Barrow in Furness, Lancashire, England
Barrow in Furness is a large industrial town which grew from a tiny 19th Century hamlet to the biggest iron and steel centre in the world, and a major ship-building force, in just 40 years. The railway was introduced to carry iron-ore, slate and lime-stone to the new deep water port. Its prosperity grew with the development of the steel and ship-building industries.
The monks of Furness Abbey smelted iron with wood in the 13th Century. In 1839 H.W. Schneider (who later had a home at Bowness-on-Windermere and commuted to Barrow via steam yacht and rail) came as a young speculator and dealer in iron. In 1850 he discovered large deposits of iron, and he erected blast furnaces at Barrow, which by 1876 formed the largest steelworks in the world.
The population grew from 300 inhabitants to over 8000 in 1864. James Ramsden, superintendent of the Railway, devised a plan for the town. There are few planned towns in England, and fewer still in the 19th Century. The wide tree lined streets to this day convey a sense of space and ease. Ramsden became the first Mayor of Barrow. Ramsden also conceived the idea of the Barrow Shipbuilding Company, which became Vickers in 1897. It is now the busiest shipyard in England, with the largest covered ship building hall in Europe. By 1881 the population had jumped to 47000, reaching a peak of 74000 in 1931, but has dropped now.
There are many fine churches and public buildings in Barrow, including the Town Hall. It was part of the Barrow plan that at the two main intersections, squares were made. In them now stand commemorative monuments to Ramsden (by Noble 1872) in Ramsden Square, and Schneider (by Percy Wood), in Schneider Square.