WHITEHAVEN, a municipal and parliamentary borough, seaport and market town of Cumberland, England, 41 m. S.W. of Carlisle. Pop. (1901) 19,324. It lies mainly in a valley opening upon the Irish Sea, with high ground to north and south, and is served by the London & North- Western, the Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith and the Furness railways. The harbour is protected by two main piers, of which the western is a fine structure by Sir John Rennie, and divided into four parts by others; it has a wet dock and extensive quayage. Regular passenger communications are maintained with the Isle of Man. The exports are principally coal, pig iron and ore, steel and stone. The port was made subordinate to that of Maryport in 1892. There are collieries near the town, the workings extending beneath the sea; there are also iron mines and works, engineering works, shipbuilding yards, breweries, tanneries, stone quarries, brick and earthenware works, and other industrial establishments in and near the town. The parliamentary borough returns one member. The municipal borough is under a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area 1810 acres.
Whitehaven (Witofthaven) was an insignificant possession of the priory of St Bee which became crown property at the dissolution of the religious houses. It was acquired before 1644 by relatives of the earl of Lonsdale, who secured the prosperity of the town by working the coal-mines. From 1708 the harbour was governed by twenty-one trustees, whose power was extended and municipalized by frequent legislation, until, in 1885, they were incorporated. In 1894 this government by incorporated trustees gave place to that of a municipal corporation created by charter in that year. The harbour was entrusted to fifteen commissioners. Since the Reform Act of 1832 Whitehaven has returned one representative to parliament. A weekly market and yearly fairs were granted to Sir John Lowther in 1660; two fairs were held in 1888; and the market days are now Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Whitehaven coal was sent chiefly to Ireland in the 18th century. In the first half of the 19th century other exports were lime, freestone, and grain; West Indian, American and Baltic produce, Irish flax and Welsh pig iron were imported, and shipbuilding was a growing indust ry. Paul Jones, the notorious buccaneer, served his apprenticeship at the port, which in 1778 he successfully raided, burning three vessels.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)