Focus On: Barrow-in-Furness


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.

The industrial renewal is matched with lots of housebuilding, which is of course where we come in! With many of the local workforce either operating as freelancers or having some blips on their credit history thanks to the hard times the town has seen, mortgages are sometimes hard to come by – that’s where a specialist broker like ourselves with the benefit of decades of experience in the mortgage marketplace comes in. And we think that if we can’t help you, no-one can!

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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:

  1. The shipyard is the UK’s largest measured by workforce with over 7000 workers.
  2. Sadly, 2002 saw the World’s 4th worst Legionella outbreak at the Council-run Arts Centre
  3. 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
  4. Victoria Wood won a BAFTA for her portrayal of Nella Last (wartime diarist from Barrow) in Housewife 49.
  5. Peter Purves of Blue Peter fame began his acting career with a 2-year stint in Barrow.
  6. 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.
  7. The first submarine to fire a live torpedo underwater was the Ottoman Abdül Hamid – built in Barrow!
  8. There’s a statue of Emlyn Hughes
  9. Try the Pies!

Top Tips for buying your first home


We love helping people find their next home, whether as a first time buyer or seasoned house-hunter. Indeed, people come to us not just to find the most suitable mortgage for a move but to help with bad credit, right-to-buy or rental properties too.

Helping couples find their new home with Martland MortgagesBut now that spring’s well & truly here, we’ve seen an increase in the numbers of young couples coming to us looking for their first mortgage together for their first home. If that sounds like you, then don’t hesitate to complete a no obligation factfind and ask how we can help.

And talking in the office, we thought we’d put together our top tips – the sort of tips we wish we’d been told in our impetuous youth!


Location, location, location

Close to a school? Within cycling distance to work? Work out which things are essential for your location, don’t be too exacting – you’ll probably have to compromise somewhere!

Location is the thing that you can’t change. You can always refurbish a house in the future but you can’t move it half a mile to a quieter road so try and get this right from the start.

Top Tip: Visit the area several times at different times of the day to get a feel for what it’s really like to live there.


Does it add up?

You do need to be able to afford it! Mortgage applications these days are very much concerned with affordability rather than the fixed income multiples of the past. By all means discuss your circumstances with us, we’ll offer real world opinions and don’t worry – we’ve heard it all!

Don’t forget to include all the extra costs of setting up house in your calculations. You can live cheaply when first setting up house (extra tip: you don’t need posh carpets in every room immediately! Check out charity shops for cheap furniture – it’ll get you going) but don’t forget your solicitor’s costs, stamp duty and Council Tax.

Removal fees can stack up but if you’re using friends & a van, don’t forget to buy the pizza & beer!


Say Hello to the Estate Agents!

Keep in touch with all the relevant estate agents. Don’t just phone them. Go in and talk to them, let them get to know you so you’re first in mind when they hear of a property. Make sure they know what a great buyer you’ll be with no chain and funds in place – make their life easy for a fast sale and you might be in the running ahead of the pack!


Make a list

You’ve probably not won the lottery so have a good long think. What elements of your new home are essential. Which ones would be nice to have and which ones are of little concern. That way you’ll have a framework for deciding which areas you can compromise on when viewing properties.

It might be that you absolutely must have a spareroom for friends to stay in whereas a garden would be nice but you could cope with a yard. Or you’d prefer communal (or no) gardens but really want a garage to keep your bikes in. Whatever it may be, getting your heads around which parts of the puzzle are important for each of you makes selecting that first home so much easier.


Hammer it out

Decide now if you want a project. Fancy taking a sledgehammer to a wall and opening up the kitchen? It can all be done and often for less money than you expect but decide now if you want the extra stress, dust and please, don’t forget to consult someone qualified before knocking down any walls – they may be load bearing!


Question everything

It’s easy to get mixed up after multiple viewings so why not take photos and/or record a quick video as you walk round. Look for cracks (but don’t worry – most homes have some – do get a full survey if concerned though) and ask to see guarantees for any work done recently, electrical certificates, EPC, window (FENSA) paperwork if it’s got recent double glazing and so on.

This might not be readily available and would be hopefully dealt with by your solicitor during purchase but the type of response you get should tell you if it’s all been done properly.

Ask questions about living there. How noisy does it get? Are there any parking problems? Boundary disputes with the neighbour and so on..

…and our vital tip
Don’t forget to pack a corkscrew so you can toast the future on your first night in your new home!


[Please note that these tips do not constitute mortgage advice. For advice, please contact us so we can provide advice specific to your unique circumstances]


Too much debt for a mortgage?


We can often source lending even when you’ve been rejected by the High Street because of CCJs, defaults or past credit problems. But sometimes, there’s simply too much adverse credit information for us to be able to help.

But that needn’t mean that there’s no hope. We’ve teamed up with one of the UK’s best known Debt Advisors who can help set you on the road to recovery with a range of solutions for personal & business debt.

They’ll be appearing on a new page soon but in the meantime, simply click through to their site for debt management solutions now. They’re friendly, effective and on your side.

And once they’ve worked their magic, come back to Martland Mortgages for your new mortgage, we love to help!


We’re an Underwriting Broker


You might not have noticed, but we’re an Underwriting Mortgage Broker. But what does that mean to you?

Apart from years of experience and great contacts with lenders, it means:

  • We can offer fast Decisions In Principle
  • We can look at the underlying circumstances of your application
    • We can then build a strong case for your application and present it to the lenders on your behalf
  • We print Lenders’ Offer Letters in house, speeding the process up
  • We have access to a wider range of lending packages to suit a huge variety of circumstances

Rates on the up?


We think that rates can’t stay as low as they are for much longer – our money’s on a ¼% hike by August. We may be right, we may be wrong but now would be a very good time to review your mortgage arrangements and remortgage before the inevitable rise.