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Living in Barrow-in-Furness: The Local Area Guide

Barrow-in-Furness is the second largest town in Cumbria, in the north west of England. It is right at the end of the Furness Peninsula, giving rise to the local joke that it is in the world's biggest cul-de-sac, and sits beside the beautiful Lake District.

Barrow, as it is known locally, began its existence in the middle ages as a small collection of homes surrounding the Furness Abbey, the site of which is just outside the town today. Furness Abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII during his dissolution of the monasteries, and it was not until the Industrial Revolution that the town truly grew again.

There are natural iron deposits in the area, and these began to be exploited by Henry Schneider in the 1840s, who also brought the railway to the area. Barrow quickly grew as a result, with factories and processing facilities popping up, and the Barrow Hermatite Steel Company was the world's largest steel company before long.

This also led to Barrow becoming a vital spot for the construction of naval ships from World War I to just after World War II, when steel-making began to decline. Vickers did retain a shipyard in Barrow following the 40’s, and this employed large numbers of local men until the end of the Cold War. Since then, employment has largely been concentrated in the energy sector.

Barrow's history has given it a particularly working class culture and atmosphere, and it is well known for it today, having been dubbed the Capital of Blue Collar Britain by the Daily Telegraph.


Barrow's population, according to the 2011 census, is a little over 69,000, which is down from 72,000 in 2001. Negative net migration caused a 4% decrease and this was, in fact, the largest population decrease in that decade.

The mean age in Barrow-in-Furness is 41.3, higher than the national average, which is 39.3. It has a larger than average population over the age of 65 as well, at just under 20% of the total, alongside fewer than average children.

House prices are relatively low for England, and this has led to higher rates of home ownership. Nearly 75% of people own their own home, compared to around 60% for the rest of England. However, Barrow is also relatively poor in terms of social grade. The population largely belongs to grades C2 and DE, with only 38% of people in AB or C1, which compares to 56% for England.


There is a good selection of schools in Barrow. There are several nurseries and junior schools, five infant schools, and fully fifteen state primary schools. Pupils from these primary schools have three state secondary schools to choose from, which are Walney School, St Bernard's Catholic High School, and Furness Academy.

Chetwynde is also in Barrow and was formerly an independent school before becoming a state free school. It educates girls and boys from 4 to 18.

After secondary school, many pupils study for their A levels at Barrow-in-Furness Sixth Form College or study more vocational courses at Furness College.


The railway is very well developed in Barrow-in-Furness, thanks to the towns’ industrial past. To the north, it connects directly to Whitehaven, Workington, and Carlisle via the Cumbrian Coast Line. It is also possible to reach the West Coast Mainline by taking a train from Barrow to Lancaster or Ulverston.

By car, the A590 is the primary artery road which leads to the M6 through the Lake District.

Barrow has a very small airport itself, but for regular flights, both domestic and international, Manchester Airport is the nearest option.

Amenities and Shopping

Most of the shops in Barrow are clustered on Dalton Road, Portland Walk, Crelin Street, Cavendish Street, and Scott Street.

There is a good selection of high street brands ranging from H Samuel to Waterstones to Top Shop, River Island, and New Look. The town also has some interesting independent shops dotted through the streets.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

p>All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith

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