It boasts miles of unspoilt beaches, panoramic views and a charming feel of times past, but Millom is a community on the move

Workmen are busy on every corner and there is a buzz in the town, an awakening, a determined resolve to get on with life in a community renowned for self-reliance.

There is much talk nationally of economic decline, redundancies and closures, but the 298 independent businesses that operate in and around Millom aren’t listening to the gloomy forecasts and are forging ahead – it must be the iron in their blood.

Try and find an empty commercial property and you will struggle as residents take their destinies into their own hands and launch their own businesses – a new fish and chip shop here, a craft shop desperate for even more room there.

When you are as remote as Millom then the people who live there have learned over the generations to look after themselves and each other – and the Shop Local Campaign, piloted in the shadow of Black Combe, has been so successful it is now being rolled out across Copeland.

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Black Combe officially is ‘just short of a mountain’ but from its peak offers views of five kingdoms – England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. It may be remote in one sense but Millom is easy to reach, mainly because the drive there is one of the most scenic in the country.

Founded on iron ore and home in the past to shoe and tights factories and the country’s very first rugby league club, Millom is now targeting the tourist trade enjoyed so richly by the neighbouring Lake District National Park.

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Head along the A595 and the countryside has a unique feel and glorious views of the Lakeland peaks and the north shore of the estuary of the River Duddon. Take a left down the A5093 and follow the road down to Millom. It retains the charm of the South Lakes and has a soft, relaxed feel of a world before stress was invented.

“Every one of our businesses has something unique to offer and what we all need to do is get to know each other and discover what we can do to help,” says Shop Local Campaign co-ordinator Jenny Brumby, who also edits the community magazine Around the Combe, runs a website Copeland – Undiscovered Jewel and owns tourist accommodation Duddon Villa.

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“This is like old England, when people cared about each other and, while many small towns around the country have more and more empty properties, we have businesses wanting to start up or expand, so we could do with more space.

“We have also got a lot of new businesses being launched and run by young people who are prepared to take on a challenge. Working for yourself makes you self-sufficient.”

Jenny has now started working as a consultant with Copeland Council to extend the campaign across the district.

“Buying and sourcing locally is how our economy will survive and prosper,” she says. “We will also be looking at how best to encourage people working from home into premises with business support.”

Millom is seeking to cash in on £25m of funding through the Stronger Towns Fund while there are ambitious plans to convert a closed retail unit into a swimming pool and upgrade the park.

The area’s 11 beaches were recently voted third best in the country by The Times and its safe, quiet and friendly nature is making it a hit with film production companies.

The Mail: Lloyd Hopkinson at Frame ItLloyd Hopkinson at Frame It

One movie, starring Vinnie Jones, has just been shot there while the area is also expecting to host another starring John Voight and Nicholas Cage.

“They love it; it’s not expensive, it is quiet and they don’t have to worry about security,” says Jenny.

The Bloom Room

Founded by Nicola Armstrong eight years ago, The Bloom Room is blossoming again after spending lockdown sprucing up its premises in St George’s Terrace.

“During lockdown we couldn’t get deliveries of flowers but were being asked for them for funerals,” recalls Nicola, who studied contemporary fine arts at university. “So I had to get them from Tesco – you could not by a flower anywhere in Millom because I took the lot. I had to do something to help and I managed to make some nice-looking displays.

“I also wanted people to stay engaged so I posted a lot of videos on TikTok and messages on Facebook and people responded by saying they would be there to support me as soon as I was back open. Since I reopened it has been crazy busy – I’ve been working until 11 at night.

“This has been my baby for the past eight years after the local florist retired and my dad urged me to learn about flowers and take it on. Since then I’ve put my heart and soul into it and thought I was going to lose it all over night. I lost the school prom season and all the weddings were wiped out.

“But I spent the time in the shop revamping it and have been humbled by how many people have supported me, even people who don’t normally buy flowers have been coming in. I love it.”

Double Tee Tools Mica Hardware

The nation went DIY-daft when COVID-19 limited people’s movements and as one of two hardware stores in Millom, Double Tee Tools, in St George’s Terrace, worked to manage the increased demand.

“Everywhere looks really good as a result,” says director Tom Dixon. “We have been here 20 years providing people with everything from tools, paint and timber to plumbing materials, electrical and bike and car parts and accessories – everything you need really.

“People stay in Millom and do shop locally. You can get most things you need off the shelf and don’t have to wait for deliveries. You also get our knowledge and experience so you can ask for advice, which, again, you don’t get from buying online. And if what you’ve bought isn’t right it is much easier to bring it back here.”

