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Lancaster, Lancashire facts for kids

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Rooftops of Lancaster.JPG
Skyline of Lancaster with the Ashton Memorial in the distance and the spire of Lancaster Cathedral.
Lancaster is located in Lancashire
Population 52,234 
Demonym Lancastrian
OS grid reference SD475615
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district LA1, LA2
Dialling code 01524
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Lancaster and Fleetwood
    Morecambe and Lunesdale
List of places
54°02′49″N 2°48′04″W / 54.047°N 2.801°W / 54.047; -2.801

Lancaster is a city and the county town of Lancashire, England, standing on the River Lune. Its population of 52,234 compares with one of 138,375 in the wider City of Lancaster local government district. The House of Lancaster was a branch of the English royal family. The Duchy of Lancaster still holds large estates on behalf of Elizabeth II, who is also Duke of Lancaster. Its long history is marked by Lancaster Castle, Lancaster Priory Church, Lancaster Cathedral and the Ashton Memorial. It is the seat of Lancaster University and has a campus of the University of Cumbria. The Port of Lancaster played a big role in the city's growth, but for many years the outport of Glasson Dock has become the main shipping facility.


The city's name, first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Loncastre, where "Lon" refers to the River Lune, and "castre", from the Old English cæster and Latin castrum for "fort", refers to the Roman fort which stood at the site.

Roman and Saxon eras

Roman bath house, Lancaster 2
Roman bath house on Castle Hill

It is known that there existed a permanent Roman fort on the hill where Lancaster Castle now stands by the end of the 1st century AD, and possibly as early as the 60s, based on the Roman coin evidence. The coin evidence also suggests that the fort was not continuously inhabited in these early years. The fort was rebuilt in stone around 102 AD. The fort underwent a few more extensions, and at its largest area it was 9–10 acres (4–4 ha). The evidence suggests that the fort remained active into the early 5th century, which was the end of the Roman occupation of Britain.

Little is known about Lancaster between the end of Roman rule in Britain in the early 5th century and the Norman Conquest in the late 11th century. Despite a lack of documentation from this period, it is likely that Lancaster was still inhabited. Lancaster was on the fringes of the kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria, and over time control may have changed from one to the other. Archaeological evidence suggests that there was a monastery on or near the site of today's Lancaster Priory by the 700s or 800s. For example, an Anglo-Saxon runic cross found at the Priory in 1807, known as "Cynibald's cross", is thought to have been made in the late 9th century. Lancaster was probably one of the numerous monasteries founded under Wilfrid.


Lancaster in 1728
Lancaster in 1728

Following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, Lancaster fell under the control of William I, as stated in the Domesday Book of 1086, which is the earliest known mention of Lancaster in any document. The founding charter of the Priory, dated 1094, is the first known document which is specific to Lancaster. By this time William had given Lancaster and its surrounding region to Roger de Poitou. This document also suggests that the monastery had been refounded as a parish church at some point prior to 1066.

Lancaster became a borough in 1193 under King Richard I. Its first charter, dated 12 June 1193, was from John, Count of Mortain, who later became King of England.

DV342 Lancaster from the south
Lancaster from the south in 1825

Lancaster Castle, partly built in the 13th century and enlarged by Elizabeth I, stands on the site of a Roman garrison. Lancaster Castle is well known as the site of the Pendle witch trials in 1612. It was said that the court based in the castle (the Lancaster Assizes) sentenced more people to be hanged than any other in the country outside London, earning Lancaster the nickname, "the Hanging Town". Lancaster also figured prominently in the suppression of Catholicism during the reformation with the execution of at least eleven Catholic priests. A memorial to the Lancaster Martyrs is located close to the city centre.

Lancaster from Lune Bank, Skerton
Lancaster in the 19th century

The traditional emblem for the House of Lancaster is a red rose, the red rose of Lancaster, similar to that of the House of York, which is a white rose. These names derive from the emblems of the Royal Duchies of Lancaster and York in the 15th century. This erupted into a civil war over rival claims to the throne during the Wars of the Roses.

In more recent times, the term "Wars of the Roses" has been applied to rivalry in sports between teams representing Lancashire and Yorkshire, not just the cities of Lancaster and York. It is also applied to the Roses Tournament in which Lancaster and York universities compete every year.

St. George's Quay
St. George's Quay

Lancaster gained its first charter in 1193 as a market town and borough, but was not given city status until 1937. Many buildings in the city centre and along St. George's Quay date from the 19th century, built during a period when the port became one of the busiest in the UK; the fourth most important in the UK's slave trade. One prominent Lancaster slave-trader was Dodshon Foster. However, Lancaster's role as a major port was short-lived, as the river began to silt up. Morecambe, Glasson Dock and Sunderland Point served as Lancaster's port for brief periods. Heysham now serves as the district's main port.

Recent history

Lancaster is primarily a service-oriented city. Products of Lancaster include animal feed, textiles, chemicals, livestock, paper, synthetic fibre, farm machinery, HGV trailers and mineral fibres. In recent years, a high technology sector has emerged, as a result of Information Technology and Communications companies investing in the city.

