20 reasons to love Carlisle

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Rickerby Park
Rickerby Park

Entertainment, culture, heritage and good crack: Carlisle has it all. Pam McClounie looks at 20 reasons to love the city. Why do you love Carlisle?

1. Bitts and Rickerby Parks
Carlisle is very lucky to have such wonderful green spaces right next to the city centre.
A stroll into the park can do wonders for the soul and there is so much to see.
A great play area in Bitts Park for the children and wonderful riverside walks in both Bitts and Rickerby Park with superb views of the city and its castle.


2. Closeness to the Lake District and Scotland
Just a short drive away and you’re in the Lake District. With mountains to climb and lakes to explore, the city is ideally placed for trips out of town to some great locations.


3. Eating out and about
Eating in Carlisle is great but where should you go?
Circle Bar photo
From fine dining at places like David’s on Warwick Road, to modern cuisine at the Thin White Duke, Eaten by Monsters, Circle Bar and Shabby Scholar.
There are plenty of places to eat and some talented chefs in the city.


4. Sands Centre
The Sands Centre is home to a vast array of touring musicals, pop concerts, comedians, ballets, table top sales, skills fairs, the county’s biggest quiz and football competitions.
It is also home to a gym, cafe/restaurant and a little outdoor play area for young children in the summer.
It hosts lots of exercise classes from Body Pump to Spinning.


5. The Old Fire Station
New on the scene and bouncing back from the floods is the Old Fire Station - a new arts venue for the city and since it’s opening it has gone down a storm.
Several bands and theatre groups now play the venue including Cast and Black Grape and it has McGrew’s bistro where customers can get a coffee, a pint, breakfast, lunch and snacks.


6. Carlisle United
Brunton Park at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon is the place to be.
The cheers and the groans can be heard across the city when the League 2 team face their opponents.
The club was founded in May 1904.


7. The people
Carlisle people are unique. They like a gossip and often the city can feel like a village where everyone knows everyone else.
If you went to school here but moved away you will still know lots of people in the city.
Facebook has done a great deal helping people keep in touch.


8. Leading businesses
Some of the city’s biggest employers are McVities (biscuits), Cavaghan and Gray (food) and Pirelli (tyres). They are all based in Carlisle.


9. Atlas Works

Atlas Works in Denton Holme is a former factory but today is a hive of activity and businesses.

It is home to a garage, school uniform shop, children’s play centre, a theatre school, a dance school, gym, cafe/takeaway, craft shed, nursery and much more.

From the studios of Cumbria Dance on the top floor it has some amazing views over the city.


10. History and heritage
Carlisle is rich in history and has some amazing sights. The castle, cathedral and Citadel are all very striking.

Carlisle Castle photo
Carlisle Castle once served as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots 24.
It is recorded in the Post Office archives that the first box in the UK was erected in Botchergate, Carlisle in 1853. This fact is commemorated today with a replica Penfold box, located between the Market Cross and the Old Town Hall in the city centre.
The former Her Majesty’s Theatre in Carlisle, which was on Lowther Street but now demolished, was the first to be lit by electricity in 1880.


11. Famous sons and daughters

 Fashion designer Stuart Vevers

Fashion designer Stuart Vevers

Several people from Carlisle have gone on to have great careers.
Pop star Lee Brennan made it big with the band 911, while former Trinity school pupil Roxanne Pallet became an actress and starred in Emmerdale.
And in fashion, cousins and former Trinity School pupils Stuart Vevers and Jonathan Kelsey landed roles designing accessories and shoes for some of the biggest fashion houses.
TV presenter and former BBC Radio Cumbria broadcaster Helen Skelton has gone on to have a great career in the media. Now living in France, she can regularly be seen on our TV screens on the BBC Countryfile programme or commentating at events like the Olympics.
Writer and broadcaster Eric Robson began his television career with Border Television in Carlisle. He now presents, produces and writes TV programmes.
And author Hunter Davies - who wrote the official biography of The Beatles - grew up in Carlisle.
Several sportsmen including footballer Grant Holt and athletes like Tom Farrell and hammer thrower Nick Miller have gone on to have good careers.


12. Carlisle railway station
The station was built in 1847 and is grade II listed. It has direct services to Scotland, London and Newcastle.
It is also the end stop along the historic Settle to Carlisle line.
Work on a £10.5m scheme to repair the roof is ongoing. The work is the first major refurbishment the station has had in more than 40 years.
On average around 125 passenger trains and 90 freight trains pass through Carlisle station every day and it has an annual footfall of 2.4 million people.


