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All Saints Church
Cockermouth shown within Cumbria
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
Cockermouth // is an ancient market town and civil parish in the Borough of Allerdale in Cumbria, England, and is so named because it is at the confluence of the River Cocker as it flows into the River Derwent. The 2001 census records the population at that time as being 7,877.
Historically a part of Cumberland, Cockermouth is situated outside the English Lake District on its northwest fringe. Much of the architectural core of the town remains unchanged since the basic medieval layout was filled in the 18th and 19th centuries. The regenerated Market place is now a central historical focus within the town and reflects events during its eight hundred year history. The town is prone to flooding, being flooded in 2005 and again much more severely on 19 November 2009.
Cockermouth owes its existence to the confluence of the rivers Cocker and Derwent, being the lowest point, historically, at which the resultant fast flowing river powered by the Lake District could be bridged. Cockermouth is situated a few minutes travelling distance from lakes such as Crummock Water, Loweswater, and Bassenthwaite.
Cockermouth has a temperate climate that is influenced by the Irish Sea and its low lying elevation. Cockermouth receives slightly below average rainfall compared to the UK average. Temperatures are also round about average compared to other parts of the UK. The nearest weather station for which online records are available is Aspatria, about 7 miles North North East of the town centre.
The hottest temperatures recorded in the area were 31.3 °C (88.3 °F) at Lorton on 19 July 2006 and 31.1 °C (88.0 °F) at Aspatira during August 1990, with the coldest being −13.9 °C (7.0 °F) during January 1982  at Aspatria and −13.8 °C (7.2 °F) at Lorton on 8 December 2010. West Cumbria gets relatively little snow in comparison to The Lake District and Eastern Cumbria due to its proximity to the Irish Sea, and its low height above sea level.
|Climate data for Aspatria 62m asl, 1971-2000 (Weather Station 7 miles NNE of Cockermouth)|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.4
|Average low °C (°F)||1.2
|Precipitation mm (inches)||101.9
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||44.3||72.0||107.9||155.1||214.8||197.7||195.9||182.0||131.7||98.6||61.8||37.5||1,499.4|
|Source: Met Office|
The main town developed under the Normans, who after occupying the former Roman fort built Cockermouth Castle closer to the river crossing: little remains today of the castle thanks to the efforts of Robert the Bruce. The resultant servicing and market town resultantly developed its distinctive medieval layout, of a broad main street of burgesses’ houses, each with a burgage plot stretching to a "back lane": the Derwent bank on the north and Back Lane (now South Street), on the south. The layout is still largely preserved to this day, resulting in the British Council for Archaeology in 1965 noting it being worthy of special care in preservation and development.
The town market pre-dates 1221, when the market day was changed from Saturday to Monday. Market charters were granted in 1221 and 1227 by King Henry III, although this does not preclude the much earlier existence of a market in the town. In recent times, the trading farmers market now only occurs seasonally, replaced by weekend continental and craft markets.
In the days when opening hours of public houses were restricted, the fact that the pubs in Cockermouth could open all day on Market days made the town a popular destination for drinkers, especially on Bank Holiday Mondays. The Market Bell remains as a reminder of this period (inset into a wall opposite the Allerdale Hotel), while the 1761 and Castle pub (which spans three floors) have been renovated to reveal medieval stonework and 16th and 18th century features.
Much of the centre of the town is of medieval origin substantially rebuilt in Georgian style with Victorian infill. The tree lined Kirkgate offers examples of unspoilt classical late 17th and 18th century terraced housing, cobbled paving and twisty curving lanes which run steeply down to the River Cocker. Most of the buildings are of traditional slate and stone construction with thick walls and green Skiddaw slate roofs.
Many of the facades lining the streets are frontages for historic housing in alleyways and lanes (often maintaining medieval street patterns) to the rear. An example of this may be observed through the alleyway adjacent to the almost time-frozen Market Place hardware merchant (J.B.Banks and Son) where 18th-century dye workers' cottages line one side of the lane and the former works faces them across the narrow cobbled lane. Examples of Georgian residences may be found near the Market Place, St. Helens Street, at the bottom of Castlegate Drive and Kirkgate.
Curiously, Cockermouth lays claim to be the first town in Britain to have piloted electric lighting. In 1881 six powerful electric lamps were set up to light the town, together with gas oil lamps in the back streets. Service proved intermittent, and there was afterwards a return to gas lighting.
The centre of Cockermouth retains much of its historic character and the renovation of Market Place has been completed, now with an artistic and community focus. The Kirkgate Centre is the town's major cultural focus and offers regular historical displays by the Cockermouth Museum Group in addition to holding major cultural events including theatre, international music and world cinema. The tree-lined main street boasts a statue of Lord Mayo, formerly an MP for Cockermouth, who became British Viceroy of India and whose subsequent claim to fame was that he was assassinated.
