Archive centreWhitehaven
ReferenceYDSO 123
TitleCumbria Community Development Project, Cleator Moor
DescriptionReports, papers and correspondence. These are mainly John Pearce's own personal copies of reports and papers as CDP Director and some contain his manuscript annotations.
Extent2 boxes
ContextIn 1969 the Home Office launched twelve pilot Community Development Projects (CDPs) to discover new ways to tackle various aspects of poverty, deprivation and unemployment by focusing in depth on a selection of small areas. The local CDP teams were to use the community to define 'problems' and initiate the appropriate action in conjunction with local and central government for new programmes of social services, employment, youth work, leisure facilities and housing. Each CDP consisted of an 'Action Team' employed by the local authority and a 'Research Team' employed by a Higher Education institution. Projects were responsible to a local authority management committee though 75% of action funds and 100% of research funds came from the Home Office. Each Project also had a social action budget which could be used to fund additional specialist posts, experimental programmes or fund grant-aids to other local organisations.

Among these were the Cumberland (later Cumbria) CDP which was to cover the two parishes of Arlecdon and Frizington, and Cleator Moor, though some of its remit covered a larger area of West Cumbria. Cleator Moor had seen a very rapid expansion of population (particularly immigration from Ireland) and employment to exploit its iron ore and coal resources and related industries in West Cumberland of iron and steel production, railways and quarrying. The town grew from a village of some 745 in 1841 to 11,500 in 1881, in which year was also its peak iron and coal production. Thereafter the town suffered a progressive decline of employment and population. The town suffered particularly in the 1930s experiencing severe poverty and destitution. Although the town and surrounding area recovered somewhat post-war by the 1970s unemployment in Cleator Moor was still twice the national average, with those younger people able to work elsewhere leaving. Many men left behind suffered long term (or indeed life-long) unemployment or under-employment. Regional policies did little to affect the situation, with Cleator Moor being part of the West Cumberland Special Area in the 1930s and in the West Cumbria Special Development Area in the 1970s.

The Cumbria CDP, based in Cleator Moor, was given a grant of some £400,000 and had an establishment at its peak of some twenty staff with a term of five years. It commenced work in May 1972 when its Director John Pearce took up his post, and it worked under the auspices of the CDP Management Committee of Cumberland (and after 1974 Cumbria) County Councils. Its research functions were managed by the Department of Social Administration, University of York.

It had a three point strategy:
1. Undertake research to examine effectiveness on regional policies on the area, and if necessary to formulate alternative policies.
2. Establish contacts with local working and unemployed people to further the understanding of local unemployment.
3. Create jobs where possible within the area.

The CDP joined with three other CDPs to commission research via the Home Office from the Industrial Common Ownership Movement to examine the feasability of establishing industrial cooperatives in West Cumbria, particularly in regard to the construction industry. In June 1974 the consultant Manuela Sykes spent time in West Cumbria and reported in September 1974. She recommended the recruitment of a Industrial Officer for Common Ownerships to initiate testbeds for these enterprises, and in April 1975 John Miller was appointed to the post for a term of three years.

The Project was due to run until March 1977. Through the summer of 1975 there had been speculation that the Home Office would wind up the nine remaining projects running nationally. At a meeting of Cumbria County Council's Policy and Resources Committee in October 1975, the decision was made to cease funding the CDP from March 1976 - in effect winding up the project a year early. The decision was to prove controversial. The Committee was led by Keswick Conservative Councillor Martin Brannan, who was also a Director of Cleator Moor firm Brannan's Thermometers which had been at the centre of a bitter strike in 1971 when some 100 workers were sacked by the firm. Councillor Brannan had accused the CDP of being a wasteful, ineffective and unnecessary organisation and moreover using public funds to pursue left-wing political aims. The result prompted a campaign against the Committee's decision led by the CDP and involving the backing of the local Labour Party and Labour MP Jack Cunningham. It culminated in a stormy full County Council meeting on 27 Nov 1975 where a large pro-CDP contingent was present and interrupted proceedings on a number of occasions. The County Council confirmed its decision to cease funding the CDP, though the door was left open for Copeland Borough Council (CBC) to take over, which the local Labour Party supported. Various negotiations with the County Council and Home Office delayed decisions until January 1976 when redundancy notices were issued to the CDP staff. CBC was unwilling to continue running the CDP, though it did undertake to run the Community Information and Action Centre in Cleator Moor as a new Action and Resource Centre from 1 April 1976, jointly funded by the CBC and the Home Office. The County Council continued to fund the post of John Miller, though this was redesignated from Industrial Officer for Common Ownerships to Small Businesses Advisory Officer. All other functions of the CDP were wound up at that date.

John Howard Pearce (23 Mar 1942-12 Dec 2011) was educated at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics. He taught in Nigeria as a volunteer and assisted in the resettlement of Tibetan refugees in Nepal. He worked as field worker for the Young Volunteer Force Foundation in North Devon and then as Field Director. He was Director of the Cumbria CDP from 1972-1976. He subsequently settled in Scotland, working as Organiser of the Local Enterprise Advisory Project in the West of Scotland, Chairman of the Scottish Cooperative Development Committee and a trustee of Industrial Common Ownership Finance Ltd. An extended biography of and reminiscences about John Pearce from the Social Audit Network website can be found included in YDSO 123/1/1.
Related materialThe collection originally included CDP and other related reports and papers in regard to other locations in the UK. These were transferred during December 2012 to the following repositories: Bristol Record Office; Derbyshire Record Office; Devon Record Office; Glasgow Archives, Mitchell Library; Gwent Archives; Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies; Newham Archives and Local Studies; Oldham Archives; Paisley Central Library; Southwark Local History Library; Tyne and Wear Archives; West Yorkshire Archive Service Kirklees; Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies.
Publication detailsFor history of the Cumbria CDP see 'The Axe' (1976), published by the CDP (YDSO 123/1/35); job particulars for the post of Industrial Officer for Common Ownerships (YDSO 123/2/3); Whitehaven News.
Catalogue levelFonds
Subject termsCommunity development
URLDescriptionBiography of and reminiscences about John Pearce from the Social Audit Network website

Show related place indexes

CodePlace names
PAX44Cleator Moor/Cumberland
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