Port Carlisle

Village in Carlisle

Old Harbour Wall, Port Carlisle, Cumbria
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Simon Ledingham / Old Harbour Wall, Port Carlisle, Cumbria

Port Carlisle is one of the most interesting areas of the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beautys’ built heritage and was once known as Fisher’s Cross. It was developed as a port in 1819 to handle goods for Carlisle using the canal link built in 1823. The canal was 11¼ mile long, and had 8 locks which were all built 18 feet wide.

The canal ran level for nearly six miles from a wooden jetty, through the entrance sea lock then another six locks in one and a quarter miles, with a level stretch to Carlisle Basin. Sailing boats made their way by the canal from Port Carlisle to the heart of the City of Carlisle. Boats were towed to the City enabling Carlisle to be reached within a day by sea from Liverpool. Barges collected the grain and produce destined for Carlisle’s biscuit and feed mills. The canal built specially for this purpose ended in the canal basin behind the present Carrs, the old McVities biscuit factory in Carlisle.

Port Carlisle also became a tourist destination. In 1844, Victorian baths were opened, with hot and cold saltwater baths.

The building of the Bowness-on-Solway railway viaduct altered the deepwater channels, causing Port Carlisle to silt up and within a few years the canal ran into financial difficulties, and was closed, finally being drained in 1853.

The canal left the village heading north west following a similar line to Hadrian’s Roman wall. There are still a number of original canal bridges, but they all had their height altered to accommodate steam trains. Also on the route is a warehouse and a lock cottage.

The remains of the port and canal can be seen by the shore.

The Port Carlisle appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Carlisle!

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Visiting Port Carlisle

Duration: 20 minutes

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