Moor row village history
Moor Row is a residential community situated between Whitehaven and Egremont on Cumbria’s coastal plain. The history of Moor Row goes back to at least 1762, but it was the 19th century discovery of iron ore in the vicinity that built the ‘row of houses on a moor’. Cornish tin miners moved here to work the mines, and their presence is noted in a number of street names such as Penzance Street. One street, Dalzell, is named after Thomas Henry Dalzell, a mine owner.
The village name probably refers to the Scalegill street houses, which are noted on a 1860 OS map. The 1859 homes on Dalzell Street are thought to be the oldest of the terraced rows. The village has grown in the 20th century, adding modern suburban homes to the mixture.
Moor Row’s Montreal Mines produced 250,000 tons a year, the largest of any mine in the Whitehaven or Furness district. The mine property covered 1000 acres, half of which was ore bearing. Both open pit and shaft mining took place. Between 1000 to 1200 people were employed locally in the industry.
A railway shunting yard was built in the village, bringing further jobs and prosperity to the inhabitants. It became western Cumbria’s most important unction and goods yard until the end of World War II when trucks and the motorways brought about the decline of the railroads in the UK. By the late 1970s the railroad was closed and is now part of both the national coast to coast walk and cycleway.
Westlakes Science and Technology Park is a local employer today.
Bigrigg village history
Sitting on the road that leads from Whitehaven to Egremont, Bigrigg melds into the surrounding farmland. Bigrigg Moor, watered by the River Ehen, was, at one time, surrounded by forest. Deep hollows in the area attest to iron ore mining as far back as medieval times. Bigrigg’s calcite deposits were considered to be of the highest quality.
By 1829, there were three different companies mining eight pits in the area. Iron ore mining continued to expand from this time. Further encouragement for mining resulted when the railway was constructed from Whitehaven to Cleator Moor in the late 1850’s.
Pits often flooded due to the proximity of the River Ehen, so the mining companies diverted the river. By the late 1800’s some mines were closing in the area while others continued to open. In 1924 a mine disaster at the Croft Pit in Bigrigg trapped ten men for 28 hours before they were rescued. By 1932 all the mines were closed.
St John’s Church in the village was built in 1878-80 in the Decorated style. Its stained glass memorial windows are by Charles Kempe.
Bigrigg has one pub that serves the village’s 1200 people.