Aspatria & Brayton

Township in Aspatria parish, Allerdale below Derwent ward, Cumberland, which became UD 1894. Reconfigured 1934 to become Aspatria CP, with loss of territory to Hayton & Mealo and Oughterside & Allerby CPs.


3,550 acres [1,436 ha] before boundary changes. Outfields enclosed 1758-9; East and West Moors, extensive common moorland across parish containing 4,300 acres [1,740 ha], enclosed 1825.


The ‘long dry village’, as Thomas Denton called Aspatria in 1688, grew into small town with arrival of coal mining by mid-19th century. Population rose from 327 in 1801 to 3,521 in 1921; then declined to c.2,700 by end of 20th century. New colliery village at Harriston built c.1870.


manor of Aspatria was retained in hands of lords of Allerdale barony, descending with honour of Cockermouth (q.v.). Manor of Brayton acquired by Thomas Salkeld (d. 1627) of Whitehall and later by Wilfrid Lawson (d. 1710), in whose family it remained until 20th century, Brayton Hall becoming their principal seat (demolished 1940)


coal mining recorded 1681; rapid expansion in 1840s after construction of Maryport & Carlisle Railway (1845) and sinking of Brayton Domain Colliery on Lawson royalty by John Harris of Greysouthen (whose name is perpetuated by colliery village of Harriston) in 1850; last pit closed 1940. Other industries included creamery of West Cumberland Dairy Co. (established 1888; still in operation); agricultural implement making (1901); mattress manufacture (since 1974)

Places of worship:

medieval parish church of St Kentigern, a pre-Norman foundation; rebuilt 1846-7. Congregational chapel built 1827. Primitive Methodist chapel built 1866; replaced by a new building 1896. Christian Brethren chapel at Richmond Hill built 1886. Wesleyan Hall built 1929.

Schools and other institutions:

several unendowed schools in parish by 1815, one of which was in Aspatria village. National school built 1825 and girls’ school built 1837. Board schools opened 1895 (now Richmnond Hill Primary School). Infant school in colliery village of Harriston built 1879; used as temperance hall and for Sunday worship. Beacon Hill Secondary School built 1963-5. Agricultural college, founded by Lawsons in 1874 to promote scientific farming; closed 1925. Other public institutions included: Market Hall and Noble Temple, venue for concerts and lectures, both built 1872; free reading and news room (1873); Drill Hall (c.1914) and War Memorial Recreation Ground, c.1920. Institute and reading room at Harriston built 1892. Community Centre in Aspatria (in former Primitive Methodist chapel). Village hall in former school at Harriston; closed c.2015.