Situated on the north-west coast of Cumbria, Whitehaven was the third largest town in the north, after Newcastle and York by the later 18th century, and, as a port, second only to London in the whole country.

The driving force behind its expansion was the Lowther family, particularly Sir John Lowther, a man of wide culture and enlightened views who was responsible for developing the port and laying out the town on the grid system which is seen in the picture The painting is a scrupulously accurate record of this rapidly expanding town and is of great interest topographically.

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