Ancient parish in Allerdale above Derwent ward, Cumberland.


3,064 acres [1,240 ha], including 1,137 acres [460 ha] of commons, enclosed 1768.


estimated at 410 in 1688. Rising from 724 in 1801 to 1,106 in 1851; then climbing steadily from 1871 to 2,837 in 1971, declining to 2,247 in 2001.


manor of Distington descended from Gilbert of Dundraw c.1189 via Moresby and Dykes family to Fletchers who sold to Sir John Brougham 1720 who, in turn, sold to Sir James Lowther 1737. Other landowners were Robertson Walkers of Gilgarran c.1805 to 1951 and Fisher family of Distington Hall.


soil said in 17th century to be good for corn. Sandstone (freestone) quarrying at Barngill and Pica Quarries; limestone quarrying and lime-burning at Barfs. Coal mining recorded from 1614; numerous small pits which declined by mid-19th century. Revived when Oatlands Pit, a deep mine, opened 1880; closed 1934. Opencast mining in late 1950s and from 1989 to 1990s. Coke ovens in mid-19th century. Edge tools, hats and linen thread also manufactured in 19th century. Distington Haematite Iron works opened 1879; later High Duty Alloys (from 1940), Alcan and Pechenay; closed 2007.

Places of worship:

medieval parish church of Holy Spirit; rebuilt 1886. Wesleyan Methodist chapel, Main St, built 1830; still in use. Primitive Methodist chapel, Boot Brow, built 1838; closed c.1950; sold for housing. Presbyterian mission hall, Church Road; later used by British Legion. Mission hall at Pica built 1896; demolished c.1975. Crematorium on site of Distington Hall, opened 1974.

Schools and other institutions:

grammar school (‘given’ by William Fletcher but not endowed) and petty school recorded 1722. Parochial school built on common 1754. Board school, Main Street, built 1878; closed 2002, when community school built on site of previous Infant school (built 1961). Dyon Council School near Gilgarran (1886 to 1962) replaced Walker’s schoolroom at Gilgarran. Museum at Distington, founded by Joseph R. Wallace, flourished 1850-1896. Victoria Hall opened 1866; Albert Hall, Common End, opened 1899; closed and converted to dwelling. Reading room opened 1901 and used as public library in 1980s; now disused. Community centre and library opened 1996.