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The local area guide to living in Barrow-in-Furness

Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, North West England is a town and borough, and the second largest town in the county. It sits right beside the Lake District, which offers spectacular hiking opportunities.

Barrow started out in the middle ages as a tiny hamlet built around Furness Abbey, which was desiccated in 1537 by Henry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteries. In 1846, during the Industrial Revolution, iron prospector Henry Schneider brought the railway to Barrow and thereafter the town changed dramatically. Factories for the production of steel were constructed and, eventually, the Barrow Hematite Steel Company became the world's largest.

The natural deposits and steel making infrastructure also meant Barrow was an important producer of ships during World War I and II, after which the steel-making industry shrank and closed down. Vickers shipyard remained as a primary employee, but the end of the cold war saw less military spending and therefore greater unemployment in Barrow. However, today the energy sector has picked up some of the slack and is a major employer in the area.

Barrow is known for its strong working class identity. During the height of its industrial years, it was nicknamed the English Chicago and has more recently been described as the Capital of Blue-Collar Britain.

Information about the local residents

Barrow-in-Furness has a total population of around 69,000 people as of the 2011 census. That is down from 72,000 in 2001, a 4% decrease and the largest population loss in the UK during that time period.

Ethnically, Barrow is overwhelmingly White British with 97% of people describing themselves as such. The local population is descended from the original Celtic, Cornish and Scandinavian settlers, as well as migrants from Scotland, Ireland and other parts of England. More than 70% of people describe themselves as Christian, with only 28.4% saying they had no religion, indicating that Barrow is relatively religious for modern England.

Barrow has a mean age of 41.3, a little over the national average of 39.3, and nearly a fifth of people are of retirement age, while 16% are under 16. 36.6% of people own their own home outright and 36.9% with a mortgage. Both figures are higher than the national average, which is likely a reflection of relatively low property prices.

In terms of social grade, Barrow is relatively poor. Only 15.5% of households belong to social grade AB, which compares to 22.9% for England. 25.4% are C1, while for England that figure is 30.9%. More than half of people, therefore, belong to C2 or DE.

Nearby schools

Barrow-in-Furness has a large number of schools serving the local population. There are five infant schools, five junior schools, several nurseries, and fifteen state primary schools. These feed into three state secondary schools: Furness Academy, St Bernard's Catholic High School, and Walney School.

Chetwynde is a formerly independent school, now a state free-school, which educates children all the way from 4 to 18.

For further education, there is Barrow-in-Furness Sixth Form College, which focuses on academic subjects, as well as Furness College, which is a primarily vocational establishment.

Getting around

Established in 1846, the railway station offers excellent connections on the Cumbrian Coast Line to Carlisle, Workington, and Whitehaven. On the Furness Line, it also offers links to Lancaster and Ulverston, where passengers can move on to the West Coast Mainline.

For motorists, the primary trunk road is the A590 which connects to the M6 through the Lake District. There are also some very good and regular bus services operated by Stagecoach North West.

Barrow also has a small airport, with Manchester being the nearest major airport.

Local shops

Dalton Road is the main shopping strip, along with Portland Walk, Scott Street, Crellin Street and Cavendish Street.

Through the town are hundreds of shops, - including famous brands like Top Shop, H Samuel, New Look, and River Island - as well as a large array of smaller specialist shops.


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