at the southern end of Thirlmere in Cumbria

the Nags Head Inn and the Church - coach stop on the journey from Ambleside to Keswick

fellsphoto home  > Lake District postcards > Wythburn


(Note that the copyright status of many of these photographs is unknown other than that of the Abrahams' photographs for which copyright is jealously guarded by the Abrahams' estate.)

Wythburn Church looking up to the fell top

Wythburn Church, early 20th C. before the post-Great War conifer planting, looking up to Dollywagon Pike



Wythburn  :  coach & four in front of church



During 1876, residents of Cumberland and Westmorland gradually became aware that the pristine beauty of one of their cherished lakes was under serious threat. Manchester, the largest industrial city in England, was planning to convert Thirlmere into a reservoir: to dam it, to raise its level as much as 50 feet, and to pipe its waters 100 miles southeast to the cisterns of Manchester.

In 1878, against formidable odds, they managed to stall the legislation necessary to empower the Manchester Corporation to purchase the property and easements required for this massive enterprise. Nevertheless, the legislation passed easily when it was reintroduced in 1879.

In 1894, the first Thirlmere water arrived in Manchester

(taken from:  Fighting for Thirlmere --The Roots of Environmentalism by Harriet Ritvo)

The villages of Armboth and Wythburn were lost. The church now has only 5 parishioners.

Thirlmere and Wythburn from Steel Fell


the hamlet of Wythburn is outlined in red (see enlargement below)

this is all that remained after the lake level was raised


enlargement of Wythburn from the previous picture


Today only the church remains, here largely hidden by trees. The churchyard was closed and the other buildings demolished in 1937. (date confirmation req.)


Abraham's postcard of Leathes Water and Wythburn water from Steel Fell


Thirlmere, then known as Leathes Water and Wythburn Water, looking north from Steel Fell, as it was before 1894, before the flood.

Wythburn is just out of sight behind the rock outcrop, bottom right.

Thirlmere : 1800 map             Thirlmere : 1897 OS map

At left: 1800 map clearly showing two separate lakes. Note how far the chapel is from the lake end.

Comparing it to the modern map and so taking the beck between 'i' and 't' to be that draining Whelp Side, then that's 800m (approx. mile), from the church.

At right is the 1897 OS map with the lake level partial raised.

 1830 engraving of Thirlmere two bridges

1830's engraving showing the bridge between the two former lakes looking north. They can be seen in the postcard view (above) from Steel Fell.

Raven Crag at left, Great How centre, the Dodds at right. In the style of the period the hills have been exaggerated into dramatic peaks.


Wythburn  :  the Nags Head


Wythburn 1907 looking south to Dunmail Raise (the pass to Grasmere), Steel Fell above right.


coach at the Nags Head

The coach from Keswick to Grasmere and Ambleside waiting alongside the church wall.

The Nags Head Inn is at left. The building further up the road is the other inn, The Cherry Tree.



Wythburn  :  coaches both sides of road Wythburn  :  Inn and Steel Fell
Wythburn : village from south fells : Thirlmere beyond
(small size due to these not being owned by me - pictures taken from ebay listings)




Wythburn : coach with passengers by the church

 Passengers on the coach to Keswick.  (1904 postmark known, so the photograph would be taken earlier than that)

This is the full width photograph showing what is most likely the photographer's horse and trap at right. Later printings crop this out, as seen below in the tinted versions. 



enlargement of the coach and passengers from the previous picture

The passengers who'd paid their 5/- fare for the 16 mile journey from Ambleside to Keswick.

(in the background, left, with beard and hat, is possibly the Revd. W. Des V. Hill, vicar from 1892 - 1923 (confirmation req.))

For more about coaching over the Lakeland passes see the Dunmail Raise postcard page.



Wythburn  :  coach outside church - tinted Wythburn  :  coach outside church - tinted (red roof)
Clearly this postcard was a best seller for many years as it's found in both full width and cropped, both monochrome and tinted. Evidenced also by the high number seen for sale on ebay.
Of the tinted versions there are several variants, of which here are three, the left-hand one, above, being the more accurately coloured. (The artists are unlikely to have seen the scene.)
However, the artist tinting the right-hand one, although having done a better job on the wall and fellside as well as enhancing the groom (almost invisible in the other) and the fence at far right, has transformed the lead horse into a grey, created a non-existent wall extending left of the back of the building and given the church a red tile roof.
The roof is, of course, of Cumberland green slate.
(Abraham's postcards of the style seen at left, with the description and unprinted bar across the bottom, trace back to at least 1904, so were probably photographed earlier. )
Wythburn  :  coach outside church - tinted (green church)
Here the church has been painted green and the passengers rug dyed pink!


(Note that the copyright status of many of these photographs is unknown other than that of the Abrahams' photographs for which copyright is jealously guarded by the Abrahams' estate.)


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this page launched 10th August 2012 : last modified 8th February 2014