Whitehaven is the town I was born and raised in and live many other places in the UK it has its up and downs.
Whitehaven is situated in North West England on the coast around an hour from the beautiful Lake District - with the likes of Keswick & Windermere which are big tourist spots even though it rains a lot here!
Whitehaven was known more for its harbour a few years ago as at one point a couple hundred years it was one of the biggest harbours in the UK and many goods used to pass here including rum. In the past 10 years the harbour has been regenerated and has a few highlights which tourists love. Attractions include the "Crows Nest" - which is a large circular flatform along the harbour and the "Beacon" centre - which is a museum which tells about the history of Whitehaven in general, it also has an area where you can make your own weather forecasts and also has smaller historic displays - recently there was a BBC Walking With Dinosaurs display which was great for the kids!
Another great reason to live in Whitehaven is the Marratime Festival which takes place every year - where live famous bands play concerts on the harbour, famous chefs come to do demonstrations and the Red Arrows do plane shows. Katherine Jenkins - the Welsh opera singer is a regular who comes here and NDubz have been here too. It is an amazing weekend when the festival is on.
Whitehaven in general has a lot of history other than boats and the harbour. At one point hundreds of years ago it was a very busy mining town which was the main employment in the area at the time. Next to Whitehaven is a town called Workington who were also miners back in them days. Me being from Whitehaven if I wanted to take the mic out of a person from Workington I would call them a Jameater and them vice versa. The reason for calling each other jameaters sounds very backwards to an outsider but the reason why we do it goes back to the mining days where people from Whitehaven/Workington - depending where you are from, were very poor and couldnt afford meat therefor had to eat jam on their sandwichs... Its supposed to be an insult! This rivelry was covered by John Bishop, the comedian on his TV show and this can be watched on Youtube.
Another bit of historic information about the town would be that it was considered a safe place during World War 2 and a lot of children from other area's where sent here as evacuee's. However the Germans did drop one bomb in an area close to Whitehaven and some canadians did crash their plane here and died as a result.
In terms of employment, the biggest employer in the area is Sellafield Nuclear Plant - and many people do come to the area to work there. Unemployment is a big problem in young people like many other parts of the country which is sad because these people are just not given the chance / experiance to do something in my opinion.
Sadly two years ago Whitehaven was well and truely put on the map for all the wrong reasons. As you will likely remember from the news we had a taxi driver - who we all knew from being picked up from nights up - go crazy and shoot another taxi driver on the taxi rank, then went driving round Whitehaven and the surrounding area's taking a pop at anyone in sight. Sadly 12 people were killed that day, with many others injured and he also killed himself at the end of it. It was very traumatic for everyone who lived in the area because it really is one of those places because of the geographic area everyone knows everyone else. It was very raw because a week before the shootings two young school children died in a bus crash 20 minutes away in Keswick and both of these children were from Whitehaven. In a way what happened showed just how close we all were as a community by how everyone pulled together.
As a child the town can be very boring however when the festival is not on. We no longer have a cinema here, and in form of entertainment you would need to go to Workington to watch a film or go bowling... There is only so many trips to The Rum Story Museum & Beacon Museum a child/teenager can take.
Sadly this boredom can more often than not lead to bored children getting up to no good. Lots of teenagers go to childrens play parks to get drunk, and you do hear many stories of "house parties" where young people go to put drugs up their nose. This in turn leads to quite a bit of trouble in the town which is a shame.
Another bad point about Whitehaven is how awful the shopping experiance is. Over the last few years more and more shops have been closing down and in their places we now have a lot of charity shops and empty stores. For a decent shopping experiance you would likely need to go to Carlisle which is about an hour away - Although for really good shopping in my opinion Newcastle is your best bet - which is 2 hours east!
The nightlife in Whitehaven can have its good and bad points. When I first started going out drinking you have many pubs dotted round on a route round the town centre and two main nightspots to finish the night - one called Gallachers and one called The Park Nightclub. Going out on the drink used to be a lot better ten years ago in my eyes because these days both our nightclubs have been shut down permenantly and we just have pubs dotted round everywhere. There can also be a bit of trouble with some drunks but its usually the same idiots every weekend. For this reason I tend to go out in town once a blue moon... Also to an outsider if you are from a city for example it can be a boring experiance going for a few drinks round here.
For a small place there are some great places to go for food. A really "Posh" resturant for those who can eat strange sounding food expensive food try Zest - The Resturant - which is on the outskirts of Whitehaven leading to St Bees. However my favourite eating place is the smaller Zest resturant on the harbour which sells more common edible food.
St Bees as mentioned above is a village just outside Whitehaven about 10 minutes away. Even though Whitehaven beach is not very nice, St Bees is gorgeous. In the summertime there is always people out on jet-ski's there and families having barbeques and eating ice cream. Highly recommended.
In general I love Whitehaven it will always be my home and although I would love to move abroad I will always feel drawn back here. I love steping out my front door and breathing in fresh air which gets harder to find the further south you go and having a view of the mountains in front of my house.
I would really recommnd you visit during the Festival - you will be very surprised!
You probably don't immediately think of Whitehaven as a destination for a holiday but as a result of a huge amount of investment from the Regeneration Budget and funding as a Millennium Tourism project it might at least be worth considering for a day out if you are in the North Lake district area.
Whitehaven harbour is surprisingly picturesque and has some interesting buildings like The Crows nest in the inner harbour and The Beacon which houses the Whitehaven museum. Upstairs at the museum is a weather centre where you can look at how weather forecasting is done and from the windows are lovely views of the town.
Few people will realise the special place Whitehaven has in British history. This is that Whitehaven was the last place on the British mainland to have been raided by a foreign Navy. This was when John Paul Jones, the founder of the US Navy, not the Led Zeppelin keyboard player, led a raiding party on the town. This episode is covered in the museum.
There is another museum which has opened in a former wine merchants buildings. This tells the story of Rum and its place in Whitehavens history. Whitehaven's history included not only its position for the landing of rum for the Caribbean but also for the despatch of slaves in the 18th century. Admission to The Rum Story is £3 for adults.
Nowadays people visiting Cumbria are more likely to partake of a pint of Jennings beer, a local brew brewed in nearby Cockermouth.
A lot of effort has gone in to make Whitehaven a tourist attraction and it is worth a visit.