Lancaster, one of the most scenic places in England, describes itself as a small city with a big story.
Once known as the ‘hanging town’ and later earning a reputation for both ‘lunatics and linoleum’, Lancaster has now changed substantially as a city. Moor Hospital, the local ‘lunatic asylum’ where the mother of Alan Bennett was treated has now been converted into luxury flats. After falling out of fashion, the wider UK linoleum industry is no more.
One of England’s Heritage Cities, Lancaster is as vibrant as it is quirky thanks to its captivating past and cultured present. Thanks to a range of local tourist attractions, easy transport access and friendly community, Lancaster is a city with great stories to tell.
Where the Castle is now built, there was first a small Roman fort built in the area by around the end of the 1st century AD. Based on coin evidence found in the area, this could have been constructed as early as the AD 60s, based on Roman coin evidence. Gaps in dates shown by the coin evidence suggests that the fort was not continuously inhabited early on, until it was rebuilt with stone in about AD 102.
Lancaster can easily be reached from all over the UK, with convenient rail access and sea access, as well as the M6 motorway, sometimes referred to as the backbone of Britain. The close proximity to the M6 provides quick and convenient car travel from Lancaster down as far as Birmingham and as far north as Carlisle.
Established in 1837, J.Atkinson & Co coffee roasters claim to be the city’s oldest business still trading. Despite new ownership, the business is still injecting the city with a caffeine buzz after all of these years. The two cafes they run, The Hall and The Music Room, are especially popular among locals, providing a retro, vintage feel to accompany the coffee.
There are roughly 43 miles of lock-free canal winding its way through Lancaster itself as well as the surrounding farmland. During the 19th century, the Waterwitch, a horse-drawn passenger boat, made the 30-mile canal journey from Lancaster to Preston in just three hours.
There are many stalls of locally produced food at the outdoor Charter market which is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Lancashire is known for producing a range of tasty food, such as potted shrimps from Morecambe Bay, Lancashire cheese, Lancashire sauce and smoked fish, all served up at the longstanding Lancaster market.
Other products created in the Lancaster area include animal feed, livestock, textiles and farm machinery as well as less rural fare such as chemicals, paper, synthetic fibres, and HGV trailers.
Just south of the city, Lancaster University is mainly based on the Bailrigg campus, founded in the 1960s and contributing substantially to the local economy thanks to an annual income of nearly £300 million. The university currently employs around 3,000 staff and has over 17,000 students, and has one of only two business schools in the country to have achieved a six-star research rating. InfoLab21 at the University has been awared the Centre of Excellence for Information and Communication Technologies.
As one of the older cities in the country, Lancaster has a wide range of historic buildings and venues. It is fortunate to have retained many examples of Georgian architecture as it was not a key target during the bombing campaigns of the Second World War. Lancaster Castle, the Priory Church of St. Mary and the site of Williamson Park are among key areas of local historical importance. There are many museums scattered throughout the city, such as the Lancaster City Museum itself, Maritime Museum, Cottage Museum, and Judges’ Lodgings Museum.
The Lancaster Grand Theatre is another of Lancaster’s historic venues as well as a centre of culture, and has played a major part Lancaster’s community life since it was first constructed in 1782.