Ulverston is a market town in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, England. Historically in Lancashire, it is in the Furness area 8 miles (13 km) north-east of Barrow-in-Furness, 4 miles (7 km) south of the Lake District and just north-west of Morecambe Bay. Nearby places include Swarthmoor, Pennington and Rosside. The most visible landmark is the limestone Hoad Monument built in 1850 to commemorate statesman and local resident Sir John Barrow.[2] It offers views that include Morecambe Bay and parts of the Lake District. Ulverston Canal, no longer navigable but once vital to the town's economy, is marked by an art installation.[3]


Market Street, Ulverston
Location within Cumbria
Population11,678 (2011)[1]
OS grid referenceSD2878
Civil parish
  • Ulverston
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtLA12
Dialling code01229
AmbulanceNorth West
EU ParliamentNorth West England
UK Parliament


Ulverston is a comparatively large civil parish. It is bounded in the east by the Leven estuary, Crake, Coniston Water and Yewdale Beck. To the west the boundary follows a chain of hills, and beyond that lie the towns of Kirkby-in-Furness and Askam and Ireleth. To the south is relatively low land, which rises quickly. In the north are hills such as Coniston Old Man. The settlements of the parish are mainly concentrated in the eastern part.[4]


On 28 April 2009, Ulverston was near the epicentre of an earthquake measuring 3.7 on the Richter magnitude scale. Tremors were felt across south Cumbria and parts of north Lancashire at 11.22 BST, although virtually no damage was caused by them. A spokesman for the British Geological Survey said that earthquakes of around that magnitude occur roughly once a year in Britain.[5] It was the largest seismic event in the region since a magnitude 4.4 earthquake struck Lancaster in 1835.[6][7]


The name Ulverston, first recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) as Ulurestun, is derived from two elements: the first is either the Old Norse personal name Úlfarr, or the Old English Wulfhere; the second element is the Old English tūn, meaning "farmstead" or "village".[8] The personal names Úlfarr and Wulfhere both translate roughly as "wolf warrior" or "wolf army",[9] which explains the presence of a wolf on the town's coat of arms. The loss of the 'W' in Wulfhere can be attributed to the historic Scandinavian influence in the region.[4] Locally, the town has traditionally been known as Oostan.[10] Other variations of the name recorded throughout history include Oluestonam (1127), and Uluereston (1189).[4]

The town's market charter was granted in 1280 by Edward I.[11] This was for a market every Thursday; modern Ulverston keeps its old market town appearance, and market days are now held on both Thursdays and Saturdays.[12] The charter also allowed for all public houses to open from 10:30 am until 11:00 pm irrespective of any other statute on the books. During the summer months the Saturday market day is themed with craft stalls, charity stalls and locally produced wares on "Made in Cumbria" stalls.

Town Bank grammar school was established in the town in 1658 from a benefaction by Thomas Fell.[13]

The Victoria Road drill hall was completed in 1873.[14]

Historically, the ancient parish included several other chapelries or townships which later became separate civil parishes: Blawith, Church Coniston, Egton with Newland, Lowick, Mansriggs, Osmotherley, Subberthwaite and Torver. From 1894 to 1974 the town constituted an urban district in the administrative county of Lancashire. It became a successor parish in the Cumbria district of South Lakeland under the Local Government Act 1972.[15]


Ulverston Victoria High School (UVHS) is the town's secondary school with approximately 1,200 pupils. The school has a sixth form college which draws students from Ulverston as well as the surrounding areas; the number of pupils attending is roughly 400.[16] There are also four primary schools.[17] Also, one disabled school in the vicinity (Sandside).


Ulverston railway station, which serves the town, is located on the Furness Line from Barrow-in-Furness to Lancaster, ultimately leading on to Manchester Airport. All services at the station are operated by Northern. The railway station is a short walk from the town centre. The town is served by several bus services. These include the X6, running to Kendal from Barrow-in-Furness, via Grange over Sands. The X12 runs from Coniston and passes through the village of Spark Bridge. Other services include the X31 to Tarn Hows and the 6A and 6 to Barrow-in-Furness, the largest town in the region.

Twin towns

Ulverston is twinned with Albert in France.[18] The two towns meet every year to play football at Easter for the Cyril Barker Shield. The match alternates between Ulverston and Albert.[19] In July 2016 Ulverston, birthplace of film comedian Stan Laurel, was officially twinned with Harlem, Georgia, United States, birthplace of Laurel's screen partner Oliver Hardy.[20]

Festival town

Ulverston calls itself a "festival town", for the many and varied festivals that take place there during the year.[21]

The most renowned is the Lantern Festival, which involves hundreds of local residents creating lanterns out of willow and tissue paper and parading them through the town. The annual event culminates in a display of theatrical performance and fireworks in Ford Park. It was organised locally for the first time in 2008.

Other popular festivals include:

  • Beer Festival
  • Charter Festival (including the Lantern Festival)
  • International Music Festival
  • Furness Tradition[24]
  • Comedy Festival
  • Word Market — including "Pub Scripts"
  • Walking Festival
  • Spring Buddhist Festival
  • Print Fest
  • Summer Buddhist Festival
  • Ulverston Carnival Parade
  • Furness Festival of Tradition
  • Summer Music Festival
  • Festival of Fashion
  • Feast of St George
  • Another Fine Fest is a new festival only launched in 2014 of music, comedy, street theatre and art celebrating Ulverston and the birth of Stan Laurel.



Ulverston's football team is Ulverston Rangers.[25] The club has been in existence since 1945 and currently plays in the West Lancashire Football League and the Furness Football League. The club boasts two excellent grounds and includes a full-size grass training pitch. Ulverston Rangers is the only football team within Ulverston itself.

