Defence and Industry in Cumbria

(Page created 26/09/09. Last updated 03/03/16)

Submarine launch at Barrow (J.Bennett)


The Neolithic production and polishing of stone implements at sites in central and western Lakeland is the very first British industry. The worked hornstone from outcrops at Stickle Pike, Scafell Pike, Glaramara, Carrock Fell and Fairfield answered many practical and cultural needs for our prehistoric ancestors rather than meeting any specifically defensive function. However, associated with stone implement manufacture at Carrock Fell is the existence of a hill fort enclosure. The workers and perhaps their work site required protection. Similar defensive hill sites are recorded at Hunsonby in the Eden Valley, The Helm near Natland, Warton Crag on the Lancashire border, Skelmore Heads near Urswick and Castlesteads near Allithwaite. The remains of a motte and bailey defence at Aldingham is an example of an early coastal fortification. Henges at Mayburgh near Eamont Bridge are probably more intended to delineate a place of cultural or religious significance rather than to afford any physical defence.

Prehistoric Monuments of the Lake District : Tom Clare, Tempus, 2007
A History of Man in the Lake District :William Rollinson, J M Dent & Sons, 1967
The Langdales :Mark Edmonds, Tempus, 2004

Roman Britain

The northern limit of Province Britannia required the erection of a defensive boundary. First, during the reign of Trajan (AD98-117), a series of fortifications was built between Carlisle and Corbridge along the route later known at The Stanegate. Later, around AD124, Hadrian’s Wall was raised to consolidate the Tyne to Solway frontier. Military communications within Roman Cumbria required engineered routes from the south through the Lune gorge, along Wicker Street to Penrith, to the frontier defences; via Watercrook (Kendal) to Galava (Ambleside) and on to Clanoventa (Ravenglass); High Street (if ever completed) or more probably the Kirkstone Pass road via the Roman camp at Glencoyne on Ullswater; a road over Stainmore from Yorkshire branching at Kirkby Thore to the mountain route into the South Tyne valley by the Maiden Way; a main highway north from Brougham to Carlisle; another westwards from Brougham to Moresby; the Military Road along the line of the Wall continuing westwards to Maryport with a southerly extension via Papcastle to Egremont. These roads were protected and travel along them facilitated by forts such as Low Borrow Bridge, Old Penrith and Hardknott at intervals of a day’s march. The defence requirement of the three centuries of Roman occupation bequeathed to the county a basic system of communications which through the succeeding Dark Ages seems to have served mainly to assist the movement of new invaders and incomers from Scotland, Anglians from the south-east, Vikings from Ireland and the Isle of Man and Danes from the east. An emerging pattern of settled pastoralism had little need of strategic routes or formal structures for defence.

Walking Roman Roads in East Cumbria, and Walking Roman Roads in Lonsdale and the Eden Valley :Philip Graystone, CNWRS, 1994 & 2002
Roads and Tracks of the Lake District :Paul Hindle, Cicerone, 1998

Mediaeval Cumbria

During the 10th and 11th centuries Cumbria could not be considered part of England but was effectively controlled by various Scottish kingdoms. The Domesday Book records only a few manors in the south of present Cumbria. It was not until 1092 that Norman government spread to Carlisle when William Rufus arrived with an army, built the castle and settled a multitude of English peasants with their wives and stock in the district. Norman rule was established by the construction of castles at Brough, Appleby, Brougham, Cockermouth, Egremont and Kendal. Raiders from Scotland continued to harrass the border lands and gave the Carlisle area a great strategic importance and an economic base for over two hundred years. Mediaeval towns often came into being for military or defensive reasons which accounts for Carlisle being the earliest recognisable town, but then with a population of not more than 2,000. By 1200 only Appleby and Kendal could be added to the list of municipalities. The founding of a series of twelve monastic estates across Cumbria consolidated Norman control and began a restructuring of the economic life of the area. Sheep and cattle farming on a large scale, iron mining and forging, fisheries and trading were developed and imposed a requirement for reliable means of transport as well as for security . Piel Castle was built to provide secure storage for the coastal trading activities of Furness Abbey.

