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Market Place, Millom - - 42217.jpg
Market Place, Millom
Grid reference: SD172802
Location: 54°12’35"N, 3°16’13"W
Population: 7,132  (2001)
Post town: Millom
Postcode: LA18
Dialling code: 01229
Local Government
Council: Copeland

Millom is a town on the estuary of the River Duddon in the southernmost point of Cumberland. The name is said to be from the Cumbrian dialect for "At the mills"[1] or Old Norse for "Between [rivers]".

Millom new town takes its name from the area of land between the Rivers Esk and Duddon and the Irish Sea and was begun in 1866 and subsumed the village of Holborn Hill.

The town is accessible both by rail and an A class road. The parish had a population of 7,132 in 2001.


The name Millom was in use before the Norman Conquest for the lands known as Millom and the name is assumed to be of Norse origin. The Norse word 'mellum' translates as 'between'[2] or 'that which is between'; Millom is the land between the rivers and the sea.


St George's Church

Millom's original parish church is Holy Trinity, a Grade I listed building dating to the 12th century.[3] In 1877 the growth of the town required the building of another church and architects Paley and Austin were commissioned to build St George's, a grade II listed building.[4]

There are several denominations represented in the town:

  • Church of England:
    • Holy Trinty
    • St George's
  • Baptist
  • Independent evangelical
  • Methodist
  • Roman Catholic


Millom is mentioned in the Domesday Book as one of the townships forming the Manor of Hougun held by Earl Tostig.[5]

Millom Castle is now a Grade I listed building and scheduled ancient monument. It is the ruins of a former castle or moated manor house which was given a licence to crenellate in 1335. The great tower dates from the 16th or 17th century and is now a farmhouse.[6] The castle was built by Godard de Boyvill, owner of the Manor of Millum, but it came into the Hudleston family's ownership when de Boyvill's granddaughter married John Hudleston. By 1739 the castle walls were in dilapidated condition.[7]

In 1251 a market charter was granted by King Henry III of England to John de Huddleston, Lord of Millom. A charter for an Easter fair at Holy Trinity Church was also granted at the same time.

The Whitehaven & Furness Junction Railway opened a station here in 1850. It was taken over by the Furness Railway in 1866.

A map of 1862 shows that all that existed here was a small hamlet by the name of Holborn Hill on the northwest side of the railway line. It had a railway station, inn and a tile and brick works.[8] By 1899 a small town had grown up here, with terraced streets on either side of the railway, a public library, police station, banks, hotels, school, market square and allotments.[9]

In the intervening years, the Hodbarrow iron mines began extracting haematite from deposits between the town of Millom and the seashore. The first shafts were sunk in the 1850s and the first furnaces were completed in 1866.[10] In 1881 there were seven pits operated by The Hodbarrow Mining Company.[11] The Hodbarrow Outer Barrier (sea wall) was completed in 1905 to protect the mines from the sea. It took five years to construct at a cost of almost £600,000.[12] The ironworks closed in 1968.[13]

In 1877 the expanding town needed more water and Whicham Beck was dammed at Baystone Bank (54.261226,-3.274237) to form Baystone Bank Reservoir. The reservoir remained in use until about 1996. It was drained in 2011, the dam removed and the valley returned to its original form. This work was carried out by water network company United Utilities.[14]

Throughout its history, the town has struggled with socio-economic problems, especially after the Industrial Revolution, thus being infamously called by the Mayor of Copeland, 'a place of despair'. However it was noted that the people who came to work in the mines in the late 1800s endured poor living conditions on the marshes that later became Millom New Town, with great fortitude and good humour. To this day Millomites exhibit the same attributes as their forefathers.


Backdrop of the fells

Millom's economy is now mainly based around retail, services and tourism.

It is a relatively low wage area, with a lot of people employed in skilled trades such as building, painting and decorating. Many also work in the service sector in hotels, pubs and shops within the nearby Lake District national park.

Higher wage centres are Barrow-in-Furness to the south and Sellafield to the north-west with commuting each way on the road or via the railway. There is also some commuting as far as Kendal.

Millom itself has a small town centre and does not offer much in the way of local employment, especially for young people. The prison at Haverigg, 2 miles away is the largest nearby employer.

There are 2 static caravan parks at Haverigg which provide some tourism income, and some holiday cottages also in Haverigg, mainly on the harbour front.

