Maryport History (click here for home page)

Walkabout to be Updated

The Maryport Walkabout

by Herbert and Mary Jackson

Important note: this is a transcript of their 1970s guide that needs to be updated – volunteers and researchers needed. 

This is not a history of the town it is a pleasant way of spending a couple of hours on a lovely day, visiting some of Maryport’s points of interest.

Hoverport what better place to begin your walk about? [This was the 1970s when a Hovercraft was intended to take people across the Solway to Southerness Point see https://maryporthistory.uk/maryport-hoverport/ ] This is the site of the new Boardwalk

It was on this site on January 19th 1765 that the first shipbuilding yard was opened by William Wood. In the same year that the yard was opened, a Brig named the Sally, a ship of 106 tonnes was built and launched.

As you leave the hoverport turn right then at the end of the street turn right again and keep walking until you arrive at 1 North Quay. It was here that the late Lieutenant Ned Smith, VC DCM was born. He went to France in December 1917, where he joined the first 5th Lancashire Fusiliers. By August 1918 he had been promoted to a Sergeant, and in the November, aged only 19 years, he won the Victoria Cross. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he rejoined his regiment as left tenant quartermaster and was killed in France on January 12th 1940, aged only 40 years.

Looking towards the town, Christchurch is impossible to miss, being only some 80 yards away. The foundation stone was laid by Mrs EP Senhouse on the morning of January 2nd 1872.  From Christchurch proceed towards Shipping Brow and the town centre. The corner house was formerly a shop owned by William Curry in the late 18th century when there was no light house so a light was placed in the window to guide mariners to port.

Cross the road and look up the river, here was a shipbuilding yard, which was one of the few in the country where ships were launched broadside. The river is only 60 feet wide and ships were built of up to 2000 tonnes. Such launchings were very tricky! The last launch took place in 1913.

Face Shipping Brow, and at the corner on the right you will see a building, formerly the Queens Head in. This was the first grant of land for building made by Humphrey centres the second, Lord of the Manor when he named the town after his wife Mary. The land was conveyed on January 31st 1749 to John Sharpe, mariner of Allonby. Sharpe’s descendants on the female side all carry his name as one of their Christian names to this day.

Nos, up Shipping Brow, on the right is the Lifeboat Inn, one of the oldest hostelries in town. Further up on the left, is the Golden Lion hotel. This was built as a farmhouse in 1718, by the Lord of the Manor, and was one of the first houses in Maryport. During its long history as a hotel it has been visited by royalty on a number of occasions. Due to its close proximity to Ewanrigg Hall, which was occupied for many years by the Christian family, it is more than likely that Fletcher Christian of mutiny on the bounty in 1789 visited the Golden Lion. George Stephenson of rocket fame, stayed at this hotel in 1836. Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins were visitors in 1857, as was Thomas Henry Ismay, founder of the White Star Line and one of the greatest men to have been born in Maryport.

Walk to the top of the hill and turn right into High Street keeping on the right hand side, you will in due course arrive at number 28. Here was born Isabella Harris mother of Joseph, Lord Lister, the great surgeon and benefactor of humanity.

Return to the corner of High Street, cross over to the large building with the clock which is the town hall built in nine 1890. This also houses the tourist information office.

You are now in Senhouse Street and the town centre. Here service with a smile is the order of the day. This is the principal shopping street, follow it down the hill to Craig’s store on the left hand side. Take the left turn into Curzon Street, and as you round the corner, on the left hand side next to Thompson Roddick and Laurie estate agents is the development trustees office.

Also in the office premises is a six roomed exhibition, which includes among its many exhibits, the great bed of Netherhall. Many famous people throughout the centuries have slept in this bed which was taken from Netherhall, formerly the home of the Lord of the Manor.

After visiting the exhibition, look across the street at number 23. This was the home of Thomas Carey, who died there aged 103 years in the mid 1930s. At the age of 100 he took his place on the magistrates bench for a court hearing and also at that age played a game of bowls.

Walking along Curzon St for about 100 yards you will arrive at Netherhall Corner. On the right are the Memorial Gardens where one can have a seat in the sunshine.

Ready for the trail again? What about the church and churchyard?

