The Market Square
Penrith shown within Cumbria
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
|UK Parliament||Penrith and The Border|
Penrith is a market town in the county of Cumbria, England. Penrith lies less than 3 miles (5 km) outside the boundaries of the Lake District National Park. Historically a part of Cumberland, the local authority is Eden District Council, which is based in the town. Penrith was formerly the seat of both Penrith Urban and Rural District Councils. Penrith has no town council of its own, and is an unparished area.
It is in the Eden Valley, just north of the River Eamont. Other local rivers bounding the town are the River Lowther and the River Petteril. A partially man-made watercourse, known as Thacka Beck, flowing through the centre of the town, connects the Rivers Petteril and Eamont. For many centuries, the Beck provided the town with its main water supply. Thacka Beck nature reserve provides flood storage which protects homes and businesses in Penrith.
- 1 Name
- 2 History
- 3 Governance
- 4 Geography
- 5 Climate
- 6 Landmarks
- 7 Transport
- 8 Notable people
- 9 Nightlife
- 10 Penrith Dialect
- 11 Media
- 12 Education
- 13 Churches
- 14 Economy
- 15 Penrith New Squares
- 16 Sport
- 17 Twin town
- 18 Mayday Carnival
- 19 See also
- 20 References
- 21 Further reading
- 22 External links
It is generally accepted that the name Penrith is of Cumbric origin, though the exact etymology of the name has been debated.
Several toponymists, favour a derivation from the local equivalents to the Welsh or Cumbric pen 'head, chief' (both noun and adjective) + Cumbric 'rid', Welsh rhyd 'ford'. On this basis, the name would therefore mean 'chief ford', 'hill ford' or Whaley's suggestion: 'the head of the ford' or 'headland by the ford'.
Objections to this theory have been raised on the grounds that the present town of Penrith lies around 1 mile from the nearest crossing point on the River Eamont at Eamont Bridge. An alternative has been suggested consisting of the same pen element meaning 'hill' + the equivalent of Welsh rhudd 'red'. The name 'red hill' may refer to the large Beacon Hill to the north east of the current town. There is also a place called 'Redhills' to the south west near the M6 motorway.
Excavation of a section of the Roman road from Manchester to Carlisle in advance of an extension to Penrith Cemetery showed that the road survived better at the edges of the field. The cobble and gravel surfaces appeared to have been entirely ploughed out at the centre. The road was constructed by excavating a wide, shallow trench below the level of subsoil Large cobbles were probably obtained from nearby, as they did not appear frequently within the subsoil in the excavated area. The cobbles were added to the excavated subsoil and this was dumped back into the cut to form a stable foundation, which was raised in the centre of the road to form a camber.
|Penrith Urban District|
|- Succeeded by||Eden District|
|- HQ||Penrith Town Hall|
The area had previously been an urban sanitary district presided over by the Local Board of Health.
As well as the town of itself the district also contained the hamlets of Carleton (now a suburb of Penrith), Bowscar, Plumpton Head and part of the village of Eamont Bridge.
The district was divided into 4 wards: North, South, East and West, which remained the basis of local government divisions in the town until the 1990s.
From 1906 the council was based at Penrith Town Hall which had previously been two houses believed to have been designed by Robert Adam.
In the 1920s Penrith Castle came into the possession of the council. The grounds were turned into a public park, and Castle Hill or Tyne Close Housing Estate was built nearby. Further pre-war council housing was built at Fair Hill and Castletown and after World War II at Scaws, Townhead and Pategill.
Local government divisions
Penrith West which includes Castletown and parts of the town centre and Townhead.
Penrith North: part of the town centre, the New Streets, most of Townhead and the outlying settlements of Roundthorn, Bowscar and Plumpton Head.
Penrith South: Wetheriggs, Castle Hill, a small part of the town centre, part of Eamont Bridge and part of the Bridge Lane/Victoria Road area.
Penrith East: part of the town centre, Scaws, Carleton Park and Barco
Penrith Carleton (formerly part of Penrith East): Carleton Village, High Carleton, Carleton Heights, Carleton Hall Gardens
Penrith Pategill (also formerly part of Penrith East): Pategill, Carleton Drive/Place, Tynefield Drive/Court and part of Eamont Bridge.
