Market town and ancient parish in Eskdale ward, Cumberland. CP created in 1883 by union of townships of Brampton, Easby and Naworth.


Brampton CP contained 6,466 acres [2,617 ha], combining townships of Brampton: 3,323 acres [1,345 ha]; Easby: 1,269 acres [514 ha] and Naworth: 1,874 acres [758 ha] (excluding Tindale Fell, a detached portion of Naworth township: see Midgeholme). Brampton commons (1,532 acres [620 ha]) were enclosed 1778.


caput of barony of Gilsland from 14th century, when Naworth Castle replaced Irthington as seat of barons. Gilsland was granted to Hubert de Vaux (or Vallibus) by Henry II 1157/8, passing through Vaux family to Matilda, heir of Hubert II de Vaux (d. c.1240), who married Thomas de Moulton. Barony then descended through Moulton family to Margaret, daughter of Thomas Moulton (d. 1313), who carried it to Dacres by her marriage to Ranulf Dacre. It then descended through their heirs to George Lord Dacre (d. 1569), last of male line. In division of Dacre estates, Gilsland was assigned to Elizabeth Dacre (c.1564-1639), wife of Lord William Howard, and descended through their heirs, the earls of Carlisle.

Origins and growth of the town:

Brampton received grant of weekly market and annual fair 1252 and became market centre for Gilsland barony and wide area of north-east Cumberland. Thomas Denton (writing 1688) 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.’ It was ‘improved both in building and trade’ and he estimated population to be 630. By 1801 population was 2,125, of whom 1,682 resided in Brampton township. By 19th century, Brampton continued to serve wide rural hinterland and possessed usual range of retailers, trades and professional services of a market town, including banking, clockmaking and printing. Coal mining provided employment: Brampton Coal Staith (1799) linked town by waggonway to earl of Carlisle’s collieries and quarries on Tindale Fell. Although Newcastle and Carlisle Railway bypassed Brampton, with station outside town at Milton (opened 1836), branch line (Brampton and Hartleyburn Railway) took passengers by horse-drawn ‘Dandy’ from Staith (renamed Brampton Town Station 1881) to Milton Station; line closed 1890, reopening briefly twice between 1913 and 1923. Two breweries were established (one in 1785; one by 1829); both continued into 20th century. Tannery and skin yard from at least 1790, continued throughout 19th century, supplying large number of boot and shoemakers: in 1850s there were 17 businesses employing c.80 shoemakers in Brampton. Textiles employed large numbers (c.200 in 1841), initially weaving checks and ginghams for Carlisle manufacturers. Numerous weaving shops and dye houses in town: one establishment of 13 rooms contained 22 looms in 1815. Scotch Tweed Mill, established 1865, was employing 150 by 1873; destroyed by fire 1875; rebuilt but did not flourish and closed within a few years. Other small-scale manufacturing included hat making and nail making and, during latter part of 19th century, mineral water manufacture. Population grew rapidly, rising to 2,754 by 1841 and peaking at 3,557 in 1871. With decline of manufacturing, Brampton’s population fell across late 19th and early 20th century to stand at 2,526 in 1931. Modernisation of housing stock to replace overcrowded lanes and yards began in 1930s under auspices of the Brampton Public Utility Society. From 1951 construction of Spadeadam rocket testing site (see Kingwater) brought large numbers of skilled technical staff to area, resulting in building of two housing estates in Brampton. Population rose to 4,033 by 1971. Although influx was short-lived, Brampton continued to grow slowly as dormitory for Carlisle. Small industrial estate developed at Townfoot from 1980s. In 2001 population stood at 4,361.

Places of worship:

Medieval parish church of St Martin (in corner of Roman fort, one mile west of Brampton); replaced 1788 by new church in town, on site of Brampton Hospital (former almshouses); enlarged 1827 and rebuilt 1878 (noted for stained glass windows by Morris & Co. to Burne-Jones designs). Presbyterian congregation from 1660s; chapel built 1772; replaced 1854; continues in use as United Reformed Church. Wesleyan Methodist chapel built 1799; rebuilt 1836; replaced by new building on new site 1900; still in use as Brampton Methodist Church. Zion Chapel (Independent) built 1818; closed and converted to flats. Primitive Methodist chapel, Back Street, built 1823; sold 1879 after opening of new chapel on Moatside; now Bethesda Evangelical Church. Moatside Primitive Methodist chapel built 1878; closed c.1932; used as Playhouse Theatre 1936 to 2009; demolished 2013. Roman Catholics worshipped in house from 1893 to 1957, when St Ninian’s RC Church was opened in Ashmore, a house in Craw Hill; closed 2014.


Grammar school, recorded 1588; from c.1688 was held in Brampton Hospital. When hospital was replaced by new parish church 1788, school continued in one room for some time (recorded 1816) but had ceased to exist by 1840s. Infant school established 1825. National school built 1817, with separate school for girls 1832; replaced by new building on different site, erected 1857 for boys and girls. Acquired by School Board 1874 and enlarged 1875 and 1879 and became town’s primary school; replaced by modern building on site of former workhouse; now Brampton Primary School. Presbyterian school held in former chapel from c.1855; continued until early 20th century. Private boarding and day schools in 19th century included Croft House Academy, established 1840 by Joseph Coulthard, renowned for high standard of education that attracted pupils from across the country. County Secondary School opened 1909 in building known as ‘White House’, becoming grammar school (‘White House Grammar School’) after Second World War. Irthing Valley Secondary Modern School opened c.1950. The two schools were linked in partially comprehensive scheme during 1970s; then combined on secondary modern school site as fully comprehensive William Howard School 1980.

Other institution: 

Moot Hall in Market Place, built 1817 replacing 17th-century structure. Ground floor open for egg, butter and poultry market until 1896; upper floor court house for barony courts; cupola contained market bell. Almshouses known as Brampton Hospital erected at expense of earl of Carlisle 1685; site used for new church 1788. Parish workhouse to south of town recorded 1777; enlarged 1837 on establishment of Brampton Union. Replaced by new workhouse on north side of town; completed 1877 (now demolished). Wilson Homes, retirement homes named after Isaac Wilson who funded their construction, built adjacent to the Sands; opened 1930. Brampton & District War Memorial Cottage Hospital opened 1923; still in use. Mechanics’ Institution and reading room in mid-19th century; in 1860 had library of 800 volumes. Working Men’s Club and reading room established c.1858; continued into early 20th century. Public halls included St Martin’s, built 1895 adjacent to parish church; Central Hall in former Presbyterian church; and New Hall in redundant Tweed Mill, subsequently a cinema, but destroyed by fire 1960.