The town of Silloth and its popular Green grew from a combination of different historical elements and developments. This heritage archive highlights key areas of development and changes to the town and the Green over time.
The earliest occupation of the Solway Plain was during the neolithic period. By 3rd millenium BC, it is thought a trans European trading network was inhabiting the area later known as Cumbria. Pre-historic roundhouses have been identified between Silloth and Allonby. During the Roman occupation the area was one of the northernmost outposts of the Roman Empire. There is strong evidence of a Roman presence from Ravenglass through to Maryport, Silloth and Skinburness and all the way to Hadrian’s Wall at Bowness-on-Solway. The coastal road down the West Coast is thought to be the seacoast extension of Hadrian’s Wall. The Romans arrived in this region around AD79 under Agricola. Maryport was key in the supply chain for importing supplies for Roman forces and also as a base for defending possible invasions from Scotland and Ireland. A series of mile forts ran from Maryport all the way to Hadrian’s Wall at Bowness on Solway.
After the Roman withdrawal, the Solway was part of the Kingdom of Rheged until Anglian colonists arrived from Northumbria in the seventh century. The area has always been turbulent, forming the basis of Edward I raids across the Scottish border and reprisals from the Scots.
The name Silloth has been said to derive from the Scandinavian ‘Selathe,’ a term used in 1292. The name was thought to refer to a grain store or barn by the sea around which a small hamlet of fisher people lived. Other names have also been highlighted. In 1538, one name was ‘Selathes, Seelet Meddo;’ then in 1552 ‘Sillythe;’ in 1576 ‘Silluthe;’ in 1589 ‘Silleth;’ then ‘Sellet’ in 1605; and later still ‘Sillath’ and ‘Sellath.’ By 1718, the area was known by the grander name, ‘Silloth Grange.’ (Scott-Parker, 1998, Silloth Bookcase. Carlisle Library)
One of the most violent periods was the 16th century and the height of the activity of the Border Reivers. The act of union signed in 1706 gradually brought peace to the region.
In 1847, Silloth was viewed as a hamlet with only a few farm houses.
Growing Commercial Imperatives
As the city of Carlisle developed into a large commercial hub at the end of the 18th Century, there was a growing need to transport more raw materials and distribute an increasing number of manufactured goods. The roads were poor and the railways yet undeveloped, however, many towns and cities had waterway connections around the coast and transport by water was cheap. (Puxley, C. 2009).
An Act of Parliament passed in 1819 allowed the ‘Carlisle Canal Company’ to build a navigable canal from Fishers Cross, now known as Port Carlisle, to the city. Small ketches were used as cargo boats discharging their cargo at Port Carlisle. A number of small shipping businesses developed, but the shifting and shallow channels of the Solway made shipping access difficult and restrictive. It was impossible for ships above 100 tons to reach Carlisle.
Silloth – A Planned Town
The expansion of Silloth-on-Solway into a planned Victorian town was inextricably linked to the development of the Docks, the Harbour and the Railway. The design of the townscape with Silloth Green as its focal point for promenading and playing games is attributed to the Liverpool architects J.W. & J. Hay. There was a growing interest in town planning, fostered by the recognition by local authorities that they had a responsibility to organise building development and discourage ad hoc expansion of towns. Silloth, therefore, is an early example of town planning in North-West England.
The Green is the focal point of Silloth-on-Solway, lying between the Victorian buildings on Criffel Street and the Solway Firth. The beginning of the Green can be traced back to the mid 1850s when it was partly laid out using spoil from the docks, which was mounded to provide shelter. The layout was shown on Lonsdale’s plan printed in the Silloth Gazette in August, 1860.
Bulmer’s Directory describes The Green as covering 36 acres, laid out with new shrub beds. A promenade ran between the seascape and the main street of the town. Visitors came to benefit from the invigorating sea breeze or enjoy the views over the Solway from the Pagoda.
A North British Railway poster c.1885 shows grand formal gardens with parterres and fountains on The Green, however, they were crossed out as evidently the proposal was not fulfilled.
An ordnance survey (1900) shows the mounding planted with conifers, an avenue of shrub beds leading to the baths and oval flower beds along the edge of Criffel Street.
