Barrow-in-Furness  Civic and Local History Society
History Society Home Page Contact Us Aims & Short History Programme Sponsors History of Barrow Memories/Oral History Local History Research Links



Till about the year 1780 the village of Barrow consisted of five farm-houses with the usual out-buildings, numbered respectively on the plan 1, 4, 7, 18 and 26. A sixth farm-house, which had stood near the house No 14 on the plan, was pulled down about the middle of the 18th century when Lord Cavendish acquired the estate.

Originally the Monks established eight homesteads at Barrow, two of which occupying sites near the cottages numbered 10 and 21 on the plan respectively, were rebuilt at Hindpool soon after the dissolution of the Monastery.

Besides the five farm-houses there was the house numbered 20, afterwards known as the 'Ship Inn', and two cottages; eight houses in all.

Iron ore was not exported from Barrow till the year 1745 when the Backbarrow Iron Company began occasionally to ship ore here; but no great quantity was shipped till the year 1782 when the Newland Iron Company made Barrow their principal shipping port.

About that time one or two additional cottages were provided for ore-loaders, and before the close of the 18th century, a grocer's shop and general store had been established in the village.

Early in the 19th century a larger grocer's shop was built, and at this period we find also a tailor, tide-waiter, schoolmaster, schoolmistress, and a pilot in the place, while a blacksmith attended from Hawcoat twice a week.

In 1801 the number of dwelling houses in the village was eleven. Twenty-one years later we find that a resident blacksmith, a butcher, and a shoemaker had been added to the population, a malt-kiln had been built, and the number of dwellings had increased to twenty.

In 1843, after the lapse of another twenty-one years, the number of houses was twenty-eight.

The cottages were rated at from thirty shillings to forty shillings per annum, the grocer's shop at four pounds, the 'Burlington Arms' at £7 13s 4d, the malt-kiln at £24 1s 8d, and the smithy with cottage at £2 13s 4d. The gentleman's residence ('Ivy Cottage') was rated at two pounds, Jacob Parker's house ('Thimble Hall') at £5 6s 8d and Thomas Hodgson's house at £5. The farm-houses and the 'Ship Inn' were rated with the land, and not separately, so that their rateable value cannot be ascertained.

Waterfront in 2005 with Princess Selandia

Looking back Through Morrison’s Arch to Original Iron Ore Route,

now Dalton Road

The Strand.

See Public Road

and Iron Ore Yards

See Rabbit Hill on Plan

Barrow Town Hall

The site of the Village’s Duck Pond

In 1842 a lease of the Ore yard was granted to John Schneider and others and in 1845 the site of the Old Railway Station, including the foreshore was acquired by the Furness Railway Company. In 1846 John Paxton sold the field behind Rabbit Hill, afterwards the site of St George's Church and Vicarage, and part of the Schools and schoolyard as far as the back of the 'Queen's Arms' to John Whitwell of Kendal, who sold the site of the Bank and the 'Harbour Hotel' in 1850, and soon afterwards conveyed the rest of the field to R W Lumley by whom it was conveyed to the Furness Railway Company and by them to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

In November, 1854, David Rigby Stables entered upon the 'Harbour Hotel'.

1. John Paxton, born at Biggar Nov.1778, son of David Paxton, Chapel-warden of Walney,1805.   Jacob Parker may have descended from John Parker, one of the Jury of Plain Furness, 1585, or Richard Parker, a copyholder at Northscale, 1744. Jowett Parker, a copyholder on Barrow Isle, 1696, belonged to a collateral branch of the same family.The “Bull Hotel”, Dalton Road, and adjoining shops, occupy the site of the farm-house and out-buildings. (See Sankey photographic collection, Local Studies, Barrow Library).

2. Cottage occupied in 1855 by John Gawith, tailor. Two of his apprentices, Joseph Comber and Adam Ainsworth were subsequently Barrow Town Councillors. As apprentices, they and their master walked to other villages in Low Furness to do their “darrak” or day’s work, the younger apprentice carrying the goose and the elder the sleeve-board. One of Mr. Gawith’s patrons, Mr. Ball, a schoolmaster at Newbarns, had very thin shanks. Asking, on one occasion, when he should call to have a pair of leggings fitted on, Mr. Gawith told him he needn’t mind as he could fit them on a chair leg!