The thirteenth century marked the growth of a woolen cloth industry following the invention of the fulling mill and the ready availability of water for power. Mining of coal, iron, copper, lead and silver and the quarrying of limestone and slate were all taking place in Cumbria by 1500. Pig iron was being smelted and exported. Salt was being produced on the Solway coast and traded. Events early in the fourteeen century threatened to compromise this economic evolution. Following the English defeat at Bannockburn in 1314 what had previously been sporadic raids from north of the Border turned into a virtual Scots ravaging of the whole of Cumbria which continued intermittently until the end of the century. The English monarchy was obliged to grant permits to northern landowners to fortify their properties and thus many built pele towers – sturdy defensive three-storey structures – as their only hope of protection from the marauderers. Pressing national needs lay behind the drive to extract copper ore from the Lakeland hills. Mining had been carried out around Keswick from the 12th century but when Elizabeth I came to the throne imports of copper were crippling the Exchequer. The prosperous wool industry used brass carding pins, copper was used for most domestic cooking utensils, the ordnance factories required copper for the bronze in their cannon and musketry. Copper was known to lie in the Cumbrian fells but the expertise to find and retrieve it was lacking. In 1565 agreement was reached for a team of German prospectors called the Company of Mines Royal to begin work in the Newlands Valley which rapidly grew into a productive mining, dressing and smelting operation that lasted for almost a century. Only the wadd (graphite) industry compares in value with the copper trade in its heyday. Borrowdale’s high quality graphite could be used in the casting of cannonballs, bomb-shells and round shot. It was a rust inhibitor, pottery glaze, pencil lead and dye fixitive. Again the local source lasted for about a hundred years.
Roads and Tracks of the Lake District :Paul Hindle, Cicerone, 1998

Goldscope and the Mines of the Derwent Fells : Ian Tyler, Blue Rock, 2005
Seathwaite Wad and the Mines of the Borrowdale Valley : Ian Tyler, Blue Rock, 2000

The 18th Century

With the increase of trade and travel and the loss of the organisation provided by the monastic foundations, by the end of the 17th century travel in the north of the country was becoming difficult. So, when Bonny Prince Charlie and his supporters arrived in Carlisle in November 1745 it proved impossible for English troops to move from Newcastle in less than a week to avoid the town’s capitulation. A little over a month later, as Charles Stuart was attempting his retreat from Derby, his cannon became mired in the unimproved road over Shap and his artillery was overtaken and savaged by the Duke of Cumberland’s forces at Clifton – the last battle on English soil. The ’45 rebellion prompted the Government – funded construction of the Military Road between Newcastle and Carlisle at a cost of over £20,000. This expenditure was clearly a strategic rather than an economic expedient although the road was subsequently operated as a turnpike and maintained by tolls. The century saw the first onset of modern industrialisation. Within Cumbria technical innovation was sufficiently advanced to attract the attention of the Swedish investigator and diarist R R Angerstein. One of his journeys in 1754 took him to Maryport where he sketched the blast furnace, then to Clifton where he reported coke being used to fire the furnace. At Whitehaven Angerstein made detailed notes of the coal mines, their working methods and value and sketched the spark machine invented by Carlisle Spedding as a means of providing safe underground illumination. His journey southward gave him the opportunity to visit the slitting mill at Egremont, the iron ore mines at Lindal and the furnaces at Newland and Penny Bridge. Only at Clifton did Angerstein encounter a rebuff to his inquisitiveness when he was ordered off the premises by the operators in what was an early instance of defending trade secrets.

Towards the close of the century John (˜Iron Mad”) Wilknson, himself a son of the parish of Clifton, was perfecting the use of coke for smelting and developing techniques for the casting and machining of cylinders and gun barrels. Although John and William Wilkinson conducted profitable business in France it is safe to assume that they would take care to protect their inventions at a time of Napoleonic expansionist ambition. John Wilkinson attracted attention with the launching of an iron boat at Coalbrookdale and one of his iron vessels is reputedly still resting in Helton Tarn on the River Winster. Cumbria around this period became an important centre of a new industry with both military and civilian uses. Gunpowder production began at Sedgwick in 1764 followed by factories at Bassingill (1790), Lowwood (1799), Elterwater (1824), Gatebeck (1850), New Sedgwick (1857) and Blackbeck (1860). It was a Westmorland man – the Revd Richard Watson born at Heversham in 1737 and later to become Bishop of Llandaff – who when Professor of Chemistry at Cambridge advised the Government on a process for producing “cylinder charcoal” by distilling wood in retorts which delivered a more consistent product for the gunpowder mills.

