This evening, I am focusing on the fascinating Cumbrian village of Allonby which is located in N.W. England in an area designated as one of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Allonby has a population of about 500 persons and is situated on the edge of the Solway Firth which faces Scotland. (Firth is a term used for bay or estuary.)
Although the area was occupied from at least the Roman period ( 2nd to 5th centuries AD), the name suggests Allonby might have evolved from a Viking farming settlement (of the late first millennium).
Allonby’s population experienced rapid growth between the late 17th and late 18th centuries centred on trade and its port. Onwards into the mid -19th century and Allonby had established a role as a holiday destination with emphasis on the new fad of sea bathing.
The properties standing today reflect social, religious, technological and educational changes, viz:
- The strong Quaker community as manifested in the Quaker Meeting House.
- Former water powered mill.
- Parish Church ( Episcopalian) which is relatively young by English standards, having evolved from a chapel built in 1743.
- Former bath house from 1836 which used steam technology to pump and heat water from the sea.
- The former Congregational Chapel with its emphasis on temperance ( abstention from alcohol).
- 19th century philanthropy in the form of social housing, still functioning at North Lodge.
- Reading Rooms opened in 1862 to encourage working-class education.
Today, Allonby is on the route of Hadrian’s Cycleway and is popular with walkers, cyclists and other visitors.