City of Carlisle

This article is about the local government district of Cumbria. For other uses, see Carlisle.
For the settlement in Cumbria named Carlisle, see Carlisle, Cumbria.
City of Carlisle
City & non-metropolitan district

Coat of arms of Carlisle City Council
Motto: "Be Just and Fear Not"

Carlisle shown within Cumbria
Coordinates: 54°53′27″N 2°56′38″W / 54.89083°N 2.94389°W / 54.89083; -2.94389Coordinates: 54°53′27″N 2°56′38″W / 54.89083°N 2.94389°W / 54.89083; -2.94389
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region North West England
Ceremonial county Cumbria
Historic county Cumberland
Admin HQ Carlisle
Non-metropolitan district status 1 April 1974
City status 1 April 1974
  Type City
  Governing body Carlisle City Council
  MPs: John Stevenson, Rory Stewart
  Total 401.53 sq mi (1,039.97 km2)
Population (mid-2014 est.)
  Total 108,022 (Ranked 217th)
  Ethnicity 97.6% White
0.9% South Asian
0.6% Mixed
0.2% Black
0.5% Chinese or Other
Time zone Greenwich Mean Time (UTC+0)
Postcode CA postcode area
ONS code 16UD (ONS)
E07000028 (GSS)
OS grid reference NY394555

The City of Carlisle (/kɑːrˈll/ or local /ˈkɑːrll/[1]) is a local government district of Cumbria, England, with the status of a city and non-metropolitan district. It is named after its largest settlement, Carlisle, but covers a far larger area which includes the towns of Brampton and Longtown, as well as outlying villages including Dalston, Scotby and Wetheral. The city has a population of 107,524.[2] and an area of 1,039.97 square kilometres (402 sq mi),[3] making it the largest city in England by area (although the majority of its territory is not urbanised, but rural).[4]

The current city boundaries were set as part of the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972, and cover an amalgamation of two former local government districts—the City and County Borough of Carlisle and the Border Rural District of Cumberland.[5] The City of Carlisle shares a border with Scotland (to the north), and is bounded on the southwest by the borough of Allerdale, and on the south by the district of Eden. The county of Northumberland is to the east.

Although the present boundaries date to the 20th century, the city traces its origins to a 1st-century Roman outpost associated with Hadrian's Wall. The Brythonic settlement that expanded from this outpost was destroyed by the Danes in 875. Thereafter the region formed part of the Southern Uplands of Scotland, until colonised under King William II of England in 1092. William II built Carlisle Castle, which houses a military museum. Carlisle Cathedral, founded in the 12th century, is one of the smallest in England.

A border city, and the second most northerly city in England, Carlisle predominantly spans the flood plain of the River Eden. Commercially, it is linked to the rest of England via the M6 motorway, and to the Scottish Lowlands via the A74(M) and M74 motorways.


Following both the Local Government Act 1888 and Local Government Act 1894, local government in England had been administered via a national framework of rural districts, urban districts, municipal boroughs and county boroughs, which (apart from the latter which were independent), shared power with strategic county councils of the administrative counties.[6] The areas that were incorporated into the City of Carlilse in 1974 had formed part of the Border Rural District from the administrative county of Cumberland, and the politically independent County Borough of Carlisle.

After the exploration of reform during the mid-20th century, such as the proposals made by the Redcliffe-Maud Report in the late 1960s, the Local Government Act 1972 restructured local government in England by creating a system of two-tier metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties and districts throughout the country.[7] The act formally established the City of Carlisle as a local government district of the new shire county of Cumbria on 1 April 1974. The new dual local authorities of Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council had been running since elections in 1973 however.[8] The leading article in The Times on the day the Local Government Act came into effect claimed that the "new arrangement is a compromise which seeks to reconcile familiar geography which commands a certain amount of affection and loyalty, with the scale of operations on which modern planning methods can work effectively".[9]


Parliamentary constituencies

The residents of the City of Carlisle are represented in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom by Members of Parliament (MPs) for two parliamentary constituencies. At the 2010 general election, Conservative Party MPs won the seats of Carlisle and Penrith and The Border, John Stevenson and Rory Stewart respectively.[10][11] The City of Carlisle is part of the North West England constituency in the European Parliament. North West England elects nine MEPs, as at 2008 made up of four Conservatives, three from the Labour Party, one Liberal Democrat, and one member of the United Kingdom Independence Party.[12]


