The Seathwaite Dam Riot

I only found out about this riot, which happened in 1904, recently, thanks to this informative blog post from Lakeland Tales and Histories.

Apparently it all started when some navvies employed on constructing the dam across Seathwaite Tarn to provide drinking water for Barrow in Furness were denied drinks in the local pub. They went on the rampage, smashing windows and damaging property, and the locals took up arms to protect themselves, shooting several of the rioters and killing one.

The area is tranquil enough now but it’s a reminder that the Lake District as a whole was once much busier and much more industrialised than we think it was, and that incidents like this were probably not that rare.

As a sidenote, we visited Seathwaite Tarn a few years ago as part of a rough, scrambly walk I’d seen on the internet. It was really tough going, and we finally emerged at the tarn to find massive renovation works going on and the path across the top of the dam closed to all comers. The alternatives were to slither back down the way we’d come up, or take a lengthy detour right round the tarn – which is surprisingly large. In the end, Dave had a quiet word with the site foreman and the workmen pretended to be getting on with something else while we dashed across. It was probably more than their jobs were worth if anyone had found out… but it saved my lungs!

The photo is also courtesty of Lakeland Tales and Histories, used with thanks.

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