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Geography and administrationEdit

Coniston is located on the western shore of the northern end of Coniston Water.[2] It sits at the mouth of Coppermines Valley and Yewdale Beck, which descend from the Coniston Fells, historically the location of ore and slate mining.[3] Coniston's location thus developed as a farming village and transport hub, serving these areas. Coniston was situated in the very north-west of the historic county of Lancashire, with Coniston Old Man forming the county's highest point.[4] Today Coniston forms part of the Lake District National Park, the administrative county of Cumbria[5] and the local government district of South Lakeland.


Coniston is part of the electoral ward called Coniston and Crake Valley. The total population of this ward as taken at the 2011 Census was 1,575.[6]


Coniston was called "Coningeston" in the 12th century, a name derived from konungr, the Old Norse for king, and tūn the Old English for farmstead or village. This would give the village the title of "The king's estate".[7] Ekwall[8] speculated that this town could have been the centre of a 'small Scandinavian mountain kingdom'.[9]


Coniston grew as both a farming village, and to serve local copper and slate mines.[3] It grew in popularity as a tourist location during the Victorian era, thanks partially to the construction of a branch of the Furness Railway, which opened to passenger traffic in 1859 and terminated at Coniston railway station.[10]

The poet and social critic John Ruskin also popularised the village, buying the mansion Brantwood on the eastern side of Coniston Water in 1871. Before his death, he rejected the option to be buried in Westminster Abbey, instead being laid to rest in the churchyard of St Andrew's, Coniston. Ruskin Museum, established in 1901, is both a memorial to Ruskin and a local museum covering the history and heritage of Coniston Water and the Lake District.[11]

The painter Henry Robinson Hall lived and worked in the village in the late 1910s and early 1920s.[12]

Donald Campbell added to the profile of the village and lake when he broke four World Water Speed Records on the lake in the 1950s. He died attempting to break the world water speed record for the eighth time in 1967, when his jet boat, "Bluebird K7", crashed at 290 mph (470 km/h), having already set the record for the seventh time at Dumbleyung Lake, Western Australia in 1964. His body and boat (Bluebird K7) were discovered and recovered by divers in 2001 and he was buried in the new graveyard in Coniston in September 2001. A new wing has been built at the Ruskin Museum to accommodate the fully restored Bluebird K7 boat. It opened in late 2009 with the K7 due to arrive in late 2011 or early 2012.[13]

The whole village was powered by hydroelectricity during the 1920s but this became so heavily taxed that the people there were forced to return to the national grid. Since 7 March 2007 a hydro-electric scheme has been in use to power up to 300 homes; being sited near the original.[3]

Leisure and tourismEdit

The creation of the Lake District National Park in 1951 provided a boost to tourism, with attractions such as the Ruskin Museum and ferry services across the lake developing. Coniston is a popular spot for hill-walking and rock-climbing; there are fine walks to be had on the nearby Furness Fells and Grizedale Forest, and some of the finest rock in the Lake District on the eastern face of Dow Crag, 3 miles (4.8 km) from the village. The Grizedale Stages rally also takes place in Coniston, using the surrounding Grizedale and Broughton Moor (or Postlethwaite Allotment) forests. The village is also home to a number of hotels and two youth hostels, one at the edge of the village, the other in the nearby Coppermines Valley.

The village also has a football team, Coniston AFC, who play in the Furness Premier Football League Division Three and play their home games at Coniston sports and social centre.


As with the rest of the British Isles, Coniston experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. Rainfall is high, at not much under 2000mm a year. Temperature extremes have ranged from −15.2 °C (4.6 °F) during February 1986,[14] to 30.3 °C (86.5 °F) during August 1990.[15] The nearest Met Office weather station is Grizedale, around 2.5 miles to the South East.

Climate data for Grizedale 91m asl, 1971–2000, Extremes 1960– (Weather Station 2.5 miles SE of Coniston)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 12.2
Average high °C (°F) 6.2
Average low °C (°F) 0.2
Record low °C (°F) −14.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 199.48
Source #1: YR.NO[16]
Source #2: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute[17]

Mining and mineralsEdit

Two slate quarries still operate at Coniston, one in Coppermines Valley, the other at Brossen Stone on the east side of the Coniston Old Man. Both work Coniston's volcanic slates, being blue at Low-Brandy Crag in Coppermines Valley, and light green at Brossen Stone (bursting stone). The scenery around Coniston derives from Coniston Limestone and rocks of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group.


Coniston is also an important local centre, with a secondary school (John Ruskin School), primary school (Coniston Church of England Primary School), bank, petrol station and other such services. It has also repeatedly been highly placed in the Village of the Year award, winning it in 1997.


The village is twinned with Illiers-Combray.[18] The French village is associated with Marcel Proust for whom Ruskin's work was a source of inspiration.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Coniston". Lake District Hotel and Information Guide. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b c The Story of Coniston, 2nd edition, by Alastair Cameron and Elizabeth Brown, privately published, Coniston 2003.
  4. ^ "Lancashire Walks, Coniston" (PDF). Lancashire Walks. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  5. ^ Ordnance Survey Map (1946) – Coniston Village, Accessed 18 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  7. ^ "English Place-names by Heikki Rajala, Innervate – University of Nottinghamshire, vol. 2, 2009–2010" (PDF). Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  8. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1922). The place-names of Lancashire. Manchester: Chetham Society.
  9. ^ Whaley, Diana (2006). A dictionary of Lake District place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. pp. lx, 423 p.80–81. ISBN 0904889726.
  10. ^ The Coniston Railway by Robert Western, Oakwood Press, Usk 2007. (ISBN 978-0-85361-667-2)
  11. ^ W. G. Collingwood (1893) The Life of John Ruskin (2 vols.) (Methuen) (The Life of John Ruskin, sixth edition (1905))
  12. ^ Census Returns of England and Wales for 1921, the National Archives, Kew (Surrey) 1921.
  13. ^ "Ruskin Museum".
  14. ^ "1986 temperature". KNMI.
  15. ^ "1990 temperature". KNMI.
  16. ^ "Grizedale Climate". YR.NO. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  17. ^ "Grizedale Extremes". KNMI. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  18. ^ Addison, Mike (2014). "Coniston toasts its twin towns". Westmorland Gazette. Retrieved 5 June 2017.

External linksEdit