Askam and Ireleth

About Askam and Ireleth Black line
The Parish of Askam and Ireleth covers a large area, including Roanhead, Greenhaume, Greenscoe, Paradise, Dunnerholme and Marsh Grange, up to the boundary with Lindal and Martin and Dalton.

Askam in Furness is a small settlement near Barrow in Furness in Cumbria and together with its neighbouring village, Ireleth, commands a population of around 3,600 – a quarter of whom are aged 5 -24 years. In the Borough of Barrow in Furness, the Parish Council comes under the jurisdiction of Barrow Borough Council. We are represented by 3 Borough Councillors covering Dalton North. For County Council matters we are part of Cumbria County Council and have a County Councillor also for Dalton North.

Ireleth is the smaller and older of the two villages, with its origins stretching back to the Viking occupation of Britain with connections to the Manx Vikings. Its’ name in Norse means Hill slope of the Irish.

Askam in Furness famed for its excavation of iron ore, the village has long since relinquished its smelting works in favour of becoming a popular commuter belt for the larger surround towns of Barrow in Furness and Sellafield Nuclear Processing Plant along the coast. New housing developments have been construction making the most of the spectacular views over the Duddon estuary to the Lakeland hills and fells. Nominated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the range of both flora and fauna found here, including around 20% of the Nations Natterjack Toad population.

As a result of local traditions and family connections there is a still a deep sense of community here. Askam and Ireleth have strong sporting links focussed centrally on the local rugby and football clubs. Askam ARFLC was formed in 1879 and is one of the oldest Rugby League Clubs in existence.

There is a very active community in Askam and Ireleth with a wide variety of activities and groups including Askam and Ireleth History Society, the Carnival and Christmas Lights Committee, Duddon Inshore Rescue, Askam Old Age Pensioners Club, Women’s Institute and Sisterhood, Tea and Chat with Age Concern, a Crown Green Bowling Club and Indoor Bowling, Old Time Dancing and Line Dancing. The Temperance Hall in Ireleth holds regular entertainment events and is well attended.

A short history of Askam and Ireleth
It was originally clustered along a stream, named 'Hole Beck', about half a mile up the hill from the estuary below. It was also the junction of four roads passing through the area. Firstly, there was the 'Sands' road, named 'Marsh Lane' in maps of the 1850s, heading down the hill towards the shore, where it met one of the possible routes for crossing the treacherous tidal sands of the Duddon at low tide towards Millom. Secondly, there was the lane heading north along a ridge towards Kirkby-in-Furness. Part of these two roads form today's A595 main road. There was also a road leading up the stream's valley towards the hamlet of Marton, and finally a road east over the hills towards Furness Abbey.It is thought the village was included in the Domesday Book. During the Middle Ages, the entire area was controlled by the Cistercian monks of Furness Abbey. During this time, Ireleth was little more than one of many farming communities in Furness.

In 1860, Ireleth, along with the newly founded Askam, petitioned for the creation of its own parish following the rapid increase in population. Construction of a parish church began, with the money to build St. Peter's coming from the new-found profits of iron ore mining, giving rise to the name the 'Iron Church'. It was dedicated for use on St. Peter's Day, 29 June 1865 but approval for a new ecclesiastical parish of 'Ireleth-with-Askam' did not come until almost ten years later in 1874. The oldest pub in Ireleth was the bay Horse marked in 1842 as a beer shop cottages and garden. St Peters CE School celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2008.

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. 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. The village continued to grow with terraced houses and allotments erected for the flood of immigrant labour needed to work the mines. 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, such as Scotland and Wales. 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. 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. The large numbers of slag banks left by the steel industry around the village are now important sites for wildlife. By 1918, the iron ore had run out and most of the industrial buildings were demolished in 1933.