After living in Workington for 19 years i know alot about the place and it is fair to say it is boring to live here. However for the visitor i can see why people like to come here, it's not too far from the Lake District yet still has a town atmosphere about it. Workington is a large town and has recently undergone a regenration in the town centre meaning that there are lots of new shops there such as poundland, ethel austin, river island, HMV and costa coffee. As well as shops that have previously been in the centre but have now moved into larger shops such as JJB sports and new look.
For a small town the night life in Workington is pretty good, the people are generally friendly and there's usually a good night to be had. People generally follow a circuit, people aged between about 17 and 25 follow the same path. Start at the bounty at around 7pm and have a coule of cheapish drinks in there, then move on to yankees for a quick one while the crowds still there, once it starts to empty the usual path is to the vine bar or the circit bar, either one of them will be busy around half 8. stop in one of there for an hour or so and then off to dukes for a quick one or 2 and then into the well, which people normaly stop in there til about 12. Then its back to Yankees agian which is open til 1 or to chasers which is open to 3. After that food is a general need, with sultans and sadies open til around half 3 if your lucky.
Eating out in Workington, you dont have much of an option. The most popular restuarant i'd say is caspain which offers a wide variety of steaks, burgers, pizzas and italian food. with a grill area and a bar. Other than that there isn't many other resturant options in workington, however lots of the pubs do bar meals during the day and some of them at night, though these are mostly the ones such as the travllers rest, the town house and the briery which are out of the town centre.
I originally wrote this review for the Ciao Café. Since this is now a review about the actual town of Workington, I have cut down significantly on the "how I came to live there" bit, although I'm not removing it completely.
~~~The how I came to live there bit~~~
I had it all planned when we left Hull Uni in June 2003. I would get my dream job in London doing social research. Hubby (then fiancé) would carry on working in Hull for a brief time until he found a job in the South of England. We would then buy a house, get married and live happily ever after! Best laid plans.....
In between planning our wedding whilst living over 200 miles apart, and becoming quite depressed about life, I ended up getting a job at the Church of England in Westminster. I'm not religious, but the environment was calm and caring. I made good friends and had interesting experiences, and I don't think I'd have got through that year without the support at work.
Moving on to April 2004. I was just about to leave work one day when the phone rang. It was hubby. He had got a job! The job was at Sellafield (Cumbria if people don't know) - the place where two-headed sheep come from. The job therefore was NOT in the South of England as I had planned. I travelled home in a daze, with just over a month until the wedding I felt like things were collapsing.
About two weeks before the wedding I was biting into my pork crackling and my front tooth filling came out. I turned up at the doctors the next day looking hideous and spurting gibberish, gesticulating saying "Look...Look, just look at my tooth!" "You don't understand I'm getting married" "I don't want to go to Cumbria, I REALLY don't want to go to Cumbria" - don't know what I wanted him to do really, but he got the mental health people onto me.
Things came to a head less than a week before the wedding. I thought I was going mad. My drinking buddy and I went out. I left the pub at 11pm, didn't get home until 3pm (it's a 15 minute walk). I had evidently been in a hedge this time (I only know this as the man who found my handbag found it in the hedge), finally got home, self-injured etc. Hubby talked of cancelling the wedding, but with only a few days to go and well over 100 people coming and thousands and thousands of pounds of my parents' money, I just couldn't. I don't know how much my parents knew about what went on at this time.
The wedding (May 2004) and honeymoon passed without event (both lovely, although I wish I had been happier), and I returned to my parents, and hubby to his. People used to ask "So, what's married life like then?" This really upset me. I know that not everyone knew our situation, but living 200 miles apart and seeing each other every other weekend was not what I had envisaged married life to be.
Basically hubby was staying working in Hull until his job in Cumbria started in September - for financial reasons we couldn't just stop working to be together! There was no point in me giving up my job before we had our accommodation sorted out, so I stayed until November. This was not an easy 6 months (in fact it was a nightmare really), and I hope that no one reading this has to spend the first 6 months of their marriage living apart.
