|OS grid reference|
|• London||259 miles (417 km) SE|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Workington // is a coastal town and civil parish at the mouth of the River Derwent on the west coast of Cumbria, England, historically in Cumberland. At the 2011 Census it had a population of 25,207.
The area around Workington has long been a producer of coal and steel.
Between AD 79 and 122, Roman forts, mile-forts and watchtowers were established along the Cumbrian coast.:10 They were coastal defences against attacks by the Scoti from Ireland and by the Caledonii, the most powerful tribe in what is now Scotland.:11 The 16th-century Britannia, written by William Camden describes ruins of the coastal defences at Workington.
The place-name of Workington is first attested in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 946, where it appears as Wurcingtun. It appears as Wirchingetona in about 1150, meaning "the town or settlement of Weorc or Wirc's people".
Several bridges were damaged or destroyed by the River Derwent during the 2009 Workington floods.
In 2006, Washington Square, a £50 million shopping centre and a mixed use complex, was opened to replace the run down St John's Arcade, built in the 1960s and 1970s. In 2007, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors named Washington Square as the 'best commercial project' in North West England.
Several works of public art were installed in the town centre, including:
While successful efforts have been made to find appropriate local names for the major streets of the new shopping centre, the initial planning title of Washington Square has been retained; there is concern over the use of the word Washington, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning the settlement of the people of "Wash" for the new square in Workington, which means settlement of the people of 'Weorc'.
In February 2019 plans for a new stadium for Workington were announced, this would in involve the demolition of Borough Park and Derwent Park.
A plan to build a 92,900 sq ft (8,630 m2) Tesco Extra store on the Cloffocks provoked controversy and opposition from local people; a planning application was placed in 2006 by Tesco, after it acquired the Cloffocks site for £18 million; Tesco had been competing with Asda to acquire the site since 2003. Campaigners opposed the sale, stating that the land was common ground and belonged to the people of Workington, in 2010 the Countess of Lonsdale invoked her rights to mine the land, in an attempt to prevent the development. In 2011 a closed meeting of Allerdale councillors took place to discuss the sale of the site, the council rescinded on its decision to sell the site to Tesco in June 2011. Tesco stated that they were still seeking a site for a store of around 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) in Workington to replace the established store.
The town is part of the parliamentary constituency of Workington. In the 2019 United Kingdom general election, the Tory candidate for Workington, Mark Jenkinson, was elected MP, overturning a 9.4 per cent Labour majority from the 2017 election to eject Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman by a margin of 4,136 votes. Until the December 2019 general election, the Labour Party had won the seat in every general election since 1979.The Conservative Party had only been elected once in Workington since World War 2, at the 1976 by-election. Historically the town has been a Labour-supporting area.
For local government purposes, Workington is covered by the Seaton + Northside, St Michaels, Moorclose + Moss Bay, Harrington + Salterbeck, and St Johns wards on Allerdale Borough Council. The divisions for Cumbria County Council are Seaton, St Michaels, St Johns + Great Clifton, Moorclose + Moss Bay, and Harrington.
The town comprises various districts, many of which were established as housing estates. North of the river these districts include Seaton, Barepot, Northside, Port and Oldside. On the south side are the districts of Stainburn, Derwent Howe, Ashfield, Banklands, Frostoms (Annie Pit), Mossbay, Moorclose, Salterbeck, Bridgefoot, Lillyhall, Harrington, High Harrington, Clay Flatts, Kerry Park, Westfield and Great Clifton. The Marsh and Quay, a large working-class area of the town around the docks and a major part of the town's history, was demolished in the early 1980s. Much of its former area is now covered by Clay Flatts Industrial Estate.
The Cumbria iron ore field lies to the south of Workington, and produced extremely high grade phosphorus-free haematite. The area had a long tradition of iron smelting, but this became particularly important with the invention by Sir Henry Bessemer of the Bessemer process, the first process for mass production of mild steel, which previously had been an expensive specialist product. For the first 25 years of the process, until Gilchrist and Thomas improved upon it, phosphorus-free haematite was required. With Cumbria as the world's premier source, and the local coalfield providing energy for steel production, the world's first large-scale steelworks was opened in the Moss Bay area of the town. The Bessemer converter continued to work until July 1974. The Moss Bay Steelworks closed in 1982, despite receiving significant infrastructural investment and improvements almost immediately before the closure.
