbrian Way, and just a mile from the sea at Morecambe Bay, is a busy market town for southern Cumbria's Furness peninsula.

Ulverston's recorded history began in 1085, when it was mentioned in the Domesday Book of King William I, although there were certainly people that occupied the area before then. Edward I granted a market charter to the town in 1280. Markets are still held twice a week, on Thursdays and Saturdays, when the town crier comes out in full costume. Cobbled streets and yards lend atmosphere to the hunt for local homemade treats and organic produce.

The King also gave the town permission to hold an annual September fair that still operates, the highlight being a torchlight procession through the town. Ulverston was the site of two “hiring” fairs, one at Whitsun and one at Martinmas, when streets were crowded with men and women looking for jobs and employers looking for workers. A matchstick or a straw in the hatband would be a sign that a worker wanted employment.

Conishead Priory UlverstonIn the 12th century Conishead Priory was established in the area. When the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII, the Priory was razed, and Lord Monteagle built a home on the site. In 1818, his crumbling home was replaced by a Gothic mansion. Neglected over the years, a Buddhist Institute took over as owner in the 1970's. The monks of Conishead Priory built St Mary's Church, parts dating from 1111. Enlarged in 1806, renovated and rebuilt in the 1860's, traces of its Norman door remain. The tower was replaced in Queen Elizabeth I's reign, the original being destroyed by a storm.

In 1316 and 1322 the area was plundered and burned by Scottish invasions, part of the continuing border warfare. During the Civil War the area again saw upheaval, but it escaped any serious harm during the Jacobite rebellions.

Swarthmoor Hall By ThebutlerSwarthmoor Hall was the 17th century home of George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement (Society of Friends). He didn't like Ulverston, saying that the people were “liars, drunkards, whoremongers and thieves and follow filthy pleasures.” They, in turn, persecuted him.

Iron mined in the Newlands area of the town brought prosperity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Charcoal and waterpower fueled the mills. The town became a port when, in 1796, a mile-long canal (said to be the world's longest, widest, and shortest) was built to connect it with Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea. Today the canal bank provides a pleasurable path for walking. Copper, slate, and fabric were exported from Ulverston. The town quadrupled in size, and it became known as the ‘London’ of Furness. It published two newspapers and manufactured fabric and brewed beer. Hotels, a concert hall, chapels and churches, schools and a post office were all part of the civilization brought by booming times.

Looking across the Leven Estuary to the GlaxoSmithKline site at Ulverston By Susannah BleakeyAdding to Ulverston's prosperity was its location on a direct trade route across the sands of Morecambe Bay, leading from the Cartmel Peninsula to Barrow. Guides are needed to show the way across the wide expanse of sand. The coming of the railway spelled disaster for Ulverston, as the port trade disappeared and nearby Barrow-in-Furness developed its industries.

Ulverston Sir John Barrow Monument by TheButlerOutside the town, high on a hill, sits the Hoad Monument, a copy of a lighthouse, built in 1850. It was built as a tribute to Sir John Barrow, (1764-1848) an author, explorer and Under-Secretary to the Admiralty. He was a founding member of the Royal Geographical Society and help fund expeditions to the Arctic. It was he who exiled Napoleon to the island of St. Helena. Sometimes, in summer, the Monument is open to visitors. At the top are stunning views over Morecambe Bay and the Lake District.

The Coronation Hall Ulverston by TheButlerThe Coronation Hall, built in 1914 to celebrate the coronation of King George V, is one of the principal buildings in the town. Today it serves as a civic and social centre. Ulverston is the site of a unique museum-the world's only Laurel and Hardy Museum. Full of memorabilia, it also shows Laurel and Hardy films in a small cinema. Ulverston's connection with the pair is Stan Laurel, who was born here. Located in one of the many ginnels (a narrow roofed passage between buildings or an alley) in the town, Ulverston's Heritage Centre is the place to go to learn all about Ulverston and Furness from Neolithic times to post World War II. Traditions, industries, historical records of ships, and more are on display.

The Lakes Glass Centre is another Ulverston attraction. The Heron Glass and Cumbria Crystal offer a chance to see glassmakers using traditional methods, and to visit the ‘Gateway to Furness Exhibition’ that details the heritage of the town and surrounding area. The town is credited with inventing pole vaulting as a sport in 1879.

Ulverston Station by theButlerUlverston, lying south of the Lakeland fells and lakes, misses the tourist traffic that invades the Lake District. This friendly market town holds many pleasant surprises for the visitor.

Railway station with direct trains from Manchester Airport, Liverpool, Preston and Lancaster.

Photos courtesy of Susannah Bleakey , TheButler

Ulverston is on the A590 A5087 B5281 8 miles (13 km) NE of Barrow-in-Furness.

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