Walney Island

The Isle of Walney , also known as Walney Island , is an island off the west coast of England , at the western end of Morecambe Bay . It forms part of the town of Barrow-in-Furness , and it is separated from mainland Barrow by Walney Channel, a narrow channel which is spanned by the Jubilee Bridge . Walney is the largest island of the Furness Islands group, both in population and size, and is the largest in the Irish Sea . Its population at the 2011 UK Census was 10,651, distributed evenly across the island’s two Wards ofWalney North and Walney South . [1]

Walney Island formed during the last glacial period , when the Duddon River was a wide glacial lake , depositing till at its mouth, which became Walney. Some evidence of neolithicGutman has-been found in the island’s sand dunes , though icts Likely name is of Norse origin. [2] The island remained rural until the growth of Barrow-in-Furness’ industries in the nineteenth century. In particular, the development between 1867 and 1881 of docks at Barrow Island , in the Walney Channel opposite Walney, encouraged the growth of Walney as a settlement. The planned worker town ofVickerstown was built on the island in 1898, resulting in a large population increase, and the construction of Jubilee Bridge connecting Walney to the Mainland in 1908. Walney’s contemporary population now forms a segment of the overall population of Barrow-in-Furness . The island contains two nature reserves, at one end, and its sandy beaches make it a popular leisure site.


The name Walney is thought to come from Old Norse . Whilst the suffix ‘ey’ is a common feature of island names, the source of ‘waln’ is less clear. [2] The island is listed in the Domesday Book as Hougenai. [3] The manor of ‘Hougun’ – possibly modern day Millom – is listed in the book as owning the settlements of the Furness , so that ‘Hougenai’ appears to mean ‘island of Hougun’. The Old Norse word haugr means mound or hill. [4] However, other Norse etymologies have also been suggested for the source of the island’s name. [2]


Excavations of sand dunes on Walney have revealed evidence of late Neolithic / early Bronze Age settlements on the island, including a small amount of pottery. [5] Low Furness Was Extensively MOST inhabited by Norse settlers, [6] Likely traveling from Ireland or the Isle of Man , qui est reflected in Many local place names, Including Walney. [2] Through the Middle Ages , Walney and Furness were dominated by the monks of Furness Abbey , who constructed Biggar Dyke as flood defenses on the east coast of Walney. [7] During this time, Walney was largelyPastoral , and resides in the early Industrial Revolution : In his 1810-book guide to the Lakes , William Wordsworth describes “Walney’s early fields of corn” from the summit of Black Combe . [8]

However, Walney was soon caught up in the rapid expansion of industry at Barrow-in-Furness . Barrow docks were built on Barrow Island , in Walney Channel. The island has a natural shelter, which allowed the development of Barrow’s large shipbuilding yards. In the 1870s, Biggar Bank became a popular seaside recreation site on Walney, and this was reinforced when a regular ferry, operated by the Furness Railway Company, was launched. [9] In 1897, in response to the high levels of immigration to Barrow from across the UK, Vickersproposed to build a new planned townon Walney Island. At the same time, other developers imagined developing Biggar into a larger seaside resort. [10] The first tenants moved into Vickerstown in 1900, and this saw the beginning of the integration of Walney as part of the town of Barrow. [10] Walney Bridge , a bridge built in this decade, opening in 1908 and connecting the island to the mainland.

Vickers operated by submarines and other shipping in Barrow in the early days of World War I, and these or other installations may have been the targets of the German submarine U-21 , which approached Walney Island in shallow water in the early afternoon of Friday 29 January 1915. The Artillery Battery at Fort Walney , Manned by 7 Company, Lancashire and Cheshire Royal Garrison Artillery , opened fire on the submarine at a range of around 7,000 yards (6,400 m) after the submarine fired its deck gun at the airship station on the island. After a few minutes’ exchange of fire, with no hits on the side, the submarine withdrew. [11]

Walney continues to grow through the twentieth century, with a number of suburban housing developments on the island. [2] The majority of growth occurred between 1936 and 1936, and the completion of suburban housing at North Scale in 1976. [12] The recreational facilities at Biggar Bank were scaled back popularly popular. Walney’s population in the 2001 census was 11,388, representing 15% of the total population of the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness and around 19% of the population of the town of Barrow-in-Furness .


