Newsletter 125

The time has finally arrived for the repair of the roadway on Main Street following the floods and the incorporation of a new storm drain. It is a crying shame that the grander scheme that included new pavements and artwork on both sides of the street did not materialise in the end due to insufficient budget provision. Nevertheless, the street-scape will still be much improved and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to it all being completed and consigning all the disruption to the past. Meanwhile, please keep supporting your town centre through shopping locally.

As usual, the main theme for this Spring Newsletter is our Summer activities. Full details are included within the newsletter, but in summary they are:

  • Evening visit & social to Helena Thompson Museum, 6th June
  • Day outing to Barrow, 19th June
  • Member’s Garden Party, 22nd July
  • 2014 Walk of Pride, date to be announced
  • A Workington Civic Trust day visit to ‘Devil’s Porridge’, 20th August, to which our members are invited.
  • Bernard Bradbury Memorial Lecture, 5th September
  • Heritage Open Days, 11th to 14th September

Other topical issues include on-street parking charges, the Fitz development, WW1 commemorations and a number of visits to our town! Read on.


Member’s Meeting

We held our 3rd ‘member’s special discussion meeting’ on Wednesday, 19th March. Unfortunately, turn out of members was very poor with only 3 members other than committee members attending, and 2 of these were partners of committee members. This follows disappointing attendance at the previous 2 meetings. Although we continued to have this meeting, it was unanimously agreed at the end to discontinue with these meetings in future as they are clearly not supported by the membership.


Visit & Social to Helena Thompson Museum

(7pm, Friday, 6th June)

Workington Civic Trust have invited our members to join them at the Helena Thompson Museum for a social evening and tour of the museum. Its an opportunity to find out how they are developing the museum and using the recently received grant aid. We will meet at the Museum between 6.30 and 7pm. There will be no need for tickets but if you would like to go, please return the attached form so that we know numbers, no ticket will be issued..


Day outing to Barrow in Furness,.

(8.20am,Thursday, 19th June).


We will depart by coach from Wakefield Rd car park at 08.20 and drive to Barrow via A595 coastal route, stopping at Abbey House Hotel in Barrow for coffee on arrival. During the course of the day, we will visit the Town Hall, the Dock Museum and Furness Abbey. We aim to leave Barrow between 4.30pm & 5pm & travel back through the Lakes, arriving back in Cockermouth by around 7pm.

The basic cost of the trip will be £20. This includes travel, coffee & biscuits, Abbey tour guide and a £2 per head donation to the Dock Museum. In addition, there is entry to Furness Abbey. This is free to members of English Heritage. Members may wish to use their free day pass as members of Civic Voice, but please note that it is your responsibility to obtain your pass. Otherwise, you will need to pay your entrance fee along with your ticket application. Full details are included on the attached form.


Barrow-in-Furness Town Hall is an interesting Victorian, neo-gothic municipal building.. The building was constructed in a four-year period entirely from local Hawcoat Sandstone and was officially opened on July 14, 1887 by the 8th Duke of Devonshire. It still serves as the base of Barrow Borough Council We will receive a guided tour of the building, which will last around an hour. The Mayor will be present to welcome us.


The Dock Museum exhibits are largely based around the history of the town, focusing on the shipbuilding industry, the steelworks industry — of which Barrow once had the world’s largest, the Furness Railway and the World War II bombings. The largest part of the museum is housed in a former dry dock where there are three floors containing models of ships & submarines built in Barrow. When we are there, there will also be a temporary exhibition on the ‘Barrow Home Front’ during World War 1.We will receive a guided tour in 2 sequential groups focusing on the ‘Barrow Story’. There will also be plenty of time to have lunch, perhaps in the museum café or at the nearby Brewers Fayre or take a packed lunch on the promenade.

The impressive remains of Furness Abbeyfounded by Stephen, later King of England, include much of the east end and west tower of the church, the ornately decorated chapter house and the cloister buildings. It is owned by English Heritage. We have arranged for a local guide to give us an interpreted tour of the abbey


Member’s Garden Party

(3pm Tuesday, 22nd July)

Your committee have decided to host a new social event for members in the form of a ‘garden party’. This year it will be held at Phil & Shirley Campbell’s house & garden at 27 The Mount, Papcastle. Coffee/tea and light refreshments will be provided and we are hoping for some good weather, although it will go ahead indoors if necessary. There will be no charge but there will be a voluntary donation box towards costs, any excess going to Civic Trust funds. It would be helpful if you would let Shirley know on 823485 if you would like to come so that we have a good idea of numbers coming.


2014 Walk of Pride

(Date to be announced)

We will be undertaking another Walk of Pride this summer, but will decide on the date once the Town Centre is getting back to normal following the road improvement works. We will let members know the date by email; if you haven’t got email & wish to know please let us know and we will phone you. This year we intend to include a small new area and revisit what we have done to date.


