exciting new project investigating what it means to be Cumbrian.
to the programme online >>
in the heady days of 1974 Carlisle United hit the top spot in Division
One of the football league, Cumbria Fire Service opened a sparkling
new fire station exclusively for the good folk of Walney, and oh
yes, local government changes gave birth to a bonny new arrival:
the county of Cumbria.
old Cumberland sign recycled in Orton
was formed out of the old counties of Cumberland and Westmorland
with part of the West Riding of Yorkshire and Lancashire north of
the sands and was the first change in county boundaries since 1388
so lets face it, it was bound to cause a bit of a stir.
since theres been an ebb and flow of debate as sure as the
tide at Morecambe about whether Cumbria works or if the old county
boundaries were better.
men whove paid more attention to this than most over the last
28 years are Peter Phizacklea and Bill Cameron who sat on the first
ever Cumbria County Council back in 1974 and who still respectively
represent Dalton and Maryport today.
and Bill at Shap Abbey
Peter Phizacklea talking about Shaps
role in international diplomacy!
there was much optimism in the early years of Cumbria many people,
including our two senior county statesmen, wondered whether the
new county set-up made sense.
if you look at the history the area covered by the county has been
governed as one before. Jim Grisenthwaite whos responsible
for Cumbrias archives explains that the name Cumbria comes
from the Celtic name Cymry, meaning the brethren. It was a word
used to describe things that happened in this part of the world
many centuries ago. Maps exist from the 18th century showing all
of modern day Cumbria on the same page because by then it was becoming
apparent that it was a natural geographical region. Were boxed
in by the Scottish border in the north, Morecambe Bay in the south,
the Irish Sea in the West and the Pennines in the East.
Grisenthwaite, County Archivist surrounded by his archives at
So what does all this have to do with a small mint with a hole in
the middle then? Well, one rather clever metaphor for Cumbria is
to imagine the county as a large (OK, extremely large) polo mint;
the central fells are the hole in the middle where no one lives
and the main population lives in the interesting minty bit on the
outside! It might sound daft but many of the towns and villages
on the ring of the polo have to be self sufficient because theyre
so far from anywhere else and historically have tended to look inwards.
This is a common factor that links places as far afield as Coniston
and Kirkby Stephen.
on Coniston Old Man
must be something in it because Cumbria is the only one of the new
counties that were established in the early 70s that has stood the
test of time. Whether it can last as long as the old Cumberland,
Westmorland, Yorkshire and Lancashire who knows
us! Only time will tell