Reprinted from The Port Gazette of Maryport Vol 2 no 3 December 1974
Again we take up the story of Maryport, this time in the year 1856, the year the Cemetery Road was opened. In April of the same year a fishing boat was built at Ellenborough, carted down and launched into the river. This shows that not all ships were built in the yards on the banks of the River Ellen.
The following year, 1857, was a memorable one, for Charles Dickens, the novelist, visited the town and on October 20th the Elizabeth Dock was opened. The whole town was specially decorated for this special occasion and there were illuminations at night. The revenue of the Harbour for the 12 months was an all-time record. £6,636 5s 4d, and the amount of coal exported, 341,068 tons, was also a record figure.
Meantime, in 1857, the Maryport and Carlisle Railway Company commenced building its own engines at Maryport and continued to do so for about the next 40 years with some exceptions. Some 200 men and youths were employed at the fitting and repair shops.
The Central Hall in Crosby Street was built and opened as an auctioneer’s. This hall forms part Of the premises belonging to the firm of J Kendall and Son; the firm’s other premises comprise a draper’s shop at the corner of Wood Street and Crosby Street. Mr John Kendall, the great grandfather of the present Proprietor, Mr. Frank Kendall, commenced business in 1850, he was succeeded by his son Mr Joseph Kendall, in 1869, who in turn was succeeded by his son Mr John Kendall, in 1892.
The Maryport Co-operative Society opened its first shop in November 1858 on the site now occupied by Mr Arthur Huntingdon’s premises in Senhouse Street. Mr. John Greenhow presided at the first half-yearly meeting on May 28th 1859, when the membership was 36 and the capital £40. The first shop manager was Thomas Noble. who was later succeeded by Thomas Cameron. However. it was not until April. 1860, that the Society paid its first dividend. This was one shilling in the pound and by that time the membership had increased to 38 and the capital to £50. By 1908 the membership had reached 3,900 and the capital was £31,560.
The Society moved to premises at the corner of High Street and Wood Street in 1864. business was increasing rapidly and more space was required. So in September, 1881, the foundations were laid of the present stores in Curzon Street. The official opening was on July 4th, 1883. Today, including the Central as one branch. with its several departments, there are 17 branches trading as the Maryport Co-operative Society from Cockermouth to Bngham, with a turnover approaching £1,000,000 per year.
In the year 1860, the present railway station at Maryport was completed and contained the Maryport and Carlisle Company offices. Prior to this the passenger station occupied the site of the present goods station. The building of a new passenger station necessitated the opening up of Curzon Street and Station Street.
During the same year the firm of Joseph Wharton and Son. engineers and iron founders, was established by the late Mr Joseph Wharton. He was succeeded by his son, the late Mr. John Wharton who in turn has been succeeded by his sons, Mr J C C Wharton and Mr C Wharton. The Phoenix Foundry, situated in close proximity to the docks and railway, has continued to expand since it was established. The works consist of an iron foundry which produces castings from a few pounds up to five tons in weight and adjoining machine and fitting shops. Nearly 100 employees are mostly engaged on any type of general engineering work with an emphasis on parts for colliery, coking, steelworks and blast furnace plants.
The Carlisle Journal of Friday, April 20th, 1860, provides some interesting information about the town.
“To be sold by auction at the Golden Lion Inn. Maryport, Shop, DwelIing House and premises situated in High Street and occupied by Miss Relton, Berlin Wool Dealer. Also for sale, joiner’s workshop, dwelling house and premises situated in John Street and now in the respective occupations of Mr Nixon, grocer, and Mr. Brown, joiner.”
Howes and Cushings, Great United States Circus, is advertised to visit Maryport on May 10th. Amongst other attractions named is Don Juan, the celebrated performing bull; Pete and Barney, educated mules. and Black Eagle, a trick horse.
It is interesting to note current prices – turkeys 3s each, pork 6d per pound, beef 6d per pound, potatoes 7½d stone, apples 5d Quart, fresh butter 1s pound, flour 2s stone, plaice 2d pound, cod 3d pound, gin 11s gallon, rum 13s gallon, malt whiskey 13s gallon, port and sherry 14s gallon, and french brandy 22s gallon.
In 1860 the Ellenborough Primitive Methodist Chapel was built and seated 120 persons. In 1861, the Furnace Road Chapel was built. During the same year the population of Maryport is given at 6,037.
Two years later on September 1st 1863 John and Simon Elliot of Ellenborough, brought down on Greggain’s long wagon a boat of about 106 tons called the “Helen.” Finding it too large to pass under Ropery Railway Bridge below Hutton Place, Grasslot, they took up a portion of the macadamised road to allow passage and launched her opposite Middleton’s old yard.
A boat from Fleetwood commenced oyster dredging opposite Maryport harbour in 1864 and as the industry was found to be productive it attracted some 30 boats from Fleetwood and other ports. The fishing continued to flourish for about the next three years but because the beds were overfished, oyster dredging gradually ceased, as there was not sufficient catch to provide a livelihood.
The newly built Brow Street Methodist Chapel had its opening service on July 17th 1864. The chapel is situated at the north end of the Old Brewery Steps leading to Nelson Street. The land was purchased for £160 and the chapel cost £1,350 to build. It had seating for 375 people. The former Wesleyan Chapel in Well Lane, which the new chapel replaced, was sold the following year for £239.
The Naval Reserve Station (now known as the Battery) was built in 1866. It is situated very close to the site of the original Roman Camp.
In the same year a Church of England School was built in Ellenborough to accommodate 92 pupils. It was enlarged in 1888, in 1891 and again in 1896, to meet the demands of the growing population in the district. By the year 1900 the school afforded room for 325 children.