Book review by Steve Matthews of Bookends.
Stanwix by Denis Perriam. P3 Publications. £15
The square Roman Fort at Stanwix lay just to the north of where Brampton Road runs today. Its 9.79 acres covered the land to beyond Kell’s Place and included the ground where St Michael’s Church now stands. Once thought to have been named for the ala Petriana, which was the senior auxiliary regiment of the Roman army in Britain, it is now known to have been called Uxelodum, or the ‘High Fort’.
The first records of the name Stanwix are from the middle of the twelfth century, when it occurs variously as ‘Staynweuga’ and ‘Stanweg’, meaning “stone wall”.
The church is mentioned in 1599 by Reginald Bainbridge, who describes it as “a verie ancyent churche, but ruinous”. A painting by Sam Bough shows the ancient building as it was in the years prior to its demolition in 1841. It was a simple, whitewashed building with narrow windows, a slated roof and a small bell-housing. A large number of gravestones crowd round the building. The new church, a far larger building, cost £3030 and was consecrated on 23 June, 1842. Three years later a fire four days before Christmas caused the church to be closed for six months.
There had been a bridge across the Eden in Roman times. In 1570 a breach of the river along the channel of Priest Beck prompted the building of two new bridges after an Act of Parliament was passed in 1601. Two centuries later, the two bridges were replaced by a single bridge designed by Robert Smirke, who was later to be the architect responsible for the British Museum. In 1931-32 the bridge was widened to cope with the ever-increasing flow of traffic.
The old thatched cottages which stood at the junction of Scotland Road and Brampton Road were demolished in 1904. The spacious houses on the estate across the road, the ones forming Devonshire Terrace and Cavendish Terrace and Cromwell Terrace, were built between 1829 and 1851 on land which belonged to the Duke of Devonshire.
At about the same time houses were built lining the north side of Etterby Street. The street was described as being “most pleasantly situated overlooking the Eden, the Castle, Cathedral and the southern range of mountains”.
There were public houses in Stanwix. There was The Drove of Cattle, The Crown and Thistle and The Bird in Hand, amongst others. The Crown was occupied in 1819 by a certain John Carruthers. Over the century before it became part of the State Management Scheme on 24 August, 1916, it was in the hands successively of John Fish, John Johnstone, John Sanderson and James Wood.
Elsewhere, on the land to the north of the city, other estates developed at St Ann’s Hill, Etterby Village, Deer Park, Belah, Knowefield, Moorville and elsewhere.
There were schools. Stanwix Boys School was originally in the small cottage which still stands at the junction of Scotland Road with Knowefield Avenue. In 1886 it was replaced by a new school in ‘Queen Anne Style’ in Mulcaster Crescent.
The Art College was built on Brampton Road. There was a Stanwix Reformatory, a Bowling Club, a Home for Incurables, The Miles McInness Hall, Austin Friars School, the Etterby Mission Hall, the Caledonian Hall, the Kingmoor Railway Yards, a speedway and curling at Moorville, and brickworks and much, much more.
This is a wonderful volume crammed with the history of a Carlisle suburb. Buildings and other aspects of the Stanwix landscape are brought to historical life by Denis Perriam’s detailed and informed comments. The book is illustrated throughout with pictures that conjure up the Stanwix of years gone by.
Denis Perriam has provided a comprehensive picture of Stanwix which will be a delight to everyone who lives in the area.