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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Cumbria

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Label from F. Dickson for pellet cartridges, c1895

© Ian Tyler
The Gunpowder Industry of Cumbria

With huge demand for its use in the navy, military, and later also in mining and quarrying, gunpowder manufacture was once a profitable business, and created thousands of jobs. Although little evidence of it remains today, the gunpowder industry was once a major contributor to the Cumbrian economy - due to the risky nature of gunpowder making, production facilities had to be sited in remote areas, and so the industry found a natural home in Cumbria.

The industry’s influence on the region spanned several centuries, with new works springing up across the remote countryside in the 18th and 19th Centuries. A great sense of community grew up around these isolated plants, where the danger of explosions was ever-present, and these communities lasted well into the 20th Century. Today a few hints and tell-tale signs of the trade can still be found – if you know where to look. Follow our photo gallery to uncover the history behind Cumbria’s gunpowder trade. More...

Words: Ian Tyler

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