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Kendal is a market town and civil parish within the South Lakeland Districtmarker of Cumbriamarker, Englandmarker. It is south of Carlislemarker, on the River Kentmarker, and has a total resident population of 27,505, making it the third largest settlement in Cumbria (behind Carlisle and Barrowmarker).

Historically a part of Westmorlandmarker, Kendal today is known largely as a centre for tourism, as the home of Kendal mint cake, and as a producer of pipe tobacco and tobacco snuff. Its buildings, mostly constructed with the local grey limestone, have earned it the nickname the Auld Grey Town.


Kendal is listed in the Domesday Book as part of Yorkshiremarker with the name Cherchbi. For many centuries it was called Kirkbie Kendal, meaning "village with a church in the valley of the River Kent". The earliest castle was a Norman motte and bailey (now located on the west side of the town) when the settlement went under the name of Kirkbie Strickland

A chartered market town, the centre of Kendal is structured around a high street with fortified alleyways (known locally as yards) off to either side which allowed the local population to seek shelter from the Anglo-Scottish raiding parties known as the Border Reivers. The main industry in these times was the manufacture of woollen goods, the importance of which is reflected in the town's coat of arms and in its Latin motto "Pannus mihi panis", meaning wool (literally 'cloth') is my bread. "Kendal Green" was hard-wearing wool-based fabric specific to the local manufacturing process, and was supposedly sported by the Kendalian archers who were instrumental in the English victory over the French at the Battle of Agincourtmarker.

The site of several (ruined) castles, the most recent one constructed in the late-12th century, Kendal has a long history as a stronghold of one kind or another. Rumours still circulate that King Henry VIII's sixth wife Katherine Parr was born at Kendal Castle, but based on the evidence available this is very unlikely.

Kendal Mint Cake

Kendal mint cake with chocolate coating
Kendal is known for Kendal mint cake, a glucose-based type of confectionery reputedly discovered accidentally by Joseph Wiper during his search for a clear glacier mint.

Used on numerous expeditions to mountaintops (including Mount Everestmarker and K2marker) and both poles of the Earth, its popularity is mainly due to the very astute decision of the original manufacturer's great nephew to market it as an energy food, and to supply Ernest Shackleton's 1914-17 Transarctic Expedition.

By the time the business was sold to competitor Romney's in 1987 there were several rival mint cake producers, many of which are still in business.

Tobacco and snuff

Snuff production in Kendal dates from 1792, when Kendalian Thomas Harrison returned from Glasgow, Scotland, where he had learned the art of snuff manufacture. He also brought with him 50 tons of second-hand equipment, all carried on horse back. Pipe tobacco and other tobacco products were subsequently added to the firm's production. Ownership of his firm passed eventually to his son-in-law, Samuel Gawith, whose eponymic firm, Samuel Gawith & Co., continues in business to this day. Following Samuel Gawith's death in 1865, the firm passed into the hands of his two eldest sons. During this time the business was administered initially by trustees, including Henry Hoggarth, and John Thomas Illingworth.

Illingworth left the firm in 1867 to start his own firm, which remained in business until the 1980s. The youngest son of Samuel Gawith the First subsequently teamed with Henry Hoggarth to form Gawith Hoggarth TT, Ltd. Both Samuel Gawith & Company and Gawith Hoggarth TT continue in business today in Kendal, producing snuffs and tobacco products enjoyed around the world. Samuel Gawith and Company also hold the distinction of employing the oldest piece of industrial equipment still in production use in the world, a device manufactured in the 1750s.


Civic history

The municipal borough of Kendal was created in 1835 and until 1894 the town was also an urban sanitary district. The borough boundaries were altered in 1935 by gaining a small part of South Westmorland Rural Districtmarker under a County Review Order.

The civil parishes of Kirkland and Nether Graveship were abolished in 1908 and became part of Kendal Civil Parish whose boundaries were after that the same as the borough.