Further information: Carlisle City Council elections

In 1974, Carlisle City Council was created to administer the newly formed non-metropolitan district, which shares power with the strategic Cumbria County Council. The council offices are located in Carlisle, at the Civic Centre. The Labour Party controlled the council for much of the first 25 years and from 1979 to the 1999 election had an overall majority.[13] Until 2003 the Conservative Party then controlled the council with a majority, and from the 2003 elections they ran the council with no majority, but in alliance with the Liberal Democrats.[5] At the 2012 election Labour gained a majority of the seats, which they have held since and below is the composition of the City Council as of the 2015 election.[14]

Party political make-up of Carlisle City Council
   Party Seats[14] Current Council (2015–16)
  Labour 29                                                                                                        
  Conservative 20                                                                                                        
  Independent 2                                                                                                        
  Lib Dems 1                                                                                                        

Electoral wards

There are 52 councillors representing the electoral wards of the City of Carlisle. Together they form the Carlisle City Council. Councillors are elected and accountable to the residents of their wards.[5]

Ward name Population Councillors' party Ref.
Belah 5,986 3 Conservatives [15][16]
Belle Vue 5,625 2 Labour, 1 Conservative [15][17]
Botcherby 5,866 2 Labour, 1 Independent [15][18]
Brampton 4,361 2 Conservatives [15][19]
Burgh 1,973 1 Conservative [15][20]
Castle 5,452 2 Liberal Democrats, 1 Labour [15][21]
Currock 5,927 3 Labour [15][22]
Dalston 5,943 2 Conservatives, 1 Liberal Democrat [15][23]
Denton Holme 5,172 3 Labour [15][24]
Great Corby and Geltsdale 2,028 1 Conservative [15][25]
Harraby 5,685 3 Labour [15][26]
Hayton 2,031 1 Independent [15][27]
Irthing 1,979 1 Conservative [15][28]
Longtown and Rockcliffe 3,973 2 Conservatives [15][29]
Lyne 1,937 1 Conservative [15][30]
Morton 5,942 2 Labour, 1 Liberal Democrat [15][31]
St Aidans 5,670 3 Labour [15][32]
Stanwix Rural 3,976 2 Conservatives [15][33]
Stanwix Urban 5,724 3 Conservatives [15][34]
Upperby 5,487 3 Labour [15][35]
Wetheral 4,039 2 Conservatives [15][36]
Yewdale 5,963 2 Labour, 1 Conservative [15][37]


Civil parishes form the bottom tier of local government in England; parish councils are involved in planning permission, management of town and parish centres, and promoting tourism.[38] The City of Carlisle is almost entirely parished, the exception being the central settlement of Carlisle—an unparished area. As of 2008, there were 34 civil parishes in the city, which are:[39]

  1. Arthuret
  2. Askerton
  3. Beaumont
  4. Bewcastle
  5. Brampton
  6. Burgh by Sands
  7. Burtholme
  8. Carlatton and Cumrew
  9. Castle Carrock and Geltsdale
  10. Cummersdale
  11. Cumwhitton
  12. Dalston
  13. Farlam
  14. Hayton
  15. Hethersgill
  16. Irthington
  17. Kingmoor
  1. Kingwater
  2. Kirkandrews-on-Esk
  3. Kirklinton Middle
  4. Midgeholme
  5. Nether Denton
  6. Nicholforest
  7. Orton
  8. Rockcliffe
  9. St Cuthbert Without
  10. Scaleby
  11. Solport and Stapleton
  12. Stanwix Rural
  13. Upper Denton
  14. Walton
  15. Waterhead
  16. Westlinton
  17. Wetheral
  Unparished area of Carlisle

Coat of arms

The coat of arms of Carlisle City Council

The coat of arms of Carlisle City Council are those granted to the city council of the County Borough of Carlisle by the College of Arms on 7 July 1924. These arms are derived from more ancient designs of or relating to Carlisle and its governance.[40]

The city council's coat of arms are emblematic of the city's history. The arms incorporate a golden shield with a red cross, upon a green mount, surmounted by a mural crown, relating to Carlisle's history as an ancient walled city. This is supported by two red wyverns—legendary dragons used in heraldry—their wings strewn with golden roses, with reference to the city's Brythonic history. The motto beneath the arms comes from Thomas Wolsey's speech to Thomas Cromwell, in Shakespeare's play, Henry VIII:[40] Be just and fear not.


The City of Carlisle is located at the extreme north of North West England. It encompasses Cumbria's county town, Carlisle, and its surrounding rural hinterland,[41] which together total 1,039.97 square kilometres (402 sq mi),[3] making the city the largest in England by area. Although 70% of the city's 100,750 people live in central Carlisle, 98% of the city's land use is rural.[41] The city is traversed by several major rivers, including the Caldew, Eden, and Petteril, and is bisected by the M6, A74(M) and M74 motorways.[42]

Along the City of Carlisle's northern extent is the Solway Firth, which forms the western section of the Anglo-Scottish border, and thus divides the city from Dumfries and Galloway, one of the council areas of Scotland. To the east is the English county of Northumberland; to the south is the district of Eden and to the west and south-west the borough of Allerdale, both in the county of Cumbria.