The renovated arts and cultural zone in the 13th century Market Place has undergone something of a "regeneration" following European Union funding, and is now pedestrian-friendly adorned with stone paving and roadways, underground lighting and controversial seating in bright colours to reflect the area's facades. Pavement art and stonework commemorate eclectic historical events, John Dalton's atomic theory, local dialect, flooding and a curious range other memorabilia.
There is a cycleway which runs along the former Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway route, and spans a high bridge over the Cocker affording views of the town and river-scape.
Cockermouth suffered badly in the nation-wide flood on 19 and 20 November 2009. Over 200 people needed to be rescued, with helicopters from RAF Valley, RAF Boulmer and RAF Leconfield retrieving about 50 and the remainder being rescued by boats, including those of the RNLI. Water levels in the town centre were reported to be as high as 2.50 metres (8 ft 2 in) and flowing at a rate of 25 knots. Many historic buildings on and adjacent to Main Street sustained severe damage, as did a number of bridges in and around the town. Recovery from the devastation was slow, with residents placed in temporary accommodation and some businesses temporarily relocated to Mitchells auction mart. By the summer of 2011 most of the damage had been repaired and buildings re-occupied, though some remained empty or boarded up.
Cockermouth Castle is a sizeable but partly ruined Norman castle, the home of Pamela, The Dowager Lady Egremont. Built at the confluence of the Rivers Cocker and Derwent, the castle has a tilting tower which hangs Pisa-like over Jennings Brewery. The castle, with its preserved dungeons, is only opened to the public once a year during the annual town festival.
Wordsworth House has been restored following extensive damage during the November 2009 floods, and features a working eighteenth century kitchen and children's bedroom with toys and clothes of the times. Harris Park offers riverside walks and views down over the historic Town.
Jenning's Brewery offers regular public tours and occasional carriage rides pulled by a shire horse. Other attractions include William Wordsworth's birthplace, and the Lakeland Sheep & Wool Centre which offers daily shows in its theatre.
Culturally, the Kirkgate Centre offers international music, theatre and world cinema (including critically acclaimed and art-house movies on Monday evenings) and the town has an annual festival of concerts and performances each summer. Cockermouth has an annual Easter Fair, fireworks display and carnival. In April 2005 it hosted its first Georgian Fair, which was repeated in 2006, again in May 2008. At Christmas the town presents festive lighting throughout its main and subsidiary streets, accompanied by competing shop displays.
The main cemetery on the Lorton Road is something of a walker's garden, featuring streams, humped stone bridges and views of the nearby fells.
Two and a half miles northwest of the town lies Dovenby Hall Estate, a 115-acre (0.47 km2) park and woodland estate. Dovenby Hall is the home of the Ford Rally team. The estate was bought in January 1988 by Malcolm Wilson for his M-Sport motorsport team and in 1996 they were selected by Ford Motorsport to build, prepare and run a fleet of cars for entry into the World Rally Championship.
Economy and services
Created as a market town, being located close to a fast flowing river in a farming area that had always created cloth, meant that during the industrial revolution, Cockermouth became a hub for spinning and weaving. Records show that the town had a fulling mill by 1156, by the mid nineteenth century there were over forty industrial sites – mills (wool, linen, cotton), hat factories, tanneries and smaller concerns making chairs, churns, mangle rollers, nails, farm machinery, etc.
With the need for steam power, industrialisation declined, but the coming of the railway and the Victorian holiday, together with the power of Wordsworth's publications, meant that Cockermouth became an early inland tourist centre. The local economy is still reliant today on farming and tourism, with light industrial facilities servicing local needs. Industrialisation and hence work has moved to the west coast around Carlisle and Workington, and servicing the nuclear facilities at Sellafield.
Many of the shops offer a distinctive and local appeal, and yet there are three supermarkets, two chemists, a cycle shop, a Wilkinson's store, a sports centre, three bakers, over twenty hairdressers, a music shop and two art galleries. Cockermouth has several churches, three medical and dental surgeries, a complementary health centre, a sports injuries and physiotherapy centre.
There are many restaurants and of course lots of pubs, many selling the locally brewed Jennings beers, who are a major local employer. The Bitter End pub in Kirkgate has its own micro-brewery and visiting ales. The largest hotel is the Georgian fronted Trout which still has a faded photo on its walls of Bing Crosby who used the hotel as a base for his fishing in the town's rivers. At the end of Harris Park, there is a small youth hostel sited in a 16th century mill on a bend in the River Cocker's approach to the town.
Cockermouth has three primary schools. These are Fairfield, which has separate infant and junior Schools; All Saints Church of England and St. Joseph's Roman Catholic.
