Natural history

Pages cx-cxxviii

Magna Britannia: Volume 4, Cumberland. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1816.

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In this section

Natural History.

Fossils and Minerals.—The county of Cumberland affords a considerable variety of mineral productions, though not so great as in former times, when the Goldscalp and other copper-mines were worked. Numerous specimens of copper and lead ores will be found described in Woodward's Catalogue of English fossils. The following are the most worthy of notice of those at present occurring in the mountainous districts:

Beryl. From Caldew-beck. (fn. n1)
Olvvine, in basalt. Augite. From Great Barrock.
Garnet. Abundantly in the porphyries near the lakes.
Epidote. Near Keswick; and in syenite, Ennerdale.
Ironjlint. In Thornthwaite lead-mines.
Chalcedony. Small pieces in amygdaloid, Caer-mote.
Compact felspar. Forms the basis of porphyry in St. John's, &c.
Chlorite. In veins with quartz in Borrowdale.
Basalt. Great Barrock. (fn. n2)Green earth. In amygdaloid, Caer-mote.
Lithomarga. Borrowdale. — Steatite. In granite on Saddleback.
Asbestos. Forming veins in greenstone at Melmerby and Troutbeck.
Molybdena. From Caldew-beck. (fn. n3)Chiastolite. In clay-slate, Skiddaw.

Calcareous spar, brown spar, pearl spar, satin spar (fn. n4), fluor spar, carbonate of barytes, and sulphate of barytes, accompany the lead ore in most of the mines in Alston moor. Selenite, in long transparent crystals, is found in the Alston moor mines, and in the gypsum at St. Bees-Head.

Of Metallic Fossils the following occur — native copper, copper pyrites, grey copper ore, green ore, blue ore, and malachite, from the Newlands and Caldbeck mines. Galena, carbonate of lead, phosphate of lead and antimonial lead ore; the two first are common in all the mines, the others at Caldbeck. A mine of antimony was formerly worked at Bassenthwaite; the ore is the sulphuret of antimony.

Blende generally accompanies the lead ores, and calamine is found in some of the veins in Alston-moor. Hæmatite iron ore occurs in great quantity near Whitehaven; iron mines in Eskdale; and iron pyrites are very common in the coal in veins, and imbedded in the slates.

Arsenic pyrites are found in Newlands mines, and native arsenic occurs in small quantity in the refuse workings of an old lead mine on Saddleback. The oxides of titanium and iron (the titan eisan of the Germans) is found in some of the syenite of Caldbeck fells, and Wolfram in the same place.

Grey cobalt has lately been met with, but in very small quantity, on the north side of Saddleback.

Several hollow tubes, of a vitreous substance, have been lately found in the hillocks of drifted sand, between the mouth of the river Irt and the sea; near to Drigg, rising above the surface perpendicularly through the sand, and tapering downwards from about an inch and a half to half an inch in diameter. One of them was found to descend about 30 feet. These are supposed to have been produced by means of lightning. (fn. n5)

Extraneous fossils are found imbedded in the limestone strata in several parts of Cumberland. Woodward mentions coralines of various kinds found near Lanercost priory and Torpenhow; anomiæ; entrochi; asteriœ, the bone of some animal of a bright green colour, found in a copper mine; parts of the striated stem of a plant in pit-stone near Whitehaven, and vertebræ of fish found on the shore near Muncaster. (fn. n6)

Indigenous Plants. — The county of Cumberland, particularly the mountainous part of it, produces a great variety of plants, which are of rare occurrence in other parts of the kingdom; a list of them is given in the following table.

