THE debate over whether Barrow is part of Lancashire or Cumbria - or both - has raged ever since Cumbria came into existence in 1974.

Last year one Mail reader claimed to have unquestionable proof of the answer from the Queen herself.

Steve Sherdley attempted to clear up, once and for all, the designation of Barrow and Cartmel as part of Lancashire, by going straight to the horse's mouth and writing to the Duchy of Lancaster.

The Duke of Lancaster is an ancient title which is informally used within Lancaster to describe Elizabeth II, the Queen and owner of the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The Duchy of Lancaster exists as a separate entity from the Crown Estate and currently provides income for the British monarch.

In the response to Mr Sherdley, the solicitor for the Duchy of Lancaster states that "Barrow-in-Furness remains within this historic area (of the Duchy of Lancaster)".

The solicitor, Tim Bell, wrote: "I can confirm that the administrative changes made on 1st April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, did not affect the historic boundary of the County Palatine of Lancaster.

"Barrow-in-Furness and Cartmel remain within this historic area."

Cumbria came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972.

The Local Government Act created the administrative areas of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cumbria.

The Act was designed to create a two-tier system of local government which would reflect the changes in the country since the previous boundary changes in the late 19th century.

Many proud Lancastrians argue the act did not alter the county boundaries and in fact Barrow, along with other parts of South Cumbria's administrative area, remains part of Lancashire.