The port prospered from the tobacco and coal trade in the 18th and 19th centuries and had trade links all over the world. As a result, handsome period townhouses began to pop up, which continue to give the town its distinctive Georgian and early Victorian flavour today.
A recent multi-million pound regeneration project has given the historic 17th-century harbour a new lease of life. What’s more, the rugged countryside of the Lake District National Park is also within easy driving distance.
House prices complete its appeal. The average is currently an affordable £136,000, well below that of Cumbria overall. However, if you want one of the prized listed properties, you will have to dig a little deeper. Take a look at the latest figures here.
Living in Whitehaven: what to expect
The focal point of Whitehaven is its harbour, which has now been re-vamped with nautical sculptures, lighting and a picturesque marina. You can stroll along the quays, visit one of the waterfront restaurants or bars, or look out for the occasional visit from a tall sailing ship.
Its streets are characterised by neat grids of colourful Georgian and Victorian townhouses, many of which stand three storeys high.
The town has a number of schools, some of which have received top ratings from Ofsted. Kells Infant School, for instance, was rated as ‘outstanding’ at its last inspection.
Beyond Whitehaven, there is plenty of opportunity to hike, cycle and horse ride in the Lake District National Park.
Where to start your property search
If you want to snap up a period townhouse, you have plenty of choice. Queen Street has a number of stately terraced Georgian townhouses, many of which are double-fronted. If you’re looking for something smaller, opt for one that has been converted into flats.
Alternatively, look on Oakbank for pastel-coloured, three storey Georgian townhouses with bay windows, high ceilings and fireplaces. These homes also have large front gardens.
More double-fronted townhouses can be sought on Wellington Row, which is conveniently close to the train station, or Irish Street, which has five-bedroom versions.
To be close to the harbour, look on roads such as Cross Street. Three-bedroom, three-storey townhouses are available here, many of which have decent-sized gardens.
For a Victorian home, take a look at the large detached properties on Inkerman Terrace, some of which have as many as eight bedrooms. Features typically include original staircases, ornate cornicing, white stuccoed fronts and columns on front porches.
Hensingham Road also has attractive Victorian homes with ornate doorways. Some have original features such as patterned tiled floors and stained-glass leaded windows. Slightly more modest versions are available on Lonsdale Place, which has properties with big bay windows.
For more luxurious properties, look along streets such as Victoria Road, which snakes out of the town. Houses are typically semi-detached with bay windows and distinctive pastel-coloured rendering. Some properties have their own swimming pools and large mature gardens – and the most desirable have views over open countryside.
More modern houses are on the market too. Colliers Way is a relatively modern development of executive family homes. Look here for four- and five-bedroom properties that boast attached garages and views over the sea. More executive homes can be found at Wilson Howe, a brand new development on the very edge of the town.
For a contemporary apartment, check out Pears House. Luxury apartments here have two bedrooms, underfloor heating and balconies with views over the marina. Bardywell Heights is also worth exploring. These modern flats are located on the edge of the marina and many also have balconies offering sea views.
Getting around Whitehaven
By rail: Whitehaven has two stations, one at Bransty (known as Whitehaven station) and another at Corkickle. Both are served by the Cumbrian Coast Line. Trains to Barrow-in-Furness and Carlisle take 90 minutes and 75 minutes respectively.
By car: The main road in the area is the A595. It runs from Whitehaven north to Workington and then on towards Carlisle. Follow it south to trail through the national park and along the coast.
By air: Newcastle International Airport can be reached in two hours by car. From here, you have a choice of 80 destinations including Berlin, Madrid and Dubai. Budget airlines easyJet, Flybe and Ryanair all operate from the airport.
Things to do in Whitehaven
History: The refurbished Beacon unveils the history and development of the Copeland region. Learn about the local heritage, present your own forecast in The Weather Zone and check out the view via the telescopes in the Viewing Gallery.
The Rum Story, set in the original shop, courtyards, cellars and warehouses of the Jefferson family, tells the story of the UK rum industry. It brings history to life by ‘transporting’ you to a Caribbean island as well as walking you through the slave trade and American prohibition.
Climb the narrow stairway to the top of St Nicholas Church’s tower and see the workings of its 150-year-old clock. The church was built in 1693 although a fire in the 1970s destroyed all but its clock tower and main entrance.
Cultural: The Solway Hall in the Civic Hall is a local venue that shows music, drama, variety acts and performances by a local youth theatre group. The new Rosehill Theatre, once its £2.6m renovation is complete, will also showcase a mix of theatrical, musical and dance productions.
Outdoors: Follow the Whitehaven Maritime Walk. Its 1.8 mile route tours what was once one of Britain’s largest ports, starting at the Whiting Shoal sculpture and curving round the Old Quay. For a much longer route, follow the C2C cycleway, which starts in Whitehaven.
Castle Park is a traditional park in the heart of the town. Its tree-lined paths, adventure playground and stone bandstand are a favourite with families and dog-walkers.
Whitehaven is only a short distance from a stretch of heritage coast. St Bees Head has the largest seabird colony on the west coast of England and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. You can climb the red sandstone cliffs to admire views of the coast and Cumbrian mountains and visit the Norman priory, which dates from 1120.
Shopping: Take advantage of a selection of specialist and independent shops. Stop by Michael Moons Antiquarian Bookshop for an array of books and prints, or check out the wines in Richardson’s & Sons Wine Merchants. Larger stores, such as Argos and Asda, can also be found in the town.
Whitehaven’s market area has recently been overhauled and now has 40 stalls selling goods such as cheese and sweets. It’s open every Thursday and Saturday.
Food and drink: The Waterfront offers local seasonal food throughout the day. Pop in for afternoon tea, with or without a glass of fizz, or meet friends for cocktails and dinner. Dishes include cider-cured loin of cod as well as wild boar Cumberland sausage.
Hearty home-cooked food can be found at The Globe Inn. Two real ales, including one from a Cumbrian brewery, are always on tap alongside other beers and wines. The Sunday lunch is particularly popular, as are the homemade ‘slab’ pies and chip butties.
In April 1778, Whitehaven became the last place in Britain to be attacked by American naval forces. The commander took the harbour fort and spiked its guns during the attack before retreating. You can still see the remains of the old fort that was attacked by wandering along the harbour.
5 reasons to live in Whitehaven
- Handsome Georgian and Victorian architecture
- Regenerated harbour
- Excellent schools
- Near to the Lake District National Park
- Interesting local history
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