We’ve been amazed by the number of enquiries recently about mortgages in Barrow-in-Furness and so, we thought we’d tell all our visitors a little bit more about this proud shipbuilding town nestled in the shadow of The Lake District.
Better known simply as Barrow, there’s some incredible rejuvenation & house building going on at the moment thanks to the work available at BAe Systems on the Astute Class of Nuclear Submarines.
It’s sometimes known as being at the end of the UK’s longest cul-de-sac and to be fair, it’s quite a drive from the M6 turnoff along the A590, particularly if you’re tempted to make a detour into the more scenic parts of the Lakes.
Watch out for meandering tourists and humourless speedcameras along the A590 but it’s one of the nicest drives we know with the sea glimpsed on one side and the majesty of the fells on the other. [Our Top Tip: Divert off on the A5092, through Torver to Coniston and enjoy a Sheila’s Special at the Greenhousekeeper Cafe]
The town suffered greatly with unemployment at the end of the Cold War but is now bouncing back with not just the shipyard again busy but the town is something of a centre for renewable energy expertise, playing host to one of the World’s largest wind farms at Walney – with its neighbours, a combined generation capacity of over 600MegaWatts, enough to power half a million homes.
So where should you live in Barrow?
The locals are very proud of their town, but will admit that as an industrial, shipbuilding town, there’s some housing stock that’s better than others – just like other shipbuilding communities in Port of Glasgow and Birkenhead for example.
We asked many Barrovians for their ideas and they suggested that Ormsgill and the Barrow Island Flats had had their share of bad publicity in the past. But we’d suggest visiting for yourself and taking a good look around, the rejuvenation going on around the docks often makes for up-and-coming areas where there’s property bargains to be had!
Walney Island, Holbeck, Roose & Hawcoat all got the thumbs up but you could also consider commuting in from the nearby town of Ulverston (birthplace of Stan Laurel).
Further afield, we’d also recommend Grange-over-Sands, a rather quaint little village but it might be a bit far for a daily commute at about three quarters of an hour.
Taking a look around Barrow itself, we found a delightful period property in an acre and a half of private gardens on the outskirts towards Dalton-in-Furness for sale at £695,000 through to flats close to the shipyard for a mere £16,000 so there’s something to suit most budgets & tastes.
What to do in Barrow?
Barrow is known for lively & sometimes boisterous nightlife with plenty of pubs, clubs & takeaways to keep you going. In fact, on the subject of food, Barrow is renowned for its pies. Green’s on Jarrow street is the place to sample a meat & potato pie according to a celebrity chef!
There’s plenty to do during the day too with the introduction of James Freel Close as something of a leisure destination with an indoor kart racing circuit, bowling alley, indoor skate park, trampoline centre and gym, as well as ‘Lazer Zone’ in Hindpool Road’s former Custom House and escape room in the former Hitchens Building on Buccleuch Street.
Barrow is of course also the gateway to The Lakes with Furness Abbey ruins, South Walney Nature Reserve and the South Lakes Safari Zoo within easy reach.
But if you visit the Ship Inn on Piel Island, remember not to sit in the big oak chair otherise you’ll be made a ‘Knight of Piel’ and have to buy a round of drinks!
Our Top Barrow Facts:
- The shipyard is the UK’s largest measured by workforce with over 7000 workers.
- Sadly, 2002 saw the World’s 4th worst Legionella outbreak at the Council-run Arts Centre
- There’s always been a significant Chinese Community in the town which even saw a visit from diplomat Li Hongzhang‘s to the town’s steelworks and shipyard in 1896 as well as the 2012 discovery of a hoard of Chinese coins thought to have been brought over by sailors or labourers
- Victoria Wood won a BAFTA for her portrayal of Nella Last (wartime diarist from Barrow) in Housewife 49.
- Peter Purves of Blue Peter fame began his acting career with a 2-year stint in Barrow.
- In the 1880s, you could book a transatlantic voyage from Barrow in one of three steamships that plied between Barrow and New York via Dublin.
- The first submarine to fire a live torpedo underwater was the Ottoman Abdül Hamid – built in Barrow!
- There’s a statue of Emlyn Hughes
- Try the Pies!