Features on the Green
‘The Pagoda,’ a viewing shelter, was built on the mound c.1860, providing Victorian visitors with spectacular views across the Solway Firth to Criffel and the Kilavorick Hills to the North and the Lake District to the south. Sunsets viewed from the Pagoda Hill are legendary.
The salt water public baths were located in the centre of the Green, at the top of the avenue of newly planted rhododendrons. Victorian visitors bathed there regularly and were taken in horse drawn carriages to the sea to swim.
“Water was pumped from the sea by a steam engine. Wood’s guide of 1870 said about the baths: ‘the building has every accommodation for invalids taking baths which can be had at any time. Mr and Mrs Studholme, the managers, pay every attention to those requiring them. This is a list of the baths that can be had:- Hot, cold, shower, swimming and plunge bath.’
The building continued to operate as a bath house until 1920. In the ’30s it was converted into a tearoom. After this, it became what is still the town’s most popular all-weather attraction – The Amusements.” (Reference: Solway Plain Past & Present: Silloth on Postcards).
Although not recorded in the archive, new developments on the Green were probably funded by Holme Cultram Local Board as they were funding other environmental improvements in the area.
After deliberations in 1963 the Old Baths were finally extended in 1973.
Bulmer’s Directory records cricket, football and other games on The Green.
A lawn tennis ground was added and became extremely popular..
The 1926 ordnance survey shows there was a putting green adjacent to the tennis courts.
By 1910, reflecting the trend towards tourism, the ‘Pierrots’ were regular performers in the Pavilion, located in an area of the Green known as ‘Happy Valley.’
In 1911 a shelter was built to mark the Coronation of King George, and the Green was used for a firework display and procession.
A pair of kiosks had also been added to service the outdoor entertainment and concert party area ‘Happy Valley’, in the vicinity of the existing pumping station area.
Gus Proud – Memories of the Pavilion
In the following audio recording (Courtesy Peter Ostle), Gus Proud, resident of Silloth, describes his father’s role while working as a boy in the Pavilion.
Edwardian Ladies Toilets
The Edwardian ladies toilets were built on the Green in 1910. After suffering deterioration with the passage of time, the lavatories were renovated in 2012 with funding from HLF and are now in full use.
Commemorative Rose Garden
The Rose Garden was extremely popular and well loved by local people over the years. However, as time passed problems began to arise.
“Over time, the clay base under the garden became compacted and this caused problems for the roses, which began to struggle. Replanting the garden with roses was problematic due to a condition known as rose sickness. Silloth Town Council used this as an opportunity to refresh the garden, by dedicating it to the welfare of diminishing bees, butterflies and other insects. The history of the site was to be respected by including roses that bees and other insects could readily access. Over the Winter of 2014/15, the site was drained by the Council and the Rose Garden was replanted by Vivian Russell, who created a safe haven for Bees, Bugs and Butterflies.” Vivian Russell, 2015.
The crazy golf course was relocated to a variety of sites on The Green until the 1970s, before moving to its location adjacent to Lawn Terrace.
In 1984 a tree maze was planted to celebrate 50 years of Silloth being part of Wigton Rural District Council. The maze was unsuccessful and the tree posts were disliked. Subsequently, due to its unpopuarity, the maze was removed from The Green.
West Beach and Swimming at the Seaside
No seaside town should be without its local ice cream.
The Pier, once adjacent to West Beach, was completed in 1857 prior to the commencement of the first dock, Marshall Dock. It was 1,000 ft long and 25 ft wide. It was free to visitors, fishermen and for boating. Steamboats left daily for Liverpool and twice a week for Dublin, The Isle of Man and Whitehaven.
” Owing to a report in a local newspaper of the times, much to the relief of those who first put forward the plans for a railway and docks at Silloth, they soon had proof of the utility of the Pier – ‘Passengers arriving at Silloth from Liverpool by steamer have been able to land and be in Newcastle within fourteen hours from leaving Liverpool, and before they could have been landed at any of the other Cumberland Ports’. (Extracted from Jean Day Unpublished Work. Available in full in ‘Reading Section’ below.)
There was a railway along its length to carry passengers and goods to and from Silloth Station.
Docks and Harbour
In 1853 the Carlisle and Silloth Bay Railway and Dock Company issued a prospectus for a Floating Dock and Harbour at Silloth Bay.
In 1879 a catastrophe occurred at the harbour and the dock gates and piers collapsed, trapping 20 vessels inside.
