In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Kirkby Stephen like this:
KIRKBY-STEPHEN, a small town, a township, a parish, and a sub-district, in East Ward district, Westmoreland. The town stands on the river Eden, and on the South Durham and Lancashire railway, at the junction of the Eden Valley railway, under Ash Fell, 9½ miles SE by S of Appleby; consists chiefly of one long well built street; is a seat of petty sessions, and a polling place; and has a post office† under Penrith, a railway station, two banking offices, a market house, a police station, a temperance hall, a church, Independent and Wesleyan chapels, a grammar school, a girls' and infant school, a literary institute, a workhouse, a cemetery, and charities £222. ...
The church is large and ancient; includes Saxon or Norman portions; was recently rebuilt, to the extent of the chancel, and of two chantries; has a lofty tower; and contains monnments of the Musgraves, the Whartons, the Dalstons, and others. The Independent chapel was built in 1865. The grammar school was founded in the time of Elizabeth; and has an endowed income of nearly £70, and two small exhibitions at Cambridge or Oxford. The workhouse is that of East Ward district; and, at the census of 1861, had 65 inmates. A weekly market is held on Monday; and fairs are held on Easter Monday, WhitTuesday, and 29 Oct. Trade has much increased since the opening of the railway in 1861. Burn, the author of the "Justice of Peace, " was a native of Winton in this parish.-The township comprises 3, 552 acres. Real property, £3, 122. Pop. in 1851, 1, 339; in 1861, 1, 71 5. Houses, 340.The parish contains also the townships of Kaber, Winton, Hartley, Nateby, Wharton, Mallerstang, Smardale, Waitby, and Soulby. Acres, 27, 921. Real property, with Brough-Sowerby and Crosby-Garrett townships, £20, 029. Pop. in 1851, 2, 753; in 1861, 3, 531. The increase of pop. arose chiefly from temporary work in the forming of the railway. There are three manors; and they belong to Sir Richard Tufton, Bart., Sir George Musgrave, Bart., and the Earl of Lonsdale. The land about the town is rich and well cultivated; but the parish includes much moor and mountain, intersected by glens and dales, and extending to the backbone of England. Game abounds; and coal, limestone, and copper ore occur. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Carlisle. Value, £513.* Patron, the Earl of Lonsdale. The p. curacies of Mallerstang and Soulby are separate benefices.The sub-district contains also four other parishes. Acres, 70, 762. Pop., 6, 563: Houses, 1, 264
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Kirkby Stephen has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Eden. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Kirkby Stephen and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Kirkby Stephen, in Eden and Westmorland | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 25th May 2013
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