I decided to take a less usual scenic route as an opening to my first blog post on Barrow – mainly as I’d been drawn by the delights of Cornerhouse Park on Hindpool Road, the one time ‘thoroughfare’ of Barrow’s heavy industries – the steel and wireworks and Cairds Foundry where my grandfather worked for over twenty years before and after the Second World War.
The junction with Abbey Road has two very interesting buildings; the first, Barrow’s Custom House Restaurant, which was once, as its name suggests, connected with the town’s maritime history.
The Custom House, 1 Abbey Road, Barrow
Directly opposite the Custom House is the striking Art Deco frontage of the former John Whinnerah Institute. Sympathetically restored, this one-time education services office houses two retail units for major chains.
Doorway (now unused) of the former John Whinnerah Institute, Abbey Road, Barrow
The diversity of Barrow’s buildings is amply illustrated with the old Fire Station (opened 1910) just along from the Custom House on Abbey Road and of the ‘Place of Doom’ the post-war Abbey Road Clinic where countless Barrovian children received their NHS dental treatment. The Clinic is still operational (pun intended), but the fire service has moved to purpose built premises. This grand old building is now retail premises.
Barrow’s former Fire Station
Abbey Road Dental Clinic
Thankfully, the weather held fair for my walk down Abbey Road towards Ramsden Square. Named for the founding father of Barrow, Sir James Ramsden, the square shows to its best advantage during the spring and summer, with well-tended flower boxes and baskets.
Two views of Ramsden Square, Barrow
Of course it’s impossible to ignore Barrow’s main library which is on the Square. However, the date stone above the doorway (1915) is somewhat misleading as the actual building wasn’t opened until 1922 when crowds of people attended.
Entrance to Barrow Central Library, Ramsden Square
My walk then took me towards the town centre proper, coming off Ramsden Square and heading along Duke Street towards Barrow’s imposing Town Hall
Looking from Ramsden Square along Duke Street to Barrow Town Centre
I was rather struck by these unusual windows over a complete block of buildings on Duke Street. Of course, Barrow hasn’t the centuries old housing or commercial building stock which other places can boast of, but it’s surprising what treasures can appear if you look at roof-lines and other out of the way places.
Canopied windows on Duke Street
From the old to the not so old: Barrow’s Housing Offices which stand at the junction of Duke Street and Cavendish Street. I remember when the old Electricity Showrooms occupied the site during the 1950s/60s.
Barrow Housing Offices
By now I reached the town centre and the Victorian Gothic gem which is Barrow Town Hall. Love it or hate it, this building is synonymous with Barrow and its boom-town years of the late 1800s
Barrow Town Hall
And a final bow to the new – directly opposite the Town Hall stands the 20th/21st century Forum arts centre and the adjoining indoor market.
The Forum, Duke Street and adjoining indoor market
Thanks for accompanying me on my walk. Next time, another route, different photos.
All photographs (c) Sheila Littleton, 21 August 2012.