RR Angerstein’s Illustrated Travel Diary, 1753-1755 : Science Museum, 2001
Ironmaster Wilkinson of Lindale : S Raymond,Lindale, 2000
Roads and Tracks of the Lake District : Paul Hindle, Cicerone, 1998
The Gunpowder Mills of Cumbria : Ian Tyler, Blue Rock, 2002

Into Modern Times

Gunpowder manufacture continued at the Cumbrian mills until the last one (Gatebeck) closed in 1937. Initially the output of the northern mills was chiefly black blasting powder for use in mines and quarries. Most powder for military use then came from the factory at Waltham Abbey. By 1914 the local mills were producing about 50% of the gunpowder made in the UK. From 1917 the Westmorland and Furness mills were absorbed into Explosive Trades Ltd which finally merged with ICI to whose works at Ardeer in Ayrshire all production eventually was transferred. Anxieties in the opening years of the 20th century over German rearmament greatly affected the pattern of industrial activity in the area. At the new town of Barrow in Furness the Naval Construction & Armament Company, born out of Sir James Ramsden’s Barrow Iron Shipbuilding Co., amalgamated in 1897 with Vickers Ltd, the Sheffield steel and armament company. The year was a critical one for Imperial defence with mounting anxieties at the hostile intentions towards British interests of Russia, France, Japan and Germany. Naval estimates for that year swelled by 15% and Barrow received an order for a new cruiser, followed a year later by the order of a battleship, the only ship in the British Navy which had been built, engined, armoured, and supplied with her heavy gun-mountings by one firm. 1897 was also the year when Lowther Estates granted Vickers firing rights over the foreshore near Bootle and the Eskmeals heavy gun range was established. A similar firing range owned by the Newcastle firm of Sir W G Armstrong & Co was created at Blitterlees Bank, south of Silloth. Expansion of the Barrow Yard was dramatic: capacity was more than doubled, the work force grew from 5,000 to 10,000, thirteen acres of covered space became twenty-five acres. In the years leading to the outbreak of the Great War Barrow Yard continued to fulfil the share of new naval construction awarded by the Admiralty but also embarked on the development of submarine technology with rather less support from the Admiralty. Barrow Works was also involved in a less successful adventure into airship design at workshops built near Cavendish Dock. A start was also made on an airship landing site and hangers at Flookburgh. The prototype rigid airship, named prophetically “Mayfly”, broke its back before becoming airborne and the programme was shelved. (Click here to read more).

English Heritage Archaeological Investigation Reports on the Cumbrian Gunpowder Works
Vickers – A History
: J D Scott, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1962
A Century of Shipbuilding : T Clark,Dalesman, 1971
James Ramsden: Barrow’s Man of Vision : J Kellett,Monksvale,1990
Carrock and the Mines of Skiddaw & Blencathra : Ian Tyler, Blue Rock, 2003

The Great War

The gathering clouds of war over continental Europe and the threat of a German submarine blockade brought some new investment in UK mineral extraction. At Force Crag Mine in Coledale the workforce was increased, the flotation plant and mill were improved and the driving of a major new level was being planned. To meet the wartime demand for tungsten the Government funded the revival of the then recently closed Carrock Wolfram Mine which enjoyed a brief flourishing until 1921 when imported tungsten could be obtained from China at a third of the cost of home production and the mine again closed. Iron ore and coal production increased and steel output was demanded from every serviceable blast furnace in Furness and West Cumberland.

Vickers Barrow Works effectively came under Government control for the duration of hostilities. The Turkish battleship Reshadieh, completing in 1913, with crew in place and commissioning awaited, was summarily appropriated by the UK Government and commissioned as HMS Erin. One further battleship – the Revenge – was completed at Barrow during the war but Barrow’s major war work for the Royal Navy was in the delivery of a fleet of 64 new submarines. The advances made by Vickers in the improvement of diesel propulsion for submarines gave them a head start in the development of heavy diesel engines for surface vessels. The success in reconnaissance over the North Sea of the German Zepellins led to a brief revival by Vickers of the airship programme. The design team included a young engineer named Barnes Wallis. Three airships were completed at Barrow before the project was again closed down. The Gun Range at Eskmeals came under the control of the Ministry of Munitions but continued to be operated by Vickers. The town of Barrow was virtually a garrison town during the war years and was flooded with munition girls and conscript workers. Unlike the emergency housing provisions for workers at the Gretna munitions plant, little extra housing was made available in Barrow where families were separated into different lodgings and Lancashire mill girls brought to the town were housed in emergency hostels.

