Industrial and Railway city (c.1750-1914)

Improved transport links (completion of the Military Road to Newcastle in 1750 and the spread of turnpike roads) from the mid-18th century enabled Carlisle to share in the industrial revolution.  The city grew significantly across the later 18th century, the population of the city and its suburbs exceeding 10,000 by 1801, the greatest growth occurring in the new industrial areas outside the city walls.  The city’s industrial base initially centred on water-powered textile mills specialising in the finishing of linen cloth and in calico printing.  Calico printing started in 1761, and gingham, check and bleaching establishments set up shop. Cotton spinning mills were established from the 1790s, the largest being steam powered: New Mill or Slater’s Mill (1802) and Shaddon Mill (1836).  Although the print works closed in the early 19th century, dyeing and cloth finishing (‘beetling’) expanded.  Tanning, brewing (on an industrial scale from 1756),hat-making (from the 1760s), printing (from 1799), iron and brass founding (from 1804), soap-boiling (by 1794), and biscuit-making (Carr’s biscuit factory established 1834) alladded to the industrial mix. 

A major transformation of the city took place in 1813, when the city walls were finally demolished; the demolition heralded the final transition of Carlisle from an insular enclosed community to a fully-fledged modern city.  From 1804 the corporation lit and paved the streets; from 1819 it was lit by gas.  Industry remained dependant on road transport until a canal was dug from Carlisle to Port Carlisle in 1823.

On the eve of the railway age, Carlisle was a thriving regional centre.  The influx of wealth and development of industry affected society as a whole. Banking services for the increasingly capitalist economy were also established. Carlisle gained its first bank in 1787 and its first newspaper in 1798.  There were three banks in the city: the Carlisle Old Bankwas a private bank but the other two issued their own notes: the Carlisle City and District Bank (established 1836; amalgamated with the London & Midland Bank 1896) and the Carlisle and Cumberland Banking Company (established 1835).  The Carlisle Journal, established 1798, was the first of a plethora of newspapers, most of which were short-lived.  Those which endured were the Journal itself, the Carlisle Patriot, first issued in 1815; the Carlisle Examiner and Northern Advertiser(1857-1870); and the Carlisle Express, founded 1861; merged in 1870 with the Carlisle Examiner to form Carlisle Express and Examiner; which merged with the Carlisle Journal in 1913. The Carlisle Patriotamalgamated with East Cumberland News and became Cumberland News, which absorbed the Carlisle Journal in 1968. 

A railway connected Carlisle to Newcastle in 1838 and the city soon became a hub in the expanding railway network.  The Maryport railway opened in 1845; that to Lancaster in 1846. The southern section of the Caledonian Railway opened in September 1847, with through services to Glasgow and Edinburgh in the following February. The Glasgow and South Western Railway followed in 1851.  A physical symbol of the importance of the railways to Carlisle is the Citadel station, built in 1847-8. The Port Carlisle canal was replaced by a railway to Silloth in 1856 and the Midland Railway’s Settle-Carlisle line opened for freight traffic in 1875.  Carlisle was thus the served by seven different lines.

Carlisle grew rapidly across the 19th century: by 1851 the city had over 25,000 inhabitants; by 1901 over 45,000. Scottish and Irish immigrants swelled the population.  By the 1860s the textile industry was in decline and the number of handloom weavers was dwindling rapidly but the railways gave employment in their own right and also opened up markets for firms that were to come to prominence in the second half of the 19th century.  The railways’ impact on employment in the city was significant: in 1917 over 14% of all households were headed by a railway worker and in 1921 over 20% of male employment was in the transport and communications industries.  The railways enabled Carlisle’s industrial base to develop and diversify.  Hudson Scott, the printing works, developed tin-plate decoration and, from 1886, the manufacture of tin boxes; the number of foundries increased and specialised engineering, such as crane manufacture (from 1858), developed;John Laing set up a small building firm in 1848 which was to become one of the country's leadingbuilding and civil engineering contractors.  On the eve of the First World War Carlisle was a major industrial city, as well as continuing to serve as county town and seat of an expanded diocese.