Penrith West and South wards make up the Penrith West Electoral Division of Cumbria County Council whereas East, Carleton and Pategill wards combine to form Penrith East division. Penrith North, along with the rural Lazonby ward, makes up Penrith North division.
Divisions and suburbs
Castletown is the area to the west of the railway line and includes the Gilwilly Industrial Estate and part of the Penrith or Myers Industrial Estate. The area - which was originally built to house workers on the railway line - mostly consists of late 19th and early 20th century housing (mainly terraced) including some council housing but in recent years modern housing developments such as Greystoke Park, Castletown Drive and Castle Park have sprung up.
There was until March 2010 a pub in the suburb, The Castle Inn and in previous years there was a sub-postoffice, Co-op store and other shops all now closed. Until the 1970s Castletown had its own church, St Saviour's in Brougham Street which acted as a chapel of ease to Penrith's parish church of St Andrew.
The suburb has a community centre on the recreation ground at Gilwilly and did until recently hold an annual gala day and parade throughout Penrith. At one time in the mid-20th century elections were held amongst regulars at the Castle pub to find a Mayor of Castletown. There is a long-standing rivalry between the Castletown and Townhead districts.
Townhead is the general name for the northern area of the town, which also includes the Fair Hill district and the Voreda Park or Anchor housing estate.
The main part of area is built along both sides of the A6 road heading up the hill in the direction of Carlisle. The road is streetnamed as Stricklandgate and Scotland Road but on maps dating before the mid-19th century was just marked as Town Head.
Town Head was one of the 7 townships or constablewicks that the ancient parish of Penrith was divided into the others were Middlegate, Burrowgate, Dockray and Netherend within the town proper and Plumpton Head and Carleton outside the town.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2012)|
The New Streets is a name for the area between Townhead and Scaws on the side of the Beacon Hill (or Fell) which consists of steep streets of some terraced housing but mainly large detached and semi detached houses mostly laid out in the late 19th century going up the hill. The streets are - from north to south - Graham Street, Wordsworth Street, Lowther Street, and Arthur Street. The term is sometimes extended to include Fell Lane (which is actually the ancient east road from Penrith town centre leading to Langwathby), and Croft Avenue and Croft Terrace (dating from c.1930). However, the late date of the development of the latter streets place them outwith the traditional definition of the term. At the foot of the streets is Drovers Lane which is sub-divided along its entire length into Wordsworth Terrace, Lowther Terrace, Bath Terrace, Arthur Terrace, Lonsdale Terrace and finally Meeting House Lane. Running along the top of the streets is Beacon Edge from which spectacular views can be seen over the town and towards the Lake District. Until about the turn of the 20th century, Beacon Edge was known as Beacon Road. As well as the streets going up the fellside there are some that connect the streets such as Beacon Street and smaller housing developments in the gaps between the individual streets. The fellside is known to have been used as a burial ground for victims of the many attacks of plague which struck Penrith down the centuries, and there are also areas which still bear the names of the farming which took place in the area. For example, a now wooded enclosed area on Fell Lane is still known as 'the Pinfold' (or Pinny) and was used to house stray animals until their owner paid a fine to release them. Also, a lane off Beacon Edge is still known as 'Intack Lane' (that is, the lane to farmed land). Most of the land that formed the "intack" itself was used to form Penrith Cemetery.
The Scaws Estate was first built by Penrith Urban District Council almost immediately after World War II on land previously known as The Flatt Field and Scaws Farm which formed part of the Lowther Estates. Scaws Farm is now known as Coldsprings Farm. The name was changed following a murder which took place at the farm.
In later years some private housing was built on the higher parts of the estate.
Adjoining Scaws are the privately owned Barcohill and Meadow Croft housing estates.
Carleton, once a separate settlement, is the area of Penrith that has seen the most growth of housing in the past 30 years.
Carleton Village itself is a small line of houses along one side of the A686 road that forms part of the boundary of the town's built up area; at the junction of the A686 and Carleton Road (formerly the A66 road) is the Cross Keys Inn.