Few departments of life and industry were unaffected by the war. Military service deprived many businesses of their established workers. Women were now depended on to fulfil roles hitherto the exclusive preserve of their menfolk. Female labour was especially vital for the munitions factories built around Carlisle. The city was also the scene of a unique attempt to control the strength and consumption of alcohol by placing the local brewery and licensed premises under the control of a State Management Scheme. On the land the labour shortages were partially offset by the employment of POWs from camps hurriedly erected to hold them. The railways were required to perform heroic endeavours to move unprecedented volumes of fuel, munitions, troops, and casualties. A procession of ˜Jellicoe Specials”, many using the Cumberland coast line to relieve pressure on the main west coast line over Shap, carried huge tonnages of coal to fuel the Northern Fleet through the Scottish ports. Extra capacity was required at Carlisle to cope with the volumes of traffic. Locomotives and wagons were borrowed from the larger railway companies to supplement the limited resources of the local operators. The Kent and Leven viaducts on the Furness line required major reinforcement to handle the heavy traffic. Of all the costs of the war undoubtedly the greatest was the human one of the loss of so many of a generation of young skilled and productive workers.

Vickers – A History : J D Scott,Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1962
Building Barrow  and The Barrow Blitz : Bryn Trescatheric, Titus Wilson, 1992 and The Dock Museum, Barrow, 2009
Rail Centres: Carlisle : P W Robinson,Ian Allan, 1986
Carrock and the Mines of Skiddaw & Blencathra : Ian Tyler,Blue Rock, 2003
Force Crag – the History of a Lakeland Mine : Ian Tyler,Red Earth, 1990

The Inter-War Years

The critical wartime housing shortage in Barrow had seen 200 prefabricated bungalows built in 1918 and led the Ministry of Munitions to agree the construction of 400 new houses but it was late 1920 before their development of just 250 properties was completed, by which time many of the munition workers had returned to their former areas. Like many UK companies Vickers at Barrow had a buoyant and expansive outlook on the post-war world. In 1917 a Peace Products Committee foresaw a future where defence capacity would turn to the production of locomotives, piano frames, and soft toys. The reality proved starkly different. Although several new branches of engineering were pursued in such fields as power station boilers, aircraft cylinders, cement kilns, pumps, bridges, ship stabilisers and diesel engines, the 1918 Barrow Works payroll of 28,000 employees earning £5,146,000 had by 1923 reduced to 4,900 workers earning £645,000. The high quality precision engineering which had met the nation’s defence needs during the war proved the chief handicap in winning business in peace. Armament tolerances were too fine and costs too high to be able to compete successfully with general engineering concerns. Although shipbuilding at Barrow after 1923 did not suffer to the same extent as in the UK as a whole, it was not until the mid-1930s that prospects at Vickers began to improve. With the introduction of a national rearmament drive the Barrow Works labour force as good as doubled from 8,355 in January 1934 to 16,340 in January 1938. A significant consequence was a resurgence in the local house-building market of both private and Council-owned properties

Building Barrow : Bryn Trescatheric,Titus Wilson, 1992
Vickers – A History : J D Scott,Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1962
The Furness Area : Lancashire Industrial Development Association,Manchester, 1948

World War 2

At the outbreak of the second World War Vickers at Barrow was in an advanced state of readiness following an extensive programme of modernisation and re-equipment. In the years when there had been few orders for new naval construction Barrow shipyard had secured orders for several passenger liners but with the approach of hostilities all resources were again applied to warship construction. Whereas in World War 1 a vast amount of land artillery and munition was manufactured at Barrow, after 1939 the entire production capacity of the works was applied to the type of engineering more appropriate to its highly specialised plant and skilled workforce. Between 1939 and 1945 Barrow yard delivered 4 aircraft carriers, 2 cruisers, 12 destroyers, 89 submarines, 18 midget submarines, 11 cargo vessels, 2 transport ferries, 10 tank landing craft, 8 motor landing craft, and 6 skids. Heavy armament production tested the capacity of the Barrow Works to its limit and shortages of skilled labour in a town with no industrial hinterland sent the Barrow apprentice-recruiters into the depressed parts of West Cumberland.