It owes it existence to the discovery of iron ore and the opening of mines and iron works in the 19th century. At the peak of production some half a million tons of iron ore were transported from here for smelting. By the 1970s the importance of this had declined and the town suffered economic depression. A film in the This England series was made about Millom and broadcast in 1979 by Granada Television.

Culture and community

Millom Palladium (a theatre, bar and full multi-functional venue) is a historic part of the town. Completed in 1911, it has stood on the site for over 100 years. This locally treasured building and entertainments venue is home to Millom Amateur Operatic Society (MAOS) founded in 1909 and is currently an ongoing project run and managed by a registered charity and group of volunteers with hopes to re-instate the cinema facility within the building. The facility currently hosts pantomime and music events and can be hired for weddings, balls, private parties etc. It has a full in-house 30KW PA with independent on stage monitor mixing and a full theatre Lighting system.

The Beggar's Theatre is a multi-function arts base with several activities, performing-arts based, for local talent and provides a venue for touring theatres, stand-up comedians etc. Run by Jakki Moore, the venue also offers a series of drama, dance and drumming workshops for children. They put on a summer arts festival every year.

Millom Network Centre, based in the grounds of Millom School, offers adult education, business and public meeting space, and other business services.

The Norman Nicholson Society promotes and explores the work of the town's most famous son, the writer Norman Nicholson, who spent his whole life in the town.

The town also has organisations providing services for the elderly in a number of venues. A number of sports organisations operate in the town; notably rugby and cricket as well as a thriving judo club. For the less physically active, a chess club exists as does a Scrabble club.


Millom Castle

St George's Church stands proud within the town on a small hill and with its steeple is the biggest landmark of the town being visible from quite a distance.

The area's bigger landmark is the significant hill of Black Combe standing 1970 feet above sea level. It forms a grand panoramic viewing platform of the Cumberland Lake District and offers view of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales - but only on a clear day.

Millom Discovery Centre (previously known as 'Millom Folk Museum' and 'Millom Heritage Museum And Visitor Centre') presents a snapshot of past times in Millom, paying particular attention to the historical development of the area brought about by the significant iron ore mining and iron works.

Millom Rock Park is situated high on the north rim of the nearby Ghyll Scaur Quarry in the parish of Millom Without. A viewpoint in the Rock Park permits views into the working quarry and overlooks the processing machinery. There is an avenue of 15 large rock specimens with detailed interpretation panels.

The former RAF Millom Museum closed in 2010.


There are two nature reserves near the town, both of which are located on the Duddon Estuary; an internationally important area for wildlife and designated a 'Site of Special Scientific Interest' or SSSI. The Hodbarrow Nature Reserve is owned by the RSPB and is located to the south of the town, which in October 2005, saw the unveiling of its new public aid, with logos produced by local artists Stuart Edwards and Holly Parminter. The Millom Iron Works Local Nature Reserve is located to the east of the town. Both reserves are important for Tern species and a number of wading birds and waterfowl. Hodbarrow is renowned for large numbers of wildfowl during the winter. Various birds of prey can be seen hunting on both reserves throughout the year.


  • Rugby League: Millom Rugby League Club: the oldest existing amateur rugby league club in the world, founded in 1873
  • Rugby Union

Outside links

St George's in the snow
("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Millom)


  1. Readers Digest Atlas of the British Isles, place name index.
  3. Images of England — details from listed building database (76329) Church of Holy Trinity
  4. Images of England — details from listed building database (76336) Church of St George
  5. "Millom, Cumberland". The Domesday Book Online. Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  6. Images of England — details from listed building database (76333) Millom Castle
  7. "The north-east view of Millum castle, in the county of Cumberland". Print, uncoloured engraving. Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, 1739, reprinted by Hudson Scott and Sons, Carlisle, Cumberland, 1877.. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  8. "1862 Cumberland 1:2,500". Landmark Information Group. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  9. "1898-1899 Cumberland 1:2,500". Landmark Information Group. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  10. "Furness Railway". Cumberland and Westmorland Archives.. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  11. Meade, Richard (1882). The coal and iron industries of the United Kingdom. pp. 427. 
  12. "DuddonEstuary_Booklet". Duddon Estuary Partnership. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  13. "The Furness Railway". The Cumbrian Railway Association. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  14. "Back to the future for Cumbria reservoir". United Utilities. Retrieved 9 December 2011.