3. In 1742 Robert Thexton was the only pig-butcher in Barrow Village. To fill up his time, he was paid 1s. for each pig he killed, as ore-loading was sometimes “slack”. On one occasion the “Earl of Oxbridge” was six weeks away with a cargo of Iron Ore to Bristol Channel.

Children in Barrow were then brought up “hard,” and when a shilling was earned it was often spent at the “Ship” or “Burlington.”

4. Robert Crierie husband of Margaret (Peggy) Crierie or Creary was a son of Hercules Crierie of Barrow, mariner, and Mary Crierie (formerly Gibson), born June, 1779. John Gibson married Elizabeth Skelding (born Oct. 1748) heiress of Cuthbert and Elizabeth Skelding. The latter was a copyholder at Barrow in 1743. She is referred to in a deed dated 31st Jany., 1742 made between John Shaw of Barrowhead, yeoman, and Elizabeth Skelding by the name and addition of Elizabeth Simondson of Barrowhead, spinster. She was the devisee under the will of John Shaw dated 1st Feby. 1742, and was admitted tenant at Dalton Court on Saturday, 7th May 1743, of three tenements at Barrowhead known respectively as Skelding tenement, rent 13s.4d., Backhouse tenement rent 10s, and Shaw’s tenement rent 6s. 8d. – Cuthbert Skelding, a ship-carpenter of Barrowhead in 1754, was one of the churchwardens of Dalton in 1749, and was a descendant of John Skelding, yeoman at Barrowhead in Oct., 1681.

Thomas Simpson was known in the village as “Tommy kilt a pig.”   On Sept. 11th, 1856 a new license to the “King’s Arms” was granted to Thomas King.

5. Here Betty Simpson kept a common box-mangle filled with cobbles. Lads turned the handle when mangling clothes. The cottage was a noted place for village gossip. In front of the door was a black dub known as “Trykle-hole.”

6. In 1815 this house was built on the site of a thatched building which, with an orchard, formed a small part (about 2 acres) of an estate of 60 acres, belonging to Elizabeth Simondson, afterwards the wife of Cuthbert Skelding at Barrowhead, subject to the customary rents Nov. 16th 1769 of 13s. 4d.,19s., 6s. 8d. and Greenhew rent of 6d.- On her death before No. 16th 1769, the estate passed to her only daughter Elizabeth, then the wife of John Gibson of Barrowhead, husbandman (see dated stone in front of the “King’s Arms”) and on her death before Oct 24th 1787, the estate descended to her eldest daughter and customary heir, Mary the wife of Hercules Crierie, afterwards of Maryport, mariner, who sold it to George Simpson the elder, then of Roosecoat, husbandman, for £1940. The premises were then held subject to a lease to Samuel Battersby and William Mason, at a yearly rent of £73.

On the death of George Simpson the estate descended to his eldest son and heir, James Simpson, yeoman and butcher of Barrowhead, and by him was sold for £4400

(except the thatched  building belonging to William Fisher, the orchard behind, and one half of the fold in front) and conveyed on 14th Febry., 1815 to Robert Michaelson of the Isle of Barrow Esq., the premises being on 1st Novr., 1816 in the possession of Joseph Fisher, as tenant.

On Febry. 27th  1835 the house (built in 1815) and orchard were assigned by James Simpson for the residue of the term of 1000 years to Thomas Hodgson, Principal Coast Officer and Coast Waiter at Barrow, after being sold by public auction for £211.

In 1847 the premises were assigned to James Davis of “Tytup Hall” for £300.

On Oct. 27th, 1855 the premises, then altered or improved and together with six cottages were assigned to Joseph Fisher of Barrow, butcher, (who was drowned in Walney Channel) and subsequently became the property of the Barrow Corporation by purchase for £1200. After 1835 the road in front of Thomas Hodgson’s house was known as “Officer’s yard” and in 1863 as “Pluck Alley.” Officially it is now known as Fisher’s Yard.     