The Gun Range at Eskmeals came again under military control. Beckfoot Quarry in Eskdale was used for some proving of armour-piercing shells. Part of the Corney Fell road was used for testing weaponry on tanks. Several wartime airfields were established around the county – at Carlisle Kingstown, Crosby on Eden, Great Orton, Kirkbride, Silloth, Anthorn, Haverigg, Walney and Flookburgh. No.14 Maintenance Unit RAF Carlisle was set up on several sites north of Carlisle and there was a major armament depot at Longtown. Labour from Carlisle was also vital to the work of the huge Gretna TNT plant. Munition factories were built on the Cumberland coast at Drigg and Hycemoor. A camp for 500 imported workers was built at Wellbank near Bootle Station and later became HMS Macaw RNAS Bootle. What after the war became the site for Calder Hall power station had been developed as a wartime explosives plant. What later became the High Duty Alloys plant at Distington had its beginnings as Shadow Factory VP477 making aluminium aircraft parts. Nearby another hush-hush industrial development was constructed on the south side of Harrington Harbour. The so-called Harrington Shore Works produced magnesite by reacting calcined dolomite with sea water. In Workington theThermal Syndicate Co. at Northside was producing wireless valve components. Familiarly known as ˜The Dump” RNAD Broughton Moor and the Camerton Ammunition Depot in the former Camerton drift mine brought welcome employment to an area of derelict coal workings and much traffic along their rail connections. In March 1945 a rail van carrying depth-charges caught fire and exploded south of Bootle causing much damage.

A new factory was erected beside Windermere at White Cross Bay in 1941 to house the production of the Short Sunderland flying boat as the Short Bros. company base on the Medway was within the range of German bombers. To accommodate the 600 workers employed at the site a new village of Calgarth Park was built at Troutbeck Bridge on the site now occupied by The Lakes School. The entire project was bitterly opposed by the Friends of the Lake District who secured a Government undertaking that all traces of factory and housing would be removed at the end of hostilities. In Ulverston Armstrong Siddeley took over the premises of the former Furness Paper Works as a base for the repair of aircraft engines. Diatomite extraction from Kentmere was stepped up to meet demand from TNT factories. Difficulties in securing imported supplies of mineral concentrates led to the revival of some of the local mines. Force Crag Mine in Coledale was redeveloped to win barytes ore for use in munition production. A team of Canadian Sappers arrived in 1942 to reopen the Carrock Wolfram Mine near Mungrisdale and were followed by Spanish Pioneers and Italian POWs. Having proved there were workable reserves the mine was again closed in 1943 without any serious attempt to win ore as supplies of tungsten concentrate were again coming from the USA. POWs were also employed at Cocklakes mining anhydrite for use in sulphuric acid production.

Provision of accommodation for substantial numbers of Prisoners of War imposed a demand on the building trades to erect new camp facilities and adapt and secure requisitioned properties. POW camps in the county were sited at Moota, near Cockermouth, Bela River, near Milnthorpe; Merrythought, Calthwaite; Longtown; Carlisle, Shap Wells Hotel; Grizedale Hall (˜U-Boat Hotel”) and Hornby Hall, Penrith. Many POWs were drafted into agricultural work on Cumbrian farms until their repatriation. Defence emplacement and pill boxes were erected along the coastline and on all major transport routes. Air raid precautions and the provision of shelters involved local authorities, businesses and individual householders in considerable effort and expense. Observation bunkers were sited discretely around the countryside. Obstructions to landing craft were installed on beaches and tank traps made available for use on roads. All signposts were dismantled and street lighting shaded. At Sandscale Haws a decoy harbour to draw enemy bombers away from the Barrow dock system was installed. The requirements of industry and of the military placed hugely increased demands on the railways which were also vital in the implementation of Operation Pied Piper – the evacuation of children from districts threatened by air raids. Barrow was a town that experienced the departure of many children to rural parts of Cumbria. The county also received numbers of children evacuated from the Manchester and Tyneside areas as well as entire public schools relocated from areas of danger in the southern counties.

Vickers – A History : J D Scott,Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1962
A Century of Shipbuilding : T Clark,Dalesman, 1971
A Lakeland Valley Through Time : J Scott (ed), Staveley & District History Society, 2003
Gypsum in Cumbria : Ian Tyler,Blue Rock, 2000
Moota – the Story of a Cumbrian PoW Camp : Gloria Edwards,Little Bird, 2005
Support in the Sky – a History of No.14 Maintenance Unit, RAF Carlisle : Royal Air Force, 1996
Wings on Windermere : A King,Mushroom Model Publications, 2008
A Brief History of Eskmeals Gun Range : D L Brown,Eskmeals,1997
Steetley: Dolomite and Sea Water Operations in the North of England. Volume II – Sea Water Magnesia (1936-1952) : Robert Dunn and John Smailes, The Authors, 2012

The story of “The one that got away” from Grizedale Hall
Russel Barnes’ website covering the “Defence of Cumbria in the 20th Century”, including a page  about the magnesite works at Harrington

A Kind of Peace

The conclusion of hostilities left a huge volume of unused bombs and munitions which needed to be disposed of. Dumping at sea was the accepted means, and one of the few allocated disposal areas was the Beaufort Dyke, a deep trench in the North Channel between Northern Ireland and the Mull of Galloway. Silloth was selected as the most suitable port from which to ship these munitions to the dumping ground. The exercise lasted from 1946 to 1949.

