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.