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Carlisle ( ) is the county town of Cumbriamarker, and the major settlement of the wider City of Carlislemarker in North West England. Carlisle is located at the confluence of the rivers Eden, Caldewmarker and Petterilmarker, south of the Scottish border. It is the largest settlement in the county of Cumbria, and serves as the administrative centre for both Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council. At the time of the 2001 census, the population of Carlisle was 71,773, with 100,734 living in the wider city.

Historically the county town of Cumberlandmarker, the early history of Carlisle is marked by its status as a Roman settlement, established to serve the forts on Hadrian's Wallmarker. During the Middle Ages, because of its proximity to the Kingdom of Scotland, Carlisle became an important military stronghold; Carlisle Castlemarker, still relatively intact, was built in 1092 by William Rufus, and having once served as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots. The castle now houses the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment and the Border Regiment Museum. In the early 12th century Henry I allowed the foundation of a priory in Carlisle. The town gained the status of a diocese in 1122, and the priory became Carlisle Cathedralmarker.

The introduction of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution began a process of socioeconomic transformation in Carlisle, developing into a densely populated mill town. This combined with its strategic position allowed for the development of Carlisle as an important railway town, with seven railway companies sharing Carlisle railway stationmarker.

Nicknamed the Border City, Carlisle today is the main cultural, commercial and industrial centre for north Cumbria. It is home to the main campuses of the University of Cumbria and a variety of museums and heritage centres. The former County Borough of Carlisle had held city status until the Local Government Act 1972 was enacted in 1974.



The Romans called their settlement at what is today Carlisle, Luguvalium, as evidenced by Roman writing tablets recently excavated and displayed at Tullie House Museummarker, bearing this name as the address. Luguvalium can be interpreted from Latin as "the place, or wall (stronghold ?) of Lugus" (a local deity). Around the 11th and 12th centuries, however, surviving documents show the place name spelt Caer (castle) Luel or Llewelyn. Luel, and its variants are Cumbric personal names, and it has been proposed that this was always the basis of the local name, which had been preserved by the continuity of Cumbric-speaking peoples in the area, from before the Roman imposition of a Latinised version. The fact that Cumbria (from Cymru or similar roots) was held by the Celtic kings of Rheged in the 9th century may have stimulated a revival of the Cumbric language and reinstatement of earlier Celtic place-names. Cumbric is no longer spoken, but the surviving Welsh language has "Caerliwelydd" as the modern name for Carlisle.

Carlisle has a compact historic centre, including a castle, museum, cathedral, and semi-intact city walls. The former law courts or citadel towers which now serve as offices for Cumbria County Council are also of architectural interest.

Roman Carlisle

Around AD 72/73, a Roman timber fort was built at Carlisle. Following its demolition around AD 103 to 105, a second timber fort was built. In AD 165 this fort was replaced by a stone fort. It was probably later the civitas capital of the Carvetii tribe.

Later history

Because Carlisle was sometimes the last town in England before Scotland, and sometimes the last town in Scotland before England, in the days when the two countries were separate kingdoms, it developed importance as a military stronghold, and Carlisle Castlemarker is still relatively intact. Built in 1092 by William Rufus, and having once served as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots.

In December 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart captured Carlisle after the Siege of Carlislemarker. During the retreat of Charles Edward Stuart's Jacobites in 1746 he ordered that the Manchester Regiment be left to garrison Carlisle so that he "continued to hold at least one town in England". The Hanoverian army under Cumberland then besieged and took Carlisle. (See: Sieges of Carlisle.)

The Tullie House Museummarker, an award-winning museum, tells the story of the Border country, including much material on Hadrian's Wallmarker, the Roman defensive structure the course of which runs through the Stanwix area of Carlisle, and many items of Roman architecture. It also features an exhibit explaining the history of the Border Reivers. Tullie House used to house an excellent lending and reference library, but that has now been placed on the upper level of The Lanes. [9656] (The Lanes are Carlisle's main shopping area in the city centre). Carlisle Cathedralmarker has the largest east window of any cathedral in Europe, but the western end of the cathedral was demolished by Oliver Cromwell to shore up the castle. Carlisle also has a first-class racetrack, located to the south of the city centre.