Cockermouth School is a comprehensive secondary school with around 1400 pupils including 310 sixth formers. The school is also a specialist Language, Mathematics and Computing School. The current headmaster is Mr. G. Walker. Cockermouth School won the regional championship in the north of England for the kids lit quiz 2009 coming 1st with 92 points
The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway served the town. The original Cockermouth & Workington Railway station was replaced on a new alignment when the Cockermouth railway station opened to passenger traffic on 2 January 1865. The station was immortalised in 1964 in the song "Slow Train" by Flanders and Swann. The station closed on 18 April 1966. The site is now occupied by Cockermouth Mountain Rescue and the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters. The old track bed now a public walkway, with the nearest railway stations now being Maryport on the Cumbrian Coast Line, and Penrith and Carlisle, the latter two located on the West Coast main line.
A coach service runs daily from London Victoria, via Milton Keynes, Wigan, Preston, Lancaster and Kendal to Cockermouth, then on to Workington and Whitehaven (approx 9 hrs). A second service runs from Birmingham Digbeth, via Wigan, Preston, Lancaster and Kendal to Cockermouth, then on to Workington and Whitehaven (approx 6 hrs). Local bus services connect Cockermouth to Workington, Penrith and Carlisle, operated by Stagecoach North West.
The nearest major airport is Newcastle Airport. Leeds Bradford International Airport and Blackpool Airport are little further, and further again is Manchester Airport, which offers a wider choice of destinations.
Two cycle routes pass through the town, the Sea to Sea Cycle Route from Workington to Tyneside, and the Reivers Cycle Route.
Sports and leisure
Cockermouth has a swimming pool, two gyms, and two parks which both facilitate riverside walks.
Cockermouth Rugby Football Club is based at the former Cockermouth Grammar School site and can boast that in 1987 it played the first ever rugby union league match when they played Kirby Lonsdale when the Rugby Union formed national and regional leagues, the precursors of what have now become the national and premier leagues.
The town has a thriving youth football club, Cockermouth F.C. In the 2007–2008 season, the Under 12 team were County Cup Champions. Cockermouth beat Allerdale Leisure, from Workington, 1-0 in the final.
Both Keswick Hockey Club and the West Cumbria teams play their home games at the Cockermouth School Astro Turf pitch.
Cockermouth is the home town of Belfagan Women's Morris, an all-female team established in 1981 who perform North West morris wearing traditional wooden clogs and using garlands, sticks and hankies in their various dances. The town is also home to CADS (Cockermouth Amateur Dramatic Society), and the Cumbria Youth Alliance.
Cockermouth is also home to a Detachment of Cumbria Army Cadet Force, a youth organisation present throughout the United Kingdom.
The 1st Cockermouth Scout group meets on various days and incorporates all sections of the scouting movement.
Derwent Valley Cycling Club (DVCC) is based in Cockermouth. DVCC is situated within the Derwent Valley which covers an area from Keswick to the river Derwent's outlet at Workington. Activities also take place in the neighbouring Solway Plain and Eden Valley areas.
- Fletcher Christian, of HMS Bounty
- John Dalton, a father of atomic theory, born in Eaglesfield nearby
- Fearon Fallows, Astronomer Royal
- Robinson Mitchell, auctioneer
- Matthew Wilson, Rally driver
- Marvejols, France
- Wells, John (30 November 2009). "Cockermouth". John Wells's phonetic blog. Retrieved 5 March 2010.
- Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Allerdale Retrieved 2009-11-22
- Whaley, Diana (2006). A dictionary of Lake District place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. pp. lx,423 p.76. ISBN 0904889726.
- "History of Cockermouth". Cockermouth.org.uk. Retrieved 2009-11-21.
- "1990 temperature". Tutiempo.net.
- "1982 temperature". Tutiempo.net.
- "Snow Map". UKMO.
- "Aspatria Climate". UKMO. Retrieved 7 Nov 2011.
- J Bernard Bradbury (1994). Cockermouth and District in Old Photographs. Alan Sutton.
- Gazeteer of Markets and Fairs to 1516: Cumberland Retrieved 2009-08-01
- Bradbury, J. Bernard History of Cockermouth Richard Byers 1995 p.100 ISBN 0952981203
- Cockermouth Museum Group All aspects of Cockermouth's history
- "More than 200 people rescued in floods in Cumbria town". BBC News. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
- "Kirkgate Centre". Kirkgate Centre. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- Kids' Lit Quiz winners
- Cockermouth Mountain Rescue
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Cockermouth|
- Cumbria County History Trust: Cockermouth (nb: provisional research only - see Talk page)
- Official website
- Cockermouth at the Open Directory project
- Life in 19th century Cockermouth and the Cragg Family