Vickerstown is an area located on the Isle of Walney, near to the mainland town of Barrow-in-Furness, England. Albeit not part of mainland Cumbria, Vickerstown is still regarded as part of the town of Barrow-in-Furness. It is an example of a planned estate built for workers by a company needing to expand.

The location "Vicarstown" in The Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry is based on Vickerstown.


Its construction was prompted by a lack of housing available for the workers at Barrow Docks, owned at the time by Vickers. Some workers were forced to live on board the Atlantic liner "Alsaka", which was moored in the docks. Plans for its development were begun in 1898 and Vickers bought out the "Isle of Walney Estates Company" to handle the construction.

Homes were designed to last, with the houses in a terrace style. Larger houses overlooking Walney Channel were reserved for managers' families. The good construction of this estate meant that Barrow did not have the slums that plagued British towns in the 1950s.


The first 1000 houses were completed in 1901 and tenants soon moved in, despite strict selection criteria. Government subsidies meant that amenities were quickly built, along with a bridge to the mainland in 1909.

The second phase of construction occurred prior to World War II and included an open air swimming pool and theatre. After the war, houses began to be sold on to tenants and by 1952, with only a handful of properties still under its control, the estate company was wound up.

Modern Vickerstown

Vickerstown remains part of the town of Barrow and was declared a conservation area in 1988, to keep the character of the estate intact. Barrow shipyard remains the second largest employer in the town, though it is now owned by BAE Systems.


:"Main article (The Railway Series): Vicarstown:"Main article (Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends TV series): Vicarstown

In The Railway Series of children's books by the Rev. W. Awdry (which developed into the television series "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends"), locomotives such as Thomas the Tank Engine live on the fictional Island of Sodor, a much larger island which takes the place of Walney Island. Sodor is linked to the mainland by two bridges, one road and one rail, across the Walney Channel, and the town nearest this bridge is named "Vicarstown". As the author was himself an Anglican priest, this would have been an obvious choice of name.

According to the "research" into Sodor's history by the Rev. Awdry, Vicarstown was where the fictional North Western Railway first had its headquarters and according to some sources was where Thomas The Tank Engine first worked as a station pilot although some maps drawn to accompany the Railway Series books state this was at Tidmouth instead.

ee also

*Walney Island

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