The story of the 150th Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Borough in 1867 was the subject of a talk given recently to Barrow Civic and Local History Society. The society held its February meeting at Barrow Archives Office to hear Susan Benson, the archivist, present her talk “Barrow 150.”
Early maps of Barrow village show fields, cottages and iron ore jetties, but the coming of the Furness Railway in 1846 brought about the beginning of change. Investors saw great opportunities and people from far and wide flocked to the town in search of work. By 1867 the population of the town had reached 16,000 and in June that year the town was granted its Charter of Incorporation.
The “Barrow 150” presentation used original documents to tell the story of the town’s progress from 1867 to its 150th anniversary in 2017. There were written accounts of life in the town, diaries, maps, plans, paintings and photographs, providing an insight of the transformation which occurred. The town’s motto, “Semper Sursum” meaning “ever onwards” dates from its Incorporation and is a reminder of the town’s origins.
After 1867 the population continued to increase. The Docks, the Iron and Steel Works and the Barrow Iron Shipbuilding Company thrived. Other industries were also established including Jute Works, Corn Mills, Vulcan Steel Works, Paper Mills, several breweries, brickworks and timber merchants.
The Town Council first met in the Furness Railway Company buildings in St. George’s Square and then in the new Police HQ in Lawson Street. 20 years after the Incorporation, a fine Town Hall was completed in Duke Street, an indication of the pride that people felt in the town’s achievements.
The “Barrow 150” presentation paid tribute to the wide range of essential services provided by the Borough. These included gas, water, electricity, schools, hospitals and health care. The town also had its own police force and fire brigade.
After the talk everyone had the chance to look through some of the original documents relating to the town’s 150th anniversary.