Names of the Plants. Where found. Authority.
Veronica spicata Kirkland Hutchinson.
Utricularia minor Cooper, Abbey-Holme Rev. J. Dodd.
Near Ennerdale Water Mr. Jo. Woods.
Festuca vivipara On the mountains Mr. J. Woods.
Galium boreale Helvellyn Rev. Edm. Goodenough.
Alchemilla alpina Screes above Wastwater, and near the slate-quarries at Buttermere Mr. J. Woods.
Helvellyn Rev. Edm. Goodenough.
Lithospermum purpuro-cæruleum Castle-Carrock Hutchinson (on authority of Rev. W. Richardson).
Pulmonaria maritima On the sea-coast near Allonby, Ravenglass. Maryport, &c. Mr. Rook, Rev. J. Dodd, &c.
Primula farinosa West-Newton meadow Mr. J. Woods.
Aspatria Rev. J. Dodd.
Lysimachia thyrsiflora Keswick Rev. J. Dodd.
Convolvulus soldanella On the shore at Parton, Maryport, and Ravenglass Mr. J. Woods.
Lobelia Dortmanni In most of the lakes.
Impatiens noli me tangere Scale-hill Botanists' Guide, from Mr. J. Woods.
Gentiana pneumonanthe Between Maryport and Flimby Botanists' Guide, from Rev. J. Harriman.
Meum athamanticum Near Keswick Botanists' Guide, from Rev. W. Wood.
Cicuta virosa Keswick, Walton, and Irthington Hutchinson.
Statice reticulata Whitehaven Botanists' Guide.
Juncus filiformis Margins of Derwentwater and Crummock Mr. J. Woods.
— triglumis Loweswater Botanists'Guide(Mr.Woods).
Rumex digynus Screes near Wastwater, and slate-quarries Buttermere Mr. J. Woods.
Helvellyn Rev. Edm. Goodenough.
Alisma natans Derwentwater Botanists' Guide, (R. H. C. Greville).
Trientalis Europæa Keswick and Bewcastle Hutchinson, (on authority of Rev. W. Richardson).
Epilobium alpinum Keswick and Gowbarrow-park Hutchinson.
Vaccinium vitis idea Skiddaw and Great-Gable Rev. J.Dodd and Mr.J.Woods.
— uliginosum Near Gamelsby (fn. n7) in Aikton Rev. J. Dodd.
Pyrola minor Dunmallet, near Ulswater Hutchinson.
Andromeda polifolia Moss, near Bromfield (fn. n8) Rev. J.Dodd.
Saxifraga stellaris Helvellyn, Ennerdale mountains, and on the Screes Mr. J. Woods.
Cross-fell Hutchinson.
Skiddaw Mr. Dawson Turner.
Saxifraga nivalis Helvellyn Rev. Edmund Goodenough.
— aizoides Frequent in the mountainous districts.
— oppositifolia Screes, Wastwater Found by Edm. Lamplugh Irton, Esq. in 1801.
Sedum Anglicum Hudson.
Cerastium alpinum Helvellyn Rev. Edm. Goodenough.
Euphorbia paralias On the shore near Harrington. Mr. J. Woods.
Rubus saxatilis Hudson.
— chamæmorus Crossfell Hutchinson.
Potentilla fruticosa Screes, Wastwater Mr. J. Woods.
Thalictrum majus Side of Ennerdale water, and on the Screes Mr. J. Woods.
Thalictrum alpinum Isel Mr. J.Dodd.
Helvellyn Rev. Edm. Goodenough.
Adonis autumnalis Near Bromfield Mr. J. Woods.
Trollius Europæus Kirkland Rev. W. Richardson.
Near Whitehaven Mr. J. Woods.
Aspatria Rev. J. Dodd.
Mentha gentilis Dalston Rev. J. Holme.
Galeopsis versicolor. (fn. n9)
Lathrea squamaria Wood near Wigton Mr. Rooke.
Sibthorpia Europæa Gowbarrow park, &c. Hutchinson, (on the authority of Rev. W. Richardson.)
Thlaspi alpestre perfoliatum of Ray Ray.
Iberis nudicaulis Near the Hards, Abbey-Holme Mr. J. Woods.
Crambe maritima Near St. Bees, and below Ravenglass and Bootle Mr. J. Woods.
Sisymbrium monense On the shores Mr. J. Woods.
Arabis hispida On the Screes Mr. J. Woods.
Geranium sylvaticum Hudson.
— sanguineum Rabbit-warren between Workington and Maryport Mr. J. Woods.
— nodosum Ray.
— phæum Kirkland Hutchinson, (on theauthority of Rev. W. Richardson).
Orobus sylvaticus (fn. n10) Gamblesby and Ousby
Serratula alpina Helvellyn Rev. Edm. Goodenough.
Gnaphalium dioicum On the Screes and at Buttermere Mr. J. Woods.
Penrith-fell, Kirkland, &c. Hutchinson, (on theauthority of Rev. W. Richardson).
Senecio Saracenicus (fn. n11) Salkeld Ray.
Near Moresby Mr. J. Woods.
Orchis ustulata Blindcrake Rev. J. Dodd.
Ophrys cordata Kirkland Hutchinson, (on the authority of Rev. W. Richardson).
Satyrium albidum Mountainous pastures above Borrowdale Mr. Dawson Turner.
Littorella lacustris Near Brayton-hall and Abbey-Holme Mr. J. Woods.
Salix herbacea Skiddaw Mr. J. Woods.
Saddleback and Helvellyn Rev. Edm. Goodenough.
— reticulata About Alston Hutchinson, (on the authority of Rev. W. Richardson).
Rhodiola rosea Helvellyn Rev. E. Goodenough.
Upon the Screes plentifully Mr. J. Woods.
Osmunda regalis Dalston Rev. J. Holme.
Empetrum nigrum Crossfell, &c. Hutchinson.
Skiddaw Mr. Dawson Turner.
Asplenium viride Crossfell Hutchinson, (on the authority of the Rev.W. Richardson).
— marinum Rocks near Whitehaven Mr. J. Woods.
— septentrionale Screes, near Wastwater Mr. J. Woods.
Pteris crispa Borrowdale Mr. Dawson Turner.
Hymenophyllum Tunbrigiense Screes, near Wastdale Mr. J. Woods.
Isoetes lacustris Ennerdale water Mr. J. Woods.
Lycopodium alpinum Helvellyn Rev. Edm. Goodenough.
Gymnostonum curvirostrum Mr. Dickson.
Lichen polyphyllus Near Irton-hall Mr. J. Woods.
— torrefactus
— proboscideus
— polyrhizos
— pustulatus
— Œderi
— ventosus
— hispidus
— calvus
— paschalis
— quadricolor Near Keswick Rev. J. Harriman.
— gelidus Borrowdale
— Westringii Thornthwaite
— glomuliferus Keswick
— lætevirens
— squamatus Mr. Dickson.
— Islandicus Great Gable Rev. W. Woods.
— tristis Ennerdale mountains Mr. J. Woods.
— plumbeus On trees at Eskett, near Ennerdale Mr. J. Woods.
— affinis
— limbatus

