Irish Street runs from Newtown area of Whitehaven at the end of James Street until it reaches the end or Roper Street whereupon it changes into Scotch Street. It dates back to the time of Sir John Lowther who thought the name might encourage Irish merchants to settle in the town.
What became the Y.M.C.A. was once the typical layout of a Whitehaven merchants house with a central living area set back from the street with warehouses and offices on the sides. This was altered considerably in the early 20th century before which the flanking wings were of only one storey. It also had ornate railings between the two wings forming a front courtyard entered through double gates hung from large stone gate-posts. It was built after 1713 by the Whitehaven merchant James Milham who in 1707 was master of the Pearle trading in tobacco with Virginia and by the time he built this house had earned enough to have shares in other ships. He had married Elizabeth Gale in 1706 and it is interesting that this house is similar to William Gale's house on Queen Street.
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