Created 7-Jun-12
Modified 26-Jun-12
Visitors 551
165 photos
Backbarrow. The area around Backbarrow in South Cumbria is internationally important in the story of the iron industry. It was also a major manufacturer of ultramarine blue (ie the powder similar to dolly blue), gunpowder, charcoal and other woodland products. Contained in this Gallery is a selection of unique photographs from a private Collection, the Harvey Collection. In addition to the photos there is a collection of documents, the entire collection is destined for a local Archive Record Office.

Ultramarine
In 1792 a water-powered cotton mill was established at Backbarrow. The mill employed apprentices, some of whom lived in accommodation across the river Leven opposite the mill. In 1890 The Lancashire Ultramarine Co was established making a blue pigment also known as 'laundry blue' or more popularly 'dolly blue'. The firm had various names before changing finally to Reckitt's Colour, the works closing in 1982.
The process of manufacturing 'Blue' was messy and difficult as the photos clearly show. "Ultramarine" was manufactured at 'The Blue Mill' from a finely ground mixture of sulphur, china clay, soda ash, & pitch." Source - Mein and Sanderson "The Leven Valley A Secret Past" 2011.
Further information of the process can be obtained from the Cumbria Industrial History Society website at http:/​/​www.​cumbria-​industries.​org.​uk/​blue.​htm

KH Feel free to contact us for further information.

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Keywords:backbarrow, chemicals, cotton mills, cumbria, dolly blue, harvey, health and safety, industrial archaeology, industrial heritage, lake district, lancashire, leven, reckitt and coleman, reckitt and colman, ultramarine, working conditions

Backbarrow , Falls and mill with chimney

Backbarrow , Falls and mill with chimney

Backbarrow Bridge arches

Backbarrow Bridge arches

Backbarrow Bridge from the Leven looking north.

Backbarrow Bridge from the Leven looking north.

Backbarrow Bridge, from 5th floor of blue works

Backbarrow Bridge,  from 5th floor of blue works

Backbarrow Bridge, Flood level on bridge Nov 3rd 1898

Backbarrow Bridge, Flood level on bridge Nov 3rd 1898

Backbarrow Bridge, in flood

Backbarrow Bridge, in flood

Backbarrow Bridge, showing earlier structures

Backbarrow Bridge, showing earlier structures

Backbarrow Bridge, where mill race joins river

Backbarrow Bridge, where mill race joins river

Backbarrow, Blue Mill and Leven in low water pre 1982

Backbarrow, Blue Mill and Leven in low water pre 1982

Backbarrow, Blue Works and bridge low water pre 1982

Backbarrow, Blue Works  and bridge low water pre 1982

Backbarrow, Blue Works , Blue tanks, 2nd floor

Backbarrow, Blue Works , Blue tanks,  2nd floor

Backbarrow, Blue Works , Blue tanks, 2nd floor

Backbarrow, Blue Works , Blue tanks,  2nd floor

Backbarrow, Blue Works and chimney BW

Backbarrow, Blue Works and chimney BW

Backbarrow, Blue works and chimney from hillside

Backbarrow, Blue works and chimney from hillside

Backbarrow, Blue works and houses from distance

Backbarrow, Blue works and houses from distance

Backbarrow, Blue Works and sluice from river to iron works

Backbarrow, Blue Works and sluice from river to iron works

Backbarrow, Blue works and weir 1981

Backbarrow, Blue works and weir 1981

Backbarrow, Blue works and weir pre 1982

Backbarrow, Blue works and weir pre 1982

Backbarrow, Blue Works Blending, Blender unit

Backbarrow, Blue Works Blending, Blender unit

Backbarrow, Blue Works chimney

Backbarrow, Blue Works chimney