I looked at maps of Cumbria and reckoned that my best chance of finding a job would be in Carlisle (until working at the Church I had thought Carlisle was in Scotland!) So I picked Workington as the place for hubby and I to live - it was half way between Carlisle and Sellafield in terms of travel to and from work.
Workington is in the West of Cumbria, and is part of Allerdale Borough Council. Workington is a fairly large town (this is by Cumbrian standards) with a population of approximately 19,884 (2001 census) although I would have thought it is increasing at the moment. I can't find exact numbers as different statistics say different things (it could be up to 30,000 including surrounding villages). Other towns nearby are Maryport, Cockermouth (sounds rude, but hubby and I are considering moving here when we want a bigger house and have a family), and Whitehaven. In Workington we call people in Whitehaven jam-eaters (and they call us jam-eaters too). Basically it means that they're too poor to be able to afford meat sandwiches to take down the mine (a bit dated since jam costs more than cheap meat nowadays). The rivalry (as far as I'm aware) is good-humoured, not like feuds between towns in the south of Cumbria which can get ugly.
The West Cumbrian accent is fairly distinct......to use an example my West Cumbrian driving instructor said "Turn left at the Harra." Harra of course means "arrow". Of course, silly me! An affectionate Cumbrian term for friends is Marra. I happen to have a Marra from Barra (Barrow), and there was also a dolphin in Maryport harbour for a while called Marra - sadly I have heard that Marra is now dead.
The history of Workington, and some nice pictures can be found at: http://www.visitcumbria.com/wc/workton.htm
----Houses (our house and experience) & House Prices---
We didn't have much time to sort out buying a house. Hubby had a certain number of weeks he could live bed and breakfast paid in a hotel, so he was already in Cumbria. Basically I researched houses on the Internet, booked viewings of 4 houses (one was already sold before we got there, so it was 3 we saw) and we had one day (2nd October 2004) to choose a house. People might read this and say "You didn't have to buy it that day, you could have rented". But trust me, it was complicated, and this was the least stressful way to do things! Just believe me ok?!
We looked round the 3 houses, the first was lovely and we decided we would have it. However, the second house we fell in love with as it was absolutely perfect. The third house was a bit of a dump. We decided that we absolutely MUST get the second house. We bought our house for £60K. It was on the market for £52K, but houses in Workington always go for more than they are advertised for. There were 3 other couples who were after our house so we put in an offer above their offers and the owner accepted, and also threw in the fridge and freezer for good measure!
Things were a bit touch and go for a while (I think they probably always are when buying houses!), problems with damp in the house (3 years later and still no sign of this legendary damp), problems with Nationwide sending information to me in Essex instead of hubby in Cumbria. The estate agents (Tiffen and Co) were really good, and on the whole everyone else was. Luckily being first time buyers made the chain a lot easier.
There was the stress of leaving my family and friends, and job, and that was the hardest thing. But all things considered it all went really well. I came up on 1st December on the train (now that's another funny story!) as hubby had a work Christmas party. On 3rd December we drove to Bridlington to sort out hubby's stuff. My parents hired a transit van to fill with my stuff and met us in Bridlington. On 4th December we all travelled to Cumbria to our house.
When we arrived the previous owners were just finishing hoovering. They left the house immaculate, left us a useful list of information about suppliers (etc) and they even left us a bottle of bubbly which was much appreciated. Our house needed no work on it at all, the bathroom was a year old, kitchen 6 months, all the carpets etc were (are) good. The reason the last couple left was that they were having a second child so the house was too small for them.
So....for £60K in Workington we got a 2 bed terraced house, separate living and dining rooms, kitchen, and downstairs bathroom. There is a small yard outside the back. The house (like many in Workington and similar towns) is a coal-miner's house. It is basic, and at first I wasn't too sure how I'd cope with just a downstairs toilet, but it suits us and we are very happy there. Our house is in an excellent location, 5 minute walk (2 minute run!) to the station, and 5-10 minute walk into the town centre.