Location and transport

Walney lies off the south-west coast of Cumbria in the Irish Sea. It is eleven miles long from north to south, purpose never more than a mile wide from east to west, [13] with spits at Either end. The channel Separating it from the Great Britain mainland est narrow, and named Walney Channel. The northern portion of the channel opens in the Duddon Estuary and is both narrower and shallower; at low tide, it is passable on foot, with stepping stones known locally as ‘Widow’s Crossing’ assisting pedestrians. [14] The southern half of the channel is more easily accessible to the Port of Barrow . This half opens intoMorecambe Bay and includes a number of small islands , of qui Barrow Island , Roa and Piel are inhabited. North of Earnsie Point are beaches, backed by dunes, which tend to be used by naturists.

Jubilee Bridge , a bridge rocker , has connected Walney to the mainland since 1908. [15] The bridge forms part of the A590 , which runs between Walney’s western coast and the M6 Motorway . A second bridge over Walney Channel is mooted Sometimes, in order to Improve Access and relieve traffic, [16] though there HAS never been to Provide Any significant attempt one. The nearest railway station to Walney is Barrow-in-Furness . No long distance bus services are provided, and all services provided by Stagecoach and terminate in Barrow.

Walney Island has a small airport ( Barrow / Walney Island Airport ), privately owned by BAE Systems . It was opened in 1935 and was first used during World War II , before the Barrow Council purchased the airfield. It was purchased by Vickers in 1968 and has remained with the company ever since. A few attempts at scheduled passenger services have occurred – Air Scotland , Air Furness and Telair have been operating for two years. [17]


The main settlement on Walney, Vickerstown , is actually a continuation of Barrow-in-Furness, lying on the Barrow-facing east coast at the island’s center, clustered around the Jubilee Bridge. The first parts of Vickerstown were built in the 1890s as a workers’ community for Vickers Shipyard, [10] but this area has been expanded by suburban development. The only residential areas on the west-coast are at Earnse Bay and Biggar Bank, both of which are extensions to the central Vickerstown settlement. Beyond Vickerstown, the island retains two older villages. [18] North Scale , Vickerstown on Walney’s east coast, and consists mainly of suburban homes. [19] BiggarVickerstown is one of the most beautiful villages in the world, located around 2 miles to the south of Vickerstown. Biggar is situated on the east coast of the island, and is a more agricultural community, with farms extending south of the village to the South Walney Nature Reserve . It is possibly the oldest settlement on Walney, with Furness Abbey records from 1292 mentioning a barn at Biggar, [20] and today is still a farming village


Walney is low-lying, narrow and windswept – it is said by the North-West Evening Mail to be the windiest lowland site in England. [21] The island’s northern and southern ends are both nature reserves, consisting of salt-marsh , shingle , sand dunes and brackish ponds. [22] South Walney , in particular, is home to a large number of birds, many of which use the island as a stop while migrating. South Walney is also home to the Walney Bird Observatory.

To the north, the island provides a habitat for Natterjack Toads , and the ‘Walney Geranium ‘, found only on the island. [23] The island’s west coast, while its east coast is more built up, facing the narrow and muddy Walney Channel.

Since 2005, the coast off Walney has become a center for offshore wind farms . In total, four wind-farms have been built with a fifth

name Number of Turbines Capacity (MW) Began Construction Operation Began
Barrow Offshore Wind Farm [24] 30 90 2004 2006
Ormonde Wind Farm [25] 30 150 2010 2011
Walney Wind Farm 1 [26] 51 184 2010 2011
Walney Wind Farm 2 [26] 51 183.6 2011 2011 [27]
West of Duddon Wind Farm Sands [28] 108 389 2013 2014
Walney Extension Wind Farm [29] [30] 108 660 2017

Government, economy and education

Walney has two thirds of local government. The Borough of Barrow-in-Furness is divided between two wards , Walney North and Walney South . Barrow-in-Furness also forms part of the larger county of Cumbria , for which Walney is still divided into two wards. In the May 2013 Cumbria County Council elections Walney North and Walney South wards both elected Labor Party councillors. [31] At the 2011 elections at the Borough levelSix Labor Party councillors were elected from the island, three from each ward. At a national level, Walney forms part of the Barrow and Furness parliamentary constituency . The Member of Parliament is currently John Woodcock of the Labor Party. Mr. Woodcock Was Elected first in the 2010 general election goal Labor Held-have the seat since 1992 .