In 1916, during World War I, the government took over all the public houses and breweries in Carlisle because of endemic drunkenness among construction and munitions workers from the nearby munitions factory at Gretna. This experiment in nationalised brewing known first as the Carlisle Board of Control then after the war the Carlisle & District State Management Scheme lasted until 1971.

President Woodrow Wilson visited Carlisle in 1918. [9657]

RAF Carlisle

RAF Carlislemarker also known as 14 MU was located at Kingstown near the present day Asda. The station closed in 1996 after nearly sixty years in a variety of roles. First established as RAF Kingstown in 1938, it was originally a bomber station, then one of the RAF's Elementary Flying Training Schools and latterly a post war storage facility.

Royal Observer Corps, Carlisle Group

During the Second World War the air raid warning organisation No 32 Group Carlisle Royal Observer Corps operated from a building in the city centre although it was controlled administratively from RAF Kingstown. The association with Kingstown developed further in 1962 when the ROC ceased its aircraft spotting role for the RAF and took on a new role of plotting nuclear explosions and warning the public of approaching radioactive fallout for the UKWMO. A new administration building and a protected, hardened Nuclear Reporting bunker was built at RAF Carlisle. The nuclear bunker was a standard above-ground structure and both the bunker and Headquarters hutting stood on a separate site at Crindledyke just outside the main gates of RAF Carlisle and roughly opposite the station's officers mess. The Carlisle group was redesignated no 22 Group ROC.

The ROC also constructed a smaller nuclear reporting post called Kingstown post (OS ref:NY 3837 5920), on the main RAF Carlisle site. The post was also an underground protected bunker but designed for a crew of three observers. The headquarters bunker accommodated an operational crew of around 100 with dormitory and canteen facilities included with the operations room and life support plant.

The Royal Observer Corps and its parent organisation the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation were disbanded in December 1995 after the end of the Cold War and as a result of recommendations in the governments Options for Change review of UK defence. The ROC buildings were demolished in 1996 and replaced by a cellphone communications mast. The foundations of the nuclear bunker can still be partially seen outlined in the concreted yard, which also contains the Air Training Corps hut during recent further development of the site.



Carlisle has held city status since the Middle Ages and has been a borough constituency or parliamentary borough for centuries at one time returning two MPs. In 1835 it became a municipal borough which was promoted to county borough status in 1914. The city's boundaries have changed at various times since 1835 the final time being in 1974 when under the Local Government Act 1972 the city and county borough merged with the Border Rural Districtmarker to become the new enlarged City of Carlislemarker, a non-metropolitan district of Cumbriamarker.

The borough originally had several civil parishes or parts of parishes within it but these were all merged into a single civil parish of Carlisle in 1904. The present day urban area is now classed as an unparished area except for the fringes which are in Stanwix Ruralmarker, Kingmoor and St Cuthbert Withoutmarker parishes.

Carlisle unsuccessfully applied to become a Lord Mayoralty in 2002.

Carlisle City Council is based in a 1960s building known as the Civic Centre in Rickergate. An iconic building and tallest in Carlisle, it may soon be demolished and the surrounding area regenerated.


The current member of Parliament is Eric Martlew – Labour

European Parliament

Carlisle is within the North West England constituency of the European Parliamentmarker the North West's current MEPs are:

MEP's Name Political Party
Robert Atkins Conservative
Chris Davies Liberal Democrat
Jacqueline Foster Conservative
Nick Griffin British National Party
Saj Karim Conservative
Arlene McCarthy Labour
Paul Nuttall UKIP
Brian Simpson Labour

County Council

Carlisle's county councillors are currently:

  • Alan Toole (Conservative) Belah Ward

  • Cyril Weber (Labour) Belle Vue Ward

  • Anne Glendinning (Labour) Botcherby Ward

  • Olwen Luckley (Liberal Democrat) Castle Ward

  • Heather Bradley (Labour) Currock Ward

  • Hugh McDevitt (Labour) Denton Holme Ward

  • Michael Richardson (Labour) Harraby Ward

  • John Bell (Labour) Morton Ward

  • Reginald Watson OBE (Labour) St Aidens Ward

  • Elizabeth Mallinson (Conservative) Stanwix Urban Ward

  • Stewart Young (Labour) Upperby Ward

  • Helen Horne (Labour) Yewdale Ward

District Council

Carlisle is governed by a district council called Carlisle City Council and is currently under Conservative control. The council also covers a large rural area with many villages and small towns within it eg: Dalstonmarker, Bramptonmarker, Longtown, Wetheralmarker, Bewcastlemarker and Scotbymarker.


Carlisle is situated on a slight rise, in the Cumberland Wardmarker, at the confluence of the rivers Eden, Caldewmarker, and Petterilmarker.

An important centre for trade, it is located west of Newcastle-upon-Tynemarker, north of Lancastermarker, south of Glasgowmarker, south-west of Edinburghmarker, north-west of Yorkmarker, and north-north-west of Londonmarker, at 54°52’N, 2°50’W. Nearby towns and villages include Longtownmarker (North), Penrithmarker (South) Bramptonmarker (East), Wigtonmarker (West), Haggbeck, Harker, Carwinley, Blackford, Houghton, Scotby and Rockcliffemarker.


Carlisle experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb). In January 2005 Carlisle was hit by strong gales and heavy rain, and on Saturday 8 January 2005 all roads into Carlisle were closed owing to severe flooding, the worst since 1822, which caused three deaths.

Divisions and suburbs

To the far north of Carlisle lie the suburban areas of Kingstown, Lowry Hill and Moorville, all formerly part of the parish of Kingmoor. To the south of these areas are Stanwix, Edentown, Etterby St Anns Hill and Belah which were added to Carlisle in 1912. The parish of Stanwix Ruralmarker still exists but only includes a very small part of Carlisle's urban area.

To the immediate south of Stanwix lies the River Eden. On the opposite bank of this is the historic city centre of Carlisle which is bounded on the west by the West Coast Main Railway line and the River Caldew. In the past the main industries of Carlisle flourished on the banks of the River Caldew, especially the Denton Holmemarker, Caldewgate area on the west side and Wapping (the area round the former Metal Box works) on the east bank. West of Caldewgate and north of Denton Holme the suburbs of Newtown, Morton, Sandsfield Park, Longsowerby, Raffles and Belle Vuemarker developed in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

The east side of the city centre developed in the 19th century into a more affluent area than the west along what is now the main A69 road. This links up with the former separate village of Botcherbymarker to which a large council estate was added in the mid 20th century and later still the Durranhill Housing Estate.

To the south of the city centre lies the Botchergate/St Nicholas area of late Victorian terraced housing similar to that found in Denton Holme and Caldewgate. The Botchergate East area did until fairly recently have some older "slum" dwellings.

To the south west of Botchergate and St Nicholas lie the former villages and now suburban areas of Upperby and Currock. The urban area spills over the former county borough boundary and includes the areas of Blackwell and Durdar within the civil parish of St Cuthbert Withoutmarker.

Between Upperby and Botcherby lies another former village that was once part of St Cuthbert Without and is now probably the largest suburb of Carlisle namely Harraby. This is subdivided into many estates/areas including Harraby East, New Harraby, Harraby Green, Old Harraby, Petteril Bank and the Durranhill Industrial Estate. Adjoining Harraby to the south but outside the former borough boundary is the hamlet of Carleton.


Carlisle is linked to the rest of England via the M6 motorway towards the South, and to Scotland via the M74/A74 towards Glasgow and the North. As well as these routes, many important trunk roads either begin or terminate in Carlisle, including the A6 to Penrithmarker and eventually leading onto Luton (historically the main road south), the A595 to western Cumbria, the A69 to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the A7 to Edinburgh. The City of Carlisle thus bears the distinction of being the only city in Great Britain other than London and Edinburgh with more than one single numbered 'A' road - A6 and A7 (although at one time the A5 and A6 met in St Albansmarker).