On the other side of the road and to the east of Carleton Road is the large High Carleton housing estate which was started in the 1960s and is still growing. The estate is subdivided into the Frenchfield Way/Gardens area, the original High Carleton area, Carleton Park or Parklands, Carleton Meadows and Carleton Heights most of the streets in this area are named after trees or other plants e.g.: Oak Road, Sycamore Drive, Juniper Way. A small stream runs through the estate. Oak Road connects Carleton with Meadow Croft and Scaws. To the west of High Carleton is Winters Park where Penrith Rugby Union Football Club has its ground and the Carleton Hall Gardens estate.
Carleton Hall is the headquarters of the Cumbria Constabulary.
Adjoining Carleton is the Pategill Housing Estate which started as a council estate on land that once formed part of the Carleton Hall estate in the 1960s and is still mostly owned by housing associations. Two streets on the estate namely Prince Charles Close and Jubilee Close were opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1977.
The centre of the estate is accessible by foot only and there was until 2012 a small convenience store here.
Several properties are run as sheltered accommodation for the elderly.
The Wetheriggs, Skirsgill and Castle Hill or Tyne Close areas were first developed in the 1920s by the Penrith UDC on land formerly known as Scumscaw and the first private housing to be developed was Holme Riggs Avenue and Skirsgill Gardens just prior to World War II.
Further development did not start until the 1960s and 1970s when land between Wetheriggs Lane and Ullswater Road was built on though it was not until the late 1980s that the two roads were connected after the building of the Clifford Road extension which saw the Skirsgill area developed.
Within the area are three schools: Ullswater Community College. North Lakes Junior and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School (QEGS). The Crescent on Clifford Road is a block of elderly sheltered accommodation. There was formerly a shop at the junction of Huntley Avenue and Clifford Road next to North Lakes School.
As with the rest of the British Isles and North of England, Penrith experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The nearest Met Office weather station is at Newton Rigg, about a mile outside of the town centre. Temperature extremes range from 31.1 °C (88.0 °F) during August 1990, down to −17.8 °C (0.0 °F) in February 1969, although this was nearly eclipsed by a temperature of −17.7 °C (0.1 °F) during December 2010. Newton Rigg also holds the record for the coldest April temperature reported in England −15.0 °C (5.0 °F) during April 1917.
|Climate data for Newton Rigg 169m asl, 1971-2000, Extremes 1960-|
|Record high °C (°F)||12.8
|Average high °C (°F)||5.7
|Average low °C (°F)||0.4
|Record low °C (°F)||−16.7
|Precipitation mm (inches)||103.1
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||36.3||55.4||89.9||130.8||175.2||168.0||166.2||149.7||113.7||79.4||45.6||33.2||1,243.2|
|Source #1: Met Office
|Source #2: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute/KNMI
The main church is St. Andrew's, built from 1720 to 1722 in an imposing Grecian style, abutting an earlier 13th-century tower. The churchyard has some ancient crosses and hogback tombstones in it known now as "Giant's Grave", and "Giant's Thumb" which is the remains of a Norse cross dated to 920 AD.
The ruins of Penrith Castle (14th-16th centuries) can be seen from the adjacent railway station. The castle is run as a visitor attraction by English Heritage. To the south-east of the town are the more substantial ruins of Brougham Castle, also under the protection of English Heritage.
To the south of the town are the ancient henge sites known as Mayburgh Henge and King Arthur's Round Table. Both are under the protection of English Heritage.
In the centre of the town is the Clock Tower, erected in 1861 to commemorate Philip Musgrave of Edenhall. Hutton Hall, on Folly Lane, preserves a 14th-century pele tower at the rear, attached to an 18th-century building. The Gloucester Arms public house, formerly known as Dockray Hall, is said to date from c1470 and may incorporate the remains of another pele tower.
Penrith has been noted for the number of wells in and around the town, and well-dressing ceremonies were commonplace on certain days in the month of May. Three miles south-east of the town, on the River Eamont are the "Giants' caves", where the well was dedicated to St. Ninian. The caves are enlarged out of Lower Permian sandstones and their associated breccias and purple shales.