Silloth-on-Solway’s New Dock was opened in 1885, and the Marshall Dock became a tidal harbour. Much of the material excavated was deposited nearby.
The Battery, Silloth Docks.
“In 1886, Armstrong-Whitworth of Newcastle-on-Tyne built a weapon testing range on the west beach, not far from the Convalescent Home. This was always known locally as ‘The Battery’.
It seems somewhat incongruous to have sited this in a holiday resort but the town guide for 1899 assured visitors that “the noise of explosions which, at first, was rather dreaded in Silloth has not made itself inconveniently heard, many people not being aware when gun practice is going on”.” (Peter Ostle, Solway Past & Present. Downloaded 21 December 2015).
BBC WW1 – ‘The Battery’ by local historians Barry Hope and Tom Wood
The docks were to be connected to Carlisle by a new railway line.
In his Blogspot, Peter Ostle indicates that the line to Silloth opened in 1855 when the old canal to Port Carlisle was filled in. It followed the line of the canal as far as Drumbrugh and new tracks were laid to Silloth, rapidly developing into a completely new town and port.
Peter Ostle indicates that by 1900, Silloth had a large goods yard and a station with a platform long enough to accommodate the busiest excursion trains.
Trains brought many visitors to the Town to enjoy Silloth Green, games, the seaside and entertainment.
However, after the Beeching Report, the railway in Silloth closed on September 6th 1964, much to the sadness of people living in Silloth and those who visited regularly.
The driver of the last train to Silloth in 1964 was Jimmy Lister.
Trading ships wanted access to the commercial docks but waves could easily push them against rocks and wreck them. So, the need was identified for lighthouses to provide warning signals.
‘Lees Scar’ Lighthouse
While Silloth Bay itself was regarded as a place of safety, danger arose from an outcrop of hard clay located off the coast at Blitterlees, situated two miles south west of Silloth. The ‘Lees Scar’ Lighthouse, now known as ‘Tommy Legs,’ was built to steer vessels safely through the Silloth Channel.
East Cote Lighthouse
The East Cote Lighthouse, which once marked the entrance to Silloth Harbour, was originally mobile and sat on wheels on a short railway.
In 1914, The east Cote Lighthouse was fixed in its optimum position with a cabin on the plinth underneath for the Lighthouse Keeper. This became redundant when the light was made automatic in 1930. The forward leading light was taken out of service in 1959.
In 1997, the light was rebuilt in its original style by Associated British Ports.
After several near tragedies, the first lifeboat station at Silloth opened on 25th June 1860, situated just north of the Marshall Dock. A local philanthropist, Miss Burdett-Coutts, bought a lifeboat and others supported costs related to the station upkeep. The first boat, named ‘Angela and Hannah’ after Miss Burdett-Coutts and her sister, was manned by a crew of eight and remained in station until 1867.
The Silloth Station closed in 1856, leaving Silloth without a station for seventy years. The nearest station was at Maryport.
The tragic loss of four Silloth firemen in 1956, after answering a distress call, brought attention again to the dangers of the sea and the marshes of Silloth.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Station at Silloth was opened on 1st August 1967, manned as before with volunteers. Money is bequested to buy lifeboats but the RNLI provide the funds for maintaining the lifeboats. The shop at the RNLI Station in Silloth was set up to sell souvenirs and send funds raised to RNLI headquarters.
Early records suggest there was a Fire Service in Silloth since the early 1900s. A hand drawn Fire Cart was housed at the back of Eden Street and was manned by local volunteers in the Auxiliary Fire Service. A new Fire Station was built in 1939 and a new three-story tower was added in 1969. Notably, the volunteer firemen were also the town’s lifeboatmen.
Local Industry and Business Development
Boating and small Fishing Fleet, Silloth-on-Solway
Fishing, while never a huge industry in Silloth, has a long history, usually involving families. Five generations of the Baxter family, originally from Annan in Scotland, fished in Silloth. Their first fishing boat was ‘The Lizzie,’ followed by ‘The Foam’ and then the ‘Venetia.’ The boats were all under sail and the family made and repaired them along with their nets. Other fishermen also arrived from Annan, including Mr Woodman and his boat ‘Britannia,’ and Mr Irving who sailed the ‘Ada.’
