The town has ancient roots and Romans, Vikings and Normans have each left lingering marks on the Town and surrounding place names. Curiously, Cockermouth lays claim to be the first town in Britain to pilot electric lighting, reputably in 1881. It is perhaps best known as the birthplace of William Wordsworth and [Dorothy Wordsworth, John Grayston, and Fletcher Christian (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame). John Dalton (a father of atomic theory) was born in Eaglesfield, a village on the outskirts of Cockermouth, and Astronomer Royal Fearon Fallows also hailed from the town. Also world famous mountaineer and TV personality Chris Bonnington is a native of the Town. Wordsworth House has recently been expensively restored and visitors may take tea in its 18th century kitchen. Cockermouth is situated within a few minutes travelling distance from lakes such as Ennerdale Water, Crummock Water, Loweswater and Bassenthwaite Lake but is much less crowded with tourists than many Cumbrian towns. The tree lined main street boasts a statue of Lord Mayo, formerly an MP for Cockermouth, who became British Vice-Roy of India and whose subsequent claim to fame was that he was assassinated. Hollywood legend, Bing Crosby was a regular visitor of Cockermouth. In the summer of 1966 he spent a week as the guest of Lord Egremont staying in Cockermouth and fishing on the River Derwent. His trip was filmed for The American Sportsman on ABC, although all did not go well at first as the salmon were not running. Although, he did make up for it at the end of the week by catching a number of sea trout. A copy of the menu that Crosby was served at 'The Trout Hotel', in 1966, can still be viewed today.
Attractions include the sizeable but partly ruined Norman castle (still inhabited by Lady Egremont), built at the confluence of the Rivers Cocker and Derwent (complete with a tilting tower which hangs Pisa-like over Jennings Brewery). The castle with its preserved dungeons opens to the public only once a year during the annual Town festival. The Printing House Museum and Wordworth's birthplace are other attractions. There is also a Lakeland Sheep Centre which offers daily shows in its theatre.
Museums and galleries
Cockermouth is home to the traditional Jenning's Brewery which offers regular public tours and occasional carriage rides pulled by a shire horse. Culturally, the Kirkgate Centre offers international music, theatre and world cinema (including critically acclaimed and art-house movies on Monday evenings) and the town has an annual festival of concerts and performances each Summer. Cockermouth has an annual Easter Fair, fireworks display and carnival. In April 2005 it hosted its first Georgian Fair, which was such a success it was repeated in April 2006, and will in future become a biennial event. At Christmas the town presents festive lighting, accompanied by competing shop displays.
There are many restaurants and of course lots of pubs. There is even a gourmet fish and chip restaurant in the Market Place. The Bitter End Pub & Brewery in Kirkgate has its own micro-brewery and is famous for its quality and wholesome bar meals using locally sourced produce including Beef, Lamb, Pork, Sausages, Fish and Cheese from Cumbria. You are guaranteed a warm & friendly welcome from staff & customers alike. The traditional coal fires set the ambience while you can view numerous photographs depicting the history of Cockermouth through the ages. The Honest Lawyer Restaurant is a grade II listed building which dates all the way back to the Tudor period, when it once served as the cells to the towns old courthouse. Today, it serves a vast and creative menu of dishes, emphasising the use of local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients.
See also The Bitter End Pub & Brewery for it's extensive range of hand-drawn real ales.