A permanent military presence was established in the town with the completion of Bowerham Barracks in 1880.

In March 2004, Lancaster was granted Fairtrade City status.

Lancaster was also home to the European headquarters of Reebok. Following their merger with Adidas, Reebok moved to Bolton and Stockport in 2007. In May 2015, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited Lancaster Castle, her first visit in more than a decade.


Lancaster is the most northerly city in Lancashire, located three miles 4.8 km inland from Morecambe Bay. The city is located on the River Lune (from which it derives its name), and the Lancaster Canal.



King Street, Lancaster, with the castle in the background - - 945333
King Street with the castle in the background

The M6 motorway passes to the east of Lancaster with junctions 33 and 34 to the south and north. The A6 road, one of the main historic north–south roads in England, leads south to Preston, Chorley and Manchester and north to Carnforth, Kendal, Penrith and Carlisle. It currently runs from Luton, Bedfordshire, to Carlisle, Cumbria. In passing through Lancaster it gives access to nearby Carnforth, Kendal and Garstang. The Bay Gateway opened in 2016, linking Heysham and the M6 with a dual carriageway.

Lancaster's main bus operator is Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire, with a network of services from Lancaster bus station throughout the Lancaster District and frequent services to more distant places such as Kendal, Keswick, Kirkby Lonsdale, Preston and Blackpool. There are frequent buses to Lancaster University, with the No. 1 and No. 1A services running every 10–15 minutes using double-deckers, with less frequent services 4, 41 and 42.

Other routes are covered by Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire, including the 582 to Kirkby Lonsdale, Settle and Skipton and the 89 to Knott End-on-Sea.


South front of Lancaster Station, Lancaster - - 646296
Lancaster railway station

Lancaster is served by the West Coast Main Line, which runs through Lancaster railway station. The station was formerly named Lancaster Castle, to differentiate it from Lancaster Green Ayre on the Leeds–Morecambe line, which closed in 1966. There are through train services to and from London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Barrow-in-Furness, with a local service to Morecambe.

The long-term aim of the city council is to open a railway station serving the university and south Lancaster, although this is not feasible in the short or medium term with current levels of demand. The Caton–Morecambe section of the former North Western railway is now used as a cycle path.

Water and air

Historically, the Port of Lancaster gained importance in the 18th century. In 1750 the Lancaster Port Commission was established to develop the port. However, in more recent years, shipping visits Glasson Dock, where the Port commission is now based.

The Lancaster Canal and River Lune pass through the city.

The nearest airports are Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool.


In 2005, Lancaster was one of six English towns chosen to be cycling demonstration towns to promote cycling as a means of transport. The project ended in 2011 and despite considerable improvements made to cycling facilities and a rising level of cycle traffic, no further improvements have been made.


Lancaster Museum
Lancaster Museum, Market Square

Lancaster, as a historic city, has a wide range of historic buildings and venues. The city is fortunate to have retained many fine examples of Georgian architecture. Lancaster Castle, the Priory Church of St. Mary and the Edwardian Ashton Memorial are among many sites of historical importance. The city has numerous museums,including Lancaster City Museum, Maritime Museum, the Cottage Museum, and Judges' Lodgings Museum. Lancaster Friends Meeting House dating from 1708, is the longest continual Quaker meeting site in the world with the original building built in 1677. George Fox, founder of Quakerism, was near the site several occasions in the 1660s and spent two years imprisoned in Lancaster Castle. The meeting house today holds regular Quaker meetings and a wide range of cultural activities including adult learning, meditation, art classes, music & political meetings. The Lancaster Grand Theatre is another one of Lancaster historic cultural venues, under its many names, has been a major part of the social and cultural life of Lancaster since being built in 1782.

Lancaster is known nationally for its Arts scene. There are 600 business and organisations in the region involved directly or indirectly with arts and culture. In 2009 several major arts organisations, based within the district, formed a consortium called “Lancaster Arts Partners” (LAP) to champion and promote the strategic development of excellent arts activities in Lancaster District. Notable partners include Ludus Dance, More Music, the Dukes and among others. LAP curate and promote “Lancaster First Fridays”, a monthly multi-disciplinary mini-festival of the arts under their brand “Lancaster Arts City.” Lancaster University has its public arts organisation, part of LAP, known as Lancaster Arts at Lancaster University which programmes work for the public into campus venues including; Lancaster's Nuffield Theatre, one of the largest professional studio theatres in Europe; the Peter Scott Gallery, holding the most significant collection of Royal Lancastrian ceramics in Britain and the Lancaster International Concerts seriesLancaster International Concerts series attracting nationally and internationally renowned classical and world-music artists. The Gallery within the Storey Creative Industries Centre is now programmed and run by Lancaster City Council. In 2013 the previous incumbent organisation “The Storey Gallery” moved out of the building and reformed to become “Storey G2”. The Storey Creative Industries Centre is also home to Lancaster's Litfest which organises and runs an annual literature festival. In the summer months Williamson Park hosts a number of outdoor performances including the annual Dukes ‘Play in the Park' which over the past 26 years has attracted 460,000 people making it the UK's biggest outdoor walkabout theatre event.