The fishermen supplemented their income by giving pleasure rides in the summer, with boat trips to Annan costing five shillings return and trips around Silloth Bay ninepence for adults and sixpence for children.
Hotels, Boarding and Lodging Houses
The income expected from commercial developments related to the Railway and the Docks never fully materialised. However, the town also had an interest in developing tourism. A number of hotels, boarding and lodging houses were built to accommodate visiting holiday makers.
Carrs Flour and Feed Mills
Carrs Flour Mill has dominated the Port since the early 1900s, importing wheat from all over the word into Silloth. A flour milling plant opened in 1886. A huge storage silo built in the early 1900s can still be seen for miles. A vacuum suction plant sucked loose wheat out of the ships and into silos. The steam engine was replaced in the 1970s with an oil fired electric generator, but is preserved still in the museum engine house, which also displays exhibits and photographs.
Armstrong & Whitworth (The Battery)
Large artiliary guns, some it is claimed used in the 1914-18 War, were tested on the Shore at the Battery House, Blitterlees. In addition, it is thought the company also tested whaling harpoon guns.
There was a railway line from the town to the Battery House to carry guns for testing.
Chemical works were established in Silloth by William Crabb in 1870. The factory produced chemical manure or fertilisers under the name Graham, Maxwell and Fairlie. Workers employed at the factory lived in what was known as Crabb’s Cottages, known locally as the Chemical Cottages. An additional factory owned by a partnership of Carlisle businessmen was set up in 1877, bringing raw chemical materials by sea from many countries, including the USA, North Arica, South America, Spain and Germany. Guano came from Peru, nitrate of soda from Chile and sulphuric acid made from copper pyrites was imported from Spain.
Up to a hundred local people worked at the plant, which was known as the ‘Chemics’ before it was cleared and dismantled in the 1930s. (Ostle & Wright, 2012).
The Fizzy Lemonade Factory
An offshoot of the chemical works was the Silloth Mineral Water Company, set up by William Crabb in 1892. Soft and carbonated beveridges were supplied throughout North Cumberland. The premises were at Blakes Garage, West Silloth. The Silloth works closed in 1940, but the premises continued to distribute products (Ostle & Wright, 2012).
Using the premises in West Silloth, which at one time had been occupied by Arnisons Lemonade, Redmaynes Holdings used plastic to manufacture rainware, hanging wardrobes, and commodities such as bath caps. The employees, numbering under 25, were all women, mainly sewing machinists.
English & Bennet
Built behind Burnswark Terrace in 1929, the company manufacture sweets.
Blacklock & Carruthers Salt Manufacturers
For many years salt had been made in the saltpans located along the shores of the Solway. Updating the past traditions and methods used by the Monks at Cultram Abbey, Blacklock & Carruthers of Carlisle set up new building and evaporators at Lees Bank to manufacture many different types salt on a large scale, among which were stoved, butter, agricultural fishery and fine table salt. Note: Butter salt combined the flavours of butter and salt and years later has been used in the making of popcorn.
Primitive Salt Making. By Jean Day (Unpublished Works, Written around 1986)
“During the eighteenth Century, there was a primitive industry of salt-making around the coast of the Solway Firth and there is evidence that this industry was situated about a mile SouthWest of Silloth.
This industry was situated at a place where a loose and porous ‘clayey’ sand, called ‘sleech’ formed natural saltbeds, presenting a surface capable of retaining a very heavy solution of salt after having being covered by the tide. The heat from the sun in the summer then disclosed the salt particles on the sleech like a hoar frost. From time to time the ‘salters,’ as the makers were called, collected the surface sleech on the salt bed by a kind of scraper, called a ‘hap’ (a word still used in the district dialect) drawn by a horse.
The salt was then carted onto a grassy beach and laid in heaps near to the site of filtering. Neither the apparatus used or the process was in any way complex. A ‘kinch’ or pit was dug and its bottom and sides were puddled with clay to make it watertight. Peat was then laid on the bottom, above the clay and then covered in a layer of sods. The pit was almost filled with sleech and then topped up with salt water. The brine, filtering through the sleech and sods, was allowed to escape by a tube into a wooden reservoir when it was strong enough to float an egg. The brine was then boiled in broad, shallow metal pans, called ‘salt pans’ over a peat fire. After about six hours of boiling, the evaporation was complete and the pans were full of the finished article, namely salt.
