Barrow Pre-1914 GAZ Barrow
Economic Activity: The early economic history of Barrow is the story of the Furness Railway, which opened in 1846, and its role in the exploitation of the Furness iron ore deposits. The Haematite Iron and Steel Works at Barrow were constructed to utilize the local ore on the spot; they were founded in 1859, and were subsequently greatly enlarged from time to time. The Haematite Steel Company was founded in 1864, and purchased the iron works in 1866. The Naval Armaments Company was established in 1888, and this was absorbed in 1897 by the Vickers Maxim Company, so that Barrow became famous as the place of construction of great battleships. Many other industries were, with more or less success, attempted at Barrow, such as flourmilling, flax and jute works and chemical wood-pulp works. Grain, timber and petroleum were imported and stored. Ship-repairing, ropemaking and brewing were also carried on.
Places of Worship: Excluding Furness Abbey and Walney Island, the oldest site of worship in the borough was the chapel of ease at , which can be traced back to 1621, although the present building dates from 1840. The first place of worship in the town itself was within a school built in 1843 in modern day Abbey Road. By the time this building closed in 1871, Barrow had been well provided with churches. St George’s Church (Anglican) was consecrated in 1861, followed by St James’ and St Paul’s in 1869. Four new Anglican churches were consecrated in 1879, these being St John’s on Barrow Island: St Matthew’s; St Mark’s, and St Luke’s. St Perran’s at Roose was established as a Mission Church under St Luke’s Parish.
A Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built in Hindpool Road in 1862. This was followed by chapels at Hartington Street in 1874; Roose Road 1875; Abbey Road 1876 (rebuilt 1902) Greengate Street in the same year, and Stonedyke Chapel in 1877. A United Methodist Free Church was opened in Storey Square in 1894. Mission rooms were also established at Hawcoat and Piel. Primitive Methodist Chapels were built in Forshaw Street in 1866; Hartington Street 1874, and Marsh Street in 1875. A Methodist New Connexion Church (Christ Church) was built in Abbey Road in 1875, which later became a United Methodist Church in 1907.
The Baptist Church was built in Abbey Road in 1873. Congregationalists were catered for by a chapel in Hindpool Road built in 1857 (enlarged 1863) to which was added a chapel in Ainslie Street in 1873.
The Trinity Presbyterians Church in School Street was opened in 1875. The first R.C. Church in Barrow was St. Mary’s in Duke Street, completed in 1867. This was followed by St Patrick’s on Barrow Island in 1877 and Sacred Heart in 1902. A Synagogue was opened in Abbey Road in 1902.
Schools: Prior to 1872 there were a number of small scale schools, some of which were short lived, operated by private individuals and religious groups who provided a basic elementary curriculum at varying cost to the pupil. Of significance for later events was the opening of a school at Rabbit Hill by the Furness Railway Company for the children of its workers in September 1849. This building has remained in continuous use as an educational establishment and remains in use in 2012 as St. Georges Primary School.
Following the 1870 Education Act a School Board was formed in Barrow in 1872. In 1873 the pupils were initially accommodated in temporary schools, these being followed by permanent buildings in Holker Street; Cambridge Street; Barrow Island; Hawcoat; Rawlinson Street, and Roose. A Higher Grade School was opened in 1879 in Abbey Road, moving to a site in Duke Street in 1889. The privately operated School of Science and Art which had been formed in 1877, was taken over by the Council in 1891, and was housed in a new Technical School building in Abbey Road from 1903. By 1903 the School Board was managing 12 schools.
Other institutions: Barrow’s first theatre, the Theatre Royal, opened in Albert Street in 1864. This was followed by two music halls, The Alexandra, which opened in Forshaw Street in 1866, and the Alhambra Palace in Cavendish Street in 1872. The town’s first library was opened in a temporary building in 1882, before being transferred to the newly opened Town Hall in 1887.
Barrow Association Football Club was formed in 1901, finding a permanent home in Holker Street in 1909. The club operated in the Lancashire Combination League. The towns Rugby Club was founded in 1876, playing at Little Park near Roose. The club joined the Rugby League on its founding in 1895. Barrow Cricket Club was formed in 1856 with a ground at Cavendish Park, and was a founder member of the North Lancashire Cricket League in 1892. Open spaces for recreation were provided from 1877, when the Barrow Corporation acquired Biggar Bank (see Walney). Barrow Public Park was opened on a 45 acre site in Abbey Road in 1901.
With regards to health and the relief of the poor, Barrow was a part of the Ulverston Union for Poor Law purposes until 1876. From this date Barrow became a distinct parish for relief of the poor, with paupers initially being temporarily accommodated in a building in Dalkeith Street before a new permanent workhouse was opened at Roose in February 1880. From 1905 children were accommodated separately from adults in the “Cottage Homes” in Roose Road. A temporary hospital which had opened in a private house in 1866 was replaced by the towns first purpose built hospital, North Lonsdale Hospital, which opened in School Street in 1875. This facility was augmented by a small Isolation Hospital in Devonshire Road in 1882 and a Smallpox Hospital at Rakesmoor in 1903.