7. In 1680 the house built on this site was owned by John Biggins and was known as      “Biggins House.” –In 1585 John Biggins was one of the Jury of Plain Furness alias Low Furness. When the house built on the site in 1743 was pulled down, the dated stone, “C.A.B. 1743” was preserved, and is now in the Municipal Museum, Barrow. This house, and the adjoining estate of which William Fisher was admitted tenant at Dalton Court on 21st May 1814, also became the property of the Barrow Corporation for the “Duke Street” improvement in 1874. The award of Thomas Fenwick was £15, 082, and the amount to Richard Fisher, of Ulverston for purchase money and interest was £16, 589 8s.11d.

8. Thomas Woodburn was probably a descendant of John Woodburn of Barrowhead, who was buried at Dalton, Nov. 26th, 1660. Christopher Wilkinson worked for the Newland Iron Company in 1780-1781.


10. Robert Dixon, father of Matthew Dixon was a lime-burner for the Newland Iron Company in 1780-1781. He helped to make the “mine floor” near the “Old Ship Inn” at Barrowhead.

11. The “gentleman” – John Fisher, made besoms of bent, door mats, rush caps, &c. He wore knee-breeches, a swallow-tailed coat, clogs with a brass snout-band and a big nail in front. A tall hat shaped like a coffee pot upside down added to his dignity. He strongly resented the action of those who attempted to steal the fruit of his pear tree when his famous terrier named “Bustle” was not on guard.

13. A dame school was kept in this house in 1834 by Miss Eleanor Fisher.

14. Robert Reay was “a man with ideas”. In 1868 he built the first ship launched at the Hindpool slip. She was named the “Gummer’s How,” 70 tons and was built of larch grown on Gummer’s How, Windermere, hence the name. A model of the “Dolphin” also built at this slip is in the Municipal Museum, Barrow. When asked about his plan, one of Robert Reay’s sayings was “A good idea is better than any plan”. A dancing school was held in the barn in 1832.

14, 15, 18,  In 1696 this copyhold estate of the customary rent of 15s. was owned by John Preston, Esq. From him it passed to Sir Thomas Lowther, of “The Manor,” Furness Abbey, who from 1731 to 1737 was one of the Hawcoat Division of the “Four and Twenty” of Dalton Parish being succeeded in that office by Wm. Tubman a copyholder of Barrowhead.

The estate passed by will to Lord George Cavendish in 1756, and eventually to William the 7th Duke of Devonshire, (created Earl of Burlington in 1831). On may 10th, 1861 he conveyed to James Tyson of the Manor farm, the inn known as the “Burlington Arms.” (No. 18) the brewery, barn, and out-houses (No. 14) the malt-kiln (no.15) and garden for £2,102 2s. 0d.  On the 3rd Febry. 1885, James Tyson sold the estate to the Barrow Corporation for street improvements in connection with the High Level Bridge. The cost of the “Burlington Arms” with garden, yards, brewery, houses in Burlington Street, malt-houses, well, two cottages Nos. 1 and 2 Back Newland Street, stable, brass foundry, yard, &c. as per award of Sir H. Hunt dated 5th May, 1884 was £13,713 0s.0d.

19. In 1839 Elizabeth Atkinson, afterwards Mrs. James Newby, born at “Thimble Hall”, 1826, daughter of William Atkinson, known as “Civil Will,” used to lead a horse and cart with Iron Ore from Lindal Cote and Stainton, to Kennedy’s “mine floor.” The cartage per load of 10 to 12 cwts was 1s. 6d. Sometimes she made two journeys a day, and groomed her horse also. Boys could not be had in Barrow then for that purpose.

Charles Storr Kennedy was born  at Danbury, Essex in 1797 and died at Ulverston in 1857. His father Edward Kennedy was born in 1766. He was a supervisor of Customs in Ulverston in 1808 and died there in 1820. Henry Kennedy was born in 1806 and died at Brighton in 1873.

