The Sir John Barrow Monument

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The Sir John Barrow Monument

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The monument was built in 1850 by public subscription as a memorial for Sir John Barrow. It can be seen from many miles and has become a symbol for the town. It stands on the 450 ft high summit of Hoad Hill overlooking Ulverston and Morecambe Bay. It is a Grade II * listed building and is sometimes known locally as Hoad Monument.

Sited approximately one mile from Morecambe Bay, the Sir John Barrow Monument is 100ft tall. It is built of limestone quarried from nearby Birkrigg Common. It was modelled on the earlier Eddystone Lighthouse built in 1759 by John Smeaton. The monument has an internal spiral staircase of 112 narrow steps leading to the lantern chamber, which has never had a functional light. Sir John Barrow's two sons, Sir George Barrow and John Barrow, laid the foundation stone of the monument on 15 May 1850. This was undoubtedly a memorable day in Ulverston's history, when 8,000 citizens climbed Hoad Hill for the ceremony. The monument was completed on 9 January 1851.

The original plans show a room that was constructed in the basement of the Monument to house the lighthouse keeper. The official position of lighthouse keeper has been continuously maintained although the keeper is no longer in residence. The keeper looks after the monument and opens it to the public on behalf of the Sir John Barrow Trustees.

In 2003 the Monument was in need of major repair, mainly due to ingress of water and had to be closed to the public. On March 2008, Ulverston Town Council (the owner of the Monument) was successful in a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to repair the Monument. The total project cost was £1,120,000. The grant secured from HLF was £891,000. The remainder of the funding was raised from Ulverston Market Town Initiative, the Town Lands Trust, Cumbria County Council, South Lakeland District Council and the community at large, through the fund raising efforts of the Friends of Sir John Barrow Monument. A further £150,000 was granted by English Heritage to enhance the base of the Monument. Work on the restoration began in January 2009. The works included repair and conservation to the whole of the Monument, from the basement to the lantern chamber, improvement to lower level footpaths, new signage , marketing, webcams and footfall counters. Sir John Barrow's life and adventures, along with the history of the Monument are detailed inside on specially designed panels. The Monument was officially re-opened on 22nd August 2010 by Sir Anthony Barrow, the 7th Baronet of Ulverston.

The Friends of the Sir John Barrow Monument manage this website and details of how to get involved with the group and its activities can be found on the site, together with progress on development on the monument project.

Also visit : www.sirjohnbarrowmonument.co.uk

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A local inspiration

Sir John Barrow has long been an inspiration to the townspeople of Ulverston and in 1850 this Monument was built in memory of his achievements. Built from limestone quarried at nearby Birkrigg Common, the Monument stands 100ft high and is modelled on the famous Eddystone Lighthouse by John Smeaton which was built in 1759 off the coast of Devon which now stands in Plymouth. Sir John Barrow’s sons, Sir George Barrow and John Barrow, laid the foundation stone on 15th May 1850 and the Monument was completed on 9th January 1851. It cost £1,250 to build, a sumprimarily covered by public donations.

The lighthouse without a light

Although the Monument was designed to be a seamark, a stipulation laid down by Trinity House with their £100 donation, the Monument has never had a functional light. This gave rise to one of its many alternative names, the ‘Lighthouse without a Light’. It has been known by various names over the years but is most commonly known in the locality as the Hoad Monument. Inside the Grade II* listed building the 112 narrow steps of the spiral staircase lead up to the lantern chamber, which until recently was open on all sides but is now fully glazed. The original plans show a room in the basement of the Monument, intended for accommodation for the lighthouse keeper. The official position of lighthouse keeper has been continuously maintained.

Selecting the perfect site

The Monument stands on the 450ft summit of Hoad Hill offering enviable views of Morecambe Bay and the mountains of the Lake District and Pennines. It can be seen from many miles away and has become a symbol for the town of Ulverston over which it resides. Originally, several suggestions were made for where the Monument should be sited. Hoad Hill was finally chosen because it could be seen both from the bay and the canal. It was a popular choice with the townsfolk because of its pretty view of the school and church. Most importantly it had been a favourite spot of Sir John Barrow in his youth.

