Saltam Pit: Whitehaven. Source: Creative Commons.
COAL MINING AROUND WHITEHAVEN
Whitehaven was for many years a mining town and it provided all the coal that Dublin needed. The Haig Colliery Mining Museum is set up around the Haig Pit which finally closed in 1986. The winding engine house and headgear are being restored to their former glory.
When the pit closed down many of the buildings were demolished and the whole area was landscaped to build Haig Enterprise Park. The winding engine house is now being restored and two rare Bever-Dorling steam winding engines are being refurbished.
The plan is to build a railway to take visitors from The Beacon to the museum.
Haig Pit had a long and often not very good safety record. It stretches out underground into the Solway Firth for four miles and 1200 men, women and children are recorded to have died while working in the mine.
Nearby Saltom pit was allowed to fall into serious disrepair after Copeland council decided in 2007 that it could no longer afford repairs. Two years later the decision was reversed and restorations took place when funds were provided by the European Union and the National Trust. The pit is now being maintained as a tourist attraction as part of the Whitehaven Coast Project.
WHITEHAVEN AND EGREMONT CRAB FAIR
Every year around 16th September the Egremont Crab Fair is held on a Saturday. One of the most famous events is the Gurning Contest which has been part of the fair since the year 1267. This is one of the oldest traditional fairs in the world.
For anyone who doesn't know what gurning is, a brief explanation is in order. Gurning is pulling awful faces. Contestants have to put their heads through a braffin, or horse collar and make the worst face they can.
The winner of the 2009 fair was Gordon Blacklock who took back his title after thirteen years without it.
The 2010 Egremont Crab Fair will be held on September 18th.
Read more about this here: Gurning Through A Baffin.
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THE LEGEND OF
THE BISHOP OF DERRY
Bishop's Rock Showing Swan Inn
Source: Creative Commons
The legend says that the Bishop of Londonderry was making his way to Whitehaven to pick up a boat to take him across the sea to Ireland.
Night was falling and he stopped for the night at the Swan Inn near to Bassenthwaite Lake.
Apparently he drank a few tipples and then took a bet that he couldn’t ride his horse up to a rocky outcrop known as Lord’s Seat.
The horse fell at a point now known as Bishop’s Rock and horse and rider tumbled down to the bottom of the slope. They were buried beside a rock named ‘The Clerk’.
The landlord of The Swan paid for the rocks to be whitewashed and this is an old tradition that is still continued.