Allerdale and West Cumbria Today

Britain’s Energy Coast is a far cry from its industrial past – bringing greater economic success with clean energy, tourism and residential development.

The borough of Allerdale, with the town of Workington serving as its principal seaport, is regarded by many as the business hub of West Cumbria. This is the part of England’s North West where an economic transformation is drawing young people to move there – to sop up jobs in the diversifying economy, which enjoys particularly strong tailwinds provided by the energy sector.

This is a recent phenomenon. Capital growth land opportunities weren’t quite so strong ten years ago, when the region (West Cumbria) was losing its position as a manufacturing and shipbuilding hub. Between just the years 2000 and 2005, 28 per cent of manufacturing and 13 per cent of public administration jobs were lost.

Rather rapidly, however, things began to rebuild. The extant nuclear industry created a foothold for the energy industry, and that has since evolved to include a remarkable amount of wind energy shipping (from the port of Workington) and installations in the coastal area. Dubbed “Britain’s Energy Coast,” West Cumbria has developed a global reputation and expertise in nuclear energy and clean renewable technologies. Wind farms dot the coast while a solar park proposed for Moor House Farm in Winscales, near Workington, will power an additional 1,200 households.

Advanced manufacturing capabilities remain and are projected to grow – drawing the much-needed capital that supports new enterprise and the infrastructure necessary to facilitate it. These include companies engaged in submarine construction, biopharmaceuticals and LED business clusters.

While all of these factors represent the future, certain gifts of the area’s past are keys to Allerdale’s and West Cumbria’s economic fortunes. The area includes Britain’s famed Lake District, bodies of water framed by fells (hills), several of which tower more than 3,000 feet above sea level. The deepest and longest lakes in England, Wastwater and Windermere are here. Tourism in the area has been a factor for hundreds of years, picking up in 1951 with the establishment of the Lake District National Park coincident to expanded availability of motorcars and the building of the M6 Motorway. Today, 12 million tourists visit the area annually.

This also happens to be the western end of Hadrian’s Wall, the onetime demarcation of the northernmost reach of the Roman Empire. Build in AD 122 to control movements of populations, attacking tribes and trade routes, it begins at Bowness-on-Solway in West Cumbria, and follows east to the English Channel at Tyne. Serving less contentious needs, that of visitors, hikers, bikers and gastronomists, the Wall is now part of the sizeable tourist industry today in this north-western reach of England. Complementing the Hadrian sites are the West Cumbria Cycle Network, a 72-mile bicycling roadway system that links Distington, Workington, Cockermouth, Harrington, Whitehaven, Cleator Moor and Ennerdale by way of the disused Cleator and Workington Junction Railway and minor roads.

Homes along these areas of natural beauty, bike railways and coastal areas are indeed attractive to homebuyers and land investors. But in particular, land fund managers find the gradual rise in businesses in the area a good reason to build new. Skilled workers drawn to the region will have the wherewithal and interest in new structures – including those environmentally minded people working in the renewable energy sector who seek power-efficient homes for themselves and their businesses.

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