This was a very, very old industry, probably dating back to the Roman occupation and before, and it was for the people of this area an important industry. The name ‘saltpans’ is given to a small settlement further down the coast between Allonby and Maryport, and was probably regarded as the ‘centre of production’. The long sandy stretches of the Solway Shore offered perfect conditions for creating a monopoly of this industry in this area of Great Britain.
The industry no longer exists as such but it is interesting to find out the former occupations of the previous generations in this area before the coming of the factories and the railways.”
The firm, originally housed on Eden Street, was established in 1861 and began trading as Ship brokers and Coal and Slate Agents. They later moved to Station Road and managed the Silloth Branch of the Cumberland Union Bank and the Westminster Fire, Life and Accident Insurance Company.
Tynedale Auction Company
Situated in ‘The Lairage’ Silloth Docks, The Tynedale Company imported Irish cattle into Silloth Docks, amounting to around 1000 in 1982.
The Silloth Gas Works was built with the first buildings in the town by the Railway Company. It burned coal to create gas which was piped to local homes and streets. The gas works became disused after new facilities were built at Carlisle and Workington. The facilities were demolished in the 1980s (Ostle & Wright, 2012).
Airfield Industrial Estate
Yates Circuit Foil Ltd
The company, which later becoming Circuit Foil, moved from Reading to Silloth in October 1966, and was concerned with the manufacture of copper foil, a raw material in the manufacture of printed circuits.
Micaply International Incorporated
Micaply, an American based firm which later became Mas, then Isola Mas, was established in Silloth in 1968 as a laminate manufacturer.
Cheri Foam Ltd
Cheri Foam incorporates Cheri Tex Ltd and Curled Hair Ltd, and later became PPM, then Johnson Controls. The firm was originally established in Silloth in 1964 as foam and curled hair manufacturers.
Dinkiwear (Silloth) Ltd
This small firm was established in London in 1946 and the factory at Silloth began working in 1948 in the building which was formerly the Old Vicarage (standing in its own ground).
Carnation Crayon Co Ltd
The firm was established by the Pigeon family on 1st July 1968 to manufacture children’s chalk boards, crayons, chalk and modelling medium.
The following has been extracted from Jean Day’s unpublished work. The full downloadable files are in the Reading Section below.
St John’s Church Skinburness
“Licensed by Bishop Halton in 1301. The site was used for burials after worship ceased. It was on the fourth field from Grune Point, now ploughed over. A lease of 1582 to John Tiffin of property granted to Christopher Matthew in 1567 mentions ‘the chapel called Sainet Johnes Chappel de Groyne’ with an acre of land worth 20d a year. In 1732 it was decsribed as ‘the acre on the Groyne called the chappel, anciently belonging to St John’s Chapel there’; and it was then sold with the adjoining pasture to the inhabitants of Skinburness.
Today (1983, it is still know by the last surviving Miss Glaister of Grune House, as Chapel Field.” (Jean Day)
The land on which the church was built was given by the Railway Company.
“…the foundation of the church was laid on 6 September 1869, and it was opened on 8th September 1870, and consecrated on 23rd November 1871. The Church is decorated in the ‘decorared Gothis’ style, and it facing of Irish granite gives a very clean and attractive appearance….”
“…In June 1878, the tower was commenced but only two stories were completed in January 1881. The third storey and spire wee added later, the topstone being on the spire on 10 August 1883.”
“A single bell from the Loughborough Foundry, dated 1871, was bought by subscription and erected on a frame in the churchyard on 27 June 1872, and was used until a set of bells was installed in the completed tower in 1883. The bell was then given by Mr Banks to Waverton Church but was found to be too large so it went to Highmoor, Wigton, and Mr. Bell gave another bell to Waverton. The peal of eight bells, presented to the Church chiefly by the munificence of Mr banks of Wigton and frinds, upon which the Westminster chimes were struck, were made by James Taylor & Co., Founders Loughborough, makers of the Great bell of St Paul’s London.”
“The clock, a memorial to a George Moore, was fixed into the tower on8 August 1884 at a cost of £220, strikes the quarters on the second, third, fourth and seventh bells, and the hours on the tenor bell. In the belfry is a manual apparatus which enables one person to play tunes on the bells. the bells were rung for the first time on 6 October 1883.”