Much of the city spans the flood plain of the River Eden resulting in large parts of the district being vulnerable to flooding.[43][44] Two further tributaries, the Petteril and Caldew nearly surround the historic walled centre.

Carlisle experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb).

Climate data for Carlisle
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7
Average low °C (°F) 3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 63.3
Source: [45]


Further information: Demography of Cumbria
Carlisle compared
2001 UK Census Carlisle[46]Cumbria[47]England
Total population100,739487,60749,138,831

At the 2001 UK census, the City of Carlisle had a total population of 100,739.[48] Of the 43,963 households in the city, 37.0% were married couples living together, 32.1% were one-person households, 7.6% were co-habiting couples and 9.2% were lone parents. These figures were similar to the national averages.[49]

The population density was 96.9/km2 (251/sq mi)[50] and for every 100 females, there were 93.7 males. Of those aged 16–74 in Carlisle, 31.9% had no academic qualifications, significantly higher than 28.9% in all of England.[48] Although Carlisle's ethnic breakdown is similar to that of the wider county of Cumbria, it is different from that of England. In comparison to national averages, Carlisle has a low proportion of non-whites.

In 1841, 15.7% of Carlisle's population was middle class compared to 14% in England and Wales; this increased to 18.9% in 1931 (15% nationally) and 35.7% in 2001 (48% nationally). Carlisle's proportion of working class people increased slowly from 1841 to 1931, changing from 33.0% to 37.9 while the national average changed from 37% to 36% in the same period. Since 1931 it has fallen and risen again to 34.0% in 2001 (26% nationally). The rest of the population was made up of clerical workers and skilled manual workers.[51][52]

Population change

The table below details the population change since 1801, including the percentage change since the last available census data. Although the City of Carlisle has existed as a district since 1974, figures have been generated by combining data from the towns, villages, and civil parishes that would later be constituent parts of the city.

Population growth in City of Carlisle since 1801
Source: 1801-2001: Vision of Britain,[53] 2011: ONS[54]


At the 2001 UK census, 80.7% of Carlisle's residents reported themselves as Christian, 0.1% Muslim, 0.1% Buddhist, and 0.1% Hindu and 0.1% had an alternative religion. 11.0% had no religion and 7.8% did not state any religion.[48] The city is covered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster,[55] and the Church of England Diocese of Carlisle.[56]


Carlisle compared
2001 UK CensusCity of Carlisle[57]Cumbria[58]England
Population of working age73,431354,18335,532,091
Full-time employment39.0%36.9%40.8%
Part-time employment14.6%13.6%11.8%
Self employed8.2%9.9%8.3%

At the United Kingdom Census 2001, Carlisle had 73,431 residents aged 16 to 74. Of these people, 2.4% were students with jobs, 3.1% students without jobs, 4.9% looking after home or family, 6.1% permanently sick or disabled and 2.3% economically inactive for other reasons.[57]

In 2001, of 46,858 residents of the City of Carlisle in employment, the industry of employment was 20.4% retail and wholesale, 15.9% manufacturing, 11.1% health and social work, 8.1% property and business services, 7.7% transport and communications, 7.3% construction, 6.4% education, 5.9% hotels and restaurants, 5.8% public administration and defence, 3.1% agriculture, 2.3% finance, 0.7% energy and water supply, 0.3% mining, and 4.5% other. This was roughly in line with national figures, although the proportion of jobs in agriculture which was more than the national average of 1.5% and the percentage of people working in finance was less than half the national average of 4.8%; the proportion of people working in property was also below the national average of 13.2%.[59]


Carlisle railway station located on the West Coast Main Line and branches.


Carlisle Lake District Airport, owned by the Stobart Group, serves Carlisle, Cumbria. However, as of 2014, Carlisle Lake District Airport does not provide any commercial passenger flights operated by any airline to any destination.

Twin cities

Carlisle has formal twinning arrangements with two northern border cities on mainland Europe. They are since 1961[60] Flensburg in northern Germany and since 1987[61] Słupsk in northern Poland.[62][63]



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  • Andrew, Bennett (2004), Homelessness: Written Evidence: House of Commons Papers 2003–04 1116-Ii, 2, Great Britain: The Stationery Office, ISBN 978-0-215-01969-1 
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