Category Archives: Crafts & Industries

Backbarrow Ironworks by Richard Sanderson – Feb 2019

Richard Sanderson gave a talk to a packed Cartmel village hall on the history and future of Backbarrow Ironworks.  Richard talked about the long history of iron production in the area, using bloomeries. He then explained the important history of Backbarrow ironworks, described by Historic England as “…the best illustration nationally of iron-smelting technology development from the early 18thto the 20thcentury.” John Wilkinson’s father, Isaac, moved to Backbarrow in the 1720s and pioneered new metallurgical processes and John will have learned from him.

At most, 18 people worked there and the last blast was in 1964. The metal was taken away for scrap and the trustees are now attempting to preserve and conserve the site for the future. Richard illustrated his talk with photographs of the site when it was in use and the remnants that are spread around the site.

The trustees are working with many bodies, including Historic England, and would like further support from industries and local history societies.  They would like to hear from anyone who has memories of the ironworks and hope to provide conducted tours of the site in the near future.

Discovering a Landscape of Industry : Old crafts and industries of Lakeland

The October 2016 lecture was given by Andy Lowe, a very popular speaker and the hall was full. Rocks, woodland and water provided the power and resources which came together at times of economic demand to produce a variety of local industries and crafts.The rocks produced minerals such as copper, pyrites, quartz. Lime was used for agriculture and house building. Slate was in demand and the railways provided the necessary transport. The lakes provided access and Greenodd was an important port.  The many becks provided water power for the mills.

The coppiced woodlands provided charcoal, the hazel for swill or cockle baskets, the birch for besom brushes. Pegs and bobbins were made too. The oak bark gave the tannin for cow hides to be cured at tanneries such as Rusland. Andy compared this industrial landscape with the industrial city landscape painted by Lowry. The Lakeland industrial activity was scattered over a large area as opposed to the more familiar highly concentrated Lowry setting.

Wine and nibbles were served after the lecture to celebrate 20 years of Cartmel Peninsula Local History Society.