20, 21, 22. On Febry.2nd, 1677  the site of the “Ship Inn” with 15 acres of land, belonged to John Kirkby and passed to Dorothy Hoole who assigned it to James Gardner Octr. 19th, 1693. She was administratix of James Hoole a webster or weaver who was living in 1681. J. Gardner executed a declaration of trust Febry. 18th, 1695.

We next hear of a payment of £40 and interest to John Hoole and Dorothy Atkinson out of James Hoole’s estate at Barrowhead, and of an agreement between James Hoole, Mary Hoole and others dated April 10th, 1742, and conveyances, James Hoole to George Hoole, May 17th, 1766, and George Hoole, Febry. 13th, 1777, followed by two admittances of James Hoole to the above property on May 17th, 1777,

21. In 1841 the late Mrs. J. Newby, then a girl of 15, with her sister Eleanor Atkinson got two “sickles” on trust of Matthew Todd, blacksmith, and cut corn in “Infield,” just after they went to live at “Thimble Hall.” “Civil Will” first lived at “Thimble Hall” in 1826. (See No. 32). 26. This 17th century house was known in 1848 as “Trykil Hall.” Two mayors of Barrow, - John and James Fisher were born there.


28. This old lime-kiln and two others shown on the plan opposite no.1 and at no. 30 were used by the copyholders. Another which stood on the shore in 1840 near what is now the corner of Newland Street, (No. 19) was in use when the house and quay were being built for the Newland Iron Company in 1780-1781. The house was known before 1796 as the “Ship Inn.” John Dobson, Robt. Dixon and Wm. Charnock are referred to as lime-burners, while Thos. Gibson, John Bell, and John Ashburner are mentioned in connection with the cartage of lime, coal &C. in     

31. The site of this Iron Ore yard with other land, belonged in 1758 to Thomas Atkinson, attorney of Dalton. In 1771 he conveyed it to John Atkinson, Junr. By whom in 1778 it was conveyed to Thomas Ashburner, maltster, and William Atkinson attorney, of Dalton, as trustees. The two latter and Thomas Atkinson, nephew and heir-at-law of John Atkinson in 1797 conveyed it to David Paxton, husbandman, whose son and heir John Paxton, in 1822 was admitted tenant at Dalton Court.

In 1842 a lease of the Ore yard was granted to John Schneider and others and in 1845 the site of the Old Railway station, including the foreshore was acquired by the Furness Railway Company. – In 1846 John Paxton sold the field behind Rabbit Hill, afterwards the site of St. George’s Church and Vicarage, and part of the Schools and schoolyard as far as the back of the “Queen’s Arms” to John Whitwell of Kendal, in 1850, and soon afterwards conveyed the rest of the field to R.W. Lumley by whom it was conveyed to the Furness Railway Company and by them to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. In November, 1854, David Rigby Stables entered upon the “Harbour Hotel.”

32. “Thimble Hall” was built in “Pheasant Field,” adjoining which was the patent slip where the first vessel built at Barrow, a schooner called the “Jane Roper,” built by William Ashburner, was launched in the Barrow channel in January, 1852.

During Thomas Heslam’s tenancy of “Thimble Hall,” Robert Reay, shipbuilder, sometimes accosted him through the open casement, “What! Is ta cutting out of thy aan heaad?” in allusion to his cutting out a suit of clothes. On leaving his work Thomas Heslam would ask Robert Reay, “Well! How many sparrables hes ta gitten in today?”in allusion to the oaken pegs, 4 ins. Or 5 ins. long, then used in shipbuilding at Hindpool.