Birds, &c. — Among the rarer Cumberland birds (fn. n12), may be enumerated, the sea-eagle (fn. n13), (falco ossifragus); the white-tailed eagle (fn. n13), (vultur albiulla); the Peregrine falcon (fn. n14); the honey-buzzard (fn. n15), (falco apivorus); the long-eared owl (fn. n16), (strix otus); the short-eared owl*; great butcher-bird, (lanius excubitor); the red-backed butcher-bird*, (lanius collurio); the greater and middle spotted woodpecker, (picus major et medius); common hoopoe †, (upupa epops); the ring-ouzel (fn. n17), (turdus torquatus); the water-ouzel, (sturnus cinctus); Bohemian chatterer†, (amphelis garrulus); common cross-bill†, (loxia curvirostra); snow bunting *, (emberiza nivalis); the siskin, (fringilla spinus); pied fly-catcher (fn. n18), (muscicapa atricapilla); the black cap, (motacilla atricapilla); pettychaps*, (motacilla hippolais); sedge bird *, (motacilla salicaria (fn. n19) ); cole titmouse, (parus ater); marsh titmouse, (parus palustris); ptarmigan, (tetras lagopus); green shank*, (scolopax glottis); hebridal iringa *, (iringa interpres); the dottrel * (fn. n20), (charadrius morinellus); spotted rail (fn. n21), (rallus porzana); tippet grebe * (fn. n22), (colymbus urinator); razor bill*, (alca torda); little auk*, (alca alle); northern diver * (fn. n23), (colymbus glacialis); the imber *, colymbus immer); the speckled diver *; the smew, (mergus albellus); the wild swan *, (anas cygnus ferus); scoter duck *, (anas nigra); and the golden-eyed duck *, (anas clangula).

Mineral Waters. — There is no mineral water in this county of any note except the sulphureted spring at Gilsland, which has been long celebrated, chiefly for the cure of cutaneous disorders. This spring, which is situated in a picturesque valley on the western bank of the Irthing, has been resorted to on account of its medical qualities upwards of seventy years. There are three boarding houses for the accommodation of the company; one of which is at a place called Wardrew on the opposite side of the Irthing, and in the county of Northumberland. Dr. Short classes the Gilsland water among those of the sulphureous kind, and says that it contains a very considerable proportion of sulphur, a small quantity of sea salt, and a very little earth. Dr. Clanny, who has recently published a treatise on the Gilsland waters and their medicinal efficacy, gives a more scientific account of it from analysis (fn. n24). The same writer describes also a chalybeate spring discovered about the year 1811, a few yards north of the sulphureted water (fn. n25).

There is a pretty strong sulphur spring in the township of Biglands, in the parish of Aikton, (discovered about the year 1775,) which is frequented by a few of the neighbouring country people; in the winter it is much weakened by inundation of fresh water. (fn. n26)

At Stanger, two miles north of Lorton, is a saline spring nearly resembling the Cheltenham water. It turns white with the spirit of hartshorn, and lets fall a great sediment, with oil of tartar: a gallon of it will yield 1170 grains of sediment, whereof 1080 are sea-salt. (fn. n27)

In the parish of Melmerby is a sulphureous spring, occasionally resorted to by the country people, and in the same parish a chalybeate spring on the fells. In Hutchinson's History, chiefly among Housman's notes, there is mention of chalybeate springs at Bewcastle, Great-Salkeld, (on the common); Iron-gill, in the parish of Sebergham; and three at Brampton : saline springs also at Gilcrux and Drig, and two in the parish of Crosthwaite, near the head of the Derwent, much resorted to by the country people; a sulphur spring at Bewcastle, and a medicinal spring, of which the nature is not described, near Kirkland, in the parish of Wigton. There is mention also of a petrifying spring in the parish of Sebergham; a remarkable water on Gildersdale-fell, near Alston, the scum of which is said to be used by the neighbouring people for painting yellow and red, producing colours like yellow ochre and Spanish brown; and a spring near the Eden, at Rockliffe, which tints paper a beautiful gold colour, said to be medicinal.


This county, till of late years, did not produce much more corn than was sufficient for the consumption of its inhabitants (fn. n28). Since the inclosures, which have taken place to a great extent within the last twenty years (fn. n29), considerable quantities of flour and oatmeal have been exported coastways to Liverpool and other parts of Lancashire, and the Bristol Channel. The chief exports are from Whitehaven, the computed annual quantity now sent from that port being between 2000 and 2500 tons. Both flour and oatmeal are exported also in smaller quantities from Maryport and Ravenglass. The north-west part of the county is the principal corn district, and where wheat is chiefly grown; Gilsland also, in the north-east, is a corn district, where the turnip and barley system is very prevalent. Potatoes are cultivated in considerable abundance for the Cumberland markets. The north-east, south-east, and southern parts of the county are chiefly appropriated to grazing; and a considerable quantity of butter is sent in firkins to distant markets.

Among the productions of this county for the use of the table may be mentioned cranberries, which grow in great profusion on the moors, and are sold in the season at Longtown and other markets, and sent in barrels to London and elsewhere. The sale at Longtown is so extensive that they may be deemed an important article of commerce. Near Tarn-Wadling are some cranberry bogs which have been fenced in by the inclosure of Inglewood forest, containing about ten acres in the whole. The fruit from these inclosures being suffered to attain a degree of ripeness which the cranberries on the common moors, from the eagerness of the gatherers to bring them to market, seldom arrive at, is much esteemed, and the farmers who occupy them, consider them as of more value per acre than any other part of their estates. The cranberries are sold at is. 6d. per quart.