Rugby League

Ulverston A.R.L.F.C. is a rugby league team in Ulverston which plays home games at Dragley Beck, also known as Pain Lane. Players wear a blue with white trim strip with blue shorts and blue socks. The team plays in the North West Counties Rugby League. It has produced many professional rugby players, including Derek Hadley and Andy Whittle.


The town has two hockey clubs, South Lakes and Ulverston, both based in Ulverston Leisure Centre.


The town regularly has events and events run by Lakeland Orienteering Club.


A parkrun event has been held every Saturday at Ford Park since 2018.[26]

Leisure Centre

There is a swimming club at Ulverston Leisure Centre. The triathletes of Ulverston Tri Club are also based there and train there on Saturday mornings.[27]

Notable people

In alphabetical order:

Over the years the town has been the birthplace of several famous people. Sir John Barrow, born at Dragley Beck, Ulverston, was the Admiralty's Second Secretary: a much more important position than First Secretary. A monument to him—a replica of the third Eddystone Lighthouse—stands on Hoad Hill overlooking the town. Famous Ulverstonians include Norman Birkett,[28] who represented Britain at the Nuremberg Trials; Maude Green, the mother of Rock and Roll music legend, Bill Haley;[29] saxophonist Jess Gillam;[30] Norman Gifford,[31] an England test cricketer; Francis Arthur Jefferson, a soldier awarded with the Victoria Cross;[32] and comedian Stan Laurel,[33] of Laurel and Hardy fame. The Laurel & Hardy Museum is situated in Ulverston,[34] and in 2009 a statue of the pair was unveiled by comedian Ken Dodd, outside Coronation Hall in the town centre.[35] One of Ulverston's lesser known sons is the late Bryan Martin, senior BBC Radio 4 newsreader and presenter of the '70s and '80s, who announced on the Today programme the death of Elvis Presley in 1977 and broke the news of the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980. He appeared in The News Quiz, occasionally introduced The Goon Show, and read the spoof "news bulletin" which always featured in the middle of the comedy The Men from the Ministry. it is also home to Benjamin Park

Despite being titled The Royal Norwegian Honorary Consulate in Barrow-in-Furness, one of the numerous consulates of Norway is actually located on the outskirts of Ulverston.[36]

The town of Ulverstone in Tasmania, Australia is named after Ulverston and is similarly built at the mouth of a Leven River.

Freedom of the Town

The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the Town of Ulverston.


  • Peter Winston: 15 May 2019[37]

Military units

See also


  1. "Town Population 2011". Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  2. UK Attraction Hoad Monument
  3. Priestley, Joseph (1831). Historical Account of the Navigable Rivers, Canals and Railways, Throughout Great Britain. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green.
  4. Eilert Ekwall (1922). The Place-Names of Lancashire. Manchester University Press.
  5. "Tremor strikes north-west England". BBC News. 28 April 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  6. "Biggest earthquake in 174 years hits South Cumbria". North-West Evening Mail. 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
  7. "Earthquake Shakes Buildings in Cumbria". Sky News. 28 April 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
  8. A.D. Mills (2003). Dictionary of British Place Names. Oxford University Press. p. 475.
  9. Viking Answer Lady. "Viking Answer Lady Webpage – Old Norse Men's Names". Retrieved 4 November 2007.
  10. Rollinson, W. (1997), The Cumbrian Dictionary of Dialect, Tradition and Folklore, Smith Settle Ltd, p115
  11. "Ulverston, Cumbria". Visit Cumbria. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  12. "Ulverston Street Markets". South Lakeland District Council. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  13. "Ulverston". Cumbria County History Trust. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  14. "Former drill hall including sergeant's house, administration and entrance blocks and boundary walling". Historic England. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  15. Frederic A. Youngs. Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Volume 2. Boydell & Brewer.
  16. "Ofsted inspection report (2007)". Ofsted. 29 November 2007. Archived from the original on 29 May 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  17. "FURNESS LPG – ULVERSTON PRIMARY SCHOOLS LIST" (PDF). Cumbria County Council. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
  18. "Ulverston-Albert Twinning Association | Ulverston Town Council". www.ulverstoncouncil.org.uk. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  19. "Bonjour from Blackpool Airport!". News Powered by Cision. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  20. AP, Chris Thelen / (3 October 2008). "Ga. town keeps Laurel and Hardy's legacy alive". msnbc.com. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  21. "Ulverston home". ulverston.net. Archived from the original on 9 March 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
  22. "Ulverston Dickensian Christmas Festival is proud of their #dickfest". The Poke. 27 November 2015.
  23. "Ulverston Dickensian Christmas Festival". Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  24. .
  25. "FOOTBALL | GSK Sports". Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  26. "First Ulverston Parkrun gets off to perfect start". The Mail. 12 August 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  27. http://www.ulverstontriclub.com/
  28. "Norman Birkett: The Life of Lord Birkett of Ulverston". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  29. "Bill Haley and his Comets". Classic Bands. Retrieved 18 January 2006.
  30. Ovens, Eleanor (27 April 2019). "Sax prodigy Jess Gillam returns to Ulverston to celebrate album launch". The Mail. Barrow-in-Furness. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  31. "Norman Gifford". cricinfo.com. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
  32. "Feature Page of Francis Arthur Jefferson VC". Lancashire Fusiliers. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
  33. "Stan Laure l". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
  34. "Laurel and Hardy Museum". lakedistrictletsgo.co.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
  35. "Statue honours Laurel and Hardy". BBC News. 19 April 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  36. http://www.norway.org.uk/Embassy/consulates/
  37. .
  38. "Freedom of the Town honour for Air Training Squadron". The Westmorland Gazette.
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