I recently met a friend at Whitehaven station and we spent a few hours looking around the town, which has an interesting history.
We sat on a bench with the date of the opening of the Marchon factory (later Albright and Wilson, now closed and demolished). I pointed out the places we could see and the trees on the skyline, where I think we would have seen the factory, which dominated the horizon for many years.
We looked at the interesting items along the harbour before having an enjoyable lunch at a harbourside restaurant – Anna’s.
After lunch we continued along the harbour, seeing the swans at the start of the Coast to Coast route for cyclists. I had a handy map with me (torn out of the West Cumbria Guide), which explained the layout of the harbour. As it was a blustery day with showers forecast we did not venture far along the various tongues (as the piers are called). There is a lot of historical and seafaring information around the harbour. My friend just had a taste of it. There is probably a trail available at the nearby Beacon Museum, which does not open on Mondays. We turned away from the harbour at the hub (a covered area with a mosaic) stopping to look at some street art.
As we reached the marketplace it began to drizzle so we went to a small shop on Church Street, which sells books, gifts and cards. By the time we were ready to leave it had stopped raining. The rest of the day was dry. A short cut led us to more street art. Then we went to another part of the market and looked at the benches commemorating the coalmining history of the town. Irish Street with Georgian houses on one side and both Georgian and more modern buildings on the other led us to Trinity Gardens, where there is a labyrinth. We attempted to walk it, but decided it was too long for our energy levels and patience. I had reached the centre early having failed to spot that I had taken a short cut into it!
We did not continue to the rather uninspiring civic hall, but turned back onto Roper Street, where we saw the plaque commemorating the theatre, where the Whitehaven News Offices are now located. Our next stop was St Nicholas’ Gardens. I had hoped that the tower would be open and we could have a look inside and possibly a hot drink. Unfortunately it was closed. We had to content ourselves with looking through the windows and sitting on a bench in the grounds. Fortunately the sun came out. We also looked at two memorials to the victims of coal-mining disasters. One particularly poignant one is to the children lost in the mines.
We walked along Duke Street and part of King Street, where there are more mosaics featuring local places and their history. Then we had some tea in Costa before walking along Strand Street (to look at the John Paul Jones pub) and Tangier Street passing the cinema and the closed bus station on the way back to the railway station (or as people are now calling it train station!).