Workington and Wigton, Cumbria, United Kingdom.

Because the Lake District is within its boundary, Cumbria possesses some of the United Kingdom’s most beautiful mountain scenery, but, because of its beauty, the Lake District is not an unusual destination. In contrast, a lot of the West Cumbrian coast is deemed unworthy of visiting, even by British people who live nearby. Hence this post. Why not consider a visit to Cumbrian places a little less obvious than the Lake District (and, if you enjoy this post, track down my earlier posts about Barrow-in-Furness, Whitehaven and Parton)?

Workington’s most interesting sights include the tidal estuary of the River Derwent, the ruins of Workington Hall in pretty Curwen Park, Portland Square (an elongated square of considerable beauty in a conservation area. Elegant Georgian and Victorian houses enclose the cobbles. What a pity about all the parked cars, however), the streets surrounding Portland Square (e.g. Curwen, Wilson, King and Jane streets), Workington railway station, Dora Crescent (and other streets nearby, such as Dean and Bishop streets), Station Street and Belle Isle Street. Carnegie Theatre and Arts Centre on Finkle Street, and the nearby United Reformed Church, the Methodist Church and the Conservative Club are also worth seeing, as are St. Michael’s Nursery and Infant School, and St. Michael’s and St. John’s churches. St John’s Church is particularly interesting. Dating from 1823, it resembles Inigo Jones’ St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, London. Internally, thin cast iron columns support the gallery. The altar canopy is gilded with nine-carat gold.

Between St. Michael’s Church and the rugby league ground, beside the southerly branch of the River Derwent, is an old stone factory. The factory is now occupied by a small firm that uses iron and steel to make and repair things. Lots of damaged cars fill part of the open space in front of the workshops. In the past, Workington was important for iron smelting, steel production and coal mining. Today, however, in common with many West Cumbrian towns and villages, it is a settlement blighted with high unemployment.

Although Wigton has many Georgian and Victorian buildings of architectural note, it also suffers from a high level of unemployment, which means that, for most people, money is tight. Highlights in the town include the triangular market place, the George Moore Memorial Fountain (the four bronzes are the work of the pre-Raphaelite sculptor, Thomas Woolner), St. Mary’s CE Church (which dates from 1788), St. Cuthbert’s RC Church, the large Innovia Factory, and, about a mile from the centre, Highmoor Mansion (1885) with its tall tower built to house a clock, carillon and Big Joe, the latter a large bell. Highmoor Mansion has been sub-divided into flats. Water Street, Church Street, High Street, Proctor’s Row and South End are all worth walking along because so many pretty buildings exist, and George Street and North Croft have interesting houses. West Road is also excellent for houses, those closest to the town centre being Georgian and those furthest away having arts and crafts embellishments. Do not miss Wigton Manor, which lurks behind trees and bushes along the north side of West Road. The town’s swimming pool is beside Speet Gill and close to Nelson Thomlinson School, but detached from other structures. Most unusual. Even Station Road leads past some interesting buildings (e.g. houses and a small cafe in a wooden shack). Just off Station Road is an old stone building with a circular ground plan that looks like an old windmill. Note Wiza Beck, which runs for a short distance beside Station Road.

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