Looking towards the dam on Stickle Tarn on grey day (Oct 1991)

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Comments (4)

pedrocut on August 18, 2010

Wainwright says that the Tarn was converted to a Reservoir for the former gunpowder works at Elterwater

David Brown Photogra… on August 19, 2010

Why did they make gun powder at Elterwater I wonder Peter?

I seem to remember the remains of the gun powder works there.... are they near or actually part of a hotel now?

Wow, what a set of memories you have triggered.

Cheers Jethro

pedrocut on August 19, 2010

Hi Jethro

Found this in search...

It is easy to think of Elterwater, and Langdale in general, as rough and primitive then, but it should not be considered as totally isolated from the outside world.  Even in the Stone Age, Langdale had its celebrated stone axe factory.  Very near where Irwin lived, four thousand years before, people had made axe-heads from the particularly hard rock high on the slopes of Pike O'Stickle.  And these axes travelled widely.  They have been found throughout Britain, and some even made it as far as Ireland and mainland Europe.

Forward to Irwin's time, the 19th century, and Langdale had worldwide connections.  The Elterwater Gunpowder Company was importing sulphur from Sicily and Texas, and saltpetre from Germany and South America.  These ingredients, mixed with local charcoal, made the gunpowder which was then packed into barrels (made by Irwin) and sent all over the world.  It went by cart to Pull Wyke staithe on the west shore of Windermere, then by boat to Lakeside, by cart again (or train after 1869) to Greenodd or Ulverston, by boat to Liverpool, and then by other boats to Africa, South America, the West Indies or wherever.  I like to think of Irwin's barrels (minus the gunpowder) ending their lives as drums in Africa or Rio de Janeiro, as was the practice at the time.  Empty drink barrels, you see, could be profitably recycled to contain consumables, but powder kegs were too contaminated by sulphur.  And we should not forget that gunpowder and other material goods were not the only things transported in the boats: fiddle tunes went too, and others came back.  Cultural communications were remarkably good in the 19th century.


Best wishes Peter

David Brown Photogra… on August 19, 2010

It was charcoal made from the local forests which are no more. I had it my head that it was something to do with graphite, but as that isn't a component I was having problem hanging it all together.

Did you know that Whitehaven was once one of the largest ports in England?

Cheers Jethro

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on August 18, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by pedrocut
    • Camera: Plustek OpticFilm 7300