The fisheries of this county are of some importance. There are herring fisheries at Allonby, Maryport, and Whitehaven. The fishing season at the two former begins in September; the seasons of 1813 and 1814, were very productive. The Whitehaven fishery is on an extensive scale, the season at this place begins in May. The fish market at Whitehaven is abundantly supplied, and with great variety. Great quantities of cod fish are taken on the coast of Cumberland, principally used for home consumption. In the parish of Bootle they cure cod for the Liverpool market. There are valuable salmon fisheries in the Eske, Eden, and Derwent. Salmon is sent from Carlisle and Bowness to London; the fishing season at Carlisle begins in November; at Bowness in the spring. The Workington fishing is also in the spring; the salmon from this fishery is consumed in the neighbourhood. Mr. T. Denton describes the Workington fishery as worth 300l. per annum in 1688. Char from the lakes is potted at Keswick and sent to London. The pearls still occasionally found in the muscles of the Irt, were formerly thought to be of some importance as an article of commerce, and a patent is said to have been obtained for the fishery in the reign of George I. but it proved one of the bubbles of that period.

The most valuable subterranean productions of this county, indeed almost the only commodities which are considered as of much importance in a commercial view, are lead and coals; although in former times copper was dug and exported in great quantities, and the silver mines were esteemed of considerable value. The latter appear to have been worked only at the expence of the crown, when there was a mint at Carlisle in the reign of Henry III. and probably would never have yielded any profit to a private adventurer.

Fuller speaking of the copper mines at Newlands, says, " they lay long neglected (choaked in their own rubbish), till renewed about the beginning of Queen Elizabeth, when plenty of copper was here afforded, both for home use and foreign transportation. But copper itself was too soft for several military services, and could not alone (no single person can prove a parent), produce brass most useful for that purpose. Here taste and see, divine providence, which never doth its work by halves, and generally doubleth gifts by seasonably sending them; lapis calaminaris was then first found in England, the mother of brass as copper the father thereof. Hence came it to pass, that Queen Elizabeth left more brass than she found iron ordnance in the kingdom. And our wooden walls, (so our ships are commonly called), were roughcasted over with a coat of firmer constitution. We must not forget the names of the two Dutchmen, good frogs by sea but better moles by land, who refound out these copper mines, wherein also some silver (no new milk without some cream therein), viz. Thomas Shurland and Daniel Hotchstabter (fn. n30) of Auspurge, in Germany, whose nephews turning purchasers of lands hereabouts, prefer easily to take what the earth tenders in her hands above ground, than painfully to pierce into her heart for greater treasure."

" I am sorry to hear and lothe to believe, what some credible persons have told me, that within this twenty years the copper in this county hath been wholly discontinued, and that not for want of metal but mining for it. Sad, that the industry of our age could not keep what the ingenuity of the former found out. And I would willingly put it on another account, that the burying of so much steel in the bowels of men during our civil wars, hath hindered their digging of copper out of the entrails of the earth, hoping that these peaceable times will encourage to the resuming thereof."

The apology which Fuller wished for, it appears, did in fact exist, for Mr. T. Denton, in his MS. History of Cumberland (1688), observes, that the smelting houses were all destroyed, and the miners most of them slain in the civil wars. " The works," says he, " have never since been set on foot, albeit there be still great store of copper and lead in these mines. The charge of footing those works and forges again would be 4000l." The smelting houses for the copper were at Bure-side, on the east of Keswick. Mr. Robinson, in his Natural History of Cumberland, printed in 1709, says, that on his survey of the mountains of Newlands, he found eleven veins, which had been opened and wrought by the Germans; the richest of which was called Gowd-scalp or Gold-scalp: the ore of this mine (being the same probably from which silver was obtained in the reign of Henry III.), was found so rich in silver that it was claimed for the Queen (Elizabeth), and recovered by a trial at law from the Earl of Northumberland, and the Queen's agent took possession of 100 tons of ore which had been dug (fn. n31), but we have no account of it being then worked as a silver mine; it is probable that a composition was made with the crown, by the earl and the adventurers. " This rich vein," says Mr. Robinson, " and several more in the mountains of Newlands, are now laid open and recovered by his Grace the Duke of Somerset; and likewise smelting houses, furnaces, and all other conveniences are made ready by his grace for setting forward a great work. It may be presumed, that the discouragement his grace met with, which at present hath put a stop to so noble a project, was his meeting with an ignorant operator, who, understanding not the nature of the ore, burnt and destroyed fifty tons of the best gold-scalp ore, without the production of one pound of fine copper."

About the year 1756, the old works at Gold-scalp were opened (fn. n32) at a great expence by Mr. Gilpin, but the undertaking proved unsuccessful; about the year 1806 a copper mine was opened about half a mile from Goldscalp, by Mr. Sheffield, who holds a lease under the Earl of Egremont. For about three years this mine produced about 150 tons of good ore annually, but the quantity has since very much diminished, and there is at present no prospect of better success.

Copper mines have been worked at Borrowdale, near Ulpha, on Caldbeck-fell, and at Buttermere. Camden speaks of Alston-moor as having been formerly famous for copper mines. Lapis calaminaris is found in some parts of the county, and mines were worked for it about a century ago.