A house similar to ours would currently be on the market for somewhere in the region of £80-90K (still very cheap compared to the rest of the UK I know - I am from the South!), so we did well buying when we did, and houses are set to rise a lot more. The main reason for the rise in house prices in Workington is the regeneration project.
So, what can you get for your money in Workington at the moment?
*5 bed (1 ensuite) modern detached house, gardens, garage, dining room, living room, double glazing and central heating, - £285K
*3 bed semi, recently modernised, garage, dining and living rooms, garden - £185K
*2 bed terrace plus attic room, lounge, kitchen/diner - £90K
From personal experience I completed my ECDL (Computer qualification) at a local community development centre (in a school) via distance learning, and did an A level psychology via distance learning at the local college (The Lakes) which seems like a really nice sixth form college - they tend to mostly focus on vocational qualifications.
There are lots of primary schools, and three secondary schools in Workington (one Catholic) - their results are between 53% and 60% 5 A-Cs at GCSE. From what I'm used to in Essex this doesn't sound great, but apparently it's ok for the area! Not having children this is not really an issue for us at the moment. To be honest I think I'll be more concerned with how happy our children are at school, since I reckon that between us, hubby and I will be able to get them through any qualification at school.
In August 2007 the University of Cumbria opened, and has a base in Carlisle. This means that there is a university within easy reach of Workington. At the moment things are really just taking off.
Now that it where problems arise! Unless you are a graduate in engineering (like hubby), science, or something like that, then things are not so good in Cumbria. Sellafield is a great employer and wages are excellent. That's great for people like hubby. Although as with most things, higher pay means higher stress levels.
Where does that leave little old me with my degree in Sociology and Masters in Social Research? My job at the County Council (incidentally it took 6 months to get a job as I'm overqualified) requires 5 GCSEs. So, it's not taxing! There are lots of jobs for Social Workers but on the whole (in my opinion at least) things are not great. Pay at the County Council (and borough councils) is pretty pathetic compared to elsewhere in the country.
My job is in Carlisle so I have a 50 minute train journey to and from work (I didn't drive at the time I got the job, but it wouldn't be any quicker, and would cost more to drive anyway). The train service is reasonably good (well, most of the time) - a review on that will be coming in due course.
However, with the University of Cumbria opening, it does seem that things are beginning to improve. It does give me some hope that there are more jobs available which require qualifications! So, fingers crossed!
Plenty of local doctors to choose from, and mine is really nice. Haven't had much dealing with other health things, except brief dealings with the mental health team, and had my wisdom teeth out in Carlisle hospital (very nice, especially compared to Whitehaven hospital which is a dump - where I had my initial appointment about my teeth). I have to say that unless you get seen as a priority by the mental health team, waiting lists are long. At present I have requested counselling, and have been on the list for nearly a year. I would imagine that sadly this is not unusual to Cumbria, and one has to reach crisis point to get treatment.
There is a hospital in Workington, but unfortunately no A & E. For this you need to go to Whitehaven (which is dilapidated) or Carlisle (which is better, but it's further away). They are planning on building a new hospital somewhere in the West of Cumbria.
I did however manage to register with an NHS dentist in Carlisle - this was only due to the wisdom tooth thing - other people aren't so lucky. There are plans to be getting rid of Whitehaven hospital and building something new.
According to an article in the Times & Star (our weekly broadsheet, we also have a daily paper) on 1st December, crime is at epidemic levels in the St. Michael's Ward of Workington (this is where I live).
"Cumbria police figures show that 1,600 serious offences took place in St Michael's ward in 20 months up until August 31 this year. They include 101 drugs offences, 11 sex offences, seven robberies, 437 thefts, 102 burglaries, 473 cases of criminal damage and 36 cases of fraud/forgery and 61 vehicles were stolen during."
However, from what I have seen and heard, it appears that the majority of crime is personal. Basically you're not likely (at least down our street anyway) to have your car vandalised unless you have annoyed someone!
When we first arrived in Workington, the shops weren't anything to shout about, except for a nice Woolworths. However, since the regeneration project we now have a HUGE JJB Sports, Next and New Look, River Island, a Debenhams, HMV, The Works. Other shops like M & S have improved a lot. The shopping centre in town is good, but exceptional I think when you consider the population.
