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Cockermouth Post Article September 2013 – Brigham’s Cuckoo Arch

We had a query recently regarding the demolition of a Cuckoo Arch, since one lady had memories of walking under it when she was courting in the 1930s. She had read that it was demolished in 1932 and so decided she must have been imagining walking underneath it. However, there were two Cuckoo arches – one at Workington (demolished in 1932) and one at Brigham, which would have been in existence in the 1930s. This arch was taken down in 1948 to allow taller vehicles to pass underneath, and the road was made wider, following a fatal road accident. The arch was part of a footway from Brigham Hill Mansion to the old quarries, which formed part of the ‘wild garden’ of the big house. The contract for demolishing the bridge was held by John Wilson, who began work at 9 a.m. and had the road clear again by early afternoon, quite an achievement. Maybe someone out there knows why the Cuckoo arches were so called, and whether there are other such arches in existence elsewhere.

As far as I am aware, there were no ghoulish or spooky goings-on underneath the Cuckoo arch, but I have had a request for any such stories relating to the Cockermouth area. We know the story of the demise of the Carlisle hangman, falling to his death from the old Cocker Bridge, whilst carrying a heavy load, with no-one coming to his assistance. We know that Gallowbarrow is so named because the gallows stood at the top of it, roughly near the junction with Brigham Road. We also know about the infamous murder of poor Ann Sewell at Beckhouse, Embleton for which George Cass was hanged at Carlisle in 1860. There are numerous drownings in the Cocker and Derwent reported in the West Cumberland Times. Once we had a query for information about a house in Challoner Street, where children’s voices were sometimes inexplicably heard - the house had been a school in Victorian times. We have also been told about so many subterranean tunnels that Cockermouth would seem to have its very own underworld. One such story claimed that there used to be a tunnel from the Old Hall that stood in Market Place at one time, accessed via steps in a large fireplace, going underground and surfacing in a crypt at All Saints’ Church! Can anyone verify this tale, or come up with any other interesting tales? We would love to know about them

Gloria Edwards

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