Workington CT Visit to ‘Devil’s Porridge’

(Wednesday 20th August)

Workington Civic Trust’s annual trip is to visit the Devil’s Porridge Exhibition at Eastriggs in Dumfriesshire on 20th August. They have invited our members and are including a Cockermouth pick up, (based on an 08.15 Workington departure). In the afternoon there will be free time at the Gretna Gateway.

When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited the factory in Gretna in 1916, he described the explosive paste which was mixed by hand as the ‘Devil’s Porridge’. This is an apt name for the highly explosive mixture of nitro-glycerine and nitro-cotton. The dried paste was shaped into cordite and put into shells and bullets. The Gretna factory produced more cordite than all of the other factories in Britain put together. There were 30,000 workers here and special townships were built in Gretna and Eastriggs. Do you want to find out more? The cost will be £20 inclusive of coach, entrance fees and lunch. If you would like to go, please apply direct to Anne Burton along with cheque and an SAE, giving your address and contact telephone number. Her address is 47 Stanbeck Meadows, Workington, CA14 3ND.


Bernard Bradbury Memorial Lecture 2014

(Friday, 5th September)

You will remember that we have established a 2 yearly lecture series in memory of Bernard Bradbury, in association with Cockermouth Museum Group and Lorton and Derwent Fells Local History Society. The fifth one is now due and it is our turn to lead its organisation.

It will be at 8pm on Friday 5th September in the Kirkgate Centre. Tickets must be obtained in advance through the Kirkgate Centre Box Office at a price of £3.50. They are available now, so don’t delay.

Being our turn, we have chosen an architectural theme in accordance with our own core interests. We have invited Andy Lowe to give a talk on ‘Lakeland Architecture through the Centuries’. Andy is a former Building Conservation Officer for the Lake District National Park Authority and has been a well known lecturer for over 30 years. Although the lecture will focus on the National Park, this is an artificial boundary as far as local architecture is concerned and you will find the lecture highly relevant to Cockermouth itself.

This illustrated talk will reveal the diverse range of architectural styles in the Lake District. It will highlight the way that external influences, particularly with better transport, have left a very distinctive legacy in the character of the landscape and its towns and villages. The talk will encourage everyone to become building detectives and appreciate the clues and evidence which help us to identify the various styles of buildings over the last 500 years. No matter where you live, this talk will set the historic and visual context for you to have a better understanding of your locality.


Heritage Open Days 2014

(Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th September)

We have invited all participants in HODS this year to consider including a WW1 theme where appropriate in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war

On this theme, we have arranged a special lecture as part of Heritage Open Days in association with the Museum Group. This will be by Stuart Eastwood of the Border Regiment Museum who will focus on diet during the war period in a talk called ‘what did you eat in the trenches, Grandad?’. It will be at the Kirkgate Centre at 7.30pm on Friday September 12th. Admission will be free but by ticket available from the Kirkgate Centre.

Other activities this year will include:

  • Friends Meeting House – The Centenary of World War 1 and Quakers Witnessing for Peace Exhibition
  • Papcastle Archaeological Dig Open Day
  • Papcastle Archaeology Artefacts exhibition interpretation
  • Isel Hall
  • Higham Hall
  • Masonic Hall, this year celebrating the Lodge’s 150th anniversary
  • Winder Hall
  • Percy House
  • Banks Ironmongers
  • Cockermouth School Eco Centre, this year celebrating the school’s 30th anniversary of becoming Cockermouth Comprehensive School.

We also hope to conduct some castle tours but do not yet have agreement to do so.

Detailed timings of the activities will be publicised nearer the time but will be available on along with all other national events.


WW1 Commemoration

As you know Shirley Campbell has been representing the Trust on the town’s World War 1 Anniversary Commemoration Committee. A date for your diary is the open air commemoration service at the Cenotaph at 2pm on 3rd August. A number of events and activities are being planned including our Heritage Open Day Lecture. Another event of note is the Museum Group Summer Exhibition which this year will feature Cockermouth 1914 to 1918.


The Fitz Development

The proposed development at the Fitz has come up for detailed planning permission. As a significant development of 221 houses, we undertook a detailed assessment of the proposals using the national ‘Building for Life 12’ Assessment Criteria. There are 12 criteria that you assess the development on against national guidance on a traffic lights system. In principle, a development should not proceed with any ‘reds’. Ideally, all criteria should score ‘green’ and reasonable steps should be taken to improve on any ‘ambers’. Our assessment came up with 2 ‘reds, 7 ‘amber’ and 3 ‘green’. The Developers themselves had undertaken their own assessment and perhaps unsurprisingly had come up with a much better rating with no ‘reds’ at all.

The development has only tenuous links with Cockermouth, being almost a separate village outside of the town. It is therefore very important that the design takes account of its isolation and creates a place that has a strong positive character and identity. We felt that the proposal as submitted is characterless, generic and as such lacks any positive identity. Brick, stone and render appear to be used in an arbitrary way rather than in any overall plan. For this reason, we scored design ‘character’ as red.

We also scored ‘creating well defined streets and spaces’ as red. We felt the site layout was far too car oriented resulting in an estate of roads rather than people friendly streets.