There is an out of town shopping centre called Dunmail Park, which I would say is not really worth bothering with unless you're going to the cinema anyway.
There is a Matalan just out of town, and then there are retail parks with PCWorld, Halfords and Currys to name a few.
We do our main shopping in Tescos - they are planning to build a big new Tescos in Workington which we are looking forward to (although plans seem to be taking years). There is also a Morrisons, but hate the layout so try and avoid it.
I would like to see a Staples, a WHSmiths, an Argos Extra and a Toys'r'us in Workington, but I hope that in time these will come. Some people still seem to trek to Carlisle to go shopping, but I really don't see the point (although saying that I can pop into Carlisle in my lunch break).
There are various places to eat in Workington. There is a McDonalds (out of town), and numerous takeaway (Sadies deserves a mention for their donner wraps!), sandwich shops. Of the actual restaurants, these are the ones worth mentioning:
*Caspians - a grill bar - good value, quick service - also does takeaway
*Impressions - a small restaurant, reasonable prices - they do the most fantastic steaks, and its very homely
*Washington Central Hotel - we've been here several times for special occasions. They also have an AA rosette. I have to say that is does seem to be going downhill, after going on Valentines Day this year.
There is a new Chinese set to open soon, and I hear there are plans for an Italian. I think we could do with a Pizza Hut, but then you can't have everything.
There are lots of pubs in Workington. They have what is widely known across Cumbria "The Circuit". Basically everyone on a Friday/Saturday night starts off at the same pub and goes round on a pub crawl circuit. As you can imagine it's very busy. We have done the circuit (at least started it!) several times, but generally go the opposite way which is less busy.
The good thing about the circuit is that at most times you can get into Wetherspoons and it's dead! There are two nightclubs, have been to one once but decided hubby and I are too old!
----Other things to do----
*There's a 6 screen cinema - it's out of town, but you could walk if you wanted to. There's also a small shopping centre where the cinema is (Dunmail Park), but it's a bit rubbish in the light of the regeneration.
*There's a bowling alley which we've been to several times and will go again.
*The Helena Thomson Museum which is the Workington museum is free, and worth visiting once - but just once!
*There's a ruined castle.
*The circus (which was excellent) and the fair come once a year.
*A fair few churches if you like that sort of thing - St. Michael's is very nice inside and worth a look. You can't fail to miss St John's which was apparently modelled on St Paul's cathedral - hilarious when you see it!
*Workington library is very nice, and I spent lots of time going to get books when I was unemployed.
*The leisure centre (which is just out of town) has a gym, swimming pool - the usual. It cost us under £500 (I forget exactly) for a year's membership for the 2 of us in 2005 - and that included everything. I think that's good value. However, we've become somewhat lax with our exercising.
*There is a football stadium, and various other things which we know nothing about!
The main thing about Workington is its location. When I found out about coming up here I didn't want to come. People kept saying "Mary, you'll love it, it's beautiful". I was adamant that I would hate it (remember I didn't want to leave my friends and my job). I was sure that it would be temporary and we'd soon move back down south. I did hate it at first.
But I don't miss the family and friends - not anymore. They come and visit. The great things about Cumbria is being able to take people to tourist attractions (I feel later reviews about these will come!). Keswick is a 15-20 minute drive - people go on holiday to Keswick, and it's so near us. We don't really have friends in Workington, they mainly live in Whitehaven or round that area. But we have our house there and we love it.
I hate to admit I'm wrong. But I was wrong. I do love it, it is beautiful, and we're very happy here.
