The Strawberry Grounds, Croslands Park Road, Off Abbey Road,
Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, LA13 9LA
FURNESS’S 1ST PRESIDENT
I have recently become aware of the amazing history of the Furness area, in particular, Ulverston, Dalton and Barrow and how important it was to the development of heavy industry throughout the world. We all know of James Ramsden, Henry Schneider, The Duke of Buccleuch, Cavendish and Kennedy’s. But who has ever heard of Edward Wadham? This man probably was just, if not more as important for the development of this area as the rest of them. There are no statues erected, streets, or buildings named after him. The only reference to him and legacy that I know of, is Furness Rugby Union Club.
Edward Wadham was born near Bristol in 1828 to a wealthy family of engineers and on the 1st February 1851, he arrived by stagecoach at Ulverston. He had been appointed by the Duke of Buccleuch as his Mineral Agent, as it was believed that iron ore could be found in the area. Remember that at this time, there was no A590, telephones and limited rail connection.
He first lived at Lindal Mount, Lindal-
Wadham also became the Steward of the Manor of Furness and Mineral Agent to William Lowther, the 2nd Earl of Lonsdale. He basically was the organiser, secretary and development officer for all previously mentioned.
Barrow only existed at this time as a small hamlet, the main townships being Ulverston, Dalton, Lindal and Kirkby. Within 6 years under his direction, it grew from a few hundred, to 46000. Incredible growth. Wadham was responsible for the development of the Iron and Steel industry that became the largest and most influential in the world at that time, and spawned the development of the major shipbuilding force at Barrow Island. All this was achieved within 40 years.
Wadham was a religious man, as many were at that time, and he was responsible for the building of St Mary’s Church Kirkby Lonsdale, St Mary’s Church Dalton, St Peter’s Church Ireleth and St Peter’s Church Lindal-
He had a love of Sport, and this is probably why he became connected to our Club.
When he died, I see that the Presidentship fell to his son, so it was kept in the family for a good period of time.
There are many other positions and companies he held and owned and if you are interested then he can be researched. He was a great keeper of diaries and through them, you have an incredible insight into the life and times of this area.