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Harrington is on the Cumbrian coast south of Workington and North of Whitehaven. Its industrial history, which largly ended in the late 1930s, included an Iron works, coal mining, and steel making. It once had five railway stations. it still has one station, on the Cumbrian Coast railway, near the harbour.
Today, with a population of about 6000, it is largely a dormitory town for the employees of the shops and offices and light industry found in Workington and Whitehaven, and also British Nuclear Fuels down the coast at Sellafield.
The parish consists of Harrington itself, High Harrington, and Salterbeck, which is a large housing estate on the Workington side of the parish.
In 1760, Squire Henry Curwen built a quay at Harrington on the South side of the River Wyre. Coal and limestone were soon being exported from Harrington, and the increase in trade led to the development of the local shipbuilding industry. A decline in manufacturing industry saw the harbours usage drop dramatically during the latter part of the 19th Century.
Eventually the harbour was sealed off and used as a reservoir for a nearby Magnesium Works. The secret “Magnesite” plant at Harrington was set up during WWII by the Ministry of Aircraft Production to extract magnesium from seawater, for use in aircraft components and incendiary bombs. At the time is was one of only two plants in the country, making some 40,000 tons per annum.
The harbour no has a new lease of life as a facility for leisure, with the scope to grow the marine sector in the Northwest.
In St Mary’s church are recent stained-glass windows, which show much of the industrial and maritime heritage of the area, including images of the latest industry – wind farming. Windfarms are springing up all along the coast, south and north of Workington.
The West Cumbria Cycle Network passses through Harrington on old railway routes, on its way from Distington to Workington.
- Harrington History
- Harrington harbour
- The Story of Making rails at the Workington Iron and Steel Company
- BBC Cumbria – Harrington, a forgotten town?