 

Laying the foundations

On the day of the foundation stone laying, the streets of Ulverston were colourfully decorated, the Parish Church bells rang out and the Ulverston Brass Band played in the Market Square. At 1.00pm Sergeant Major Bates of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry Cavalry marshalled the parade and set it on the route to Hoad Hill. Before laying the foundation stone Sir George Barrow was handed a silver trowel, a bottle containing the current coins of the Realm – Half Farthing, Farthing, Half Penny, Penny, Four Penny, Six Penny, Shilling, Florin, Half Crown, Crown, Half Sovereign and Sovereign – and a copy of the Ulverston Advertiser.

An eventful history

1851 - Susceptible to damage by lightning, the Monument was struck on 30th January 1851 only 21 days after completion. The Monument is now fitted with a lightning conductor.
1851 and 1853 - Despite regulations specifying that the cutting or inscribing of names in the stonework were strictly prohibited, vandalism to the stonework and door occurred as early as 1851. Two years later substantial re-pointing was required.
1855 - A tablet inscribed with the names of the Monument’s subscribers was added inside the building.
1897 - Local people celebrated Queen Victoria’s Jubilee by lighting a fire on Hoad Hill. Unfortunately the heat generated from the fire beacon sited next to the Monument caused considerable damage to its surface, which required a limestone encasement for the entire edifice to protect it against damp.
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1950 - Centenary celebration of the laying of the Foundation Stone.
1969 - The Monument was closed for repairs due to external structural defects. The outer skin was encased in reinforced cement at a cost of £7,000
1990-2000 - Electric spotlights were added. The Monument can now be seen for miles at night.
2000 - The 150 year celebrations of the laying of the foundation stone included ‘Nelson’ abseiling from the top of the Monument, bands, re-constructions of the life of Sir John Barrow, street theatre and fireworks.
Education
2003 - The Monument was again closed to the public as it was judged to be in need of major repair. Discussions with Heritage Lottery Fund began regarding restoration works to return the Monument to its original splendour. The Friends of the Sir John Barrow Monument group was formed. Restoration was completed in August 2010.

Education Questions

Key Stage 1

Geography and History

  1. If you were going to build a monument on top of Hoad Hill, what would it be of? Would it be of a famous person, a pop star, a celebrity, something that you like about Ulverston, or would it be about something that is about to happen, like the Olympics. Decide on what it would be and make a drawing.
  2. The monument is in the shape of a lighthouse but doest work as one. On the Internet look at where the nearest other real lighthouse is in Britain. Why do sailors need lighthouses? What do you think might happen to ships if there were no lighthouses?
  3. The monument started to be built in 1850. That’s over 150 years ago. What other really big things have happened during that time. What major events can you remember? Ask your family what they can remember in their lives and when they happened.

Key Stage 2

  1. Some of the monument is built out of limestone. Where is the nearest area of limestone pavement to Ulverston? Where did the limestone for the monument come from? Find out why is it protected and what different types of plants and animals can be found in this type of environment.
  2. The picture on the front page shows a bonfire being built next to the Monument. It was to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. How many years does this celebrate? Her great, great granddaughter Queen Elizabeth 11 is celebrating her golden jubilee in 2012. How many years is this? Describe the different things they might have experienced during their lives. For example Queen Victoria was on the throne when cars were invented. Queen Elizabeth was on the throne when men landed on the moon for the first time in 1969. What other major events in world history would they have lived through?
  3. Draw a map of Hoad Hill and show where all of the footpaths are. Draw things that you might see on the way including animals and birds and features in the landscape. If you go up on Hoad Hill tell your teacher what you can see. On a nice day you might be able to see Blackpool Tower. What else can you see?