Just to the north of the town is the wooded signal-beacon hill, naturally named Beacon Hill, but originally called Penrith Fell.[disambiguation needed]. It last use was probably in 1804 in the war against Napoleon. Traditionally, the Beacon Pike was used to warn of approaching danger from Scotland. Today, although surrounded by a commercial woodland owned by Lowther Estates, the hill still contains some natural woodlands and is a popular local and tourist attraction. On a clear day the majority of the Eden Valley, the local fells, Pennines and parts of the North Lakes can be seen. It is almost certain that the Beacon Hill gave Penrith its name - in Celtic - of "red hill".
Penrith is also a stop on the West Coast Main Line, with the town's station (dating from 1846) officially known as 'Penrith North Lakes'. Since the upgrade to the West Coast Main Line was completed in 2008, the number of trains stopping at Penrith was reduced and the town now has an irregular service of fast trains to/from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
National Express operate 2 long distance coach routes with stops in Penrith.
The National Cycle Network's major National Route 7 runs through the town, and National Route 71 stops just short of the southern edge of the town.
Penrith has a number of taxi firms operating in the town which are licensed by Eden District Council. The main taxi rank is on Sandgate in the middle of town and there is also one outside the Railway Station which is useful for commuters.
The Scottish road-builder and engineer John Loudon Macadam the inventor of "Macadamized" roads (not Tarmacadam as that came later) lived for a while at Cockell House in Townhead. Close by Cockell House today are the streets Macadam Way and Macadam Gardens.
The feature film Withnail and I features the real Penrith very briefly, but most of the filming locations were actually in and around nearby Shap. The "Penrith Tea Rooms" scene was filmed in Stony Stratford (Milton Keynes).
Penrith is the birthplace of the footballer Stephen Hindmarch
Will Addison, professional rugby union player currently representing Sale Sharks rugby union club attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith making his début in the Aviva Premiership on 8 April 2011 against Gloucester Rugby union club at only 18 years of age.
Lewis Brett Guy (born 22 August 1985 in Penrith, Cumbria) is an English footballer who plays as a forward. He is currently playing for Milton Keynes Dons.
John Taylor (1 November 1808 - 25 July 1887), third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lived in Penrith as a young man, until he emigrated to Canada in the early 1830s.
Stuart Lancaster became Head Coach of the England national rugby union team in 2012.
Like other rural towns of its size, Penrith relies on public houses to form the basis of social entertainment, and was once famous for the sheer number of pubs in the town and at one time the town had five working breweries. There were once many more pubs in the town than there are now, and the trend of pub closure is still continuing. Despite this, there are still a considerable number of pubs in the town. These range from traditional, small pubs that have a loyal clientele to the bigger bars which form part of the "circuit". Penrith also has numerous dining places and restaurants.
The Penrith dialect known as Penrithian, is a variant of the Cumbrian dialect spoken around the Penrith and Eden district area.
The local newspaper, the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, goes on sale every Saturday. Sections of the Herald are updated every following Tuesday on their website. The Herald is independently owned, with offices on King Street, but is printed at the CN Group's printing works in Carlisle, where the weekly Cumberland News and daily paper the News and Star which also cover some news items from Penrith are printed.
A separate edition of the Herald is published for the Keswick area, and is known as the Lake District Herald.
- Brunswick School (formerly County Infants), Brunswick Road
- Beaconside Primary, Eden Mount/Brent Road (until 2008 there were separate Beaconside Infant and Junior schools)
- North Lakes School (formerly Wetheriggs Junior; was at first a girls only school), Huntley Avenue - North Lakes is one of the first Schools in England to be awarded a Sing Up Gold Award (Dec 08) and their highest accolade a Sing Up Platinum Award (Dec 08).
- St Catherines Roman Catholic Primary, Drovers Lane
- Hunter Hall (independent preparatory school), Frenchfield
- Ullswater Community College (formerly Ullswater High School, and before that, two single sex secondary modern schools on the same site called Tynefield (girls) and Ullswater (boys)), Wetheriggs Lane.
