Location of Whitehaven, UK

Situated on the Cumbrian coalfield (approximate area in yellow on map), the Lord of the Manor of Workington, Henry Curwen started exploiting its coal reserves at the end of the 16th Century - mainly taking coal to the German copper miners 20 miles away at Keswick.

He started sinking pits at the start of the 17th Century to exploit the Irish coal trade and to supply local salt-pans and lime-kilns.

The Curwen family were largely responsible for developing the coal and iron trade in the Workington area, using Workington Harbour as their main outlet. They were also arch rivals of the Lowther family - who were constantly expanding their mining interests both South and North of Workington.


Pumping House remains at Jane Pit in 1997Jane Pit
Sunk by Henry Curwen in the 1840’s it became a ventilation shaft for Buddle pit (southwest of here).

Today only the curious oval castellated pumping house (date stone 1844) with chimney attached and free standing chimney (inscription stone: “E.S.C. Esquire 1844”) survive in the middle of open grassland and playing fields.


Workington Harbour
This was the major outlet for coal and iron from the Workington area mines and steel works.

The original harbour was a tidal cut of 1763-9. On the south side were a series of coal staithes, only the embankment of these remain.

Lonsdale Dock, opened in 1865 for the iron and steel trade was expanded in 1927 as the Prince of Wales Dock for ships up to 10,000 tons. Timber for a nearby board mill is now a regular import.


Report & pictures: Kelvin Lake