Clifton, Great

Township in Workington parish, Allerdale above Derwent ward, Cumberland.


998 acres [404 ha]. Clifton Common (900 acres [364 ha]), serving both Great Clifton and Little Clifton (q.v.), enclosed 1817.


268 in 1801; comparatively steady until mid-19th century, when it surged from 374 in 1851 to 609 in 1861, as result of opening of collieries. Continued to rise to peak of 1,635 in 1961, since when it declined, to stand at 1,101 in 2001.


vill of Clifton, comprising Great Clifton, Little Clifton and Stainburn, was one of Five Towns in honour of Cockermouth. Manor of Clifton was in hands of Eaglesfield family, from whom it passed by marriage in early 16th century to Bardseys and on death of Nicholas Bardsea (d. 1586), to his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Lancelot Salkeld of Whitehall, through whose family it descended until sold to Sir James Lowther in 18th century.


coal mining by 1635 (colliery said in 1688 to be worth £100); expanded in 18th and 19th centuries. Main pits were in north of township: Lowther Pit, with coke ovens at Coldfitz Wood, and William Pit. Mining continued until after nationalisation: Clifton colliery closed 1959. Opencast mining by 1970s. Pottery at Crossbarrow in mid-19th century; closed by 1900. Sandstone quarry at Brackenbarrow mid-19th century; closed by 1900.

Places of worship:

for medieval chapel of ease, see Little Clifton. Wesleyan Methodist chapel erected 1845; rebuilt 1892; replaced by modern building on new site.

Schools and other institutions:

Board school for Great and Little Clifton built near William Pit 1883 (now a dwelling); replaced by Derwent Vale Primary school, built on new site 1995. Co-operative Society Hall used for public meetings and workmen’s reading and games room, recorded 1938.