Saint Mary’s parish church was built in 1760. Of the original building there is only the tower still intact. The stained glass windows are a feature of Saint Mary’s, and the east window is said to be one of the finest of its kind in the diocese.

Don’t forget the churchyard, for on March the 6th 1766 died Maryport first centenarian. He was John Thornwhat, who is buried here and the gravestone may still be seen. It bears the following epitaph,

Here are deposited the remains of John Thornwhat honest Miller of Netherhall Mill, being one of 100 years of age, he departed this life March 6th 1766.

On November 16th 1790, yet another centenarian died, he is buried at the east end of the church. He was Joseph Peel, born at Bank End February 2nd 1684, he lived in the reign of eight princes, and was buried on November 16th 1790 aged 106 years. He died of a remarkable accident, from bruises he received as a result of a fall from his horse, the horse having been startled at being annoyed by the claws of a cat, which Joseph Peel had been employed to carry some miles in a basket.

Leave the churchyard by the Wood Street entrance nearest to Netherhall Corner, and after moving up the hill in Wood Street, take the second turn on the right, opposite the forecastle into Crosby Street. Pause to take a breath and then forward up the hill! On the left is Our Lady and Saint Patrick’s church which was opened in 1846. On the right is the United Reformed Church, formerly the Presbyterian church, which was built during the years 1830 to 1835.

Keep right on to the top of Crosby Street, and here is Fleming Square, which when Charles Dickens saw the cobbles said it was paved with kidney beans! This has been the area for the Whitsuntide and Martinmas Fair for many years, the first being held in 1830.

Take the North East exit that’s the top left and this short St will lead you to part of the Sea Brows overlooking the harbour and docks area. Again there’s a seat if you’re in need of a rest or perhaps you want to take a longer look at the view.

Walk back towards Fleming square and take the first turn right into High Street. 20 yards down, on the right hand side is the home of Maryport Perseverance Lodge of Freemasons, formerly the Baptist Church and built in 1834. The present day Baptist Church is now in Curzon St, near the bus station and was completed in 1968.

Continue to walk down High Street on the right hand side until you reach number 110. This was where letters were posted and collected. Charles Dickens under Willie Collins visited here each day of their stay. The letterbox was a hole in the wall.

Keep straight on and very shortly you will arrive at the corner of High Street and Brow Street. Before you turn right into Brow Street, we must tell you that the post office is just a few yards further down High Street on the right hand side.

Let’s go down Brow Street keeping on the right hand side. Look across to the other side of the road after you pass the last house and you will see the remains of what was once a fine octagonal shaped Methodist Church. It was in this church that Kathleen Ferrier gave her first concert in Maryport. Visitors from across the other side of the Solway may recall that shortly after Maryport Methodists stopped using this building for worship, it was burned out and the glare from the flames could be seen across the other side of the Solway Firth.

Now keeping to the right hand side you will arrive at a stone wall topped by a grassy bank. Be on the alert, for in that Stonewall just about 15 yards from the last house one can still see the stone side posts and lentils of a doorway. This was the town’s first gaol used in the early 19th century.

Going down the hill, at the foot of the Back Brow, on the right stood the Back Brow pump, one of the principal water supplies of the town in the days when the majority of the town lived in the area known as down St, along the flat land close to the shore. This water pump was commemorated in a poem by Frederick Cawthorne and is printed here for your interest.

A time honoured trump was the Back Brow Pump

 in the light of the wall that stood,

Where damsels all weather would group together,

In terms for water good.

Not only the girls from the Market Square,

And of Oakum Bay each belle,

The jolly young mariners all drew there

With Pat and his key at the well,

Creaking, chattering, thump on thump,

By day and night went the old town pump

If you are not to short of breath, a run up and down the steps will certainly see that you are.  Count them as you go …109! These lead to the Market Square visited earlier and are sometimes called the Market steps.

Now turn left at the bottom of Wallace Lane, keep straight on and you will return to the Hoverport. 

We do hope that you have enjoyed your tour, the weather good and the people friendly.

Sincerely yours, Herbert and Mary Jackson

Presented by Moira Dent Sketch by Stephen Bailey