Whitehaven’s maritime history and incredible Georgian architecture

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KNOWN for its rich Georgian architecture and maritime history, Whitehaven offers a shopping experience with community and local heritage at its heart.

A prime example is the city’s famous Dixons department store, which celebrates its 140th anniversary in 2022.

Founded as a family furnishing business, Dixons moved from its original home in Whitehaven’s Queen Street to Lowther Street in the 1890s and became a leading department store offering a wide range of fashion, beauty, furniture, housewares and gifts.

It is still owned by the Dixon family and carries on the traditions of Joseph Dixon when he started the business in 1882, and designed and made furniture to order in his studio in Whitehaven.

For an entirely different shopping experience, people can combine shopping therapy with a visit to a downtown attraction, like the Beacon Museum or The Rum Story.

Located on the historic Georgian harbour, the Beacon Museum traces the region’s social, maritime and industrial heritage through interactive audio-visual displays, local characters and historical exhibits.

The museum’s gift shop continues the story, with unique gifts produced by local artisans – from locally artisan preserves to etchings of iconic Whitehaven scenes. Refreshments are available at the Boathouse Café.

Meanwhile, the Rum Story delves into Whitehaven’s history as one of the country’s busiest ports, based in the original 1785 store, yards, cellars and bonded warehouses of the Jefferson family.

The gift shop offers a range of local gin, whiskey and vodka, as well as Jefferson’s Fine Blend Spiced Rum – blended with the traditional 1785 recipe. It also offers locally sourced preserves, chocolates and gifts.

Whitehaven Harbor Commissioners own and run the shop, with profits plowed back into improving the nearby museum.

Throughout the town there are also many small independent shops showcasing local produce and artisans.

Little Whims is just one example of an independent gift shop that sells unique handmade gifts alongside cards, homewares and accessories from its Market Place base. It was one of the recent recipients of funding from Copeland Borough Council’s Townscape Heritage Initiative.

Also, don’t miss the monthly Copeland Young Entrepreneurs Market in Whitehaven, which is a broad showcase of young makers and designers.

The weekly Whitehaven Street Market also takes place every Thursday and Saturday.

For more ideas and inspiration on visiting Cumbria’s bustling shopping streets, visit: www.visitlakedistrict.com/highstreets.

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