The Furness peninsula was originally in the Lancashire portion of the Lake District. It juts out into Morecambe Bay and contains the large industrial town of Barrow-in-Furness, which grew to its present size due to the development of the steel and ship-building industries. The prosperity brought by these trades is reflected in the many fine churches and public buildings. Barrow Town Hall is perhaps the most impressive.
There is an interesting Dock Museum on Barrow docks, and Walney Island is reached by a bridge from here. The ten mile long island contains two nature reserves. The North Nature Reserve has an area devoted to preserving the habitat of the Natterjack Toad, whilst the South Nature Reserve has the largest nesting ground of Herring Gulls and Lesser Black Backed Gulls in Europe. Many other species of bird have also been recorded in the two reserves.
Broughton-in-Furness was once an important market town. The 11th Century St Mary’s Church is the oldest building, although mainly Victorian inside. There is some interesting stained glass including a window designed by Burne-Jones.
Many of the buildings are Georgian, including the central market square with its obelisk commemorating the jubilee of George III in 1810. In August each year the Elizabethan charter, which gave permission for fairs in the town, is read in this square. The original stocks have survived and so have the fish slabs, where locally caught fish was once displayed for sale. The Town Hall is also in the elegant square as are some three storey merchant houses. Broughton Tower, another large mansion house, lies just a short distance away.
Nearby is the spectacular sandstone St Mary’s Church, which is a Victorian building replacing an earlier church. George Romney, the portrait painter was born in the town and is buried here. Many of the local buildings display some interesting ironwork. These include the elegant Victorian drinking fountain in the market place. There is also a market cross and 19th Century fish.
The only zoo in the Lake District is about a mile from the town. South Lakes Wild Animal Park is known as a leading conservation centre.
Although Furness is on the outskirts of the Lake District, its towns and villages are worth visiting and make good centres from which to visit the south and west of Lakeland. It also has easy access to the coastal resorts of the area.