One of the key visitor attractions in the city, and reflecting the city’s heritage, the Lancaster Maritime Museum is spread across two historic buildings on St. George’s Quay, the 18th century harbour right at the heart of Lancaster.
The award-winning museum was originally created by Richard Gillow to be a Customs House in 1764, and later opened as a museum in 1985. Housed in a delightful riverside setting, Lancaster Maritime Museum unlocks the city’s maritime trade, the history of the port, the story of the Lancaster Canal and the wider fishing industry found in the Lune Estuary and Morecambe Bay.
Using sound, smells, reconstructions and audiovisuals, the museum features include four restored local fishing vessels including the ‘Sir William Priestley’ and the ‘Coronation Rose’. Although the majority of the museum is found in the former Customs House, there is also an exhibition gallery, and displays in the adjacent Georgian warehouse including information about local ecology. There is a cafeteria and shop and parking is available at the rear.
Lancaster Railway station is less than 1 mile away and there is also a taxi rank situated outside, providing a range of ways to get there. There are also footpath routes from the station should visitors choose to walk.
The museum is less than 1 mile away from the main bus station in the city and the route from the station to the museum is flat, providing a nice walk on sunny days. There are also a couple of bus routes (12 and X1) which stop at St George’s Quay and can also drop visitors right by the museum entrance, meaning that it is an incredibly accessible place.
There are a wealth of talks held throughout the years by the Friends of Lancaster Maritime Museum, with a marine emphasis and which support various museum activities. These talks by the Friends also offer a more in depth way of introducing new visitors to the wealth of exhibits.
Overlooking the River Lune, the fabulous Georgian architecture of St George’s Quay shows the success and growth of overseas trade in the period. Alongside of the museum are also buildings which belonged to prosperous slave trader Dodshon Foster.
This peaceful stretch of the river was once home to a flurry of ship building activity as well as the loading and unloading of a range of goods for trade. The ebb and flow of the tide and the presence of the bird life on its banks are presented in an exhibit at the museum, and the changing nature of Lancaster itself also features heavily in its storytelling.
You will feel as though you’ve been thrown right into the century as you explore the maritime trade of the city, delve into the history of the port and the Canal using sound, smells, reconstructions and audiovisuals! Trade is at the heart of Lancaster, and it has been claimed that you don’t fully know the city until you have been to the Maritime Museum. Children can dress as a lady or lord and enjoy a number of Georgian era novelties, such as the beautiful model of a traditional horse drawn carriage. The museum also has on display several vessels which were built and used locally including dugout boats. There is also a Hector, a surprise character who can be discovered by visitors who venture around the museum exhibits.