On Febry. 28th, 1780, a contract for the purchase of an estate at Barrowhead was made between James Hoole and John Thompson, the Newland Iron Company’s shipping agent at Barrow for account of George Knott of Thurston Water Head, followed by a conveyance of Febry.13th, 1781 of the customary estate of James Hoole and Elizabeth his wife at Barrowhead to George Knott for £300. George Knott was the representative and principal proprietor of the Newland Iron Company, who date back to 1735 ( but not under that name).He was admitted to the customary estate at Dalton Court, May 26th, 1781, and he and his trustees John Machell, John Jesson and Matthew Harrison, were admitted Octr. 25th, 1825, the customary hereditaments being enfranchised to him Janry.22nd, 1856. On Novr. 9th. 1864 this estate and other property was conveyed by Benson Harrison to Thomas Roper, the piece of ground in front of the “Ship Inn” being previously to the Furness Railway Company Novr. 10th 1859. The Lord’s rent of the “Ship” estate was 4s. ( i.e. 6d. for Hoole’s original tenement and 3s. 6d. for the 15 acres of land) and a fine of 26s. on change of tenant.

George Knott died 1784. His great-great grandfather was Sir Daniel Fleming, born July 25th, 1633.

John Cragg, victualler of Barrow in 1796, was the Newland Iron Company’s tenant in 1781 and paid £10 5s 0d rent for the house and land. He was paid by the Company for carting lime, coals, &c., also for board provided by him for the wallers, joiners, and plasterers. He died in October , 1822 aged 84 years. At one time he weighed 24 stones and performed Herculean feats in wheeling iron ore. Shortly after the purchase from James Hoole, a stone bench for a seat was put up in front of the new house, and the sign of “The Ship” with three masts, square rigged and with painted ports, was supplied by John Dodgson, cabinet-maker, Ulverston. The painting cost 10s. 6d.

Other names referred to in connection with the building of the “Old Ship” are as follows. In 1780 limestone for lime was carted from Inman Gill, Near Dalton, stones from Cocken by Thomas Bryan and Emanuel Hodgson, and flags from Ambleside. Lime was bought of John Bell. The Newland Iron Company purchased coal for burning lime in the kiln near No. 19.

In 1780 Saml. Hodgson was paid £2 2s. 0d for making 2625 bricks at 16s. per 1000, probably at Hazel Gill, near Low Cocken. The wallers were John and George Kendall and Joseph Stable. The smiths, Thos. Casson, Matthew Stable and Roger Walker. The two former were in Dalton in 1796. The wood was supplied by Myles Myers, merchant at Dalton in 1796. – Dixon and -. Williamson made the “mine floor,” and it was paved by Wm. Robinson and John Lowther. The glazier was John Ellery of Ulverston. Robt. Long and Watt. Hodgson were paid for days’ work and Thomas Postlethwaite, [farmer,1796,] “For work done at New Barrow.”

Money was also paid to the following persons, but no details are given: - Christopher Wilkinson, [of Red Lea, 1767 – 1773.] Christopher Hodgson, Henry Crank, Wm. Bowdlin, Isaac Helm, and Wm. Higgin.

In 1775 the Newland Iron Company paid £3 3s.0d. rent to Thos. Gibson for three “mine floors,” while in 1776 the Backbarrow Company paid £1 1s 0d. rent for a “mine floor” either to or through Thos.or John Gibson, probably the former.

In Febry. 1854 Adam Fleming came to the “New Ship Inn,” took Harrison, Ainslie &   Company’s land, and had a “boon ploo.” On Novr. 3rd. 18 56 he died, aged 44.His widow kept on the “Ship,” She brewed her own beer. On Whit Wednesday 1857, the “Oddfellows” had their first Club-walk and dined at the “Ship,” Myles Haslam carving for the first time. In 1875 the rent of the “Ship Inn” was £115 per annum.

Before the Devonshire Dock was made, the “Egir” or Bore came up the Barrow Channel to Bewley ( or Beaulieu) Wife Steps. Thomas Heslam sometimes got up at 3 a.m. to cross Bewley wife steps before the tide came in, and do a day’s tailoring at “The Mansion” on Barrow Isle. On one occasion when “out of checks”, his son Myles (born 1829 and still to the fore) walked to Ulverston and back for a ten yards length. This was before the days of the Railways, Parcel Post, Steam Rollers, or Motor Cars.