In the midst of much publicity about unemployment in the North East and North-West of England and in Scotland it is time to draw attention to the county of Cumberland. a county which in the 1930’s was one of the worst depressed areas in the whole of Britain .
Thanks to Government investment, constant efforts by local people and those industries which came here, and perhaps most important of all. the adaptability and good sense of the working population, a great revival took place which lasted up to a bout 1957. Since then, however, due to national and international changes. there has been concern that this resurgence might not continue, and there is therefore even greater need to turn the attention of industry and commerce to areas such as Cumberland, where industrial and business expansion and diversification are possible and where the prospects of obtaining greater freedom of movement fog free air, unpolluted water, renowned landscape beauty, healthy living environment. and first-class public services can be appreciated. The attractions inherent in the county. as a place in which to live and work, are second to none, and it is the object of the County Council to maintain these attractions.
Cumberland. with an area of 1.520 square miles. is the ninth largest county in the British Isles. yet it has a relatively small population: 223.000 in the administrative county and 71,000 in the county borough of Carlisle. The average population per square mi’le is 194 compared with 790 for England and Wales. The county lies near the centre of the British Isles. Geographically. Cumberland has advantages enjoyed by few districts in Britain. Tt also stands astride the main national road and rail communications which link the great industrial areas of Lancashire and Mid-Scotland.
The national routes by-pass Cumberland’s west-coast industrial areas. but plans have now been published for the new motorway from Lancashire to Scotland which will improve communications to the county with good east-west links from the motorway to West Cumberland. These communications are illustrated in the accompanying map which also shows the locations of the important industrial areas.
The railway services include the “crack” trains from Euston and St. Pancras with through services from Glasgow. Edinburgh, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool. and Bristol. There are railway links to West Cumberland and Newcastle- upon-Tyne. The new marshalling yards constructed by British Railways at Kingmoor, north of Carlisle, are said to be the largest and most modern in Europe. The county is becoming more and more an essential focal point in Britain ‘s economy.
Crosby Aerodrome, six miles east of Carlisle, operated by the Carlisle City Council, continues to develop and services have been extended. The county lies between 50 and 100 miles from the city centres of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle upon- Tyne, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Bradford and Manchester: a total of nearly 5 million people.
In West Cumberland there are 56.3 acres of land, owned by the Industrial Estates Management Corporation for England, ripe for development of new industries in addition to 23.35 acres for expansion of existing industries. There are also 95.9 acres of land not owned by the Industrial Estates Management Corporation available for industrial development.
The small upland town of Alston, in the South Tyne Valley, on the Northumberland border, has a developing engineering industry. One factory has already gained an international reputation for its high quality precision steel castings. The people here have had their roots in an earlier lead-mining tradition and have been found to be particularly adaptable to engineering work.
Penrith lies at the junction of the trunk roads A6 and A66 to Scotch Corner and the east coast. The M6 motorway shortly to be constructed to Carlisle will pass near Penrith. The Urban District Council has ample land available for new industries and private housing.
The City of Carlisle has textile, engineering, and biscuit manufacturing industries whose products are known throughout the world. The city council have vacant sites for new factories within their trading estates.
There is a great new industry for processing irradiated nuclear fuel elements at Windscales in South Cumberland with the atomic energy power station nearby at Calder Hall.
The new rocket testing station at Spadeadam, near Brampton, in East Cumberland, is managed for the Government by Rolls Royce.
Marchon Products and Solway Chemicals at Whitehaven provide one of the greatest success stories. They employed twenty men in i946: now, part of the Albright and Wilson group, they employ 2,000. They have their own anhydrite mines and their ships bring in phosphate rock from North Africa.
These important enterprises have in recent years brought many newcomers to the county, who, by their integration into existing communities, have contributed much in bringing new life and skills; and at the same time they have appreciated what the county has to offer as a living environment for themselves and their families.
The towns of Workington and Egremont are setting good examples to other Cumberland towns in redeveloping their central areas. Schemes are also being prepared for Whitehaven. Penrith and Cockermouth and for some of the smaller towns in the county. These towns realise that their future may well lie in providing well-planned commercial centres which will not. only help them to survive economically but will be an inducement to more Investment as time goes on.
All these activities take place in a county of renowned natural beauty which includes more than half of the Lake District National Park and ninety four miles of the Solway Coast. Cumberland is a county of infinite variety and contrast, from the steep and dramatic Lakeland mountains to the quiet sandy beaches of Ravenglass. Silloth. and Skinburness. These contrasts are due basically to the variety of geological structure. The county is said to be a geological museum. The landscape, and the older houses built of local stone, change in character from one locality to another.
The Lake District which is such a magnet to visitors varies from mountain to mountain. from valley to valley. from lake to lake. but with an intimacy of scale; which is human in size. Forty-nine miles of the Cumberland coast north of Mayport are expected shortly to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From the coastline there are outstanding views of the dominant peaks of the Lake District and of the mountains of Galloway in southern Scotland.
The Eden Valley. which follows the western edge of the Pennines. with the quick-flowing River Eden. is thought by some to have even more beautiful features than the Lake District. It has deep wooded ravines. red sandstone villages. well- kept farms and parklands and is a fitting rival to other “Gardens of England”.
Cumberland has all equable and fog-free climate. Even in the severe winter of 1962 / 63 the Solway Plain has been almost entirely free from snow.
Cumberland has exceptional opportunities for recreation: fell walking. mountaineering. fishing. golfing, sailing, canoeing. and water ski-ing. During the winter ski-ing, curling, and skating are popular.
Even at the busiest times weekend holiday traffic conditions never reach the appalling congestion which has been the customary lot of people in the Home Counties. many of whom swelter in motor-cars, bumper to bumper, for most summer Saturdays and Sundays for a few minutes’ sight of the sea.
As a centre for the enjoyment of music and drama the Rosehill Theatre near Whitehaven has had the reputation of being the Glyndebourne of the North .
Cumberland. therefore, has much to offer as a place in which to live and work Tt is a county of many interests, of mineral resources, and a healthy climate. The county not only has reason to be proud of its physical characteristics but of the skills and aptitudes of its people. supported by a progressive policy of adult and technical education in commerce and industry.
At a time of land shortage and tight green belts in other parts of the country. there is space enough in Cumberland to meet its needs and more if necessary without harm to its natural beauty, and where a man can live and work and still have contact with the countryside.
In the development plans for West Cumberland there is sufficient land beyond the county’s present need for a population increase of at least 7,000 people, and in Carlisle and its environs an increase of approaching 3,000. If there are changes in national trends which bring more people to the county, the county council is ready to consider the establishment of completely new communities. The county lies within the Solway region, which ought to be a development area of high priority in the context of national planning. Workington has been reinstated as a development distric.t under the Local Employment Act. 1960 as an inducement to industrial expansion: and this means for one thing, that the industrial Estates Management Corporation can now offer lower rents to interested industrialists.
The time is coming when the drift to London and the South-East must be arrested. Already the population of Greater London and the Home Counties is one-third of the whole of England and is growing more and more. Factory space is becoming expensive. Office accommodation is at a premium. The journey to work is sapping the energy of the people as they travel farther and farther from their suburban homes. The only way to arrest this trend is to make it possible for manufacturers and business firms to settle in counties like Cumberland.
Because of its geographical position Cumberland can become an important administrative centre. where businesses can be established and thus avoid expensive London offices with all the complications of inflated site values and the congested daily travel for the staff concerned.
Standards of living are rising. Where else will people find better conditions than in Cumberland. where they can live and work within minutes of some of the finest natural landscapes in the world ?