“The total cost of the church, tower, spire, clock, bells and organ was approximately £7,200.”
Inscription on the bells of Christ Church
I. Presented by T.H. Brockbank and Mary Jones (nee Brockbank) 1883 DEUM LAUDO PLEBM VOCO.
II. Founded 1883 – For all you can tell I am nobody’s bell.
III. Presented by E Agnes and E Mary Burton 1883 FUGIT IRREPARABILE TEMPUS.
IV. Raised by subscription – Septimus Herbert MA Vicar, William Toppin and John Johnston, Church wardens 1883.
V. The gift of Mary the sister and Agnes the widow of George Moore of Whitehall who died 21 November 1876.
VI. Presented by henry P Banks, Highmoor, 1883. GAUDEO CUM GAUDENTIBUS. DOLEO CUM DOLENTIBUS.
VII. Presented to Sarah Beerwis Banks, Highmoor, 1883.
Since time and life speed hastely away
And no-one can recall the former day
Improve each fleeting hour tis past
And know each fleeting hour may be thy last.
VIII. Presented by Edwin H Banks, Highmoor, 1883 LABITR OCUTE FALLIT QUEVOLATILUS. PETAS ET NIHIL EST ANNIS VELOCIUS
St Paul’s Church, Causewayhead
“This Church is a neat Gothic edifice erected in 1845 at a s cost of £850. It can seat 350, and it possesses many beautiful stained glass windows, rich in scriptural symbolism.
The parsonage house, a stone structure in Elezabethan style, was erected in 1851-2 at a s cost of £1000; now the main building of the Tanglewood Caravan site.”
Congregational Church, Wampool Street
“This church was the first place of worship to be built in Silloth, its foundation tome being laid in April 1862, and itvwas opened in the following December with seats for 300 people.
The building was bought for the Roman Catholic Church and was consecrated for that faith on 8 September 1953. Prior to getting that building, the Roman Catholcs in Silloth first used a room above the Cornr Cafe, Lawn Terrace, to hold their mass; then a Father Dawson bought 8 Esk Street and two downstairs rooms were converted into a chapel.
The Glaister sisters, from Grune Point, provided flowers for the alters at all the venues for 60 years until 1979.”
Wesleyan Chapel, Wampool Street
“The foundation stone for this building, built in the early Gothic style of red pressed bricks and white stone dressing was laid on 14th June, 1875, and was opened for worship on 15th march 1876, at a cost of approximately £820. The interior is spacious and furnished throughout in pitch pine, varnished.”
The Primitive Methodist Chapel, Esk Street
“A plain gothic style building, opened for worship on 15th February, 1877.
When the above two churches amalgamated, the Esk Street Chapel was kept as a Church Hall for social foundations, but was sold as a warehouse in the 1970s. It was demolished in 1983.”
St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Solway Street
“The Presbyterians, who formerly held their services in the Oddfellows Hall (now Spar Supermarket), built the English prebyterian Church in 1887 and it seats 200. By 1901, they had built a school chapel in Caldew Street.”
Greenrow Pentecostal Church
“A Gospel Mission founded by a group of ladies in the early 1930s, meeting in a tin hut in West Silloth, was eventually renamed Greenrow Pentecostal Church. They moved to premises in Academy Square but this was bought and demolished by Stanwix’s for part of their holiday camp in the 1970s. But in January 1976, the church was able to buy the building where regular services are now held. This building, originally belonging to Christ Church, was built in 1934 on land given by a Mr Bowman,Manager of Carrs Mill, and erected, through a donation for the children of West Silloth.”
Silloth Evangelical Free Church
insert information when available
After farming at Blitterlees for eighty years, Roland Stanwix decided to cater for the holiday trade and opened a modest venture in one of his farm fields in 1946 to cater for holiday makers. Many facilities have been added over the years.
The Lido site was purchased by the Hodgson and Sutcliffe families from the Air Ministry in 1959. It was previously part of No 22 Maintenance Unit on the WW2 Aerodrome.
The Convalescent Home or Sanitarium was built in 1862 for people requiring ‘unequalled salubrity’ or pure Silloth air, giving those who were suffering from fever an opportunity to recuperate.
