Hodbarrow Iron Ore Mines (1850 - 1968)
The first of the Hodbarrow iron ore (red hematite) mines, located between Millom and the seashore at Hodbarrow Point in Cumberland (now Cumbria), opened in c.1850. At that time Millom was a small settlement, but it was to grow rapidly in association with the mines and iron works. By 1896, Hodbarrow Mining Co. Ltd. was employing 1,435 people, (1,117 working below ground, and 318 working on the surface). It was the largest iron mine in the world at that time. The company built a substantial seawall (the 'Hodbarrow Outer Barrier') to protect the mines from the sea. This was completed in 1905, having taken five years and almost £600,000 to build. The mines closed in 1968. The 105 hectar the site of the former mine was purchased by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 1986. It is now the Hodbarrow Reserve, which is now a large coastal lagoon and grasslands, and part of the part of the Duddon Estuary SSSI.