The return of peace in 1945 left areas that had been subject to bombing such as Barrow with a legacy of site clearance, building repair and new construction. In a single air raid in 1941 8,000 residential properties in Barrow were damaged. At the end of the war 3,000 people needed rehousing. and the Government allocated the town 400 prefabricated bungalows to alleviate the situation. A prevailing atmosphere of insecurity characterised as ˜the Cold War” brought investment in a network of nuclear proof underground observation posts and regional control centres of which Abbotswood near Furness Abbey was one. Vickers Barrow shipyard had plenty of work but lacked skilled tradesmen. In 1946 naval contracts still provided half of the shipbuilding work although the balance of activity was shifting rapidly towards the construction of passenger liners and tanker vessels employing methods of prefabricated assembly developed during the war years. In 1950 valuable civilian engineering contracts at Barrow yard had to be cancelled in order to meet the armed services demand for additional armaments following the outbreak of hostilities in Korea. Most of the weaponry ordered at this time was of existing designs. A White Paper of 1957 rejected the approach to national defence of short spurts of intensive rearmament in favour of a settled policy of nuclear deterrence.

Submarine development led to the construction in 1950 of HMS Explorer and HMS Excalibur with high-test peroxide for under-water propulsion based on German experiments late in the war A greater technological advance came in 1958 with an Admiralty decision to move into the world of nuclear propulsion. HMS Dreadnought was ordered in 1959 as the first of the Navy’s nuclear hunter-killer submarines. Armament production at Barrow turned to first generation tactical guided weaponry for naval use. Progressive developments of field weaponry in the post-war years have given Barrow Works a leading role in meeting the needs of both UK and US land forces up to the present time. In 1966 HMS Resolution was ordered from Barrow yard as the first of class of four Polaris submarines in which was married nuclear propulsion and the ballistic missile. A major advance in surface warship technology came in 1968 with the £10m.order for the prototype Type 42 destroyer – HMS Sheffield – armed with the Sea Dart missile system. In turn the approaching completion of the first of an Astute class of submarines marks the latest updating of the Navy’s defence capability at Barrow yard (now part of BAE Systems).

Cold War politics in the late 1950s brought about the expensive taming of a site on Spadeadam Waste near Gilsland into a testing range for Blue Streak – the UK’s land-based Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. Promoted by the Ministry of Aviation and managed by Rolls Royce, the project was abandoned in 1960 in favour of a joint European launcher scheme. In 1976 the site was handed over to the RAF and became RAF Spadeadam – an Electronic Warfare Tactics Range. An Army presence continues at Warcop where a large area of land on the western flank of the Pennines is maintained as a military Firing Range and training area.

Cumbria is now heavily affected by a Government decision to develop civil nuclear technology. Military nuclear applications had been in development since 1940 and included the building of a plutonium separation plant at Windscale in 1947 on the site of the disused ROF Sellafield. Many construction workers were housed at Wellbank Camp, Bootle (the former HMS Macaw. The Calder Hall nuclear power station which opened in 1956 on an adjacent site was built, like its sister plant at Chapelcross beyond the Solway, as a military imperative to augment supplies of weapons-grade plutonium. Any electricity produced was a byproduct. The major fire at Windscale in October 1957 was in the No 1 plutonium production reactor – a military installation. The inherent dangers of the fissile materials associated with nuclear energy impose a raft of security requirements previously unprecedented in peacetime. Sellafield is protected by its own militarised constabulary. Vessels shipping fissile material through the ports of Barrow and Workington are armed. Today in one part of Cumbria at least it is not so much a case of industry aiding defence as of industry requiring defence.

Vickers Against the Odds 1956-77 : H Evans,Hodder & Stoughton, 1978
A Century of Shipbuilding : T Clark,Dalesman, 1971
Building Barrow : Bryn Trescatheric,Titus Wilson,1992
Nuclear Power and The Fissile Society : W C Patterson, Penguin, 1976 and Earth Resources Research Ltd, 1977
The port of Silloth 1859-2009 : Chris Puxley, Bernard McCall / The Author, 2009