During the Second World War, a strategically important electric steel furnace which produced steel for aircraft engine ball bearings was moved to Workington from Norway to prevent it falling into Axis hands.
Workington was the home of Distington Engineering Company (DEC), the engineering arm of British Steel Corporation (BSC), which specialised in the design of continuous casting equipment. DEC, known to the local people as "Chapel Bank", had an engineering design office, engineering workshops and a foundry that at one time contained six of the seven electric arc furnaces built in Workington. The seventh was situated at the Moss Bay plant of BSC. In the 1970s, as BSC adapted to a more streamlined approach to the metals industry, the engineering design company was separated from the workshops and foundry and re-designated as Distington Engineering Contracting. Employing some 200 people, its primary purpose was the design, manufacture, installation and commissioning of continuous casting machines. This business is now owned by the TATA Group and employs 400 staff.
One offshoot of the steel industry was the production of steel railway rails. Workington rails were widely exported and a common local phrase was that Workington rails 'held the world together'. Originally made from Bessemer steel, following the closure of the Moss Bay Steelworks, steel for the plant was brought by rail from Teesside. The plant was closed in August 2006. However welding work on rails produced at Corus Groups' French plant in Hayange continued at Workington for another two years, as the Scunthorpe site initially proved incapable of producing rails adequately.
After the loss of the two industries on which Workington was built, coal and steel, Workington and the whole of West Cumbria became an unemployment blackspot. Industries in the town today include chemicals, cardboard, the docks (originally built by the United Steel Co.), waste management and recycling old computers for export, mainly to poorer countries. The town also houses the British Cattle Movement Service, a government agency set up to oversee the British beef and dairy industry following the BSE crisis in Britain; it is located in former steelworks offices. Many Workington residents are employed outside the town in the nuclear industry located in and around Sellafield, West Cumbria's dominant employment sector.
Workington manufactured Pacer railbus and Sprinter-type commuter trains and Leyland National buses. The Leyland National was based on an Italian design, which included an air conditioning unit roof mounted in a pod at the rear of the bus. The body shells of the Pacer trains were based on the National bus design, designed as a cheap stop-gap by British Rail.
Volvo Buses bought out Leyland Buses in 1990. By 1993, the factory had closed with the loss of 200 jobs. The former bus plant, located in Lillyhall, just outside of Workington, is now a warehouse for the logistics company Eddie Stobart, which bought the derelict factory in 1995.
Workington is linked by the A596 road to Maryport, to Whitehaven via A595 road, by the A66 road to Penrith and continues to Scotch Corner in County Durham. The town has bus connections to other towns and villages in Cumbria, such as Cockermouth, Keswick, Penrith, Carlisle, Wigton, Maryport, Whitehaven, Frizington, Egremont and Thornhill.
Workington North railway station opened on 30 November 2009 as a temporary means of crossing the river following the closure of road bridges due to flooding. A free train service operated between Workington (Main) and Maryport and was funded by the government.
The Workington Transport Heritage Trust, preserves the transport heritage of Workington and the surrounding area and is run by volunteers.
Workington was the headquarters of the haulage company J. Roper (Workington) Ltd, which was based in Moss Bay.
Workington is home to three theatres: the Carnegie Theatre, Theatre Royal and Workington Opera House. In the past Workington was a big town for variety acts and theatre and hosted many top acts including Tommy Cooper and Shirley Bassey. Workington Opera House has also hosted many circus shows which included elephants and other circus animals performing on stage.
The Carnegie Theatre and Theatre Royal are still open and put on performances all year round. The Workington Opera House is currently closed after its last use as a bingo hall. The "Opera Action" group plans to restore it as a working theatre.
The town once had four cinemas (the Carnegie; the Hippodrome; the Oxford; and the Ritz), all of which have now closed. There remains only the Plaza Cinema at Dunmail Park. During the 1950s, films were also shown at the Opera House.
On 19 September 2009, Valentine Rock took place; a 19-band charity music festival. It was staged at the Ernest Valentine Ground home of Workington Cricket Club. Artists included The Chairmen, Novellos, With Lights Out, Volcanoes, Breed, Colt 45, Relics, Telf, Thir13een, Slagbank, Hangin' Threads and Hand of Fate. Profits went to the RNLI and West Cumberland Lions.
