20th century Solway
Changes to the Solway Coast’s infrastructure are some of the defining points of the 20th century in this part of the county.
Other than the Cumbrian Coast line which links Carlisle with the other gateway towns of the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and beyond down to Barrow in Furness, none of the railways continued to run. The Solway Junction Railway which once crossed over into Scotland also closed.
Bigger, wider, roads were created, like the A595 which ties the coastal communities together.
Airfields were built and have become part of the Solway’s wartime heritage.
Industry changed again too. The ports of the Solway were overtaken by the success of the likes of Liverpool so less sea-bound traffic is seen. Farming changed too as the small tenant farmers needed to operate on a more commercial scale. That’s one of the area’s success stories – the area around our gateway town of Aspatria is now the second biggest milk producing area in the UK.
Tourism reached its peak in Silloth from the late 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century – a guide book from the time stated: “The amount of ozone found in the atmosphere is much greater than at any other place in the British Isles…this, combined with the almost complete absence of fog, renders Silloth a particularly desirable place for invalids.”
Throughout the 1900s this trend continued as new holiday parks sprung up right around the town and along the coast in both directions. The promenade we see in Silloth today was created in the 1950s.
It was in December 1964 that this area of the Solway Coast was officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in recognition of the quality of its landscape and its significant historic and scientific interest.
The 20th century on the Solway saw, in many ways, the reverse of what has gone before – in a good way for the environment.
Where the wetlands were drained for farming and peat harvesting, work began to reinstate the mires, raising the water level and restoring the rich bog vegetation. That has benefited the wildlife population and the area’s plantlife as those wetlands slowly come back to life.