Beckermet St Bridget

Ancient parish in Allerdale above Derwent ward, Cumberland; also known as Greater Beckermet. Parish included village of Calderbridge and hamlet of Sellafield.


5,160 acres [2,088 ha], including detached portion at Bleng Tongue (97 acres [39 ha]), in fells north of Gosforth.


estimated at 485 in 1688; rising from under 500 in 1801 to 680 in 1871, before declining to under 600 by 1901. Spiked temporarily at 1,019 in 1951 during construction of Calder Hall power station; then fell back to 620 in 1961. Stood at 385 in 2001.


village of St Bridget Beckermet was bond settlement held directly from lords of Egremont barony. Bulk of parish (stretching from Sellafield to Cold Fell and Stords Fell) formed Calder Lordship, held by Calder Abbey, which subsequently belonged to Lowther family. Calder Abbey was bought by John Tiffin 1730, passing through his daughter by marriage to Senhouse family and Thomas Irwin (d. 1877).


largely agricultural until 20th century. Sandstone quarrying (Stakes bridge quarry). Windscale (from 1981 Sellafield) nuclear complex originated in Royal Ordnance Factory, Sellafield, manufacturing TNT during Second World War, which was chosen as site for Britain’s first nuclear reactor pile 1947.

Places of worship:

medieval parish church of St Bridget, known as Old Church or Low Church; pre-Conquest crosses in churchyard suggest early foundation. New church of St Bridget at Calder Bridge built 1842. Ruins of Cistercian Calder abbey, founded 1134.

Schools and other institutions:

CE school in Beckermet opened 1857-8; closed 1965. School at Calder Bridge by 1860; rebuilt 1894; closed 1970. Old school at Calder Bridge had been converted into library and recreation room by 1900. Calder Bridge and Ponsonby village hall, at Calder Bridge, built c.1950.