Newsletter 123

Welcome to our late summer newsletter. We have had quite an active summer, including:

  • Our visit to Lytham St Annes
  • Book launch of ‘Main Street Reborn’
  • Civic Day
  • Unveiling of our first artwork in Lowther Went
  • Fund raising for our second artwork
  • The 2013 Walk of Pride
  • Heritage Open Days (events still to come)

Reports on all of these follow. It is also the time of year when we ask you to renew your subscriptions and announce the forthcoming lecture season. As always, we could do with new members so please consider bringing a friend or two along to a lecture so that they can find out more about us, and maybe consider becoming a member too.

We were pleased that the Kirkgate Centre has finally achieved their planning permission for the extension. We wish them luck with their fundraising and look forward to seeing the scheme fully in place.

We have engaged with Storeys concerning their proposals for the new housing estate up Lorton Road. Whilst we have significant concerns about the size of the development and its consequent affect on Cockermouth, (& are likely to object on this basis), we feel that it is important for us to seek to ensure good quality design if the estate does get the go ahead.

Are you concerned about specific treasures in Cockermouth including buildings, views, landscapes, artwork, etc such that you believe their loss would be detrimental to our community? If so, you should be interested in local listing. This continues to be an interest area for us. Three of the committee attended a workshop organised by NWACTS and led by English Heritage. More details later.

The local Women’s Institutes asked us if we would prepare a town trail quiz for their members for an event in August. Jane Sheppard duly rose to the challenge and put together an excellent and challenging quiz, which a few of us tested out before it was used ‘for real’ on Sunday August 4th. 37 ladies had an excellent and sunny afternoon according to the gracious letter of thanks that Jane received. The quiz is so good that we are minded to use it ourselves for an event in 2014!

Subscription Renewal

The subscription renewal form for October 2013 to September 2014 is enclosed. The annual fee again remains unchanged at £5.50, and £5 for every additional member in the same household. Corporate membership remains at £30. Membership for new members who have joined us in the last 3 months lasts until September 2014, so no renewal is required just now.

Remember, membership entitles you to a free day pass to both a National Trust & an English Heritage property. If you would like these passes & haven’t got them yet, please request details from our Secretary.

2012/13 Lecture Meeting Programme

Our normal lecture meetings in 2013/14 will again be held at 7.30pm on the first Wednesday of each month at the Friends Meeting House, Kirkgate. The topics are as follows:

2nd Oct – Origins of Scottish Counties & principles of good flag design, Philip Tibbets.

6th Nov – AGM – Nella Last, the war of a Barrow housewife, Pat Martin.

4th Dec – Churches, wildlife & the effect of the Romans on the area, Graham Proud.

5th Feb – Jubilee Celebrations, Ian McClery.

5th Mar – The History of Heraldry, Alan Gane.

2nd Apr – The history of immigration in West Cumbria, Margaret Bremner

Annual Trip – Lytham St Annes

We were very lucky with the weather this year as it poured with rain as we travelled down to Lytham and there were heavy showers on the way back, but it was dry all the time we were there. Our party of 27 was divided into 2 groups for a walking tour round Lytham in the morning. There was plenty of historic interest in the buildings, from attractive terraced cottages to large Victorian Houses on the seafront. They have recently made a large mosaic in the pavement of the refurbished market place depicting scenes from local life. Some of us even visited Booths to see their in-shop art gallery, well worth a visit if you are in Lytham. After lunch, we moved on to Lytham Hall for an interesting tour of this 18th century manor house. We all had to breath in to get the coach through the entrance gate into the grounds, with millimetres to spare! The trust has a significant lottery grant towards a project to refurbish the buildings so it will be interesting to return to see the changes in a few years time. We finished the day with a walk along the seafront at St Annes. We are indebted to Lytham St Annes Civic Society for an excellent day and look forward to returning the favour in 2014 when they plan to visit Cockermouth.

Civic Day Report

Civic Days are now on the national calendar for all civic societies, led by Civic Voice. This year, we decided to have an open morning at the URC where we invited people in for a coffee and discussion about what we do and what people want to see happen in Cockermouth. We were very pleased with the outcome as there was a buzz about the place all morning and we were able to recruit 3 new members on the day, one who has since joined our committee. This is Margaret Jackson, a councillor who has been very active, particularly during the flood recovery period, and has been Heritage Champion for Allerdale BC.

