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Ulverston is a market town in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria in North West England. Historically in Lancashire, the town is in the Furness area north-east of Barrow-in-Furness. It is close to the Lake District, and just north of Morecambe Bay, neighboured by Swarthmoor, Pennington and Rosside.
Ulverston's most visible landmark is Hoad Monument, a concrete structure built in 1850 to commemorate statesman and local resident Sir John Barrow. The monument provides views of the surrounding area, including Morecambe Bay and parts of the Lake District.
Ulverston Canal, no longer navigable, was once a vital component of the town's economy and is still celebrated with an art installation.
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.
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. It was the largest seismic event in the region since a magnitude 4.4 earthquake struck Lancaster in 1835.
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". The personal names Úlfarr and Wulfhere both translate roughly as "wolf warrior" or "wolf army", 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. Locally, the town has traditionally been known as Oostan. Other variations of the name recorded throughout history include Oluestonam (1127), and Uluereston (1189).
The town's market charter was granted in 1280 by Edward I. 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. 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 following a benefaction by Thomas Fell.
The Victoria Road drill hall was completed in 1873.
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.
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, who represented Britain at the Nuremberg Trials; Maude Green, the mother of Rock and Roll music legend, Bill Haley; Norman Gifford, an England test cricketer; Francis Arthur Jefferson, a soldier awarded with the Victoria Cross; and comedian Stan Laurel, of Laurel and Hardy fame. The Laurel & Hardy Museum is situated in Ulverston, and in 2009 a statue of the duo was unveiled by comedian Ken Dodd, outside Coronation Hall in the town centre.
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.
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. There are also four primary schools. 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. Currently served by Northern ensuring a supply of elderly train stock. The railway station is a short walk from the town centre. The town is also served by several bus services. These include the X6, running to Kendal from Barrow-in-Furness, via Grange over Sands. The X 12 runs from Coniston and passes through the village of Spark Bridge. Other services include the X 31 to Tarn Hows and the 6A and 6 to Barrow-in-Furness, the largest town in the region.
Ulverston is twinned with the town of Albert in France. The two towns regularly meet to play football at Easter with the Cyril Barker Shield being contested every year. The match's location is alternated between Ulverston and Albert. In July 2016 Ulverston, birthplace of film comedian Stan Laurel, was officially twinned with Harlem, Georgia, USA the birthplace of Laurel's screen partner Oliver Hardy.
Ulverston calls itself a 'festival town' in reference to the many and varied festivals which take place in Ulverston over the course of the year. The most renowned of these is the Lantern Festival, which involves hundreds of local residents creating lanterns out of willow and tissue paper and parading them throughout the town in winding rivers of light. The annual event culminates in a lively display of theatrical performance and fireworks in Ford Park, and was organised entirely by the community themselves for the first time in 2008.
Other popular festivals include:
- Flag Festival
- Dickensian Festival (also known as #DickFest on Twitter)
- Beer Festival
- Charter Festival (including the Lantern Festival)
- International Music Festival
- Furness Tradition
- 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. A festival of music, comedy, street theatre and art, celebrating Ulverston and the birth of Stan Laurel.
Ulverston's football team is GSK Ulverston Rangers F.C. They play in the Barrow junior district league. They play their home games at Glaxo or Dragley Beck depending on age. U10s and below only play friendlies while U11s upwards play league football. Their strip is white with a black/orange trim, black shorts and black/white socks
GSK Ulverston Rangers adults wear a black and purple hooped strip, and play at Glaxo allotments.
Ulverston A.R.L.F.C. is a rugby league team in Ulverston who play home games at Dragley Beck, also known as Pain Lane. They wear a blue with white trim strip with blue shorts and blue socks and play in the North West Counties Rugby League.
Ulverston A.R.L.F.C. has produced many professional rugby players, including Geoff Worrall, Derek Hadley, Jos Kenley, Dave Milby, Alan Moses, Oliver Wilkes, Andy Whittle, Stuart Wilkinson, Phil Atkinson, Neil Atkinson, Martin John, John Stephenson, Stuart Howarth, Nick Caunt, Chris Wilkes, Andy Rigby and Andy Whalley.
Ulverston A.R.L.F.C. are the current holders of the Barton Townley Cup.
The town also has two hockey clubs. South Lakes and Ulverston. Both based out of Ulverston Leisure Centre.
The town regularly hosts Urban events and fun events run by Lakeland Orienteering Club.
There is a successful swimming club at Ulverston Leisure Centre.
Ulverston Tri Club is based at the leisure centre. They train on Saturday mornings.
- Ella Blaylock Atherton (1860–1933), physician
- Amelia Edith Barr (née Huddleston): novelist, born in Ulverston
- Sir John Barrow: Statesman, born in Ulverston
- Norman Birkett: Barrister, judge, politician and preacher who served as the alternate British judge during the Nuremberg Trials. Born in Ulverston.
- Francis Arthur Jefferson VC: Victoria Cross winning soldier. Born in Ulverston.
- Stan Laurel: Actor, born in Ulverston.
- Bob Shaw: science fiction writer, lived in Ulverston.
- William Basil Weston VC: Victoria Cross winning officer. Born in Ulverston: there is a memorial to him in the town's Catholic church.
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.
The town of Ulverstone in Tasmania, Australia is named after Ulverston and is similarly built at the mouth of a Leven River.