Historic Map showing Maryport

New town and port founded in mid-18th century, in Cross Canonby parish, Allerdale below Derwent ward, Cumberland. Maryport UD, created 1894, embraced CPs of Ellenborough & Ewanrigg and Netherhall, which were abolished 1929 to create Maryport CP. For pre-urban history, see Cross Canonby and Ellenborough & Ewanrigg.


1,515 acres [613 ha] in 1929.

Origins and growth of the town:

In 1749 Humphrey Senhouse (1705-1770) of Netherhall started work building harbour and new town at Ellenfoot, which was already small anchorage (described by Thomas Denton 1688 as ‘a kinde of port for small vessells’). Senhouse’s motive was to gain share of coal trade, then dominated by Lowthers’ port of Whitehaven. He called his new town ‘Mary Port’ in honour of his wife, Mary, daughter of Sir George Fleming, bishop of Carlisle. Grid of streets laid out, with over 100 rectangular plots being sold 1749-69. By 1770s Maryport contained c.340 families, perhaps 1,500 people. Town was founded on coal, iron and shipping. Coal mining expanded rapidly in Ellenborough during later 18th century. Iron blast furnace established beside River Ellen by group of Whitehaven merchants 1754; closed 1783. By 1829 town’s industries also included three shipbuilding yards and manufactories of cotton and linen checks and sail cloth. By 1801, combined population of Netherhall and Ellenborough & Ewanrigg townships stood at 3,403, from which it grew steadily to over 12,000 by 1891, as town boomed. Port expanded after control passed from Senhouse family to board of trustees 1833: new dock (basin of later Elizabeth Dock) had been constructed by 1837 and Maryport registered its own vessels from 1838. Arrival of Maryport and Carlisle railway in 1840 enabled port to increase coal traffic considerably as inland collieries expanded in its hinterland. Heavy industry continued. Two iron furnaces: Maryport Haematite Iron Co. opened 1868; closed 1882; Solway Iron Co. opened 1870; closed 1894; reopened until early 20th century. Rolling mills, iron and brass foundries and steam saw mills. Infrastructure of port grew: new ‘floating dock’, Elizabeth Dock, opened 1857, and Senhouse Dock in 1884, allowing larger vessels to trade. Shipbuilding expanded. By 1901 several earlier industries had ceased, including manufacture of glass, salt, cotton, paper, and lead pencils, but port, ironworks and shipyards continued. Other manufacturing industry included flour-milling, sail-making, tanning and brewing. Maryport’s fortunes declined across early and mid-20th century: coal and iron industries collapsed (metal and mining industries employed 1,390 men in 1921; fewer than 100 by 1932) and port was overshadowed by Workington. Population had dropped to under 11,000 by 1921. Most of collieries in vicinity had closed by 1950s – over 61% of town’s insured population was unemployed in early 1930s. Coal shipments dwindled from over 200,000 tons p.a. in early 1920s (when Maryport was leading coal port in Cumberland) to around 30,000 tons by late 1930s. Port closed to traffic 1961; Senhouse Dock later converted into marina for pleasure craft. Traditional industries replaced by light industry after Second World War, on Solway and Glasson industrial estates. Town expanded in Netherton area, south of River Ellen, later in 20th century, leading to population growth to 12,393 in 1961. In 2001, population stood at 11,275.

Places of worship:

Church for new town, St Mary’s, a chapel of ease to Cross Canonby, founded by Humphrey Senhouse 1760; extended 1837; tower rebuilt 1847; nave rebuilt 1890-2. Christ Church, King Street, built 1872; closed 2013. Nonconformist places of worship proliferated: Quaker meeting house built 1772; rebuilt 1810; closed 1912. Presbyterian chapels in John Street (‘English’ chapel, built 1776; enlarged 1811; closed 1888) and Crosby Street (United Presbyterian, built 1831): they combined on Crosby Street site 1888. Wesleyan Methodist chapel, Well Lane, built 1806; replaced by new chapel at Back Brow, 1864; destroyed by fire c.1973; replaced by St Mark’s Methodist Church, Kirkby Street, opened 1973. Primitive Methodist chapel, Kirkby Street, built 1839; enlarged 1870; closed c.1932. Baptist chapel, High Street, built 1834; replaced by larger building on Station Street, ‘the Baptist cathedral of the North’, opened 1891; demolished 1951; in turn replaced by Trinity Baptist Church, built 1968. Baptist chapel, Furnace Road, built 1861; now Gospel Hall. Congregational Church, Lawson Street, built 1883. Roman Catholic Church of St Mary and St Patrick, Crosby Street, built 1844; enlarged 1881-2. Cemetery, to north of town, opened 1856.


Town could boast 14 schools in 1818. School of Industry recorded 1829. National school founded 1840; moved to Eaglesfield Street 1847. British school, High Street, built 1845; replaced by new school, North Street, 1883. Church of England school built 1866, enlarged 1891 and 1896. Infant school, George Street, built 1876. 19th-century schools replaced by Maryport CE Junior School in modern building on Camp Road. Roman Catholic School built 1871; replaced by new Catholic Primary School, Ennerdale Road, Ellenborough, 1963. Netherhall School built as secondary modern school on edge of town 1955, becoming mixed comprehensive 1968 and specialist sports college 2003

Other institutions:

Customs house and harbour office built 1838; court house recorded 1847. Mechanics’ Institute, library and reading room, Catherine Street, founded 1846. Public halls included Oddfellows’ Hall, Eaglesfield Street, built 1841; The Athenaeum, built 1855; Cooperative and Central Halls by 1901. Senhouse Roman Museum opened 1990 in former Naval Reserve training battery (built 1885).