We invited the Mayor and Mayoress, Phillip Graham and Elizabeth Malloy, along as our honoured guests for the formal launch of our new book, ‘Cockermouth, Main Street Reborn’.

This book records and celebrates the achievements of the Shopfront Heritage Grant Scheme and of the organisations and people involved. It is largely pictorial, showing pictures of the respective shop fronts now, before their post flood refurbishment and historical, generally early to mid 20th century. The book is priced in the shops at £7.50, but is available to members at £5. We would encourage you to get your own copies, not least because it is an interesting book to have but also as a civic trust, we need to sell at least 250 copies to recover our significant financial outlay.

We also used Civic Day to publicise our imminent unveiling of the Fearon Fallows commemorative artwork in Lowther Went and our ideas for the second artwork.

Fearon Fallows

So who was Fearon Fallows, our famous son that we are commemorating? Fearon was born in a cottage on Low Sand Lane in July 1789. He was the son of a weaver and was brought up in the profession of hand-weaving. However, supported by his father, he spent his spare time studying, especially subjects like mathematics and went to school in Brigham where he excelled himself in geometry. At the age of 19, he became assistant to the Headmaster of Plumbland School, but very quickly rose to being Headmaster himself. His abilities were recognised and within a year he gained a subscription to gain entry to Cambridge University and took up residence in St John’s College. After gaining his BA at the age of 24, he remained at Cambridge to teach and subsequently became principal mathematical examiner at St John’s College, and was ordained as a minister in the Church of England. In 1820, Fearon was appointed to be the principal astronomer at the newly established, but yet to be built astronomical observatory at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. At this time, sea navigation was achieved using a compass and the positions of well-known stars. This was easy in the northern hemisphere where the night sky was well mapped, but difficult in the southern hemisphere because the night sky had never been accurately mapped. So his principle roles were both to construct an observatory to observe the southern skies and to immediately catalogue the southern stars for navigational purposes. Despite a number of setbacks and an early death from scarlet fever in 1831, he broadly achieved these goals.

Lowther Went Artwork – Fearon Fallows

In the last newsletter, we identified the electricity substation in Lowther Went as being an eyesore, with a negative impact on the area. We consequently wrote to Electricity North West to determine if they could tidy up and repaint the building, and whether we could install some artwork in the false windows of the building. Electricity NW came up trumps and both refurbished the building and agreed to the artwork.

By coincidence we have been looking for an idea to commemorate Fearon Fallows in our town as he is a lesser-known, ‘famous son’. Around 15 years ago, the Civic Trust and the Astronomical Society formed the Fallows Society. This had a similar objective and a goal of raising funds for a millennium project. This project never came about, but some funds remained which we have been able to use for the first artwork in the ‘left hand window’.

Civic Trust member and artist Victor de Quincy volunteered his time and skills to produce the artwork free to the Civic Trust, and it all came together on 3rd July when we had a small ceremonial unveiling. We invited the Mayor, Phillip Graham to ‘lower the new Cumberland Flag’ to fully reveal the artwork. Stuart Atkinson who has written a booklet about Fearon Fallows spoke about Fearon’s life and Victor spoke about his artwork. Border TV and the Times & Star were present.

Lowther Went Artwork – Cockermouth Collage

Having agreed on an artwork for one of the substation ‘windows’, it was obvious that it would be good to have something for the second ‘window’. Victor again came to the rescue & offered to design the second panel, again offering his time & skills for free. It was quickly agreed that a black & white collage of Cockermouth buildings extended from Victor’s existing collage on the Cockermouth Tea Towel would look good on the building. Funding was now the issue as we needed around £1,100 to produce and install the second artwork. We started the process at the first unveiling when pledges were received from Civic Trust members, the Mayor and Billy Bowman. Subsequently after talking to businesses in the Went & other businesses such as the Trout that will feature on the second artwork, we have received pledges totalling just short of £1,000. Victor meanwhile has continued with producing the artwork & the image below is a photo of the final draft.

We still need a little over £100, so we are inviting members who wish to do so to make a small donation with their annual subscription renewal. £5 from 20 members will do the trick. Victor has offered a Cockermouth bookmark to every member who donates £2 or more. If we do collect money slightly above target, the extra will be put into Civic Trust funds for future projects.

