In the early nineteenth century Silloth was a small settlement of four farms.
The population in both the 1841 and 1851 censuses was between 30 and 40.
By 1900 Silloth was Cumberland's leading seaside resort. The transformation of Silloth began with the formation of the Carlisle and Silloth Bay Railway and Dock Company in 1853 which led to some rapid changes.

Cumberland Directory, 1858

" Silloth is a railway station, port, and sea-bathing place, in the township and parish of Holme Low, in Holme Cultram, or Abbey Holme, from which it is 4 miles north-west, 21 from Carlisle, and 16 from Burgh ; it has a most salubrious climate, and is very pleasantly situated on the coast of Silloth Bay, and consisted, until 1857, of only a very few scattered houses ; but since the formation of the railway by the Carlisle and Silloth Bay railway and dock company, new houses have sprung up in all directions. In 1857 and 1858 above 100 were built. This line brings it into direct communication with Carlisle and all parts of the country. The same company in 1858, constructed a floating dock and harbour, and erected a wooden pier, which extends upwards of 1,000 feet into the sea, and made other alterations and improvements which, combined with the situation of the port are expected to command a large coasting and foreign trade…The Solway Hotel, near the railway station, is a commodious and well-conducted establishment, the proprietor of which has bathing machines on the beach for the accomodation of bathers. A steamer runs to Liverpool"

The Carlisle and Silloth Railway and Dock Company issued a prospectus in 1856 seeking to raise money and setting out its aims [Source B below]. The railway was begun in 1855 and opened in August 1856. The dock was begun a year later in 1857. These developments encouraged other buildings and town planning schemes.


Look at the list of 'Subscribers' keen to build a floating dock and harbour at Silloth. What kinds of people were they ? What did they see as the advantages of investing in a floating dock at Silloth ?

The idea that most people should be able to spend time away on holiday is fairly new.
Only the rich could do this in 1750 - most people had neither the time nor the money. By 1900 members of the richer working classes might even have a week's holiday in the Summer. This was a result of different working patterns, improved standards of living and cheap transport. The growth of railways meant that people were able to travel away from towns to the countryside or the seaside. Well known seaside towns which expanded rapidly at this time included Blackpool and Margate. Silloth was less well
known beyond the North West of England.



In order to take a short break to go on holiday to somewhere like Silloth, people needed to have some free time. What evidence is there to support the statement that 'people enjoyed an increasing amount of leisure time in the second half of the nineteenth century' ?

Diary Entry from John Ostle (1822-1890).
Ostle was a yeoman farmer from Nook, near Newtown, close to Silloth.
From 1855-60 he noted down a great deal about the development of the town.

"August 28th 1856

There was a cheap trip from Carlisle to Silloth Bay. The line was opened…

All the manufacturers and cotton spinners, tobacconists and what not were
there…two bands of music…polka dancing…an excellent dinner at 3s. each

…About 3,000 people came by steam…Silloth Bay is a very wild place in dry, windy weather, the sand blows very little short of the deserts of Arabia"

Why do you think there was so much local excitement when the railway opened ?

Places of interest in the Neighbourhood of Silloth, Excursions etc

from the Silloth Gazette 4 August 1860

Silloth as compared with other towns - cutting from the Silloth
11 August 1860

[Insert newspaper cutting]

Missing Scan???


Look at Sources E and F. What sort of people do you think would have been attracted to going on holiday to Silloth ?
How was the town trying to market itself ?

By the 1930s Silloth described itself as an 'all year round resort' attracting about 4,000 visitors each summer.
The frontcover of a guidebook from the
1930s summarised what the town had to offer.

There was a bandstand, revue show, cinema, billiard halls, a golf course, bowling greens, tennis courts, a hydro and sulphur spa for swimming and a park for football,shows and circuses


Towns like Silloth were most successful in the late nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. Why do you think that fewer people have chosen to take holidays in coastal towns like Silloth and Morecambe in Lancashire since the 1960s ?

(List as many possible reasons as you can)