Pensioners were treated to a day out at a West Cumbrian attraction as part of a bus company’s scheme.

20 pensioners from Age UK West Cumbria took part in the latest outing on October 27 to The Rum Story in Whitehaven, which was organised in conjunction with Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire.

The scheme aims to get older people to make use of their free bus passes – especially following the Covid pandemic – and take the opportunity to make friends and explore new places.

A local historian provided by the museum took the visitors on a 90-minute tour of the Rum Story, helping share the story of the Jefferson family business, based within the bustling Whitehaven seaport.

Founded by Robert Jefferson in 1785 the Jeffersons traded in wines from Spain and Portugal and rum, sugar and molasses from the West Indies, harvested by hundreds of slaves who were leased to the Jefferson family.

Most of the sugar came from the family estate in Antigua which had slaves, as well as their famous rum.

As a result, Whitehaven was involved in the slave trade, with slaves being taken from Africa and forced to grow sugar cane in the Caribbean which was then used to create rum.

The Rum Story is housed in the Jefferson family’s original 1785 warehouse and offices and describes itself as Cumbria’s “most fascinating and immersive indoor attraction”.

Among those enjoying the outing was Rita McClure, from Seaton, a seasoned Grand Day Out tripper, having visited both Keswick and Maryport on previous occasions.

She said: “I’ve never been here before – 81 years old and I’ve never been to the Rum Story, so there you go!

“It’s really good and informative and the guide was very good.

“If anyone is interested in this kind of thing and in our history and of Whitehaven, it’s a great day out.”

Unable to pin down one part that she enjoyed – insisting her favourite part was “all of it” – Rita did reflect on the history of the slave trade used to ship the rum.

“My least favourite part was seeing how they were on the ships, the slaves, thinking that people were treated like that.”