Penrith 1750-1845

Economic Development 1750-1845: By 1769 Penrith’s population was estimated at ‘about 2,000 souls’. Transport to and from Penrith up to this point had been by the many packhorse routes, but turnpike roads facilitated the use of heavy wagons and Penrith began to be known as a manufacturing town. The first stage coach travelled over Shap in 1763. The factories specialised in making ‘checks for aprons and bed hangings, linen cloth for shirting and sheeting and a few ginghams’. By 1829, however, as a result of war and the growth of development of machine-made textiles in Lancashire, participation in the textile trade was much reduced. Just 100 cotton weavers were still employed by Carlisle manufacturers. At the time of James Clarke’s survey in 1787 there were also ‘two breweries, two hair merchants and a tannery’. Penrith was known for its tanning industry and at one time there were five working breweries. The markets were still flourishing on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with specific goods being sold in designated areas. The Devonshire Arcade was created in 1807 and still houses specialist shops; 1834 saw the first Penrith Agricultural Show. Throughout the 18th century Penrith was also an important clock-making centre.  The population almost doubled between 1801 and 1851 (3,801 to 7,387) the figures showing a small reduction between 1841 and 1851, possibly the result of cholera and other infections caused by poor conditions. Other industries in the 1800s included straw hat manufacture. In 1830 a company was formed for the purpose of supplying the town with gas. The first gas works were erected in Old London Road then in 1879 the interests of the company were transferred to the town.