The principal lead-mines in Cumberland are those at Alston-moor, said to have been discovered and first worked (fn. n33) by Sir Francis Radcliffe, afterwards Earl of Derwentwater: they had become of much importance at the time of his being advanced to that title in 1688. (fn. n34) Upon the attainder of the third Earl of Derwentwater, these mines, with the manor and the other Derwentwater estates, became vested in Greenwich Hospital, under an act of parliament. In 1768 there were 119 lead-mines in the parish of Alston, 115 of which were then held on lease under the Hospital. The average annual produce of that and the two preceding years is stated at 20,943 bings (fn. n35), the value being about 70,000l. Housman (fn. n36) states the clear yearly produce to the owners at 16,oool., and the number of persons employed in the mines at 1,100. They are not worked at present quite to the same extent, or with equal success; the number of mines held under the Hospital in 1814, was 102; the number of bings produced was 11,496; the price of the lead in 1813, was 4l. 5s. for bowse ore, and 3l. 5s. for the culling or inferior ore. (fn. n37)

A lead mine had been worked at Ousby with some success in 1709 (fn. n38). This, or another mine in the same parish, at Bulmanhill, was worked in 1793, but has been discontinued for several years. It appears that a leadmine had been opened at Melmerby in 1709 (fn. n39), but with no great success.

Some lead mines have been working with pretty good success for a few years past, on Crossfell, in the parish of Kirkland. A publication of Mr. Westgarth Forster's, bearing date 1809, speaks of these mines, which had then been discovered only a few years, as having produced in some years nearly 5000 bings of lead, the average price being then 5l. 10s. per bing. Though spoken of by this writer as one concern, there are two mines on Crossfell, one belonging to the Fleming family, the other to the heirs of Lough Carleton, Esq., which have employed above 100 workmen in each; but the latter is supposed to be worked out, unless some new vein should be discovered within its boundaries.

A lead-mine has been worked for three or four years past on Caldbeck fell, as it is said, with considerable success; but we have not been able to ascertain to what extent. There are three lead-mines working at Newlands, but with very little success.

The principal collieries on the coast of Cumberland are those at Whitehaven and Workington. It has been supposed that the Whitehaven collieries were first worked for foreign consumption by Sir John Lowther in 1660; but although it is certain that the great improvements in the harbour, and the extension of the coal trade, were caused by the spirited exertions of that baronet, yet it appears by an engraved view of Whitehaven in 1642, which represents a small harbour with vessels, towards which horses are carrying packs from Whingill colliery, that coals were exported in the time of his father Sir Christopher. The Whitehaven collieries, now the property of the Earl of Lonsdale, have been worked ever since with increased spirit and activity, and are at this time by far the most extensive concern of this nature in the kingdom.

The principal collieries at Whitehaven are Howgill on the west, and Whingill (fn. n40) on the east side of the town. There is a third at Scalegill, between Whitehaven and St. Bees, first worked in the early part of the last century, when the coals were carried by waggons to the water side; it was afterwards worked only for inland sale. This work broke in in 1792, but a new pit was sunk about the year 1807, and it is still worked for inland sale. There are three entrances to the Howgill and four to the Whingill colliery, called Bear-mouths, or Day-holes, by which both men and horses descend to the bottom of the pits. The deepest pits are Kingpit, 120 fathoms, and Thwaite-pit, 150 fathoms, both in the Howgill colliery; the latter is 112 fathoms below the sea, being the greatest depth which has yet been sunk. The greatest distance to which workings have been as yet made in a direct line from the shore is a thousand yards.

The first steam-engine in use at Whitehaven was erected by Sir James Lowther early in the last century at the Ginns, for raising water. The first steam-engine used for raising coals was in 1787 at George-pit, in Whingill colliery; others were erected for the same purpose in 1793, 1794, and 1795. There are now two steam-engines for pumping water, and three for raising coals at each of the principal collieries of Howgill and Whingill; and there is a steam-engine for raising coals at the Scalegill colliery. The larger pumping engine at the William pit, on the Whingill colliery, is of about 110 horses power; that at Saltom pit, on the Howgill colliery, is of about 80 horses power. The produce of the two great collieries is above 50,000 waggon-loads (fn. n41); i.e. above 112,500 tons from each.

The coals were formerly carried from the works to the sea side in packs on horseback. Small waggons were first introduced about or soon after the year 1720, by Mr. Carlisle Spedding, Sir James Lowther's agent, who had seen them at the Newcastle works. In 1813, the waggon-ways, which were before of wood, were laid with cast iron, and on the Howgill side a self-acting inclined plane constructed, 290 yards long, with a perpendicular altitude of 115 feet. Since this alteration, three waggons, coupled together, are conducted by one man and horse, whereas, formerly it was necessary to have a man and horse to each waggon. When brought to the water side, the coals are conveyed to the wooden galleries erected for that purpose, on a level with the railways, at the end of which galleries the coals are shot from the waggons down large wooden trunks, about 60 feet in length, usually called by the appropriate name of hurries, into the vessels. When no vessels are ready for lading, the coals are deposited in a place called the Staith, from whence, when wanted, they are again loaded on waggons, and shot down the hurries. There have been some rare instances of from 800 to 900 waggon-loads having been shipped in one day, forming the lading of 13 vessels. When the weather is fine and there are numerous vessels in the harbour, eight or nine vessels, containing from 500 to 600 waggon-loads are frequently laded; but the latter is much beyond the usual average. The average amount of annual exports for five years, ending in December 1814, was about 100,000 waggon-loads, besides a very considerable inland consumption; very considerable, indeed, for the town of Whitehaven alone. The greatest exportation is in the summer months. The average amount of the annual exports, taken for 20 years preceding 1793, was about 75,000 waggon-loads, the average of 12 years ending with 1814, about 87,500. About 900 persons are employed in the Whitehaven collieries. At New-town is a cast-iron manufactory for the use of the collieries, with a steam-engine.

