The local history collection comprises a wide spectrum of material relating to the historical evolution of Carlisle and north Cumbria. Social history material broadly reflects home life, work, and recreation in nineteenth and twentieth century Carlisle. The city’s key industries and railway development are also represented. Key collections focus on State Management, law & order, sport, civic history and the trade guilds. Earlier material reflects turbulent life on the sixteenth century Anglo-Scottish Border, the civil war siege of 1644 and the Jacobite invasion of 1745. The collection also houses a large collection of local history photographs and costumes of notable individuals including J.D. Carr and Sir Benjamin Scott.

Carlisle a Border City

Carlisle’s turbulent past as a border fortress of England is reflected by the earliest material of the social history collection. As the threat of warfare and invasion receded the city began to prosper and the collection represents this civic history and Georgian domesticity.  

Carlisle City of Industry

  Carlisle’s Victorian industries boomed as railway development opened global export markets.  The collection reflects many of the key manufacturers of Carlisle’s industrial peak including Carr’s, Stead McAlpin, Hudson Scott, and Cowans Sheldon.  Victorian recreational exploits and law & order...

Carlisle a Modern City

Carlisle Historicl Pageant souvenir napkin, 1928

Carlisle’s recent history is also reflected in the collection. State Management of pubs, breweries and hotels lasted from 1916 to 1973. Carlisle Pageant celebrated and re-enacted the historic events of the city’s past in 1928, 1951 and 1977. The Blue Streak Rocket programme began in 1958 and ended...

Local History Costume Collection

The social history costume collection relates to clothing worn or associated with key figures in north Cumbrian history. Represented are famous Cumbrian huntsman John Peel; John Dodgson Carr, founder of Carr’s biscuit factory; Lady Dorothy Howard, from one of Cumbria’s most influential families;...

Local History Photograph Collection

English Street, Carlisle 1926-1928

The Social History photograph archive covers a range of people, places and events in North Cumbria. 8624 images are currently held in the archive and relate to work, home life and recreation.

Carlisle in the Great War, 1914-1918: Munitions, Mayhem and Mobilisation

Between 1914 and 1918 Britain and her allies were at war with Germany and the Central Powers.  This ‘total war’ was not only fought on the battlefields and seas, but in factories, hospitals and railway stations. Carlisle’s men and boys signed up to the British Army and Navy whilst local women...

Objects in this collection


Curatorial Team

Our team works with local and social history items and enquiries covering the last four hundred years, and relating to business, industrial and farming life. These include:

  • Photographs.
  • Ephemera (printed items).
  • Objects.
  • Oral histories.

If you have any queries about our collections, or are interested in booking a talk or a tour from a member of our curatorial team (charges apply), please contact us at or (01228) 618773.


Telephone (01228) 618773