Historical figures of Whitehaven’s mines.


There are a lot of people who are recognised in the coal industry as some of the “fatherly figures” of the business and many of them used to actually work in the Whitehaven mines.

Sal Madge

Sal madge was a famous Whitehaven character who worked with colliery horse and dressed and behaved in a masculine manner. this was probably due to the nature of the work she was doing and the “manly” dress she wore was only practical. she was even known for wrestling with men for sport and smoked a pipe. her funeral was attended by hundreds suggesting she was pretty famous and recognised by the residents of Whitehaven.

Carlisle Spedding

Carlisle Spedding was a mining engineer, an inventor, businessman, merchant, architect and even at times an industrial spy. he sank many mine shafts but was well known for developing safety inside the mines. due to his actions there were significant changes to what happened in the mines but the risks were still huge. he is also recognised for helping with the construction of St. John’s church in the middle of Whitehaven town centre.

Lowther family

The Lowther family were a very wealthy family and were known to have built the harbour in Whitehaven. They were also known due to the fact that they own substantial amounts of major local mines and were responsible for developing large scale coal mining in the area.

Sydney and Sir Robert Smirke.

Robert Smirke was born in London. he was a leading architect of the Greek Revival, and had a large London-Based practice, much of which was concerned with public buildings.

Places in Cumbria that were designed by Sir Robert Smirke were ones such as:

  • Lowther Castle
  • St Lawrence’s Church
  • Carlisle Assizes
  • Appleby Cloisters
  • Whitehaven Market Hall
  • Hames Hall – Cockermouth
  • Eden Bridge – Carlisle
  • Edenhall Mansion – Edenhall
  • Edmond Castle – Hayton
  • St. Peter’s Church – Askam
Sydney Smirke was Robert Smirke’s younger brother and pupil. He designed places in Whitehaven such as The Wellington Pit surface buildings and the buildings numbered 19 and 20 on Irish street.

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