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Now, however, I feel a direct connection with Cameron’s efforts. My home town, Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, has been judged by the ONS to be the least happy area in Britain.
Barrow and the surrounding areas play host to a great many events over the year. From carnivals to comedians there really is something for everyone. Take a look and see what's on in the area during your visit.
Between 1885 and 1932, the Barrow-in-Furness Tramways Company operated a double-decker tram service over several miles, primarily around central Barrow, Barrow Island and Hindpool.
Barrow's principal road link is the A590. This runs to Barrow from the M6 motorway via Ulverston, skirting the southern Lake District. Just north of Barrow is the southern end of the A595, linking the town to West Cumbria. The A5087 connects Barrow's southern suburbs to Ulverston via a scenic coastal route. Abbey Road is the principal road through central Barrow, whilst Walney Bridge connects Barrow Island to Walney Island.
The most recent surface vessels to be constructed in Barrow were Wave class tanker Wave Knight and Albion-class amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark in the early 2000s when the shipyard was part of BAE Systems Marine division. It also undertook fitting out and commissioning of helicopter carrier HMS Ocean in the mid-1990s after the ship was built by Kvaerner Govan in Glasgow.
Television Barrow lies in the Granada TV – North West England region with the main signal coming from the Winter Hill transmitter near Bolton. There is also a relay transmitter at Millom whose signal can be received in the northern end of the town.
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Which I suppose it does, really. After all, we can forgive and forget many things if fundamentally we’re grinning broadly, skipping along the road avoiding the potholes and jams, sitting have a laugh in the hospital waiting room, beaming at another terrorist video, loving the fact that our wildlife is fast disappearing, revelling in the delightful behaviour of the illiterate yobs on the top deck of the bus.
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They can be direct, they will call a spade a spade. If they think you’re fat they will say so, to your face. But it would be wrong to equate their forthrightness with rudeness. Usually there is no malice, no hurt intended. Indeed if it was pointed out to them that they had indeed inflicted pain, they would be mortified.
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In the 2002 Barrow-in-Furness legionellosis outbreak, 172 people were reported to have caught the disease, of whom seven died. This made it the fourth worst outbreak in the world in terms of number of cases and sixth worst in terms of deaths. The source of the bacteria was later found to be steam from a badly maintained air conditioning unit in the council-run arts centre Forum 28.
Barrow town centre is located to the north-east of the docks, with suburbs also extending to the north and east, as well as onto Walney. The towns of Dalton-in-Furness and Askam-in-Furness are the other sizable settlements of the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness. Barrow is the only major urban area in South Cumbria, with the nearest settlements of a similar size being Lancaster and Morecambe. Other towns nearby include Ulverston, Windermere, Grange-Over-Sands and Millom.
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The end of the Cold War and subsequent decrease in military spending saw high unemployment in the town through lack of contracts; despite this, the BAE Systems shipyard remains operational as the UK's largest by workforce and is undergoing a major expansion associated with the Successor-class submarine programme. Today Barrow is a hub for energy generation and handling. Offshore wind farms form one of the highest concentrations of turbines in the world.
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Barrow-in-Furness is also the connection between the fictional Island of Sodor in the Thomas the Tank Engine TV series as well as the Railway Series books by the Rev. W. Awdry of which the TV series is based.
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Barrow, although one of the country's smallest local authorities contains a wealth of natural and built heritage assets, which includes 274 Listed Buildings and four SSSIs. The 2015 Heritage Index formed by the Royal Society of Arts and the Heritage Lottery Fund placed the borough as seventh highest of 325 English districts with especially high scores relating to nationally important landscape and natural heritage assets and industrial heritage assets.
Barrow on the west coast of Great Britain has a temperate maritime climate owing to the North Atlantic Current and tends to have milder winters than central and eastern parts of the country. The town lies in Hardiness zone 9 and has an average yearly temperature of 10.4 °C.
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They’re not easily impressed. I once had a summer job from university cleaning trains. We were sitting in the tea hut when the question I was dreading duly came. “Which university are you at?” I swallowed hard, and said “Cambridge.” To which my interrogator smiled, and said, “Oh aye, that’s on King’s Lynn line ain’t it?” “Yes,” I said, much relieved. “Yes it is.”
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Furness Abbey, Barrow's third main line station, closed in 1950. There was also a station on Barrow Island, for commuters between the shipyard and nearby towns served by the Furness Railway. This railway link was severed in 1966 when the famous cradle bridge across the docks was closed permanently for safety reasons. There were also stations at Piel, Rabbit Hill, Rampside, Ramsden Dock and Strand.
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Literature In fictional works, Barrow and Vickerstown on Walney Island featured in children's show The Railway Series, which developed into Thomas the Tank Engine, as the point where the fictional Island of Sodor connected to mainland Britain and the national rail network.
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Barrow's population grew rapidly. Population figures for the town itself were not collected until 1871, though sources suggest that Barrow's population was still as low as 700 in 1851. During the first half of the 19th century, Barrow formed part of the parish of Dalton-in-Furness, the population of which shows some of Barrow's early growth from the 1850s:
Barrow Island | Central | Hawcoat | Hindpool | Newbarns | Ormsgill | Parkside | Risedale | Roosecote | Walney North | Walney South
Barrow has played a vital role in global ship and submarine construction for over 125 years. Ottoman submarine Abdül Hamid was built in the town in 1886 and became the first submarine in the world to fire a live torpedo underwater, while oil tanker British Admiral became the first British vessel to exceed 100,000 tonnes when launched in 1965. The vast majority of all current and former Royal Navy submarines were constructed in Barrow as well as numerous Royal Navy Fleet Flagships.
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In medieval times Dalton was the administrative centre of Furness, with strong links to nearby Furness Abbey.
The Barrow council district, which includes adjacent urban areas, had a population of around 69,100 according to the 2011 census. This is 4% less than the 2001 figure of 71,900, and the highest percentage population loss in the country between 2001 and 2011. The Office for National Statistics states Barrow's population as being in long term decline with a projected population of around 65,000 by 2037. This is largely a result of negative net migration.
Football players born in Barrow include England internationals Emlyn Hughes and Gary Stevens, as well as Harry Hadley, and Vic Metcalfe. Of current professional footballers, Wayne Curtis, Morecambe striker, and Iran Under-20 and Hibernian winger Shana Haji both hail from the town.
My home town has qualities no ‘survey’ can uncover
In the further education sector there are two colleges. Barrow-in-Furness Sixth Form College concentrates on teaching A-level subjects, while Furness College specialises in vocational courses. Although there is no higher education institution based in Barrow, Furness College teaches several foundation degrees and a small number of Bachelor's and Master's programmes accredited by the University of Cumbria, University of Lancaster and the University of Central Lancashire.
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There is beauty, too. The town is surrounded on three sides by the sea with the Lake District fells to the north. Some of the roads in the centre are broad, leading to squares that are lined by proud Victorian buildings and statues. On the outskirts, there is a fine ruin of Furness Abbey, a quiet evocative monument.