Workington is the second of three industrial harbour towns which decorate this stretch of red sandstone coastline. Work by name and work by nature, Workington is the birthplace of the Bessemer steel smelting process and the home of a large British Steel works until 2006
Russ Oldfield has 20 staff running the busy commercial port. The materials imported and exported have changed over the years from the ubiquitous coal and iron ore, to acid (for detergent production) and now timber, cement, wood pulp and raw wood logs for bio mass. I watched a monster machine chew up logs and spit out wood chip into a lorry to be transported to the local biomass plant. It does seem amazing that it is both economic and environmentally positive to ship logs from Portugal to feed a biomass plant in Cumbria?!
Workington’s cranes are iconic. The really large ones, now redundant and threatened with scrapping, have just been given remission and have been sold to Teesside. The tall one was built to unload containers, but that trade has died out. It does seem a small port has to be very dynamic to stay afloat….if you excuse the pun!
Workington’s lifeboat is unique in that it is launched by a bespoke crane. While I chatted to Russ we saw it return to harbour with the Air Sea Rescue helicopter following it. Afterwards we learned it had been on a shout to rescue a boy trapped in mud on the Scottish side of the Solway Firth. After the rescue, they were practising transferring a crew member from boat to helicopter. The town is also famous for the River Derwent bursting its banks in 2009 and the main bridge being completely washed away.
Thank you to Russ for collecting me from the train station in the rain. As you can see, and typically for this trip, the sun soon came out as I looked around the harbour. In his time at Workington he has witnessed stowaways being arrested off incoming ships. Rather sinisterly since ships no longer have British crews, the stowaways have ceased….which does lead one to ask what happens to them now..
About the Harbour Master Sailing Challenge: I am circumnavigating #GB in a #Nauticat attempting to visit every #harbour with a #harbourmaster