Barrow in Furness, the town that went from boom to bust

Dangling into the Irish Sea from the tip of the Furness Peninsula, it was the arrival of the railways that transformed Barrow into one of the world's industrial powerhouses. Huge steelworks and thriving shipbuilding yards turned the Cumbrian seaport from a sleepy collection of farmsteads into a Victorian boom town.

Its population reached a peak in 1951 but since then numbers have been slowly declining. In yesterday's census results Barrow recorded the largest fall in residents of any local authority in England and Wales.

The number of people living there dropped by 3,000 – down 4 per cent since 2001 to 69,100. The decline stems from sharp cuts in defence spending following the end of the Cold War which hit the region's submarine-building industry hard.

But yesterday locals said Barrow was beginning to turn a corner. In recent years people may have been forced to move away in search of work, but there are now signs of industrial optimism and growth.

"We have had concerns about our young people leaving and not returning. And we have been trying to get the right jobs to attract them back to the area," said the Labour council leader Dave Pidduck. "But the industrial position looks pretty stable."

Many of the jobs in Barrow are now highly skilled. Work is continuing on the Astute-class nuclear submarine and the town will be the base for the construction of the "Successor class" – part of a £328m contract recently awarded by the Ministry of Defence to BAE Systems. There is also considerable offshore wind energy development and the Government wants to build a new nuclear power plant at Sellafield despite the decision to close the Thorp reprocessing facility.

Other parts of the North-west – which as a region reversed previous declines to record a 4 per cent rise – were hit by population flight, the census showed.

Despite declines in some parts of Merseyside, Liverpool reported population growth over the past decade of 5.5 per cent while Manchester registered an increase of nearly a fifth, taking the number of residents to more than 500,000 – the fastest growth since records began.

The North-east and the North-west were the only two regions not to experience population increases since 1981, with both seeing slight falls up until 2001. Eden in Cumbria in the North-west has the lowest population density with just 25 people per sq km.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...