Brampton Economic Activity
Brampton’s market served a wide area of north-east Cumberland. Writing in 1687, Thomas Denton described it as a ‘market well stored with all sorts of corn, especially rye, in regard that they grow more rye than other grain in Gilsland’.
18th & 19th century market and retailing: Continuing to serve an agricultural area, in addition to a weekly market there were annual fairs, four for sheep and cattle in the1860s as well as agricultural society shows. Besides the usual broad range of retailers, trades and professional services, including banking, found in a market town, with around 80 different occupations in 1841, there were clockmakers working in Brampton. These included three families important in the history of clockmaking: Thomas, and other members of the Wallace family, from c1740 until c1811, Thomas Richardson 1790-1834 followed by his son William 1828- c1860s, and finally Ralph Cairns from c1830, who died in 1872, succeeded by his sons John and Thomas.
Throughout the nineteenth century there were also in the town a number of booksellers and printers, including Henry Lancaster a bookseller and stationer in 1811, with a circulating library in 1829, who by 1834 was also a printer. Thomas Cheesbrough a printer, bookseller and stationer from 1851, in 1882 and 1883 published a local Almanack. John Stockdale Hodgson traded as bookseller and stationer from c1847, his wife Mary succeeded him in 1855 adding printing to the business, followed by her son Isaac Barnfather Hodgson publisher in the 1890s of two works by the Brampton poet Peter Burn. This business was taken over by Harding & Irving printers, who during the first half of twentieth century produced a guide to Brampton and a range of local postcards. The printing side of this business was to continue as Howe of Brampton until 2001. Shortly after the erection in 1836 of a Gas Works the town was illuminated by gas lights, by 1901 with 94 street lamps. The Works closed in the 1970s. The Old Brewery the first of the town’s two breweries was established in 1785, continuing into the twentieth century. The New Brewery was in operation by c1829 again lasting into twentieth century. Brewing continues in 2012 with a micro-brewery in part of what was The Old Brewery.
Manufacturing: Textiles provided employment for large numbers during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, initially in weaving checks and ginghams for the Carlisle manufacturers. Brampton had numerous weaving shops and dye houses combined with dwelling rooms, in 1815 one establishment of 13 rooms had 22 looms. In 1841 around 200 were employed in weaving in Brampton. The Scotch Tweed Mill established in 1865 was by 1873 employing 150, two years later it was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt on the same site the following year but did not flourish and closed within a few years. A tannery and skin yard existed from at least 1790 continuing throughout the nineteenth century, resulting in a large number of boot and shoemakers in the town, with 17 businesses employing around 80 shoemakers in the 1850s. Other small scale manufacturing included hat making and nail making, and during the latter part of the nineteenth century, mineral water manufacture.
Railways and industry: Brampton Coal Staith (1799) was linked to the Earl of Carlisle’s many collieries and quarries on Tindale Fell by a waggonway. In 1836 Milton (now Brampton) Station on Newcastle-Carlisle Railway 1 ½ miles from Brampton opened. It was here that Thomas Edmondson became station master and devised the printed ticket, invented a date stamping press and then a machine to print numbered tickets in batches which he patented. A branch line for goods and passengers was constructed to connect the Staith in Brampton to Milton Station and onwards to Tindale Fell; this line became Brampton and Hartleyburn Railway. From 1836 a horse-drawn ‘Dandy’ took passengers along the line from Brampton Staith, known from 1881 as Brampton Town Station, to Milton. This closed in 1890, reopened in 1913 with a locomotive and passenger coach, closed again in 1917, reopened 1920 with final closure in 1923.
20th / 21st century economy: Brampton continued, largely within its original boundaries, as a centre providing retail, trade and community services to a wide area. The provision of houses to replace accommodation in the overcrowded lanes and yards began in the 1930s under the auspices of a newly formed housing association, the Brampton Public Utility Society. After the Second World War house building received an impetus under the instigation of the Border Rural District Council. From 1956 the massive rocket test site at Spadeadam brought large numbers of skilled technical staff and their families to the area, resulting in the erection of two estates of houses in Brampton. This influx was short lived as the rocket ‘Blue Streak’ was cancelled, and although the site continued to be used for other purposes. Small scale housing developments continued during the remainder of the 20th century and into the 21st with the latest being 40 houses on a small brown-field site in 2012.Although people from Brampton travel the ten miles to Carlisle for work, it is not only a dormitory town, but remains a vibrant retail and service centre with its own small industrial estate at Townfoot. This is adjacent to the A69 bypass, which from 1991 when it opened removed most heavy through traffic from the town centre.