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New beginnings for historic Maryport building

Luke Stamper

Luke Stamper

Posted on 09 June 2022

Plans have been approved which will transform one of Maryport’s most historic buildings.

At a meeting of Allerdale Borough Council’s development panel this week (Tuesday 7 June 2022), councilors voted in favour of changing Christ Church on King Street into a new home for Maryport Maritime Museum.

The Grade II listed building, which dates to 1872, has sat empty for a number of years. Allerdale Council bought it in 2020 with the intention of restoring it and bringing it back into public use. The project is being paid for by the Government’s Future High Streets fund and will cost in excess of £1 million.

Christ Church is a prominent landmark on Maryport’s harbourside and has connections to the artist LS Lowry who featured it in his paintings during visits to West Cumbria, as well as in the work of Sheila Fell, his protégé, who was from Aspatria.

The building was listed by Historic England in 2020 and their report notes: “The church was originally referred to as The New Church, The Free Church and the Mission Church but by 1879 it was referred to as Christ Church.

“The spire was completed in 1874 and the clock installed by 1879, the latter donated by Mr. T H Ismay, formerly of Maryport. founder of the White Star Line. A secondary source describes the clock being visible across the harbour and reports it acting as a welcoming beacon for sailors.”

The Development Panel report also referenced the church’s history and location. It said: “It is very original, retaining its single glazed lancet windows and other features synonymous with Gothic style architecture that was revived in ecclesiastical buildings of the 19th century. 

“It is a landmark whose appearance and setting has changed little since it was built. It was, and still is, a beacon that sits at the head of the harbour and highlights the older area of the town clustered around the water’s edge. This is as true for visitors and those returning from the sea as it is from the land.”

Now planning permission has been granted, repairs will be carried out to the exterior of the building while, inside, preparations will be made to accommodate Maryport Maritime Museum. This will include a timber pod with a mezzanine floor to house the current collections and future exhibitions and displays. The materials used will be traditional wood and glass, in keeping with the building’s interior. 

The new visitor attraction is expected to open to the public by the Spring of 2024 while plans are in place to turn the existing Maritime Museum in Senhouse Street into an art gallery and accommodation for an artist in residence.