Posted by: travelrat | April 14, 2008


The market town of Ulverston, in Cumbria is the birthplace of two famous people. The first is Sir John Barrow, who served as Second Secretary to the Admiralty from 1804 to 1845, and is best known for his official report on the Mutiny on the Bounty.

 Indeed, I think that, if the film-makers had paid more attention to Barrow’s work, and less to that of Nordhoff and Hall, a far more accurate picture would have emerged.

 The second was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson, better known as Stan Laurel, the put-upon half of the Laurel and Hardy duo.

 Another thing the town is remarkable for is the Ulverston Canal. That is reputed to be the shortest, straightest and deepest canal in Britain. It was cut between 1803 and 1806, designed to bring shipping into Ulverston itself, about a mile from the sea. Ships up to 100 feet long and 27 feet wide could be accommodated, and they’d be hauled up to Canal Head by heavy horses.

 In the mid 1850s the railway came to Ulverston, and largely replaced the shipping trade. In fact, a now-disused branch line to the pharmaceutical factory at Glaxo Smith Klein crossed the canal at a height of only a few feet, barring it to all but the smallest boats. However, Glaxo Smith Klein have taken upon themselves the maintenance of the canal as a recreational facility, and many people like to walk along its towpath.

 The walk couldn’t really be called beautiful. There’s too much remaining of former industry on the western bank … I’d say it has a long way to go before it can be claimed as another ‘Venice of the North’. But, it does raise the question … wouldn’t it have been cheaper to move Ulverston closer to the sea?


  1. Hahaha. That is definitely the question. Lovely photo – I like the shadows on the water.

  2. A case of waiting for the right light. Normally, it’s a pretty dreary sort of scene. But, with the right light … you could, I think, even make the Digbeth Street Bus Station in Birmingham look attractive.

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