Walney Island

Island off Barrow-in-Furness, historically part of Hawcoat township in Dalton-in-Furness parish, Lonsdale hundred, Lancashire North of the Sands.

Acreage:

3,065 acres [1,240 ha], divided between hamlets of North Scale (1,598 acres [647 ha]) and Biggar (1,467 acres [594 ha]).


Population:

339 in 1871 rising to 474 in 1891 but expanding rapidly as result of building of Vickerstown in early 20th century: had doubled to 961 by 1901 and rose to estimated 4,800 in 1911 and 7,203 by 1931. Continued to rise, reaching 9,811 by 1961 and 11,388 by 2001.


Landownership:

part of ‘bierley’ of Hawcoat in Furness Abbey’s manor of Plain Furness with which it descended (see Barrow-in-Furness).


Economy:

farming; fishing; gathering seaweed (‘tangle’) as manure; lime-burning. Rabbit warrens at north and south ends, probably from medieval times. From late 19th century closely bound to economy of Barrow-in-Furness. Salt extraction at South Walney 1896-1909; site subsequently became gravel pit which closed 1963. Plan to build airships proposed in First World War and sheds built near North Scale. After Second World War two factories employing female labour in clothing trade on Church Lane and on Promenade near North Scale. Both had closed by 1970s. Tourism and recreation from later 20th century (chalet and caravan parks).


Places of worship:

chapel of ease of St Mary founded c.1568; rebuilt 1852 but proved inadequate after growth of Vickerstown; new building on adjacent site consecrated 1908 and fully completed 1928-31. Mission room at Biggar built 1897; sold 1947 and transported to Millom for use as social hall on housing estate. Baptists met in sod hut at Southend Farm c.1853. Methodist New Connexion chapel at North Scale opened 1881; closed 1907 following opening of Wesleyan Methodist chapel on The Promenade at Vickerstown 1905; replaced by modern building in Warren Street 1998. Presbyterian chapel (St Andrew’s) at Vickerstown opened 1908; closed 1977. St Columba’s Roman Catholic chapel opened 1916; replaced by new church 1958. Former Presbyterian chapel purchased by Jehovah’s Witnesses 1979; sold into private ownership 1999.


Schools:

school recorded 1849. School close to St Mary’s church built in memory of Thomas Y. P. Michaelson 1856; closed early 20th century. Schoolroom at Biggar by 1900. Vickerstown School opened 1902; moved to new building on new site 2011; now Vickerstown Primary School. Ocean Road School opened 1905 in temporary structure before permanent building opened 1917; demolished 1993. New secondary modern school at Sandy Gap opened 1958; amalgamated with Ocean Road School 1979 to form Walney Comprehensive School. Growing population catered for by South Walney Primary School, opened 1920s, and North Walney Primary School, opened 1960s. St Columba’s RC School built 1916. Richard Brunskill Special School, Moor Tarn Lane, opened 1963; closed 1991; replaced by George Hastwell Special School.


Other institutions:

lighthouse at Haws Point built 1790. Biggar Bank acquired by Barrow Corporation 1877 and became town’s main outdoor recreation ground. James Dunn Park on Promenade opened 1903. Walney Island airfield built 1940; air gunnery school opened 1941; closed as military airfield 1955; civilian use, including gliding, since. Vickerstown Institute, Gateacre Street, opened 1902; moved to new premises on Church Lane 1917; closed 2009. Walney Cinema, Dominion Street, opened as theatre and picture house 1915; closed 1959; demolished. Branch library on Promenade, opened 1940; replaced by new building in Central Drive.