PS. The sheep are an added bonus
The night life is definateley worth going to Workington for. There is a great circuit around town which enables you to walk out of one pub, stagger slightly and fall in to the next. It all starts at Wetherspoons on Oxford street at around 7PM where stomachs are lined and cheap beer is drunk. The waltz to the next pub is the furthest you will go in one stint all night but it gives you a chance to burn off the cheesey chips that you have just consumed. Turn right as you go out of the door and head east, keep walking but be weary of the taxis wanting to kill you at the round about and keep going toward the traffic lights. On your right you will see Level 2, this is a fun pub with dace floor and is usually quite packed. As you leave turn right in the same direction as before and continue toward the traffic lights, on the opposite side of the road ( Washington street) is The Well, enter throught the front door but walk straight on to the top bar if you are below 30, stay in situ if not. Once ready for a move, exit via the side door, stumble slightly and you will find yourself entering Yankees bar through their side door. Once you have danced a bit and upset everyone, leave via the main door in the bottom bar and turn immediateley left, 20m stagger and then youre at Chasers, this ones simple, one door in and one door out, once out turn left again and youre at Xscape, again, as simple as the last out and left again, in approx 15m you will stumble upon a side street, turn left and go through the door on your left, youre now in Circuit. Chill for a while in here and get you breath, congratulations!!!! youre quater of the way round!!!! Head out of here via the Nook street door and turn left again, head straight forward 20m on to King street and turn right, a further 20m is the Red House, mostly oldies and a few hardened rugby players on steroids, another 15m and there is the Grapes, a deceiving little pub. enter and please buy your drink in here, be forwarned!!! As you head toward the toilet you will realise that things have gone different without leaving the pub, this is not the drink taking effect but infact a pact little fun bar area called the Vine Bar, on Thursdays itll have cowgirls on the bar and a great bloody bull in the centre which you will, by this time, be convinced that you have what it takes to stay on forever, the bruises in the morning will remind you. Once leaving here by the main exit you will find yourself in an alley way, turn right and in 10m you will be back on to King street, tun left and in 20m there will be three roads in front, go immediately right and then left down a cobbled street, in 20m you will have a desician to make, hmmm, left or right? on your right is Dukes, and on your left is some other bounce place. Cant remember the name but my mates and I nicknamed it Stringfellows because the bloke behind the bar is his double. Carrying on down this road will lead you to some more traffic lights and on the other side of the road is the Curwen, graet little pub with a whacky DJ bloke who sounds like Joe Pascalle, weird little creature. after here its big desicion time, Fusion is opposite and right on Ladies walk, overated but great but great for the young ones, The Royal oak is over the road and straight ahaed toward the town center, a bit dingy but ok, or back to Chasers untill 2am which is left and back down Washington Street. All are approx 100m. If youve had enough by this time then the Taxis are lining the road on route to Chasers.
Hope this was a little more helpfull, enjoy.
Workington is my place of birth, and having lived there for the first eighteen years of my life, I decided to get out...as the saying goes 'the grass is always greener on the other side!' When I was eighteen I moved to Manchester and then on to Newcastle, as well as travellign to London on a regular basis, these places all opened my eyes, and made me realise what I was missing not having lived in cities, but as I got used to them, there benefits faided away. I am now back living in Workington (for the moment) and have came to appreciate its benefits, that I took for granted when I was younger. Here is what I have to say about the town: Location: Workington is a town with about 25,000 people. It is located on the west coast, about 35 miles from Carlisle, which provides the main road links. Workington is also situated on the edge of the lake district, and is the capital of West Cumbria. Shopping: In the town there are most of the regular high street names, and more of the popular ones are coming, such as Game and Debenhams. We are also getting a small shopping centre, and the biggest Tesco store in Cumbria. There is one out of town shopping centre/cinema and a few retail parks. Sports/Leisure: There is one main sports centre in Workington, as well as several private gyms. Workington is also home to a amateur football, rugby league and rugby union team. On the outskirts of town is a six screen cinema complex, the only one in West Cumbria. Nightlife: Workington has ace nightlife for a small town with about 20 pubs and 2 nightclubs on the town circuit, as well as many others here and there. Circuit pubs to go to are: Yankees, The Well, Scruples Bar, Jailhouse, Circuit Bar, Minors, Grapes, Blue Bell, Vine Bar, Barnabyes, Dukes Bar, The Curwen, Elliotts, Royal Oak, Level 2 and Weatherspoons, followed by one of our nightclubs. Quality of life: Overall in Workington, you have a good quality of life, you are si
tuated near the lakes and Scotland, and hosuing is cheaper than anyware in England. Please visit us and boos the local economy!!!
