Millom, A Cumberland Iron Town and its Railways, by Alan Atkinson

Millom, A Cumberland Iron Town and its Railways, by Alan Atkinson
Book published by the Cumbrian Railway Association in 2012, 112 pages. Large A4 size softback (N7289)

Brand New Book

From the introduction: In attempting to compile a history of Millom and its railways one must first ask the question, "where is Millom?" The answer is nowhere near as simple as "a small post-industrial town at the mouth of the River Duddon", for it depends on whether one is referring to the Lordship, civil parish, township, Urban District, Rural District or just the current town. For the purposes of this historical narrative Millom will be all of these and more besides: the author hopes that it is clear from the context to which he is referring. This volume covers the railways between the Duddon and the Esk and considers in some detail the industry and commercial development of the principal settlement in the area.

Millom is not a "railway town" in the same sense as Crewe or Swindon but it is undoubtedly true that, without the railway, the new town which appeared during the latter part of the nineteenth century to the south of the Whitehaven & Furness Junction line would never have been built. Millom, or Newtown as it continued to be called by the residents of Holborn Hill well into the twentieth century, is a product of the nineteenth-century iron industry and, without the railway, the mine at Hodbarrow could never have achieved the size it did nor would the ironworks ever have been built where it was. The building of the railway to Hodbarrow necessitated the construction of an embankment on the banks of the Duddon and it was this embankment that enabled the marshy ground to be drained in order to build the town. Both iron companies were to have an unprecedented influence on the social and economic development of this remote area of south Cumberland but it was the railway which reduced the isolation of a part of the county that had not shared in the benefits of earlier road improvements.

Late twentieth-century commentators have not been kind to Millom: Millward and Robinson in The Regions of Britain -The Lake District (1970) described the town as "a starkly simple ore-mining and smelting centre whose cycle of history is already completed"; the Mayor of Cope land infamously called it "a place of despair" and even the town's most famous son, the writer and poet Norman Nicholson, referred to the place as "a decaying Victorian settlement" in Greater Lakeland (1969). Today's visitor could be forgiven for sympathising with these sentiments, but to do so is to misunderstand Millorn's significance as the site of the largest haematite deposit in the United Kingdom and the centre of a consistently prosperous and innovative iron manufacturing industry.

I was brought up in Millom and spent much time watching trains around the station and goods yard: my final year of primary education and all secondary years were spent within sight of the railway and only when it was almost too late did I take more than a passing interest in the extensive industrial systems at Hodbarrow and the ironworks. I hope that this book, with its focus on the history and influence of the railways, both main line and industrial, will be a worthy addition to the few publications about the town.
Contents include:

Pre-Industrial Millom (1086 - 1860)
The Arrival of the Railway (1835 - 1866)
Hodbarrow - a Great Mine (1855 - 1968)
Millom Ironworks (1867 - 1968)
The New Town (1866 onwards)
The Furness Railway takes over (1866 - 1923)
The Railway after 1923
Appendix 1 - LMS Strip Map
Appendix 2 - The Rescue of Millom Ironworks No 1