Walks of Pride

We continue to follow up on issues raised by previous walks of pride. For example, we have had the success of the improvements to the Electricity Substation in Lowther Went undertaken by Electricity North West and their agreement to install artwork in the false windows. We are still talking to the agents for Lowther Went about other potential improvements to the centre. We were pleased to see the improvements to the Chinese Takeaway building on the corner of Bridge Street and will be writing to them accordingly. Our comments to the Coop about how they could improve their building still appear to be falling on deaf ears.

Following the successes of our walks of pride in the town centre, on July we undertook our 2013 Walk of Pride at the western end of town focusing on the Sullart Street area.

Again we are able to write a number of letters of commendation, including to the Trout Hotel, which we feel always looks good & makes a significant contribution to the character of Cockermouth.

A number of improvement areas were identified ranging from graffiti in the gents toilets, rampant foliage on trees creating a safety hazard at zebra crossings to improvements in the look of specific buildings by such as the use of colour and/or traditional features. Our Town Manager, Joe Broomfield took away half of the issues that were raised for action, for the rest we will be writing to the respective responsible owners.

Heritage Open Days, 12th-14th September

We have again coordinated a number of events in Cockermouth as part of Heritage Open Days. Full details of these & national events are on the web site’uk . A summary of our events locally follows:

  • Castle tours, ticket only. Thurs/Fri 2pm
  • Isel Hall, ticket only. Thurs/Fri 2 and 3pm
  • Lecture on Dorothy Wordsworth, Fri 10am
  • Lecture on Papcastle Archaeology, Fri 11.30
  • Archaeological Museum Interpretation, Fri 1pm to 4pm – Town Hall.
  • Papcastle Dig Open Day, Sat 10am to 4pm
  • Higham Hall, Fri 10am to 4pm
  • Percy House, Thurs/Fri/Sat normal hours
  • Banks Ironmongers, Sat 10am to 3pm
  • Eco Centre, Sat 10am to 2pm
  • Masonic Hall, Sat 10am to 2pm
  • Winder Hall, Sat 12noon to 4pm

Advance tickets for the castle & Isel Hall available from the TIC. Lectures are at the Kirkgate Centre, no booking required.

Dorothy Wordsworth

Most of us have heard of William Wordsworth, the poet, who was born in Cockermouth. Fewer of us have heard of Dorothy Wordsworth, younger sister of William, who was also born in Cockermouth, on Christmas Day in 1771. The two siblings remained very close throughout their lives and Dorothy was a great inspiration to William. She did not aspire to be a famous writer herself, but she kept a meticulous diary recording their life together in Grasmere, and wrote poetry herself. William was not ashamed to draw on her work! Dorothy did not marry and lived to be 83, but was an invalid for her last 25 years after a serious illness.

Cockermouth should be very proud of their ‘famous daughter’. If you want to find out more about her, we have arranged a talk about her as part of Heritage Open Days. This will be at 10am on Friday 13th September at the Kirkgate Centre with free entry. It will be given by Stephen Miller of the Wordsworth Trust and coincides with the current exhibition commemorating Dorothy at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere.

Local Listing

We are clear in our minds that creating a local heritage list for Cockermouth would be advantageous in that it identifies assets, (buildings, landscapes, views, artwork), that the community values and introduces a requirement for these assets to be considered as part of any relevant future planning applications. It is also clear from the workshop that we attended that there will be a significant amount of time & effort involved in both developing & implementing the process. It all requires community involvement, development of screening criteria and project management of the whole process. Allerdale BC have said that they do not have the resources to lead, but will support and advise. It is important therefore that we all fully appreciate what is involved before we start. For this reason, we are thinking of arranging our own workshop to go through the process before we go any further, hopefully involving Workington Civic Trust as well since they are also part of Allerdale. We would welcome anyone who is at all interested to attend & get involved, to whatever level. Please contact Duncan Keeler on 821799.

Phil Campbell, Chairman






Please return your subscription renewal for 2013/14 to our Treasurer, Ian Dodsworth, at 1 Banks Court, Market Place, Cockermouth, CA13 9NG;  OR, bring to any lecture.
















Amount: £                        (£5.50 plus £5 each additional member, same household)



Donation: I enclose a donation towards the second artwork in Lowther Went as below:









Note!   All cheques should be made payable to “Cockermouth Civic Trust”.