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Grid reference: SD210775
Location: 54°11’20"N, 3°12’14"W
Population: 3,632  (2001)
Post town: Askam-in-Furness
Postcode: LA16
Dialling code: 01229
Local Government
Council: Westmorland & Furness
Barrow and Furness

Askam-in-Furness is a village in Lancashire, on the shore of the Duddon Estuary which marks the county boundary with Cumberland to the west. A perilous footpath leads out from here across the sands of the estuary and the river to Millom in the latter county.

Askam sits immediately west of Ireleth, which is a little inland. The two villages have grown together and share a parish council. Askam is much younger than its neighbour; it was established following the discovery of large quantities of iron ore near the village in the middle of the 18th century.

The nearby River Duddon estuary and surrounding countryside have made the area well known for its wildlife,[1] while the villages' exposed position on the eastern bank facing the Irish Sea have encouraged the establishment of wind energy generation, amid local controversy.


The south side of the pier

Askam's history starts much more recently. In 1850, iron ore deposits were discovered in the area by William Schneider. These turned out to be the second largest iron ore deposits in the country, with over 7 million tons of ore extracted. By 1896, 547 men were employed in the pits by the village and in nearby Roanhead, 347 of them underground. Several hundred others worked in local mines at Mouzell (between Ireleth and Dalton-in-Furness), Roanhead and Dalton.[2] They were all owned by the Kennedy Brothers Ltd. firm of Ulverston or the Millom and Askam Iron Company. The latter built four blast furnaces in the village to smelt the iron ore being brought from mines all over the peninsula by rail.[3]

The village continued to grow with terraced houses and allotments erected for the flood of immigrant labour needed to work the mines.[4] They came from all parts of the British Isles, with a large proportion coming from existing mining areas in Cornwall and Ireland. The Cornish in particular tended to bring their families and settle, while the Irish often moved on to wherever there was work. Others came from areas where Askam's mine owners had other concerns.[5]

Remnants of the steel industry remain in Askam, as evidenced by a pier, consisting of slag from the works, that juts out into the bay toward Millom.[4] Also, numerous streets are named after the industry and its owners. For example, 'Steel Street' is so named because of the steel industry; 'Sharp Street' is named after Joseph Sharp, one of the earliest people involved in Askam's steel industry; and 'Crossley Street' after William Crossley, an early investor in the Askam steel industry.[6] The large numbers of slag banks left by the steel industry around the village are now important sites for wildlife.[7] By 1918, the iron ore had run out and most of the industrial buildings were demolished in 1933.[4] Since then, Askam has grown with commuter homes, exploiting the views over the Duddon Estuary to the Lake District.

Askam has a fountain commemorating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.


Askam is named Askeham in 1535 and is thought to be "Ash (tree) home", whether from the Norse askr or the Old English æsc (pronounced "ash" in the south, but in the north we cannot tell).

The suffix "-in-Furness" is given from its position on the Furness peninsula: it is a label borne by a number of towns and villages here, such as Barrow-in-Furness and Dalton-in-Furness.


The parish church is St Peter's in Ireleth, standing atop Ireleth Hill, and is the oldest of the churches in the two villages.

Duddon Road Church in Askam, shared with the Church of England and is the headquarters of the local scouts, cubs, beavers, rainbows and brownies.[8]

The churches in Askam and in Ireleth are:

  • Church of England:
    • St Peter's, Ireleth
    • Duddon Road Church, Askam, shared with the Methodist Church

The Temperance Hall in Ireleth was once used as a church. Others were active too in past days; Zion, on Beach Street, Askam, was a Primitive Methodist church, founded in 1870 and closed in 1985, and a United Methodist Church in Askam, now used as a social club. The Gospel Hall on Duke Street closed in 2007.



The geological make-up of the area is extremely important to the foundation of Askam, for it was built upon iron mining.

The upper slopes of the hill near Ireleth are home to dark blue slate and is found on the roofs of several local dwellings. Haematite, the bright red iron ore, was discovered in an exceptionally large deposit—the second largest in the country—south of the current villages in the 1840s. Askam sprung up on the Ireleth marshes as a home for the miners attacking the new deposit.

The other mineral found in large quantities, conveniently with a commercial use, is shale. This is fired with water to make red brick, and the brickworks, which is still operational today, was built in 1845 to exploit this.[9]


Much wildlife is found on the Duddon Estuary, perhaps most notably 20% of the national Natterjack toad population, who are attracted to the shallow breeding pools. The slagbanks around Askam are also very important as nesting sites for the rare Sandwich terns that live in the area.[1] The beach is designated a "Site of Special Scientific Interest" because of the range of flora and fauna present on the sands.[10]

Wind energy

The Askam and Ireleth Wind Farm can be found a mile an a half east of the village, on the southern slopes of Hare Slack Hill. Work on the turbines started in late 1998, and the wind farm took eight months to complete.

The Marton, Askam and Ireleth Windfarm Action Group (MAIWAG) was one of the first such organisations in the UK dedicated to fighting windfarm development.[11]


Many sports facilities and teams are shared between Ireleth and Askam:

  • Rugby League: Askam Amateur RLFC, formed in 1879 and playing at Fallowfield Park
  • Football:
    • Askam United FC, playing at Duddon Sports and Social Club
    • Duddon Sports Junior Football Club
  • Golf: Dunnerholme Golf Club, with a 10-hole links golf course. The course has one particularly interesting feature, namely a green atop Dunnerholme Rock,[12] a large uneroded limestone rock which stands out from the surrounding flat course and sands.[7] The golf club has been in existence since 1905.[13]

Village halls

There are three village halls (and a fourth, the Temperance Hall, in Ireleth)

  • Community Centre (formerly part of Askam School)
  • Band Hall in Sandy Lane, the home of the local Brass Band and venue for dances in the village
  • Rankin Hall


There is a lifeboat station, home of the Duddon Inshore Rescue, that was established in 1970.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Askam and for Ireleth)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hutchinson, Kate. "Duddon Estuary Wildlife". Duddon Estuary Partnership. Archived from the original on 6 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  2. Hedley, John L. (1896). Lancashire's Mining Industry in 1896 – A List of Metalliferous Mines. Britain's Active Mining History Society. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  3. Baggerly, Phil. "A gallery of West Cumbrian railway wagon destination cards"., a tribute to the Workington iron and steel industry. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Askam in Furness Cumbria". The Cumbria Directory. Archived from the original on November 20, 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  5. "Migration and Movement". Furness Family History Society. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  6. Maclean, Mark:A Short History of Ireleth and Askam-in-Furness
  7. 7.0 7.1 Thomson, Rona. "The Duddon Estuary" (PDF). The Duddon Estuary Partnership. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  8. Wakefield, Bill. "Cumbria's Places of Worship". BBC. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  9. "Geology of Furness & Cumbria". Lindal and Martin Community Website. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  10. "Nature on the Map :: Maps" (Flash). Natural England.,sssi-su,HYPERLINK. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  11. "Living With Wind Turbines". MAIWAG. 2004. Archived from the original on 2006-04-20. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  12. "Dunnerholme Golf Club". UK Golf Guide. Archived from the original on 11 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  13. "Dunnerholme Golf Club". Dunnerholme Golf Club. Archived from the original on 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2007-03-10.