In summary therefore, we recommended refusal of the planning application on the basis of inadequate and poor design. We also strongly recommended that in view of the differences in assessment results, a fully independent assessment is carried out by an independent expert organisation such as ‘Places Matter’ in order to ensure that the principles of good design are met. As always, now is the time to get the design right; poor design will be suffered by generations to come.

If you have concerns about the Fitz development, we would encourage you to make comment through the Allerdale web site. It is not too late.


On Street Parking Charges

As you are aware, we are concerned about the imposition of on-street parking charges by Cumbria County Council. We have therefore expressed our concerns to the Council through our MP Tony Cunningham and to our County Councillors. Our concerns as written are expressed below. Unfortunately, they appear to have fallen on deaf ears as the formal response that we have received tells us that the decision has been made but doesn’t address all of our specific concerns.

Our main local concern is for the adverse effect that it will have on the viability of our Cockermouth town centre. Penalising people for using the town centre, particularly for short visits, will further encourage them to use out of town shopping. This contradicts national policy to revitalise town centres. Specifically in respect of Cockermouth, tremendous community effort has been put into restoring our Main Street following the 2009 floods, efforts that have received several national awards. The last thing we need is for our county council to undermine all that has been achieved.

As a Civic Trust, we are also concerned about the additional street furniture that implementation of the policy will require. One of the objectives of the ongoing street scene improvements that we have been working with the council on is minimising street furniture to make our main street more people friendly. Again, this is an issue that is relevant nationally.

We are clear that imposition of street parking charges will not lead to an improvement in traffic management in Cockermouth. It is therefore manifest that it is the intention of the Council to use the funds raised for general cost cutting measures. We believe that this is not legal and will leave the Council open to challenge. There is precedent in this respect in the case of Barnet Council last July where it was concluded in court that ‘as a general principle, regulatory measures are there to serve a statutory purpose and not to ease local authority financial difficulties’.

Lastly, we question the point of undertaking a democratic consultation on the council’s proposals when the public feedback is ignored. We are fully aware of the local strength of feeling against this particular proposal.


Cockermouth Civic Trust Award

We are pleased to say that we have decided to award the new Cockermouth Community Hospital and Health Centre with a Certificate of Commendation for its design and build. It is an elegant building that manages to avoid the typical institutional aesthetic common amongst this type of building. It is predominantly smooth white render which, in a more urban environment and in a different location, would come across as another piece of modernism. But in its context in Cockermouth, where render predominates, the building respectfully commands its corner site without being out of place.

The design brief and its execution is worthy of recognition. It appears the desired aim of breaking down the institutional barriers has been successful. By entering at the upper level into a large colour coordinated area and reception-desk-free unconventional waiting space, the welcome is friendly and human. Internal planted courtyards give natural light and further soften the interior, bolstering the attention of the user, giving recognition that it is for them that the building exists.

On the lower floor a suite of independent over-night rooms are located. Designed around the concept of easy but unobtrusive supervision, the rooms are placed around an arc that is used to generate the main building form. Each room has full height glazing and independent access to a well landscaped garden that surrounds the main frontage. The gardens are very much an essential part of the service provided by the building and as such are an integral part of the architecture and the building’s relationship with the domestic setting in which it is located.

There are several notable design aspects such as the framed views to the cottages opposite which help connect and scale the building in human terms.

Overall the building is a pleasant surprise and has successfully achieved the aim to place the individual at the heart of what is an institutional building. This humanising is a commendable achievement.


Visits to Cockermouth

We have had a number of groups request tours around the town already this year, including Lytham St Annes paying us a return visit. Also of note were 2 schools doing environmental projects requesting flood related tours, one from Whitehaven, the other from Sheffield.


Electronic Mail, (John Dent)

Another reminder that if you are not already on our emailing list and would like to receive future newsletters and other up to date information by email please notify me at


Phil Campbell, Chairman







  Please return this form along with a cheque made out to ‘Cockermouth Civic Trust’, to Shirley Campbell, Cockermouth Civic Trust, 27 The Mount, Papcastle, Cockermouth, CA13 0JY. A self-addressed envelope would be appreciated.

Your Name & Address & telephone no.









Number of tickets required




________   at £20 (excluding entry to Furness Abbey)



Entry to Furness Abbey No. of persons members of English Heritage______________(please bring your cards)

No of persons with Civic Voice Voucher       _______________(please bring voucher)

No of adult entries at £4.20pp                         _______________

No of senior citizen entries at £3.80pp           _______________

No of children entries at £2.50pp                   _______________



Total money enclosed: £________________(£20pp plus Furness Abbey entry).


Pick up point is in Wakefield Road car park at 8.20am






  Please return this form to Shirley Campbell, Cockermouth Civic Trust, 27 The Mount, Papcastle, Cockermouth, CA13 0JY. PLEASE NOTE NO TICKETS WILL BE ISSUED

Your Name & Address & telephone no.









Number of reservations required







Meet time is between 6.30pm and 7pm at the Helena Thompson Museum