IT is now 120 years since workers made a start  on a massive construction project which took five years to complete and involved upwards of 1,000 people.

Work began in April 1900 on what would become the Hodbarrow Outer Barrier - designed to keep sea water out of iron ore mines between Millom and Haverigg.

Walkers passing the old lighthouse on the barrier can see a stone block, laid by mining company chairman Harry Arnold, recording the official completion of the project on April 13 in 1905.

There had been previous attempt to keep sand and sea water out of the mine’s tunnels and workings with timber and then a substantial stone wall.

The traditional construction technique of solid stone blocks proved inadequate to the task and there was a run of sand and water into the mines in 1898.

Its centre section eventually collapsed through the effects of land subsidence due to mining and the two ends can still be seen emerging from the water of the Hodbarrow lagoon.

A more radical design was adopted to replace it - using a core of steel and timber piles, protected by impervious clay and covered in furnace slag, limestone and specially cast concrete blocks to break the power of the waves and to move and settle to counter any subsidence.

Work started from the Haverigg end - now a leisure park for caravans and mobile homes - and the first earth was cut by Harry Arnold on April 27 in 1900.

By 1905 the Hodbarrow Outer Barrier was a mile-and-a-quarter in length and cost a total of £560,000.

It had reclaimed 170 acres of land from the sea and allowed the company to continue mining iron ore for another 60 years.

Up to 1,200 workers were need at the peak of the project - housed in temporary accommodation or staying as lodgers throughout Millom and Haverigg.

The project required massive amounts of materials - including more than 600,000 tons of limestone. Rough limestone blocks weighed up to 15 tons and the more than 5,000 concrete blocks were 25 tons each.