The town's origins go back to Roman times when it was first established as a supply base for the defence of Hadrian's Wall which, today of course, is a World Heritage site and one of the key tourist attractions in Cumbria.
In the 18th century the town was officially named Maryport (formerly it was called Ellenfoot). Humphrey Senhouse committed resources to developing the town as a sea port and Parliament gave permission for him to name the town after his wife, Mary.
In the 19th century Maryport flourished both as a port and as an industrial town. Shipyards opened, an iron foundry was established and coal mines opened up in the area. Then came the railways.
Maryport's connections with railways and shipbuilding are not just notable but indeed historic and today is an appropriate day to bring those two connections together.
First of all we consider the lives of 2 men whose names are synonomous with railways and shipbuilding ...
- George Stephenson - the man who built the first public railway line in the world - was the engineer in charge of the Maryport & Carlisle Railway. So he knew the town well.
- Thomas Henry Ismay - the founder of the famous White Star Line - was born in Maryport. The family home called 'The Ropery' was close to his grandfather's shipyard and this is where Thomas got his first job. It's said that he loved to chew tobacco as he walked around Maryport harbour and so got the nickname of 'Baccy Ismay'.
Today is April 15, the date the RMS Titanic sank in 1912 with the loss of 1,500 lives. One of the lives lost that day was that of Joseph Bell, the Chief Engineer onboard.
The young Joseph Bell was captivated by the idea of engineering and became an apprentice engine fitter at George and Robert Stephenson's locomotive manufacturing base in Newcastle. Then at the age of 24 Joseph Bell joined the White Star Line, owned by Thomas Henry Ismay. The rest, as they say, is history.