Wordsworth House and Cockermouth

Earlier this month hubby and I went to have another look at the exhibition at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth. We also had a good look round the garden, which has recovered well from the floods of December 2015, due mostly to the hard work of the head gardener and her team. On a short tour of the house we learned some things which we hadn’t heard on a previous tour.

Afterwards we had a walk along the river, more or less retracing the route we had taken on a visit last year. The river was flowing quite quickly.


West Cumberland Railway Museum

On the murky morning, when I took the first photo in the previous post, I visited the West Cumberland Railway Museum in St Bees, Cumbria.

The museum was set up by an enthusiastic collector of railway memorabilia and opened in June 2016. It is housed in a building, which has been used in recent times as a shop and as a hairdressers’. The single room contains a variety of items connected with the local railways, either with the Cumbria Coastal Railway or with former lines in the area. It opens for a few days each month or by special arrangement for visiting groups.

The window on a sunny day
The window on a sunny day

For each opening the well-organised static exhibition is augmented by a display concentrating on a particular aspect of the local railway’s history. For example, the Furness Railway Company has been featured. This time it was the turn of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway. A particular station may be featured in the future.

One of the station signs
One of the station signs

The development of the railway had an impact on the economies of local towns and there was competition to have access to the rail network. Almost all the trains in West Cumbria (or West Cumberland, as it was) were used to transport coal and iron ore. Passengers were of less economic importance on these lines.

An example of tourist information
An example of tourist information

It is possible to look around the museum unguided, but the owner is very knowledgeable and provides much background information. The exhibits range from tickets and timetables to lamps, gadgets, signs and pictures. Maps and drawings also help to set the scene.

Among pictures, which once decorated the walls of compartment trains advertising places to visit, I spotted Wordsworth House, Cockermouth, no longer on the railway.

Wordsworth House, Cockermouth - a possible destination
Wordsworth House, Cockermouth – a possible destination


A Visit to Cockermouth and Wordsworth House

The previous time we visited Wordsworth House the garden was looking beautiful.  Then we heard the news of the December 2015 floods.  A picture on Facebook showed the garden covered in mud.

I had heard from a friend, whose favourite place is Wordsworth House and Garden, that the garden was recovering well at Easter.  This is no doubt partly due to the hard work and vision of head gardener, Amanda and her team of volunteers.

National Trust plaque
National Trust plaque

On a sunny Saturday in May we had an early lunch and drove to Cockermouth.  The staff and volunteers at Wordsworth House were very welcoming.  I had not previously noticed a plaque on the front of the house, which reads, Property of the National Trust.  This amused me.  It reminded me of a book plate.  “If this book should chance to roam, box its ears and send it home.”  I don’t think a substantial house is about to wander off!

We made a quick tour of the house and had a chat with the kitchen maid, who was baking bread and singing sweetly.  I watched the videos, which added to the information I had gleaned at Allan Bank.  We had seen the garden from the windows at the back of the house.  The apple trees were blossoming.  I went to see my old friend, Fletch the Perchcrow, who recently featured in a post for the Daily Post’s Photo challenge.  He is a real survivor!  His normal garb is sackcloth, but ashes are also available from the coal fire in the kitchen. Interestingly the coal is imported from Poland, like the glass at Allan Bank.  In the time of the Wordsworths local coal was available from the pits at Whitehaven, now closed.

There is still a wide variety of plants, many of which were in bloom.  We did not see many insects.  One ladybird and hardly any others.

After we had crossed the river by the footbridge, we still had enough time to explore the path beside the river.  We walked as far as the castle, seeing the confluence of two rivers, which gives Cockermouth its name.  The River Cocker flows into the River Derwent (not to be confused with the similarly named river in Derbyshire) near Jennings brewery.  On a calm day it is difficult to imagine the raging torrent, which caused such devastation.

However, there is still evidence of the damage to the river banks by the flood.  The castle wall is very close to the river and some reinforcement has been made to the bank below it.  On the other side there are dry channels, where the soil was washed away.  A bench is marooned above the place where a path used to be.

Cockermouth is a delightful market town on the edge of the English Lake District.  It has many shops with individual character.  Although some are still closed for refurbishment following the floods, most are now open and welcome visitors.