History of Lowca
As one starts to create and develop this website, especially the history side of Lowca it will grow, but its development would be greatly enhanced by the input of Lowca residents from their knowledge and hopefully backed up by pictorial records. Contributions from non-residents of Lowca would also be very welcome. Therefore as this website is launched the information is as accurate as records allow it to be and some of the facts have been gleaned from “A Celebration of the Lowca Millennium”, compiled by Lowca resident Ann Oliver.
Lowca can trace its history back to the Roman’s when during the period AD128 – AD138 there was a Roman fort on the site covering 3.5 hectares. The fort was known as, Gabrocentum. Although most people are familiar with the Roman’s Hadrian’s Wall they are probably not aware of their continued fortification built down the western Solway coast line.
A series of forts, fortlets and watchtowers overlooked that coast further defending the Roman’s frontiers. Gabrocentum was the most southerly of these defences. The fort’s name means “goat path” and it is assumed that name was derived from the path which ran from the fort down to the shore. Historians assume there would have been a small harbour below the fort. From items discovered in the area it is known the Roman soldiers based at the fort were of Lingonian and Thracian origin, areas we now know as France and Greece.
In Norse times the Vikings called the village Lowlijar which meant Low Sands. With the passage of time and when the foundry started to build trains, it appears the name became Lowca as we know it today.
Moresby Hall just to the south of the village is one of only three Grade 1 Historic buildings in Cumbria. For details of its history from reportedly 1150AD to current times, please see Visit Cumbria.
The nearby church of St Bridget’s is built outside the East Gate of what had been the Roman Fort.
Cumbria Archive Services records show that: Lowca Mixed School opened on 8 January 1877 with 52 children “in an exceedingly backward state of education.”
Lowca Under Bombardment in WW1
One of the beauties of investigating history and trying to establishing fact from fiction is one uncovers some interesting facts. It is certainly recorded correctly that on 16th August 1915, a German submarine, U 24, surfaced in Parton Bay and proceeded to shell Lowca.
For a true and lengthy report on the event which includes not only details of the bombardment and the Lowca Tar works response to the action, but also the locals reaction to the German born wife of the local MP who lived at Moresby Hall, see the Whitehaven News who republished the historical piece on 3rd May 2012.
Local Distington resident John Bowman has kindly provided another take on the event, in which the local tale was that it was Whitehaven that was shelled. There was even a local postcard produced of the “supposed event” which is reproduced below.
It clearly marks 13 points where shells were supposed to have landed. An original idea for what became “Spot the Ball” competitions? As John pointed out and the postcard clearly shows, the attack was reportedly on the hillside at Bransty, Whitehaven, rather than the actual location and target of Lowca and its tar works plant, situated further along the coast. Thank you John for providing such an interesting alternative supposed official report!!
Lowca’s Industry: Trains, Mining, Steel and Brickworks
To all who are visiting this website during its development will find this section is somewhat light on detail for one very obvious reason, the Lowca one see’s today with its very rural location, wind turbines and relatively quiet through roads, as most traffic by-passes on the A595 these days, does not tell the casual passer-by what went on from the middle of the 18th century, industrially.
It was a place that produced 245 locomotives for various railway companies. It had mines, it had heavy industry and therefore correctly documenting and researching what would be a true reflection of its rich and varied is not a 5 minute task.
Visitors to this website who are familiar with the intricacies of ancestry research will appreciate how factual and officially documented family events and anecdotal history passed down by word of mouth sometimes do not tally up. Researching Lowca’s past and the numerous sources available leads for too many contradictions and loose ends which need sorting and putting in correct chronological order before this section is made available.
The Parish Council part of this site needs to be made available sooner rather than later so this section will be up dated over the next few months. It will be worth the wait.