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Popular attraction that takes visitors on rum-fuelled journey of the world set for relaunch after Covid enforced closure

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A POPULAR attraction where visitors encounter rainforests, pirates and are taken on a fascinating rum-fuelled journey around the world is set to reopen.

The Rum Story - The Dark Spirit of Whitehaven, will welcome guests through its doors from June 24 onwards, following a period of enforced closure due to Covid-19.

The immersive attraction charts the history of rum in Whitehaven through the story of the famous Jefferson family, taking an unfiltered look at the trade and everything associated with it.

With a new manager in place, and the finishing touches being put to a number of new features, demand is expected to be high when the doors open once more.

Louise McKenna, manager of The Rum Story, said: “We missed the opportunity to celebrate our 20th year due to the coronavirus pandemic and have been closed for much of the last 15 months.

“We’ve taken the opportunity during that time to review all elements of the exhibition and ensure they are still as relevant and engaging as they were when the doors opened for the first time at the turn of the millennium.

“We’ve got some very exciting developments that we hope to be able to announce in the coming weeks ahead of the official reopening.

“We’re very much looking forward to welcoming visitors through the doors and with so many people planning staycations, we expect we will be busy.”

Visitors enter The Rum Story through glass doors to find themselves in a covered courtyard which houses a towering clock that springs to life in spectacular fashion every 30 minutes.

A dramatic Caribbean rainforest then awaits Rum Story adventurers as they start a journey that graphically depicts the story of rum, bringing to life the slave trade, American prohibition, rum in the Royal Navy, rum in history, the process of rum making and more.

Copeland MP, Trudy Harrison will officially reopen the attraction as a special event on June 24, government guidelines permitting.

She said: “So many art venues and attractions have been through the most challenging of periods over the last 15 months, so I am delighted that we are now seeing more and more venues reopen, as the government’s roadmap out of lockdown continues.

“The Rum Story is an excellent asset to Whitehaven. It gives a fascinating and unfettered insight into the UK rum trade, charting the meteoric rise of the port and Jefferson empire, but highlighting the human sacrifice and horrors of slavery which were tragic by-products.

”It is an excellent exhibition, and I would urge residents of Cumbria to make the journey to this unique and very interesting attraction.”

Refreshments will be available for visitors in the courtyard, where they can also enjoy the spectacle of the attraction’s magnificent kinetic clock.

For people who would like to learn a little more before buying tickets, access to part of the exhibition - the fascinating Jefferson Clerk Office - is free.

Once the administrative centre of the family empire, guests can marvel at a room where time has stood still. Almost exactly as it was found, aged documents, boxes, desks and furniture can be viewed in the office, along with an interactive video.

The Rum Story is operated by the Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners, the organisation responsible for the management of Whitehaven Harbour.

Chief Executive, John Baker, said: “The rum trade is so closely linked to the history of Whitehaven and its harbour, which at a point in time was one of the busiest in the UK.

“This is brought to life superbly by The Rum Story which gives visitors such a fascinating insight into the Jefferson family empire.
“Of course the exhibition tackles some difficult subjects, but we believe it is our responsibility to provide an educational and thought-provoking experience for our visitors.
“We’ll be delighted to open our doors once more after and very much look forward to welcoming guests of all ages, from Cumbria, the North West and beyond.”


Whitehaven’s links to the rum trade date back centuries and to the Jefferson business empire, which centred around the importation of wine and spirits.

The Rum Story opened in 2000 after an investment of almost £3 million taken from a grant awarded to the area by the Millennium Commission.

It is based in the original buildings of the Jefferson family, with many areas still bearing some of the original hallmarks of the industry.

The Rum Story exhibition is open to the public from Thursday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm.

Entry costs are as follows: 

Adult £9.95 Concession £8.95 Children £4.95 Family (2+2) £25.95 

All adult tickets will receive a £5 voucher that can be used when buying Jefferson’s rum.