Kendal was, from 1888 to 1974, the administrative centre of the administrative county of Westmorlandmarker although Applebymarker is the traditional county town.

The borough of Kendal was abolished in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972 to become a part of South Lakelandmarker district of Cumbriamarker. The town was a successor parish, and thus kept its own town council.

Parliamentary representation

Kendal is part of the Westmorland and Lonsdalemarker parliamentary constituency of which Tim Farron is the current MP representing the Liberal Democrats.


Kendal stands on the River Kentmarker, surrounded by low hills. It is near (but not in) the Lake District National Park. When the National Park was formed in 1951 the boundary was deliberately shaped to exclude Kendal. Although a relatively small town, it is an important commercial centre for a wide area thanks to its rural location. It is affectionately referred to as "The Gateway to The Lakes".


Kendal's early prosperity was based largely on cloth manufacture. In the 19th century it became a centre for the manufacture of snuff and shoes; the K Shoes company remained a major employer in the town until its factory closed in 2003. [42857] There are still a number of light industries based in the town. Though tourism is now one of the main employers, there is a significant IT and design sector in the town (this being non-geographic dependent) the increase of broadband availability has significantly increased this.

On February 26, 2003, Kendal was granted Fairtrade Town status.


A bridge over the old course of the Lancaster Canal, now used as a footpath

Kendal railway stationmarker is situated on the Windermere Branch Line and gives connections to Windermere railway stationmarker to the north, and Oxenholme Lake District railway stationmarker (on the West Coast Main Linemarker) and Lancaster railway stationmarker to the south.

Kendal is around 8 miles (12 km) from the M6 motorway, and is bypassed on the west by the A591 road, linking it to Windermeremarker, Keswickmarker and the A590 leading to Barrow, as well as being the terminus of the A65 road to Kirkby Lonsdalemarker and a destination on the A6 road to Penrith. Kendal is signposted off the M6 at Junctions 36 (A65, A590), Junction 37 (A684 road), Junction 38 (A685 road and Junction 39 (A6). The three-mile £1.9m A591 bypass opened on August 29 1971.

The Lancaster Canalmarker was built as far as Kendal in 1819, but the northern section was rendered unnavigable by the construction of the M6. Part of this section was also drained and filled in to prevent leakage, and the course of the canal through Kendal has now been developed. The canal towpath, however, remains as a footpath through Kendal. A campaign is currently underway to restore the canal as far as Kendal.

Kendal is served by a long distance coach service from London (once per day) and local buses run from the bus station to destinations such as Amblesidemarker and Barrow in Furnessmarker.


The Queen Katherine Schoolmarker, on Appleby Road, is a Secondary Foundation School, with Technology College status. The school also operates an outstanding Sixth Form.

Kirkbie Kendal Schoolmarker, formerly known as Kendal Grammar School, is a Secondary School Business and Enterprise College that serves the area around the town and rural countryside. Kirkbie Kendal School operates as a Foundation school; its previous students include the historian David Starkey and Clinical Psychologist Vanessa Jones.

There are numerous Primary Schools in the area, including Castle Park, Stramongate School, Heron Hill, Ghyllside, Vicarage Park, and Dean Gibson.In the nearby village of Natlandmarker, there is St Marks School.

Places of interest

Notable people

The following is a list of people who either were born in Kendal or have significant contacts with Kendal:

Kendal dialect

The Kendal dialect known as Kendalian, is a variant of the Cumbrian dialect spoken around the Kendal area.

Kendal Mountain Search & Rescue Team

Kendal has for many years maintained a voluntary Mountain Search & Rescue Team based at Busher Walk. They have performed numerous rescues around the Kendal area, and along with other local Mountain Rescue teams, helped at the Grayrigg derailmentmarker.

Twin towns

Kendal is twinned with:

See also


  1. Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : South Lakeland Retrieved 2009-11-22
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place Names, Oxford University Press, 1998
  3. Tim Farren "TheyWorkForYou" listing
  4. BBC NEWS | More schools get specialist status

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