Cross Canonby

Ancient parish in Allerdale below Derwent ward, Cumberland, containing townships of Birkby, Crosby, Crosscanonby and Netherhall. Netherhall became separate CP 1894, and was abolished 1928 to create Maryport CP (q.v.).


parish contained 2,889 acres [1,169 ha], divided between townships thus: Birkby: 734 acres [297 ha]; Crosby: 1,040 acres [421 ha]; Crosscanonby or Canonby: 603 acres [244 ha]; and Netherhall: 512 acres [207 ha]. Crosby and Birkby Commons (127 acres [51 ha]) enclosed 1853. Small areas of unenclosed common land survive along coast and foreshore.


Birkby contained c.100 inhabitants and Crosby c.200 in early 19th century. Crosby’s population doubled in 1850s as result of expansion of coal mining, to stand at 506 by 1861. Population of whole parish continued to grow, reaching 1,257 by 1891 (last census year before separation of Netherhall). Modern CP contained in range 850-1,000 inhabitants across 20th century, standing at 1,054 in 2001.


manor of Birkby was part of demesnes of Allerdale barony and descended with honour of Cockermouth (q.v.). Crosscanonby and Crosby were granted to Carlisle Priory, passing at Dissolution to Dean and Chapter of Carlisle. Netherhall (house largely demolished 1979) was seat of Senhouse family from 16th century to 20th. John Senhouse (d. 1604), antiquary, displayed collection of altars from Roman fort of ALAVNA (part of his estate) at Netherhall.


farming; fishery in Ellen estuary, recorded 1688; saltpans and coal mining from 17th century: saltpans leased 1634; in operation until c.1760. Colliery on Senhouse estate 1688; coal mining at Birkby and Crosby from early 18th century, with major expansion in 19th. Mining at Birkby ceased 1893 but was revived during Second World War; Birkby Colliery finally closed 1950. Fireclay and brick-making from 1862.

Places of worship:

medieval parish church of St John; restored 1879-80. Primitive Methodist chapels at Crosby (built 1863; closed and converted to dwelling) and Crosby Villa (built c.1885; closed 1969).

Schools and other institutions:

parochial school in Crosby by 1818. National school built there 1861, forerunner of Crosscanonby St John CE Primary School now in modern building on new site. Reading room and library established 1872. Crosscanonby Community Centre built 1983.