The next colliery in point of extent on the coast, is that of Workington, belonging to Jo. Christian Curwen, Esq. which exported for the five years ending with 1813, about 28,000 waggon-loads annually; Mr. Curwen's collieries at Harrington exported during the same period about 19,000 waggon-loads annually; and those of Broughton-moor, from Maryport, about 8000 waggon-loads. At Maryport about 4000 waggon-loads, during the same period, were annually exported from Mr. Senhouse's colliery, and about the same quantity from that of Mr. Walker's colliery at Flimbywood, held under the Earl of Lonsdale.

Mr. Curwen has four pits in working at Workington, from 60 to 90 fathoms deep. There are about 400 persons employed in the colliery at Workington. In this colliery there are six steam-engines; three at Harrington, and two at Broughton-moor. The engine at Isabella pit, at Workington, is of 160 horses power, having a cylinder of 66 inches diameter; this is a double powered engine, the steam pressing on the piston both at the top and bottom, which makes it of equal power with a single engine, whose cylinder is 93¼ inches diameter.

The collieries at Deerham and Arlochden are worked but to a small extent; the Cammerton colliery is worked solely for the Seaton iron-foundery. The Distington collieries are worked only for the lime-works, and for inland sale. The collieries on Lord Lonsdale's estate near Workington have not been worked for about thirty years. The colliery at Moresby, from which coals were formerly exported at Parton, has been disused since the year 1770.

The principal inland collieries are those at Bolton pasture, held under the Earl of Egremont by Fawcet, Crosthwaite and Co., supposed to have a sale of about 15,000 waggon-loads yearly; Greysouthern, belonging to Messrs. Walker, Harris, and Co., supposed to have a sale of about 10,000 waggon-loads annually; and Tindall-fell, belonging to Lord Carlisle, which produces the chief supply for Carlisle, Brampton, Penrith, &c. There are collieries also at Little-Broughton, Outerside, Gilcrux, All-hallows, and Huer-hill. The Warnell-fell colliery has been worked out. There are some coal-pits at Croglin, and other places on the side of the Fells, worked chiefly for the purpose of burning lime.

At Crowgarth, in the parish of Cleator, is an iron mine of a very superior kidney ore. It was not much worked till the year 1784. About the year 1790, and a few years afterwards, 20,000 tons of ore were annually exported from Whitehaven to Hull, and to the Carron-works. This mine has not been worked for several years, except for a few tons used in the colourmanufactory at the Ginns. There is an iron-mine also at Bigrigg, in the parish of Egremont, not worked for many years, from which considerable quantities were exported to Hull, &c. The iron-works at Seaton, and elsewhere in Cumberland, are supplied with pig-iron from Wales.

Some years ago considerable quantities of a ferruginous sort of limestone were exported from the parish of Arlochden to the iron-works at Carron; but this concern has been discontinued. A black stone called Catscalp, raised at Brathwaite, in the parish of Dean, was used in considerable quantities in the iron-works at Seaton, but since the company of that place have discontinued making pig-iron, (which was about the year 1813), the demand for it has ceased. At Harrington they collect ironstone upon the sea-shore, and export a few hundred tons annually to Ulverston; about three hundred tons were exported in 1814.

At the head of Borrowdale, on the side of a very steep mountain, is the celebrated mine of wadd, or black lead. The demand for this article being limited, the mine is only opened occasionally, so as to answer that demand. As this is a substance which does not require any mechanical process to prepare it for use, great care is taken to secure it from plunder. The mine is only accessible through the agent's house, which is built over it. In consequence of the ease with which depredations on this property might be committed, an act of parliament was passed in the year 1752 to secure the property, by subjecting the stealer and the receiver to the same punishment as for felony. In the preamble to this act the black lead is described as necessary to the casting of bomb-shells, round shot, and cannon-balls; its chief use is now for making pencils: the coarser sort is employed in the composition of crucibles, and for giving a black polish to iron, &c. (fn. n42) The wadd or black lead is not found in regular veins, but lying in lumps or nodules in the fissures of the slate-rock, the lumps varying in weight from an ounce or less to upwards of 50 lbs. When the mine is opened, a sufficient quantity is procured to answer the demand for several years; the black lead of the best quality is packed in barrels and sent to London by the waggon, the proprietor of which is bound in a considerable sum for its safe delivery. It is then deposited in the cellars under the Unitarian Chapel in Essex Street; and on the first Monday in every month there is a sale of it in an upper room of a public-house in the neighbourhood. The pencil-makers attend, and selecting pieces of the best quality, purchase according to their respective wants. The coarser sort is afterwards sold for other purposes. About three thousand pounds worth of the black lead is sold in a year; the price of that of the finest quality is 35s. per lb.; of the coarser, 120l. per ton.