Traffic in the Carlisle area, especially at rush hour, has become a significant problem. A proposed bypass road will take traffic heading to and from west Cumbria off the M6, as opposed to its current path through the centre of Carlisle.

Carlislemarker is a principal railway station on the West Coastmarker main railway line. Other railway lines go to Newcastle, Leeds and Glasgow via Dumfries and west Cumbria. Kingmoor Traction Maintenance Depotmarker is a major facility located to the north of Carlisle.

Local bus services are run by Stagecoach North West and Arriva. Following the disastrous flooding of Carlisle Bus Depot (and a lot of Carlisle) on 8 January 2005 and the amazing variety of buses seen in Carlisle afterwards, Stagecoach announced the purchase of a fleet of brand new low-floor buses for Carlisle city routes. These were officially launched on 30 June, complete with "Carlisle Citi" branding, and with most of the buses carrying route branding for individual routes both internally and externally.

Trade and industry

Carlisle became an industrial city in the 19th and early 20th centuries with many textile mills, engineering works and food manufacturers opening up mostly in the Denton Holmemarker, Caldewgate and Wapping areas which lie in the Caldew Valley area of Carlisle. (One such manufacturer located in the Denton Holme area was Ferguson Printers, a large textile printing factory that had stood for many years before its unfortunate closure in the early 1990s). In the early 19th century a canal was dug connecting Caldewgate with the sea at Port Carlislemarker. The canal was later filled in and became a railway line.

Famous firms that were founded or had factories in Carlisle included Carr's of Carlisle (now part of United Biscuits), Kangol, Metal Box (now part of Crown Holdings). The Carr's and Metal Box factories are still going. The construction firm of John Laing and the hauliers Eddie Stobart Ltd. were also founded in Carlisle.

Until 2004, Carlisle's biggest employer was Cavaghan & Gray, part of Northern Foods which operated from two sites in the Harraby area of Carlisle producing chilled foods for major supermarket chains. As of January 2005, the London Road site was closed with the loss of almost 700 jobs as production was transferred to the nearby Eastern Way site or other factories around the UK.

Carlisle also became a major railway centre with at one time 7 different companies using Carlisle Citadel railway stationmarker. Prior to the building of the Citadel Station, Carlisle had several railway stations, including London Road stationmarker. Carlisle also used to have the largest railway marshaling yard in Europe at Kingmoor, now closed.

There are various light industrial estates and business parks located on the fringes of Carlisle and on former industrial sites close to the city centre.

On March 28, 2005, Carlisle was granted Fairtrade City status.



Carlisle is represented in the English Football League One by Carlisle United, where they have played since 2006. They play at Brunton Parkmarker on Warwick Road.

Their first Football League tenure began in 1928 when they were elected to the northern section of the Football League Third Division, replacing Durham City. Their past achievements include reaching the Football League Cup semi-finals (their best run in either of the two domestic cups) in 1969, and winning promotion to the top flight (then the Football League First Division) in 1974. They famously topped the whole English league after winning their first three games of the 1974-75 season, but failed to keep up their good form and were relegated after just one season. In 1987 they fell back into the Football League Fourth Division, and in 2004 were relegated to the Football Conference - the first former top division club to suffer this difficulty - only to regain their Football League place after one year.In 1999, Carlisle famously escaped relegation from the Football League on the final day of the season when on-loan goalkeeper Jimmy Glass scored an injury time winner for them against Plymouth Argyle. Their 2-1 win meant that Scarborough were relegated instead.

Though Carlisle United have rarely attracted the national football headlines, they have fielded a number of high profile players over the years. Some of these have achieved fame at bigger clubs after spending the early part of their career at the club. These include Peter Beardsley, Stan Bowles, Steve Harkness, Matt Jansen and Rory Delap. Many older players have spent the later years of their career at Carlisle United after playing for bigger clubs. These include Michael Bridges, Mervyn Day, Kevin Gray and David McCreery. Notable former managers of the club include Alan Ashman, Bob Stokoe, Harry Gregg, Mick Wadsworth, Nigel Pearson and Paul Simpson.

