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Maryport Harbour, Cumbria
Maryport Harbour
Kevin Eaves

Located on the Cumbrian coast to the north of the Lake District is Maryport. The southernmost town on the Solway Firth and its origins date back over 2000 years when the Roman fort Alauna was established as a command post for the western sector of Hadrian’s Wall. Senhouse Roman Museum chronicles the town’s rich Roman past. The town lessened in size and influence after the Roman withdrawal and evidence exists at the nearby Crosscanonby Church that the area also witnessed Viking invasion and settlement.

In the 16th Century the manor of Alnburgh, as the area was formerly known, passed into the hands of the Senhouse family who are responsible for the building of Maryport and its harbour as it is known today. Indeed, the town is named after Mary Senhouse, wife of Humphrey, having previously been called Ellenport.

Maryport Harbour
Maryport Harbour
It developed as an industrial centre throughout the 19th Century with an iron foundry and coal mines opening. The nearby Maryport and Carlisle Railway was engineered by George Stephenson and opened in 1845. The port flourished as did the shipyards up until the beginning of the 20th Century when the ship building industry went into decline. The Maryport Maritime Museum bears witness to Maryport’s rich maritime heritage. The town is also home to the Lake District Coast Aquarium.

The town itself is centred around the attractive harbour and consists of some fine Georgian buildings and narrow winding streets dating back to when it was a small fishing village.

In an area renowned for Wordsworth and Wainwright it is surprising to find that the town is acclaimed for the Maryport Blues Festival which is held at the end of July every year. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2008, it has featured such luminaries as Buddy Guy, Dionne Warwick, Van Morrison and Elkie Brooks who have played at such varied venues as Red Spider, Off The Hook and Working Class Heroes. This year will see the return of the ever popular Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra as headline act.

© 2018 Lake District Guide