Of late there has been some alarm as to the failure of this useful article. It is nearly four years since any quantity has been procured; only three or four barrels were procured in 1814, but we are informed that they have now better prospects. One half of the mine is the property of Henry Bankes, Esq. M. P.; the other moiety is held by several proprietors under a lease for a long term of years, originally made by the person who, in conjunction with Mr. Bankes's ancestor, had a grant from the Crown.

Limestone is very abundant in various parts of the county; in the neighbourhood of the sea-coast it is burnt in great quantities for exportation, particularly at Overend near Hensingham, and at Distington. From Overend about 340,000 Winchester bushels, and from Distington about 350,000 bushels are annually exported to Scotland, being carried in carts from Overend (fn. n43) to Whitehaven, and from Distington to Harrington to be shipped. The limestone quarries at Overend belong to the Earl of Lonsdale; those at Distington to the Earl of Lonsdale and William Walker, Esq. There are many lime works for inland consumption, as at All-hallows, Brigham, Cleator (fn. n44), Hodbarrow in Millom, Ireby, Uldale, Sebergham, &c. Great quantities of lime are burnt in the parishes of Castle-Carrock, Denton, and Farlam, for the supply of the whole barony of Gilsland.

Gypsum, or alabaster, is found in considerable quantities in the parishes of Wetherall, St. Cuthbert, and in St. Bees, on the sea-coast, about a mile from Whitehaven, whence five or six hundred tons are annually exported to Dublin, Liverpool, and Glasgow, where it is principally used in the composition of stucco.

There are many quarries of excellent freestone in various parts of the county, and for grindstones at Ivegill, Barngill near Whitehaven, &c. Considerable quantities, both of red and white freestone, from the quarries in the neighbourhood of Whitehaven, are shipped from that port for Dublin, Scotland, and the Isle of Man; grindstones, both from the red and white freestone quarries, are also exported in considerable quantities. Mr. Senhouse has a quarry of excellent freestone at Maryport, from which a considerable quantity has been exported. The fine pier at Douglas, in the Isle of Man, was built of this freestone.

There are quarries of excellent blue slate in the townships of Ulpha, Cockermouth, Buttermere, Borrowdale, Bassenthwaite, and elsewhere. Mr. T. Denton speaks of the latter as esteemed (1688) the best blue slate quarries in England, thin, light, and as smooth as glass, and says, that all people covet to have them who live within any convenient distance. The Buttermere slates are now held in most esteem. We cannot learn that any of the Cumberland slate is exported. Pencils of the Black-Comb slate are manufactured in the parish of Whicham and sent to London.


Fuller speaks of Cumberland as a county wholly destitute of manufactures in 1662, except one of coarse broad cloth at Cockermouth (then lately set up and vended at home,) and one of fustian, set up at Carlisle in 1660; he adds, I wish the undertakers may not be disheartened with their small encouragement. It is certain, nevertheless, that there had been manufactures in Cumberland at a very early period. A charter of William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle, mentions fulling mills at Cockermouth and Deerham in the reign of Henry III. Mr. T. Denton, writing in 1688, mentions iron forges at Millom, and says, that there were several very good fulling mills in Bassenthwaite, where they dressed woollen cloths, called Skiddaw greys, a good wearing cloth, of which there was a great manufacture. There is still a manufactory at Keswick of coarse woollen cloths, blankets, &c. The principal scene of manufacture is at Carlisle, where the cotton manufactory is carried on to a great extent, the spinning, the making of ginghams, and other articles, and cotton printing. The manufactures at Carlisle employ a great number of looms in the neighbouring towns and villages. Mention will be found of the rise and increase of this manufacture, and of other disused manufactures in the account of Carlisle. There are considerable cotton works also at Dalston, Corby, Warwick-bridge, Penrith, &c. At Whitehaven, Cleator, and Egremont, are large manufactories of sail-cloth. There are iron founderies at Seaton near Workington, at Dalston, and at Carlisle; papermills at Cockermouth, Egremont, and Kirk-Oswald; a carpet manufactory at Carlisle, a pottery of coarse earthen-ware long established at Deerham; earthen-ware is also made at Whitehaven, and a new manufactory is erecting at the Ginns for fine ware, similar to that of Staffordshire: there is an extensive manufactory of glass bottles also at the Ginns. At Whitehaven, Maryport, and Workington, are several ship-building yards, and every kind of manufactory connected with the shipping. There were formerly some considerable salt-works at Bransted (near Whitehaven,) Nether-hall, and Workington (fn. n45). The process of making salt in pans by evaporation, has been wholly discontinued in Cumberland.

Ports and Havens.

Skinburness was formerly a haven of some importance, and was in the reign of Edward III. the rendezvous of the English fleet employed against Scotland. The chief ports of Cumberland at present are Whitehaven, Workington, Maryport, and Harrington.