Since Workington were voted out of the Football League in 1977, Carlisle United have been the only Cumbrianmarker team to have played senior football.


Rugby LeagueCarlisle was at one time home to a rugby league team, Carlisle RLFC who would later merge with Barrow and leave Carlisle. They now have a new rugby league side called Carlisle Centurions.

Rugby UnionCarlisle has two well established rugby union clubs - Carlisle RFC and Creighton RUFC. Carlisle are situated on Warwick Road, alongside Carlisle United AFC. Creighton were originally sited near the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, but following negotiations with Story Homes during 2001/2004 agreed to sell their ground for redevelopment in exchange for a new ground and facilities off Cumwhinton Road, near Junction 42 of the M6.

Current England rugby union captain Steve Borthwick is a native of Carlisle.


University of Cumbria has a four campuses in Carlisle on Fusehill Street, Brampton Road, Paternoster Row and Newcastle Street. The university provides a wide range of degree courses in higher education such as Applied Computing, Applied Psychology, Art, Business, Law, Media, Social Work and Teacher Education.

Carlisle Collegemarker is the Further Education establishment based in the town.

The secondary schools within the city of Carlisle are: Richard Rose Academy (comprising of the Central Campus and the Morton Campus), Austin Friars St Monicasmarker (Roman Catholic Private School), Trinity - Centre of Excellence for Languages, Newman (Roman Catholic School). Other secondary schools in the wider Carlisle district are: Caldew Schoolmarker, (Dalstonmarker) and William Howard Schoolmarker (Bramptonmarker).

The Richard Rose Central Academy replaced St Aidan's County High School and Specialist Sports and Science College, and the North Cumbria Technology College (NCTC, formerly Harraby School). It is sponsored by Eddie Stobart owner Andrew Tinkler, and local businessman Brian Scowcroft. It opened in September 2008. In January 2009, there were protests by parents and pupils regarding poor quality education and school facilities. The school was found to be failing and was placed in Special Measures, with the headmaster and chief executive being immediately replaced.

Curse of Carlisle

The Curse of Carlisle is a 16th century curse that was first invoked by Archbishop Dunbar of Glasgowmarker in 1525 against cross-border families, known as the Border Reivers, who lived by stealing cattle and pillage. The curse was not directly aimed at Carlisle or its people. For the millennium celebrations, the local council commissioned a 14-tonne granite artwork inscribed with all 1,069 words of the curse.

In 1998 some Christians, among other projects, began campaigning to prevent the City of Carlisle from installing the stone. In the wake of this controversy, superstition about the stone grew and a number of the town's setbacks were blamed on the curse stone, including an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, a flood, various crimes, rising unemployment statistics and even the fate of Carlisle United, which was relegated out of its league.

In March 2005, Liberal Democrat city councillor Jim Tootle, on the request of a Christian citizen, proposed the stone either be moved outside the city boundaries or destroyed altogether. Kevin Carlyon, the self-titled "high priest of the British white witches" and the "Living God of all Witches", proclaimed that such actions would give the curse more power. He commented that: "A curse can only work if people believe in it. I think at the moment the sculpture is a nice piece of history, but if the council destroys it, they would be showing their belief in the curse." A council meeting on March 8, 2005 rejected Tootle's proposal, a move welcomed by council leader Mike Mitchelson, who had earlier questioned whether moving the stone was a good use of council funds.

Notable residents

Born in Carlisle

Resident of Carlisle


  1. Vindolanda Tablets Online - mentioning Carlisle
  2. ROC role
  3. ROC HQs
  4. Kingstown Post
  5. Demolished ROC bunker
  6. County councillors
  7. "Carlisle 'cut off' by flood water" at BBC News – 8 January, 2005, 13:15 UTC
  8. "Floods leave homes without power" at BBC News – 8 January, 2005, 23:31 UTC
  9. [1]
  10. Kevin Carlyon's website

External links

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