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Topic - Names of Cumbria

mockerkin on 08 May 2013
People say that there is only one "lake" in Cumbria, Bassenthwaite lake, and that the rest are meres or waters. Not strictly true. As recently as the 19th century, Bassenthwaite lake was called Broadwater. The reason that the name changed was because of the railways. Equally Windermere town was called Birthwaite.
It happened like this. When the rail companies were building the Penrith to Workington rail line (now a Beeching victim and replaced by the A66) they considered putting it on the Skiddaw side of Broadwater with a station at Bassenthwaite village. They then decided to build it on the western side of Broadwater and build a station at the north end of the lake to serve more villages. (Every village and hamlet had a station, including places like Threlkeld, Brigham and Broughton Cross). To differentiate between the new station and the village of Bassenthwaite they called the station "Bassenthwaite Lake"
Then the public thought that "Bassenthwaite" was the name of the water itself and started to call "Broadwater" "Bassenthwaite lake".
The Ordnance Survey people didn't like that at all and continued to name it as Broadwater for many years. Eventually they gave in and changed the name to Bassenthwaite to avoid confusion.
The rail companies built a new line to a town called Birthwaite. They then decided that with the mere being the main attraction they would call their station Windermere. That lead eventually to the town changing it's name from Birthwaite to Windermere.
With so many ancient place names in Cumbria these recent ones are a bit of a surprise.
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