About the year 1688, the chief exports from Whitehaven (fn. n46) were coals; salt from the pans at Bransted and Workington; grindstones from St. Bees Cliff; a corn exportation trade had then just commenced, chiefly for oats and big: the imports were French wines and brandy from Bourdeaux and Nantz; fir, deals, pitch, tar, and cordage, from Denmark and Norway; and tobacco and sugar canes from the West-Indies. Besides the staple article of coals, the chief exports from Whitehaven at present are lime, freestone, and alabaster, to Scotland and Ireland; great quantities of sail-cloth and linen yarn, tanned leather to Ireland; lamp-black and painters' colours to Ireland and Liverpool; copperas to Liverpool; soap and candles in considerable quantities to the West-Indies; cast and malleable iron goods to Ireland and foreign markets; glass bottles to various places, from an extensive manufactory lately established at the Ginns; and coarse earthen-ware, manufactured at Whitehaven, to the West-Indies. There is a considerable exportation of flour, oatmeal, and bacon, coastways. The chief imports are West-Indian, American, and Baltic produce; flax and linen, horses, oxen, and pigs from Ireland, and pig-iron from Wales, all to a very considerable extent.

The chief exports at Workington, Maryport, and Harrington, are coals, and at the latter lime and some copperas to Liverpool; the imports are chiefly timber, hemp, and other commodities from North America and the Baltic; linen cloth, flax, and oxen from Ireland; and at Workington pig iron for the Seaton works.

Corn, flour, oatmeal, and bacon, are exported in considerable quantities coastways from Ravenglas; timber is imported at Bowness from America.

Coals were exported from the harbour of Parton till the year 1795, when the pier was washed away by a high tide.


  • n1. Found by the Rev. Mr. Mandall. — From the information of the Rev. J. Holme.
  • n2. Found there by Mr. Fryer.
  • n3. Found by the Rev. Mr. Mandall.
  • n4. An analysis of this spar, by the Rev. John Holme, A.M. is published in the Transactions of the Linnean Society, vol. xi. p. 164.
  • n5. Transactions of the Geological Society, vol. ii. p. 528.
  • n6. Woodward's Catalogue, vol. i.
  • n7. Ray gives the habitat of Gamblesby in Addingham.
  • n8. Hutchinson mentions also Kirkland, Cross-fell, Keswick, and Brampton.
  • n9. We saw this handsome plant, which, though abundant in some counties, is not of general occurrence, in some corn fields north of Carlisle.
  • n10. The white variety spoken of by Ray is still found, as we are informed by the Rev. John Slee of Melmerby.
  • n11. We saw it near Rockliffe growing abundantly.
  • n12. Selected from the catalogue of Cumberland birds, prefixed to Hutchinson's History, by Dr. Heysham of Carlisle. Those marked with an asterisk are birds of passage; those marked thus † are only occasional visitors.
  • n13. The white-tailed eagle breeds every year in the neighbourhood of Keswick. Dr. Heysham expresses himself with doubt as to the sea-eagle, but says, that for many years they had a nest on the rocks of Ulswater.
  • n14. This bird breeds on the rocks at Gilsland.
  • n15. Very rare, said to breed at Lowther.
  • n16. This bird breeds in the county.
  • n17. Very rare, supposed to migrate in winter.
  • n18. This bird breeds at Lowther.
  • n19. Very rare.
  • n20. This singular bird breeds in Skiddaw.
  • n21. Very rare.
  • n22. Very rare.
  • n23. An occasional visitor, and very rare.
  • n24. He gives the following as the gaseous and solid contents of a wine gallon of this water.
    Sulphureted hydrogen gas 17.0
    Carbonic acid gas 6.2
    Common salt 20.05864
    Carbonate of soda 4.50296
    Carbonate of lime 1.462
    Silica 1.1696
  • n25. The solid contents of a wine gallon of this water are thus stated:
    Sulphate of iron 53.8116
    Sulphate of iron 7.6024
    Carbonate of magnesia 16.9592
    Silica 1.1696
  • n26. From the information of Dr. Heysham.
  • n27. From the information of the Rev. John Sibson.
  • n28. An exportation of oats and big had just commenced in 1688, (T. Denton's MS.) probably in no great quantity.
  • n29. See p. c.
  • n30. Hechstetter.
  • n31. An act of parliament has since been passed (in the reign of William and Mary), by which it is determined, that copper mines shall not be claimable by the crown, notwithstanding the ore may be impregnated with silver.
  • n32. The oaken beams, mentioned by Mr. Robinson, as having been used in supporting the works, were then found in perfect preservation, with the bark upon them. (From the information of the Rev. William Parsable of Newlands).
  • n33. The Alston mines appear to have been first worked by the Crown in the reign of Hen. III. when the same privileges were granted to the miners, which those in the other royal mines of Cumberland enjoyed. Pat. Rot. 20 H. III. 13. It does not appear for what metal they were then worked, perhaps for copper.
  • n34. T. Denton's MS.
  • n35. The bing, which is a provincial term, is 800 weight.
  • n36. In his notes incorporated in Hutchinson's History.
  • n37. From the information of Mr. Dyer, Secretary to Greenwich Hospital.
  • n38. Robinson.
  • n39. Ibid.
  • n40. These collieries are unconnected, except by a stone drift 400 yards in length, made in 1796, for the purpose of conveying the water from Whingill colliery to Saltom engine in Howgill.
  • n41. The waggons carry about two tons and a quarter each.
  • n42. Fuller says used by the felt-makers for colouring hats.
  • n43. Twelve hundred Cumberland bushels, equal to 3600 of Winchester measure, are sometimes shipped in a day from Overend.
  • n44. The lime from Cleator was exported some years ago, to the quantity of about 400 bushels in a day. (Hutchinson.)
  • n45. T. Denton's MS. 1688. There are ruins of salt works still to be seen at Flimby and between Maryport and Deerham.
  • n46. It appears that Workington was not then a port.