Book Review by Steve Matthews
Denton Holme by Denis Perriam. P3 Publications. £15
Denton Holme is “a friendly village within a city”.
In Roman times it was outside the city on the major road leading west. Roman funerary monuments have been found at Murrell Hill along the line of the road.
In the late Middle Ages the area was owned by the Denton family. The “holme” referred to the area of land between the River Caldew and the mill race which ran from Holme Head to Willow Holme.
Originally the mill race powered two corn mills, but as Carlisle became more prosperous in the eighteenth century, the mill race served to power other enterprises.
In 1775, James Losh was operating a calico stampery. In 1817, William Bentley and Joshua Ireland were spinning cotton at the Holme Head Works.
In 1828, premises at Holme Head were taken by Joseph Ferguson. He had begun business in his own right at the Friggate Works where he dyed and finished cotton goods. The firm expanded rapidly in the nineteenth century with a finishing mill and spinning and weaving sheds. Ferguson Brothers continued in operation until 1991, when it closed with the loss of 200 jobs.
Over the last two hundred years many other businesses shaped the life of Denton Holme. William Carrick’s Hattery transferred to South Vale from Wapping in 1871 when the Citadel Station was expanded. They were taken over by Kangol in 1954, who expanded the original business first into the making of motorbike helmets and then into seat belt manufacture.
In the 1860s Palmer and Story were making taffeta, silk and umbrella cloths at the Holme Works.
In the early twentieth century, Messrs RR Buck were employing up to five hundred people in the manufacture of underwear, pyjamas and shirts.
Alexander Morton developed Morton Sundour on Murrell Hill into a leading fashionable textile manufacturer. The business was taken over by Courtaulds in 1963 only to close twenty years later with the loss of 350 jobs.
Many other businesses, not least the Cumberland News, made their home in the suburb.
Denton Holme was also a thriving community. Constable Street was named after the works manager at Holme Head. Nelson Street took its name from Thomas Nelson who owned the Nelson Marble works. Trafalgar and Collingwood Street were named in “the mistaken belief that Nelson Street was named after the admiral”.
St James’s Church cost £4,500 and was opened in 1867. Six years earlier, the Congregational Church had opened in Charlotte Street.
Robert Ferguson School began taking pupils in 1904. The school came to incorporate the Morley Street School which had opened more than twenty years earlier.
Above everything, Denton Holme was a self-sufficient community. It had its shops, including ice-cream and fish and chip shops, and pubs and the usual range of services, including its own cinema.
Denis Perriam’s latest book on Carlisle suburbs, brings together a wealth of information and a vast treasury of photographs to tell the story of a very special community.