In 2008, the Paint Your Town Red Festival invited Liverpool comic and actor Ricky Tomlinson. Described as 'The biggest free festival in Workington's history', the 2008 festival included a free children's fun fair in Vulcan Park and stage and street entertainment. Attractions included "Jimmy James and his Soul Explosion", "Dearham Band" and the all-female band "Irresistible". Keswick's "Cars of the Stars" museum provided a stunt driving display.
Workington is home to the ball game known as Uppies and Downies, a traditional version of football, with its origins in medieval football, mob football or an even earlier form. Since 2001, the matches have raised over £75,000 for local charities. An Uppies and Downies ball is made from four pieces of cow leather. It is 21 inches (53 cm) in circumference and weighs about two and a half pounds (1.1 kg). Only three hand-made balls are produced every year and each is dated.
The town has a football team, Workington A.F.C., with their stadium at Borough Park. Formerly a professional football team it now competes as a non-League club. Dronnies formed the nucleus of the original Workington F.C. in 1888. (p109) They were one of the first teams managed by Bill Shankly.
Workington is the home to the rugby union team Workington Zebras, who play on their matches on the Ellis Sports Ground.
There are two bowling greens in the town, one in Vulcan Park and another on High Cloffocks, south of the River Derwent. Teams and individuals from both greens compete in local, regional and national competitions.
Workington's first golf club was formed in 1893 and played north of the River Derwent near Siddick. Known as West Cumberland Golf Club, it used this nine-hole course until the First World War when it closed. After the war the club reformed as Workington Golf Club and moved to the present Hunday Wood location. Five-times Open Champion and renowned course architect James Braid was consulted on the layout. Considered 'one of the premier courses in Cumbria' it has been influenced by FG Hawtree during the 1950s and by Howard Swan today.
Before World War II racing was staged at Lonsdale Park, which was next to Borough Park, on the banks of the River Derwent. The sport did not return to the town until 1970, when it was introduced to Derwent Park by local entrepreneur Paul Sharp and Ian Thomas who is the present team manager (2009). In 1987, Derwent Park was a temporary home to the Glasgow Tigers who briefly became the Workington Tigers prior to their withdrawal from the league. Speedway returned to Workington and the team has operated with varying degrees of success, but in 2008, they won the Young Shield and the Premier League Four-Team and Pairs Championships. An Academy team under the banner of Northside Stars, develops young riders who show potential at the Northside training track and may make future first teams.
Workington Cricket Club's home is the Ernest Valentine Ground, on the High Cloffock near the River Derwent and the town centre. It is a thriving club with three senior teams and a growing junior section putting out six teams. It is affiliated to Cumbria Cricket League, Cumbria Cricket Board, Cumbria Junior Cricket League and the West Allerdale & Copeland Cricket Association. Coaches lead Cumbria Cricket Board Open Courses at the town's Stainburn School, which are open to Years 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 pupils.
Workington and District Sea Angling Club takes part in regular monthly matches. It meets every month in the Union Jack Club, Senhouse Street, Workington. It also arranges tuition for its anglers. Freshwater anglers are active on local rivers, especially the River Derwent.
Workington has opportunities for track and field, triathlon, road running, cross-country, fell running and orienteering. All of its schools and clubs are affiliated to the Cumbria Athletics Association, except orienteering which is organised through its own national federation. Athletes tend to join clubs which concentrate on their particular discipline. Cumberland Fell Runners; Cumberland Athletics Club; Derwent and West Cumberland AC; Seaton Athletics Club; Workington Zebras AC and West Cumberland Orienteering Club are the most popular at present.
Primary schools have a well organised inter-school programme. Secondary schools focus especially on the Allerdale District School's Championships, which lead on to the Cumbria Schools Championships. The results of Cumbria's championships guide selection of the county teams to compete in the English Schools Athletic Association Championships. Over the years, Workington athletes have earned English Schools Championship honours.
There is a Cumbria Coalition of Motorcycle Clubs. The West Cumbrian motorcycle club, the Roadburners. was established in 1989 and regularly attends local and national motorbike rallies, and charity road runs. It welcomes new members interested in multi cylinder machines. The National Chopper Club also has local members.
In alphabetical order:
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Workington.|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Workington.|