- Queen Elizabeth Grammar School (QEGS) (selective), Ullswater Road.
- The Yorkshire agricultural college Askham Bryan College has a campus just outside the town at Newton Rigg. The University of Cumbria has a centre for Conservation, Forestry, Outdoor Studies and Policing; based on the same campus.
- Ullswater Community College has a large further or adult education centre
Former schools in the town include:
- Girls National School (building now housing school replaced by Beaconside Juniors), Drovers Lane
- Boys National School or St Andrews School for Boys (building now demolished school replaced by Beaconside Juniors), Benson Row
- National Infants School (now Penrith Playgroup Nursery School), Meeting House Lane
- Robinsons School - this was a girls only school founded with 29 pupils which later became a mixed (infant) school founded in 1670 by William Robinson, a local merchant who made good in London. It now houses the town's museum and tourist information centre, Middlegate, and has the following inscription above the door: "Ex sumptibus DN Wil Robinson civis Lond anno 1670 DN"
- County Girls School (building now part of Brunswick Infants the school was replaced by Wetheriggs school), Brunswick Road
- County Boys School (the building now QEGS Sixth Form Centre, also was for a while an annexe to Wetheriggs. The school merged with Wetheriggs Girls to form Wetheriggs Junior), Ullswater Road
- Tynefield Secondary Modern (originally co-educational but later girls only), Wetheriggs Lane
- Ullswater Secondary Modern (boys only), Wetheriggs Lane. Ullswater & Tynefield schools and buildings merged to create Ullswater High in 1980.
Church of England
- St Andrew's Church is the ancient parish church of Penrith Parish, situated in the centre of Penrith and is the largest church of the four parishes which make up the Penrith Team Ministry.
- Christ Church, Drovers Lane/Stricklandgate, open in 1850 and formerly a separate parish but from 1968 to 2008 was part of the United Parish of Penrith. It is now, once again, a separate parish church for the North-West half of the town, remaining within the Penrith Team Ministry.
Roman Catholic Church
- St Catherine's, Drovers Lane.
Methodist Church of Great Britain
- Penrith Methodist Church, Wordsworth Street.
- United Reformed Church, Lowther Street.
- Society of Friends, Quaker Meeting House, Meeting House Lane.
- Gospel Hall Evangelical Church, Albert Street/Queen Street.
- King's Church Eden - part of the Newfrontiers family of churches.
As a small market town relying quite heavily on the tourist trade Penrith benefits from a mix of some high street chain stores and many small local specialist shops. Though as has happened with many towns of a similar size a lot of shops have given way to business such as banks, building societies and travel agents
Market days are Tuesday and Saturday. On Tuesdays there is a small outdoor market in Great Dockray and Cornmarket, once a month this is expanded to include a Farmers' Market in the Market Square as well. On Saturdays at the Auction Mart alongside the M6 motorway Junction 40 takes place Cumbria's largest outdoor market. Stagecoach North West operate a free bus service between the Auction Mart and the town centre on Saturdays.
The main shopping areas in the town centre are Middlegate, Little Dockray, Devonshire Street/Market Square, Cornmarket, Angel Lane and the Devonshire Arcade and Angel Square precincts with some shops in Burrowgate, Brunswick Road, Great Dockray and King Street.
Although the main industries in the area are based around tourism and agriculture there are some other industries reperesented within Penrith for example Greggs in 2011 opened a new bakery at Gilwilly replacing 2 bakeries in the Friargate area that used to belong to the Penrith based Birketts firm; Dominos Pizza have a dough manufacturing site at Gilwilly and the model firm Lilliput Lane (now part of Enesco) was founded in Penrith and until March 2009 had its main factory at Skirsgill Park. Also at Penrith Industrial Estate is the Penrith Door Company factory formerly belonging to Magnet Joinery, now part of the American based JELD-WEN group.
Agricultural based industries include BOCM Pauls who have a large animal feed mill on the Penrith Industrial Estate and until 2005 there was another Feed Mill at Gilwilly originally belonging to Cumberland and Westmorland Farmers Ltd but eventually becoming part of the Carrs Milling Industries group. Local butchers Cranstons have an expanding meat packing, pies and sandwich manufacturing site alongside their shop and head office on Ullswater Road.