Well, for anyone who travels this far north to Cumbria in the first place and is then prepared to drive at least 45 minutes from the motorway you may be slightly disappointed to find out that once you finally get to Workington or Wuck-in-'n as the locals call it you don’t understand a word anyone says. The accent in my hometown is slightly hard to decipher for people who aren’t used to it, as I learned when I moved to Manchester last year! The problem with going to Workington is; when you finally get here, there is almost nothing to do. Well unless you want to play Crown Green Bowls, go to the local parks, (and after 6pm these fill up with drunken 13 year olds) or you want to go to a cold and dirty strip of rocks called Northside Beach. The things that you can do, won’t really fill up a fortnight’s holiday here but if you’re staying in the Lake District it’s not that far to travel for a day trip. There’s Curwen Hall, a ruined castle that Mary Queen of Scots stayed in on her way to London. You can look round the outside year-round for free and look inside during the summer for about £3-4. Just down the road there’s the Helena Thompson Museum, free to look round but they ask you for a donation, a converted large house with exhibitions which are mostly to do with the local area. They do usually have a visiting exhibition in the main hall which is there for about 6 weeks then moves on so there’s always something new to see. A favorite memory of my childhood was being allowed to model the Victorian children’s clothes for the local newspaper. Now they're behind a glass case to preserve them. There is a town center that has better shopping facilities than the nearby towns and villages, including a Woolworth’s, Next, Boots etc. But for a real shopping trip, make the effort and go to Carlisle. There's the industrial estate Derwent Howe which h
as a Safeway, B&Q, Halfords, and some carpet/furniture shops but if you're in Workington on Holiday you won't really be interested in those. It's pretty much on the outskirts of the town. But the best thing about Workington is its pubs. Go into the town Center and just follow one of the general crowds of people into the following; Yankees-pretty old pub, but always packed Scruples-formally called Chasers, newly refurbished and nice, a good meeting point and next door to Yankees. Circuit Bar-a nice mellow local bar, with good music Level 2-upper levels with a Chinese restaurant, nicest toilets in town! Elliott’s-Very sticky floor, go to the toilet in Level 2 before you go here! Royal Oak-small pub, walk in one door and out the other in about 30 minutes, because it's so crowded. Nice pub food for lunch, but too noisy/smoky/busy to eat dinner/supper. Fusion- the most popular club, expensive entry and drinks, not that good for all the hype. On a typical night out it is possible to have at least one drink in each of these, and see everyone you know on the way. There is a maximum 5 minute walk between them. There are quite a few places to eat in Workington. I have found these to be the best cafe's in town, with consistently friendly and efficient service. Superfish Restaurant; in the town center, above a takeaway, serving the typical takeaway food, but on a plate. Situated on Pow Street, next to M&S. There is a second takeaway on John Street but this doesn't have a restaurant. Toggies; a little cafe in the town center, very busy on Saturday mornings, pretty reasonable the rest of the week. This is on Pow Street between Woolies and M&S. Treats; a slightly more up market cafe. Also on Pow Street, but near Derwent Bookshop. Washington Central Cafe; part of the Washington Central Hotel, by far the nicest in town, on the corner of Washington Street, just next to the main town
center car park. And then if you like your junk food... McDonalds; have you ever been to a town that doesn't have a McDonalds? Well until recently we didn't have one. Now that we do, its the same as every other one you've ever seen, situated on Derwent Howe. Caspian’s; for nice pizza, also deliver, usually very nice, but quite expensive also on Derwent Howe. Kow-Loon; the best Chinese takeaway in Cumbria, people come from all over to Seaton, a village on the outskirts of Workington. You can even by someone gift vouchers for this takeaway! The point is, come to Workington for a day, stay and have the best night out in Cumbria, and then move on, to elsewhere in the Lake District with the rest of the tourists who never make it this far to start with.