13. Tullie House Museum
Opened by the Carlisle Corporation in 1893, the original building is a converted Jacobean mansion, with extensions added when it was converted.
Tullie House Museum photo
At first the building contained the museum and also a library, an art school and a technical school.
The museum has a large and eclectic collection of zoological, botanical and geological material.
It has also the Roman Frontier Gallery housing the museum’s significant Roman collection along with items on loan from the British Museum.
The museum won the annual Family Friendly Museum Award (sponsored by the Telegraph Media Group) in 2015/2016.


14. Shopping
Carlisle is great for shopping as it’s so compact.
As well as the high street chains along English Street and The Lanes, the historic quarter has a range of independent shops like gift shop Ashbridge and Brown, Turnbulls lingerie and fashion boutique Jiggery Pokery.


15. Carlisle Market Hall
The market hall was built between 1887-1889.
It is one of the few covered Victorian markets remaining in the country.
It has been used as a concert venue; notable past performers include Thin Lizzy, Gillan, Status Quo, Uriah Heep, Motörhead, Rory Gallagher, Iron Maiden, Genesis, AC/DC and The Who.
Today the covered market is full of thriving stalls and businesses - one serving the best pizza slices in the city.
It retains a lot of its Victorian character.


16. Hammonds Pond
Hammonds Pond is great for a walk and good for children. It has a boating lake, children’s play area, football pitches, miniature railway and cafe.


17. Vibrancy as university city
The growth of the University of Cumbria, which has two campuses in Carlisle has helped attract students to the city.
They can be seen in their caps and gowns graduating in the summer and autumn months at services in the cathedral.


18. Free entertainment
There is a host of free entertainment in Carlisle throughout the year.
From a giant puppet pageant to the fireshow and Christmas markets, there is something for everyone.
Carlisle Fireshow photo
Hope Carlisle organised a 90th birthday party for the Queen in 2016. More than 7,000 people attended and 3,000 slices of cake were handed out. A similar event was organised at Christmas.


19. Eddie Stobart lorries
The transport company began in Carlisle and today its liveried green vehicles can be seen around the city and up and down the motorways of the UK.

Eddie Stobart lorry photo
The firm has its own fan club, shop at Kingstown and its own Facebook page.


20. Sunsets over the Solway
Anyone who has looked across to Scotland and the Isle of Man as the sun goes down on a bright clear day will know there is no place on earth quite as pretty as Cumbria.

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Douglas   LOGAN , Brittany, France Monday, 20 February, 2017 at 9:10PM
Fond memories of growing up in Carlisle, Rickerby park, then down Zero Path, between the Grammar school and rhe Creighton, the Swifts, then on to Bitts Park. I left Carlisle in 1968, but am still a keen United supporter!
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Ingrid   Grice , Holland Saturday, 18 February, 2017 at 11:25PM
I did my nurse training many many years ago in Carlisle and my goodness did we have good times. Worked hard but enjoyed our free time. A wonderful time that I wouldn't have missed for the world. We had a huge circle of friends, some of which I still keep in touch with.
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Pauline   Stuart/Vanderwolf , Australia Friday, 17 February, 2017 at 2:06AM
I was born in Carlisle in 1956 and left in 1969 when my father died and mother brought 6kids to Aus. I had a whirlwind visit in 2012 and it was so exciting to see how beautiful it still is. Am old friend posts lots of stuff on Facebook. This article is wonderful to see and brought back lots of memories. Thank you so much .
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Adam   Lewis , Carlisle Thursday, 16 February, 2017 at 10:44AM
No Brickyard? Shameful. Longest serving and only full time music venue for miles around. Brought some of the biggest names in music to the city and given generations of local musicians a platform to step up and play their own gigs, organise their own shows and learn something. By comparison, the Old Fire Station has been open 2 years (closed for most of that time due to the floods), is publically funded and hasn't contributed anything like the same amount to the city. Of course there is room for both, but very surprised The Brickyard doesn't even make the Top 20 of Carlisle's assets, yet a haulage firm does. Cosmic.
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Bob   Gill , New Zealand Wednesday, 15 February, 2017 at 11:39PM
I left Carlisle, England in 1965, bound for Australia. I have wonderful memories of Carlisle, though, especially of school days and growing up days. Over 50 years later I do miss the history of the place, the local lingo and sayings ("where yer gan" and "you know what I mean?"). My last visit there was in 1987. I hope to return later this year.
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John   Rhodes , Glasgow Wednesday, 15 February, 2017 at 2:59AM
A great insite to what's going on in the fair city of Carlisle. My girlfriend stays in the city and and I travel down always looking out for a night out with a difference this article will help for sure ! Thanks you guys. John from Glasgow 2
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Jim   Jim , Carlisle Tuesday, 14 February, 2017 at 5:06PM
"Carlisle people are unique"?
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Michael   , Kent Monday, 27 February, 2017 at 1:46PM
Uniquely unfriendly
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Emily   M , Carlisle Saturday, 25 February, 2017 at 8:49PM
Clearly not! And Carlisle is crap!
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