Sporting Facilities in Silloth
Silloth Golf Course
Besides the Green and its many visitor facilities, Silloth boasted other sporting developments. Spoil from the Docks had also become the basis for Silloth’s Golf Course, which opened in 1894. The original clubhouse was bought from a second hand tennis club in Dalston, near Carlisle (Ostle & Wright, 2012). However, a much grander club building was erected in the early 1900s
The new building provided a mixed dining room, although ladies at the time were not permitted in the bar in the main building.
Silloth Bowling Green
In the 1900s, Carr’s Cricket Club played on Silloth Park in the summer.
The club dates from the 1920s.
Rugby Union Club
The Rugby Union Club was formed in the 1880’s. During Saturday games, the grandstand in Silloth Park attracted crowds of five hundred and more.
Impact of WW2
Port during WW2
The Port handled military supplies, coal and fuel for army vehicles and planes. Around 80-100 ships a month visited the port between 1939-1947. Many of the ships in dock were loaded with coal destined for Ireland. The largest vessel to visit during WW2 was the 2,500 ton ‘Prince de Liege.’
Ostle and Wright (2012) describe how the port handled imports of cement powder used in the construction of runways and structures on Silloth Aerodrome.
Ammunition Train from Carlisle to Silloth WW2
In 2014, Jimmy Lister recalled driving trains with live ammunition from Carlisle to Silloth. This was a dangerous job and the train crew were often at risk, since sparks or overheated wheels could set fire to the ammunition, often with dire consequences.
Accommodating civilian workers and airmen during WW2
The influx of airmen and civilian workers were housed all over Silloth, in hotels, the local school and often also in private homes. After the War, the Queen wrote to a number of people locally to thank them for their efforts.
During the 1500s a sea dyke was built along the Solway Coast to protect the low lying lands from the sea. However, by 1892, erosion was so great near East Cote that Sea Dyke Charity supported the County Council in building a new defence made from railway sleepers, bolted together and covered with sods of earth, replaced a few years later by a concrete apron. In 1898, asimilar sea defence was built towards Ryhills. The responsibility for Sea Defences lay initially in the hands of the landowner Charles Joliffe Esq. In the 1850s, it was sold to the Railway Company who had bought up most of the land on which Silloth sits.
Peter Ostle indicates that lack of any maintenance during the war years had left Silloth’s sea defences in a dangerous state. Lack of use led to rot and the pier was washed away by the sea. Many of the pine trees had also been washed away and Silloth Green was frequently flooded (Reference: Peter Ostle Blog).
New Sea Wall and Promenade
In late 1949, work began on a new sea wall and promenade. (Reference Peter Ostle Blog). The work was completed in late 1950 and officially opened in June 1951.
Detailed investigations revealed that the Sea Wall structure was in dire need of repair. A new defence was constructed in 1980 by Edward Nuttall at a cost of around 2.5 million pounds. The official opening ceremony was held in the summer of 1982.
Several new additions were made to the Green in 1953, including a shelter and two lavatories, paddling pool, two further shelters, restoration of hard tennis courts, and seats on the dock wall promenade. In 1954 a commemorative rose garden, designed by the County Surveyor, was built to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Reading and References
Silloth Town Council
Management Plan for Silloth Green
Extracts (Chris Burnett Associates)
Conservation Plan for Silloth Green
Extracts (Chris Burnett Associates)
Green, Fiona. (2010). ‘Research Supporting Restoration of Historic Landscape Features at the Green. Southern Green Ltd.
Puxley, C. (2009). The Port of Silloth 1859-2009: A Pictorial History Through 150 Years of a Solway Port. Available locally and from Amazon.
White, S. (1984) The Story of the Silloth and Port Carlisle Railways. Carel Press. Cumbria.
A History of Silloth. By Jean Day. 1982-1983.
- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3
- Part 4
- Part 5
- Part 6
- Part 7
- Part 8
- Part 9
- Part 10
- Part 11
- Part 12
- Part 13
- Part 14
- Part 15
- Part 16
- Part 17
- Part 18
Mary Scott-Parker’s Silloth (Bookcase, 2nd Ed 1999) is a very good readable history of the town
Information and images
Images courtesy of:
- Gordon Akitt
- Wendy Jameson
- Barry Hope
- Tom Wood
Deaths and Burials Silloth and Surrounding Area 1850-1900
Copy Writing & Content Development
Anna MalinaFilters: 1850-1999