|Colin says: Vickerstown |
In the early part of the 20th century, a housing shortage in Barrow prompted the building of Vickerstown on the Isle of Walney. The new town was built specifically to cater for the rapidly expanding workforce in Barrow's shipyard - which had been taken over by Vickers Ltd of Sheffield immediately before the turn of the century.
Previous plans to develop Walney Isle as a seaside resort had not met with much enthusiasm - but the new plan was - and in 1900 Vickers formed the the Isle of Walney Estates Company to oversee the entire project - which was in later years to house no less than 10,000 of their workers. By christmas 1900, the first of the tennents who met Vickes' uncompromising selection criteria (based on the prospective tenents status in the shipyard) had left their temporary accommodation on board the Atlantic liner Alaska which was berthed in the Devonshire Dock and had already moved in. Homes on the Promenade, which overlooks Walney Channel were of superior quality to the others, and were reserved strictly for management.
By 1905, the first 1,000 houses and associated ammenities (including pubs, churches, and a park) had already been built, and a large proportion of the eventual workforce installed. Access to Walney Island was by ford at low tide or via the Furness Railway's ferry, whch was capable of carrying servral hundred people at a time. The old ferry - which was never deemed acceptable by the residents anyway - was eventually replaced by a bridge despite fierce opposition from the railway company - but the old ferry pitching is still in regular use to this day by the numerous fishing and pleasure craft which are based in the area.
The second phase of Vickertown construction took place immediately prior to WWII, and included not only more homes, but additional ammenities such as an open air swimming pool, a theatre, and even a farm. By the 1930's, the estate company had begun to sell the properties to the tennants, and the rigid rules which had forbidded any sort of changes being made to the properties fell by the board. In 1952, with only a handful of the original properties still on their books the estate company was wound up, and in 1988 Vickerstown was declared a conservation area in order to protect the character of the very few remaining homes which had remained unaltered.