The Sir John Barrow Memorial Mural 2010

  This mural tells the story of John Barrow's life and adventures, both his own and those he caused to happen, in pictures, in the heart of his native town. For several generations rumours of Sir John's remarkable achievements have been an inspiration to Ulverstonians and helped create the astonishingly can-do local culture which sees this smallish market town in an obscure corner of Northern England put on and celebrate some 30 full-scale festivals every year across a great range of arts and activities. Sir John Barrow is a local legend, and inspiration, yet few people quite know why. Let's hope this mural and website will help answer that question:
Sir John Barrow? Who He?
Click on the picture links below to go to whole pages
about each episode of his life


For a quick introduction to the man himself,
click here


Early Career


South Africa






 The purpose of this website is firstly to explain what's going on in the Mural images, for instance, what IS that gurt pink fluffy object at the front of the China picture? Why, it's Lord Macartney's hat!

And secondly, to give everyone a chance to see the astounding wealth of original, contemporary images on which the mural is based. With so many first-hand, on-the-spot pictures to work from, there was no need to invent. I have tried to select the curious details that tell the stories, and regretfully left everything else out - such are the limitations of the Mural medium. But here you will find a lot more of the background to help you piece the story together.

I am hugely indebted to those valiant pre-photo-era artists, Barrow's contemporaries, who braved nightmarish discomforts to record their lives, times and adventures - probably drawing with albatross quills, half the time - notably William Alexander, George Francis Lyon, Samuel Daniell, and even John Barrow himself, that indefatigable gatherer of ..... well absolutely anything that went past the end of his nose.

As you will very soon realize, I've made no attempt to be scholarly or tell the whole story, which turned out to be a huge one. There are many many omissions.
To learn more, read:
(1)Barrow's Boys, A Stirring Story of Daring, Fortitude and Outright Lunacy by Fergus Fleming, Granta Books (p/b) 1998.
(2) Mr Barrow of the Admiralty by Christopher Lloyd, FRGS, Collins 1970

Both these are available quite inexpensively via
And of course The Autobiography - "An Autobiographical Memoir of John Barrow, Bart" 1847. There are 2 copies in the glass case in the reference dept of Ulverston public library. Elsewhere, you can order it from the British Library (W63-8038) but beware the late return fine is £135 + VAT !!! It is quite good reading until he joins the Admiralty and even then there are some wryly humorous moments.

The mural is part of the Sir John Barrow Memorial Monument (Hoad Hill) Restoration project (funded by the Lottery Heritage Initiative, Ulverston Town Council, many private subscribers and local fundraisers.)

This website is however purely a contraption of the artist's, intended to add depth and greater understanding to the mural images. It is purely for educational purposes. I have not been paid to do this bit.