In the past Penrith was known for its tanning industry and breweries. The tanning factories were located mainly in the Friargate/Old London Road area of the town. There were at one time five working breweries in the town. Penrith in recent years has attracted many large, international haulage firms to open depots beside the M6.
Penrith New Squares
For the past few years controversial plans have been proposed to expand the town centre of Penrith southwards into the Southend Road area which is currently used as car park and sports fields including ones used by Penrith and Penrith United Football Clubs. The first stage of this development has been achieved with the expansion of the swimming pool into a modern leisure centre complex.
The plans for the rest of the scheme have been developed by the property company Lowther Mannelli and include a new Sainsbury's supermarket (though previously it was thought that it was going to be a branch of Tesco), new shopping streets, car parking and housing. The name of the scheme is Penrith New Squares as the new shops will be centred around two squares which will provide parking and places for public entertainment.
Work on the development was suspended in October 2008 due to a lack of funding during the financial crisis, but a new deal has been agreed with Sainsbury's and work was resumed in 2011. This new deal includes less new housing and parts of the scheme deferred for up to five years. Sainsburys opened in December 2011. In June 2013 the first shop in the squares opened plus the walk through from Sainsburys to the town centre.
The Eden Valley Mountaineering Club draws many of its members from Penrith.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2012)|
On every first Monday in May, Penrith holds its Mayday Carnival. The Carnival includes a parade, street dancers and fairground rides. The fairground rides are situated in the Great Dockray and Market Square car parks situated in the commercial area of Penrith. The parade includes over 30 floats, vintage cars, a marching band, various local celebrities and members of the Penrith Lions Club. The parade starts in the yard of Ullswater Community College and ends in the bus station car park. Many of the roads in the town centre are closed for this event. The carnival is held by the Penrith Lions Club.
- Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway
- Penrith and The Border (UK Parliament constituency)
- Penrith Mountain Rescue Team
- Penrith Hoard
- Withnail and I
Latitude/Longitude sourced from OpenStreetMap
- It is part of ALFA (Adaptive Land Use for Flood Alleviation). Eden, ALFA
- Thacka Beck, Cumbria Wildlife Trust
- Gilpin, William (1786), Observations relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty, Made in the year 1772 ..... Cumberland & Westmoreland. Pub. R.Blamire, London. Facing P. 85
- Ekwall, E (1947). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names. Oxford, UK: OUP. p. 345.
- Mills, A.D. (1991). Dictionary of British Place Names. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 366. ISBN 0-19-852758-6.
- Whaley, Diana (2006). A dictionary of Lake District place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. pp. lx,423 p.263. ISBN 0904889726.
- Lee, Joan (1998). Place Names of Cumbria. Carlisle, UK: Heritage Services. p. 65. ISBN 0-905404-70-X.
- Roman Britain. "Voreda".
- Cumbria SMR no. 11055: Site of Roman road.
- Collingwood, R G & Richmond, I 1969 The Archaeology of Roman Britain London, Methuen &Co Ltd
- "1990 temperature". KNMI.
- "1969 temperature". KNMI.
- "2010 temperature". UKMO.
- "1917 temperature". UKMO.
- "Newton Rigg 1971-2000". UKMO. Retrieved 7 Nov 2011.
- "Newton Rigg Extremes". KNMI. Retrieved 7 Nov 2011.
- "PENRITH, Cumberland-Church history". GENUK. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
- Dockray Hall at Pastscape
- "King Kong sculpture soon to tower over Cumbrian Saturday market". Cumberland News. 2011-01-28. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- [dead link]
- Lowther Manelli
- Cumberland News 10 Oct 2008
- Eden District Council Press Releases
- "Penrith Skate Park". Retrieved 24 March 2015.
- Sister city arrangements for Penrith
- "Ewanion". History of Penrith. Carlisle, 1993. ISBN 0-9519920-3-1.
- ECCP. Country Walks Around Penrith.