Power World

Close by in Lapstone Road is Power World which supplies major brand household electrical goods and accessories. It carries a large range of products in-store and can order anything it doesn’t have.

The team at Power World has been trading in Millom since 1997 and all are experienced, knowledgeable, friendly and able to offer advice and guidance on purchases, many with long service in the electrical retail business.

Power World offers free local delivery (within 25 miles) plus a free connection service for new washing machines.


The town’s second hardware specialist Pellymounters, in Lapstone Road, is an Aladdin’s Cave offering everything for the garden, chippings, wood and logs and Calor gas and, at Christmas, is even transformed into a winter wonderland.

Owner Peter Park says: “We opened in 1972 but the business has been going since the 1920s. It means local people don’t have to travel to get what they need. Millom is a fantastic place. When you see the bay and the Combe it is quite emotional as you know you are home.”


While the quaintness of Millom has an eye on the past, BM Technical Services, in Wellington Street, is definitely looking to the future offering technical advice and repairs for computers and web design.

Patton’s Family Butchers

As the only family-run butchers in Millom, Patton’s offers award winning sausages, prize sausage rolls and quality meats to the town’s residents.

During lockdown they set up a delivery service that still operates today, a lifeline for the community’s elderly population who have been forced to shield.

“We have some great crack with our customers who know what they want,” says owner Gary Patton. “It was manic during lockdown and people came to rely on us for deliveries, some of which are continuing now.”

Dottie’s Fish and Chip Shop

Builder Joe Moyes grabbed the opportunity with both hands when a vacant property came up in Wellington Street, adding a fish and chip shop to his portfolio of businesses.

Named after his nan Dottie, he fitted out the shop himself to be run by chef Elizabeth Amos-Milburn with fish sourced locally from Morecambe and opening on Mondays and Tuesdays, when the other chippie in town doesn’t.

“There is only one other fish and chip shop and it’s on the other side of town,” says Joe. “I was looking at investing in property but thought it would be great to do something different. My nana loved fish and chips and I’m sure would be pleased.”

Make Do and Mend

After 25 years working for the NHS Penny Chubb decided to open a business with a difference.

Make and Mend, in Wellington Street, not only offers fabric and haberdashery services but also lessons in the art of needlework or just friendly chat and a cup of tea.

During the lockdown she mobilised an army of Hope and Cope volunteers to produce 4,000 masks for the community.

“After 30 years with the NHS I felt 50 was no age to retire,” she says. “My partner comes from Millom so we came here and after doing some research decided to open this shop.

“The classes have been very well received by all ages. One week people want to make T-shirts, another it is patchworks or Roman blinds. I’ve always had a penchant for materials but my dad always said I should get a proper job so I went into nursing. In the past I had a wedding dress shop in London but always kept going back to the NHS.

“But in the past nine months since opening here business has expanded so much – people come from as far away as Whitehaven and Ulverston and I post stuff all over the country. I really need larger premises.

“It is more of a concept than a shop and it brings people together and helps them develop new skills. It is about motivating people to have a go and not give up if they hit a problem. It’s a real community thing.”


Former restaurateur Lloyd Hopkinson wanted freedom from the confines of catering and jumped at the chance of taking over Frame-It.

Eight years on he now spends more sociable hours framing and selling local prints. “It wasn’t too much of a learning curve as I was already used to working with the public and I’ve painted in my spare time for years. It was a well-established business and I love the fact we have our regulars.”

Bear in the Square

Manager Suzanne Fisher promises a warm welcome from midday as Bear in the Square offers food and drink to visitors. In the evening there’s a sports bar at the back and another at the front while those wanting to spend the night have the choice of eight en-suite bedrooms.

The Clock Tower

On the Market Square, where residents love to congregate on New Year’s Eve, lies the Clock Tower, a popular cocktail bar bristling with the town’s history.

Port Haverigg Watersports, Aqua Park and Café

On the coast, at the site of an old ironworks, lies a unique water facility, the only freshwater site in Cumbria where it is possible to water ski at more than 10mph.

At Port Haverigg Watersports skiers and wake boarders are towed by zip lines across shimmering fresh water and over jumps, where they can hone their skills on skis and boards. Paddle boarders can also enjoy the manmade lake while fly fishers cast for trout and carp on the adjacent waters.

The inflatable Aqua Park is new this year offering a host of fun rides and obstacles, including a bouncy castle, climbing wall, sea-saws and a hamster wheel for visitors and residents of the holiday park next door.

The business is owned by Nicola Cuthbert, Lee Warren, Leanne and James Swales. Nicola recalls: “I learned to water ski here when I was just 18 months old and it has always been part of our lives. Four years ago we decided to take on the lease.”