1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Barrow-in-Furness

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BARROW-IN-FURNESS, a seaport and municipal, county and parliamentary borough of Lancashire, England, 2641/2 m. N.W. by N. from London, on the Furness railway. Pop. (1891) 51,712; (1901) 57,586. It lies on the seaward side of the hammer-shaped peninsula forming part of the district of Furness, between the estuary of the Duddon and Morecambe Bay, where a narrow channel intervenes between the mainland and the long low island of Walney, on which the erection of a strong fort was undertaken by the War Office in 1904. In 1905 the connexion of Walney with the mainland by a bridge was undertaken. In the channel is Barrow Island (among others) which is connected with the mainland, reclamation having been carried on until only a narrow channel was left, which was utilized as docks. Barrow is of modern and remarkably rapid growth. Its rise was dependent primarily on the existence and working of the veins of pure haematite iron ore in the district of Furness (q.v.). At the outset Barrow merely exported the ore to the furnaces of South Wales and the midlands. At the beginning of the 19th century this export amounted at most to a few thousand tons, and though by the middle of the century it had reached some 50,000 in 1847 the population of Barrow was only 325. In 1846 the first section of the Furness railway was opened, connecting Barrow with the mines near Dalton; in the ensuing years a great increase in trade justified the opening of further communications, and in 1859 the iron works of Messrs Schneider & Hannay were instituted. The Barrow Haematite Steel Company (1866) absorbed this company, and a great output of steel produced by the Bessemer process was begun. Other industries followed. Of these the shipbuilding works have surpassed the steel works in importance, the celebrated firm of Vickers, Sons & Maxim having a yard where they construct numerous vessels of war as well as others. There are also a petroleum storage establishment, a paper-pulp factory, jute works, and engineering and wagon works.

The docks in the strait between Barrow Island and the mainland were constructed in 1867, and named the Devonshire and Buccleuch docks. The Ramsden docks are a subsequent extension. These are 24 ft. in depth. There are also a graving dock 500 ft. long, a depositing dock accommodating vessels of 16 ft. draught, and two electric cranes each able to lift 150 tons. The Furness railway company is the dock authority. Passenger steamers run on weekdays to Belfast.

The town is laid out in rectangular form, and contains several handsome churches, municipal buildings, exchange and other public buildings. An electric tramway service connects the outskirts and the centre. There are statues of Lord Frederick Cavendish (assassinated at Dublin, 1882), in front of the town-hall, and of Sir James Ramsden (d. 1896), managing director of the Furness railway and first mayor of Barrow, to whom, together with the dukes of Devonshire and Buccleuch, the town owed much of its rise in the middle of the 19th century. The cottage inhabited by George Romney the painter from 1742 to 1755 has been preserved from demolition and retained as a memorial. Educational institutions include a school of science and art, a girls’ high school and a technical school. Barrow is a suffragan bishopric in the diocese of Carlisle. The parliamentary borough (1885), falling within the North Lonsdale division of the county, returns one member. The town was incorporated in 1867, and became a county borough in 1888. The corporation consists of a mayor, 8 aldermen and 24 councillors. Area, 11,023 acres.