Ulverston: a lovely town of stark contrasts

There’s nothing pretty about this street in Ulverston, but the depth and intensity of the shadow caught my eye…

Unseen to the photographer, just visible in the upper left – in the gap between the rooftops and the tree – is The Hoad; a lighthouse-like monument to one of the town’s most famous sons: Sir John Barrow.

Born in Ulverston in 1764 of humble origins, John Barrow rose, through his own efforts – primarily in mathematics – to become Second Secretary to the Admiralty and the country’s first Permanent Principle Secretary, surviving eleven changes of government and establishing the principle that civil servants served the country with the continuity of their expertise, and therefore had to be impartial in their actions.

Sir John Barrow. Image source

He was a geographer and explorer, a master linguist – including fluency in Chinese, and one of the foremost mathematicians of his time. He was the last man to shake Admiral Nelson’s hand as the latter boarded the Victory, bound for Trafalgar.

His was the suggestion to exile Napoleon to St Helena, where the Emperor died, six years later.

HMS Victory painted before the battle of Trafalgar, 1805. Image Wikipedia , Public Domain

I didn’t realise at the time of taking the photograph, but the shadow in the picture is thrown by the wall of the former Hartley’s Brewery, considered one of the finest beers ever produced in the north of England. Hartley’s was taken over by Robinson’s Brewery, who moved production to Stockport. The last Hartley’s beer to be made in the town was brewed on the 8th November, 1991. The former factory has been derelict for many years…

When I studied the picture, later in the day, I was struck by the poignancy of the shadow of the former flagship brewery and the sunlit and proud shape of the Hoad Monument to Sir John Barrow.

It’s a fitting image of the clash between historical wisdom and the power of change to sweep away entire worlds that we, mistakenly, view as permanent…

It seems that what is ‘good’ endures only when it remains connected to its source… perhaps something for which we are all responsible?


© Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

2 Comments on “#ShortWrytz: A Pint of Change

  1. Thank you, Steve. I always feel humbled by reading of such minds…and never cease to wonder about the power of some brains. Certainly not my poor excuse for one…At least it’s still curious! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think I could have competed with him, either, Joy. A true genius. It’s an inspiration that he rose from such a humble beginning, but, perhaps ‘elite education conditions us to think that way?


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