At the 2001 UK census , Walney North had an unemployment rate of 7.7%, [32] while it was 6.3% in Walney South [33] Walney was historically agricultural, [8] and a number of farms remain on the island. its southern half. Following the construction of Vickerstown , the Vickers defense became the major player on the island, reflecting in Barrow-in-Furness . [10] Vickers’ successor, BAE Systems , remains a major employer in Barrow and on Walney today. [32] [33]

Walney has one secondary school , Walney School . It opened in 1952 [34] and currently teaches 681 pupils. [35] It has several primary schools , students entering sixth form college or further education must go to schools in the mainland in Barrow.

Sport and culture

Football and rugby league are the most popular amateur sports in the Furness area. Walney Central Amateur rugby league club currently playing in the Cumbria Men’s Amateur Rugby League . The club was formed in 1936, [36]and has played on the island ever since. They won the second round of the Challenge Cup in 1960, losing to Oldham [36] and they competed in the National Conference League between 1991 and 2007. In football, Vickerstown Football Club play in the West Lancashire Football League (WFL) Premier Division ( level 11 of the English football league system ), [37]while Walney Island Football Club, formed as Nautical FC in 1970, [38] compete in the WFL Division Two.

Walney has become an important location for kitesurfing and wind-surfing . It is one of the rounds of the British Kitesurfing Championship. [39] [40] In particular the flat, wide beach at Earnse Bay is popular for this sport. [41]Windsurfing takes place around the island, particularly to its west coast and around the mouth of the Walney Channel. [42]

In literature, Walney most notably appears, or rather disappears, in The Railway Series by Wilbert Awdry , which was converted into the television series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends . The books and television series are all set on the fictional Island of Sodor , which is located in the position of Walney, though significantly larger. Its east coast resembles Walney, and is home to the ‘Vicarstown’, located at the same place as Vickerstown . [43]

See also

  • Walney Bridge
  • Walney Lighthouse
  • Islands of Furness


  1. Jump up^ “Cumbria’s Electoral Wards – Population Estimates – 2011 Census” (Microsoft Excel) . Cumbria County Council . Retrieved 23 May 2013 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:e Walney Island History Walney Island.com 29-08-11
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  4. Jump up^ Standard English words which have a Scandinavian Etymology (The Vikings in England)
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  6. Jump up^ Vikings in Low FurnessSteve Dickinson. August 2003. Accessed 17-09-11
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  13. Jump up^ IntroductionWalney Island.com Accessed 14-10-11
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  17. Jump up^ A history of Walney AirfieldCumbria Industries.
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  19. Jump up^ North Scale Residents AssociationAccessed 02-11-11
  20. Jump up^ Barnes, F .; 1968 Barrow and District; Second Edition; Barrow-in-Furness Corporation;
  21. Jump up^ “ On The Crest of a Wave ,”Northwest Evening Mail(26/01/2007).
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  25. Jump up^ Work on Ormonde Farm Wind off Barrow completedBBC News. 03-08-11. Accessed 02-11-11
  26. ^ Jump up to:b About the Project Walney Wind Farms. Accessed 02-11-11
  27. Jump up^ First Power from Walney 2DONG EnergyOffshore Wind Farm. 01-11-11. Accessed 02-11-11
  28. Jump up^ “West of Duddon Generic Sands first electricity” . Renewable Energy Magazine . Retrieved 6 February 2014 .
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  30. Jump up^ “Walney Extension” (PDF) . DONG . Retrieved 15 September 2015 .
  31. Jump up^ [1]Cumbria County Council. Accessed 23/05/2013
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  33. ^ Jump up to:b Ward Labor Market Profile 16UCGC: Walney South NOMIS. Accessed 04-11-11
  34. Jump up^ Walney Island Comprehensive School. Walney-Island.com. Accessed 04-11-11
  35. Jump up^ Walney SchoolDepartment for Education. Accessed 04-11-11
  36. ^ Jump up to:b 1st Team – Homepage Walney Central ARLFC. Accessed 04-11-11
  37. Jump up^ . Vickerstown CCFC http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/vickerstownccfc/ . Retrieved 30 September 2013 . Missing or empty( help ) |title=
  38. Jump up^ Walney Island Football ClubHistory. Accessed 04-11-11
  39. Jump up^ BKSA championship 2 round for Walney IslandNorthwestkitesurfing.co.uk
  40. Jump up^ Barrow- Very Windy WalneyBSKS.
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  42. Jump up^ Sporting events, clubs and activities in Barrow andBarrow Borough Council. Accessed 07-11-11
  43. Jump up^ Where is Sodor, home of Thomas the Tank Engine? BBC News. 04-07-11. Accessed 07-11-11

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