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Countrystride #123: BARROW-IN-FURNESS – A tale of iron and ships, hair and shops which we explore the industrial and social history of Barrow-in-Furness in the company of former mayor John Murphy and artist Maddi Nicholson. Overlooking Walney Channel and distant Black Combe, we delve into the Furness peninsula's deep past, when monks arrived in the secluded 'valley of the deadly nightshade'. We proceed to the discovery of iron ore, and Barrow's subsequent overnight transformation, from backwater farming hamlet into 'the Chicago of England'. In a whistle-stop tour of the town, we discuss the leaning tower of its remarkable town hall, the daily toil of workers in 'the Shed', the 'boilermaker's whisper' and the 'hellfires' that blazed above molten slag. Entering the war years, we consider Barrow's role in re-arming the nation, the realities of the Barrow Blitz and the construction of Barnes Wallis’ ill-fated dirigible ‘Mayfly’ – that did not fly. Finally, on a tour of the fabulous space at Art Gene, we learn about the social history of the town – through shops, hairdressing, meat pies and a moose.– before celebrating the forgotten women of Barrow and Walney, including Peggy Braithwaite, Britain’s only woman lighthouse keeper and a mean shot with a rifle.

The Nan Tait Centre, one-time Technical School and now the base for Art Gene.

Our dynamic duo for the day: former mayor John Murphy and Art Gene's Maddi Nicholson.

John in front of 'the shed' - now home to BAE systems.

Relaxed recording... We could have listened to John and Maddi for hours.

Maddi in beautiful Barrow Town Hall.

Extraordinary interior from Barrow Town Hall.

The Nan Tait Centre.

Maddi's Duke Street 'Monopoly'.

Mayfly breaks above Cavendish Dock. This image was created and released by the Imperial War Museum on the IWM Non Commercial Licence.

Built in Barrow: The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable. Image in the public domain..

1 Kommentar

04. Mai

Thank you for this great edition - such enthusiastic and knowledgeable guests, John Murphy with an anecdote for every occasion recalling the cultural, social and industrial history of the town. Good points about remembering the women of Barrow, too. Pass's Department Store's final use was as a very popular Yates's pub/nightclub (rather than a Wetherspoon's pub). Sadly, had to close as the building became structurally unsafe and was quickly demolished. A previous use was as a Chinese restaurant in the 1960s and 1970s - used to do the Businessmen's Lunch of three courses for a modest price. A first course option was always a slightly sweet 'white' soup irrespective of the flavour. I even remember the tomato soup - white of…

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