There is a strong pub scene with Lancaster known as the Northern City of Ale, with almost 30 pubs serving cask ale which has grown in popularity locally in recent years Such pubs include the White Cross, the Three Mariners, the Borough and the Water Witch. There are two cask ale breweries in Lancaster: Lancaster Brewery and a microbrewery run by the Borough. There is also a local CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) branch being Lunesdale CAMRA.

The Lancaster Grand Theatre and the Dukes are two of the city's most notable venues for live performances as well as the Yorkshire House, Robert Gillow, The John O' Gaunt and The Bobin. Throughout the year, various festivals are held in and around the city, such as the Lancaster Music Festival, Lancaster Jazz Festival, The Maritime Festival and Chinese New Year Celebrations in the city centre as part of the Lancaster Chinese New Year Festival.

Every November the city hosts a two daylight and art festival entitled “Light Up Lancaster” which includes one of the biggest fireworks displays in the north west.

Cinemas in Lancaster are the independent Dukes Theatre and the mainstream VUE multiplex in the city centre. The 1930s art deco Regal Cinema closed in 2006. The Gregson Centre is also known for small film screenings and cultural events.


Lancaster has produced a number of successful bands and musicians since the 1990s, notably the drummer Keith Baxter of 3 Colours Red and folk-metal band Skyclad, who also featured Lancaster guitarist Dave Pugh, the thrash metal band D.A.M. were all from Lancaster, recording two albums for the Noise International label, with Dave Pugh appearing on the second.

The all-girl punk-rock band Angelica used the Lancaster Musicians' Co-operative, the main rehearsal and recording studio in the area.

The city has also produced many other musicians, including singer and songwriter John Waite, who first became known as lead singer of The Babys and had a solo #1 hit in the USA, "Missing You". As part of the band Bad English, John Waite also had a #1 hit in the Billboard top hundred in the 1970s called "When I See You Smile". Additionally, Paul James, better known as The Rev, former guitarist of English punk band Towers Of London who is now in the band Day 21 and plays guitar live on tour for The Prodigy; Chris Acland, drummer of the early 1990s shoegaze band Lush; Tom English, drummer of North East indie band Maxïmo Park and Steve Kemp, drummer of the indie band Hard-Fi.

Lancaster still continues to produce many bands and musicians, such as singer songwriter Jay Diggins and acts like The Lovely Eggs all receiving considerable national radio play and press coverage in recent years.

Lancaster is also the founding home of the dance-music sound systems The Rhythm Method and The ACME Bass Company. Pioneers in the field of the free party, these two systems, along with others, forged one of the strongest representations of the genre in the North West of England during the 1990s.

Since 2006, Lancaster Library has hosted a regular series of music events under the Get it Loud in Libraries initiative. Musicians such as The Wombats, The Thrills, Kate Nash, Adele and Bat for Lashes have taken part. Get It Loud in Libraries has gained national exposure, featuring on The One Show on BBC1, as well as seeing its gigs reviewed in The Observer Music Monthly, NME and Art Rocker.

Notable music venues include The Dukes, The Grand Theatre, The Gregson Centre, The Bobbin and The Yorkshire House which since 2006 has hosted such acts as John Renbourn, Polly Paulusma, Marissa Nadler, Baby Dee, Diane Cluck, Alasdair Roberts, Jesca Hoop, Lach, Jack Lewis, Tiny Ruins and 2008 Mercury Prize nominees Rachel Unthank and the Winterset. Other venues such as The Dalton Rooms, The V Bar, The Park Hotel and The Hall, China Street also play host to Lancaster's diverse music culture, such as the Lancaster Speakeasy or Stylus.

The Lancaster Jazz and Lancaster Music Festivals are both respectively held annually every September and October, based at various venues throughout the city. In 2013 the headline Jazz act was The Neil Cowley Trio who performed at The Dukes, whilst one of the Lancaster Music Festival headline acts was Jay Diggins who performed at The Dalton Rooms.

Places of interest

Lancaster Castle
Lancaster Castle
Ashton Memorial front
Ashton Memorial, Williamson Park
Penny's Hospital, Lancaster
Penny's Hospital almshouses
Lune Millennium Bridge from northern bank
Lune Millennium Bridge
Myles Standish
Myles Standish was born near Lancaster

See also

Twinned cities

Lancaster is twinned with:


Giant axe
Giant Axe Ground, Home of Lancaster City F.C.

Lancaster's main football team, Lancaster City, plays in the Northern Premier League Premier Division having won promotion as champions of Division One North in 2016–2017. It plays its home matches at the Giant Axe, which can take 3,500 (513 seated) and was formed in 1911 originally as Lancaster Town F.C. Lancaster City has been seven-times Lancashire FA Challenge cup winners and in 2010-11 won the Northern Premier League President's cup for a second time. Lancaster John O' Gaunt Rowing Club is the fifth-oldest surviving rowing club in the UK, outside the universities. It competes nationally at regattas and heads races run by British Rowing. The clubhouse stands next to the weir at Skerton.

The city entertains contestants in the Lancaster International Youth Games, a multi-sport 'Olympic' style event featuring competitors from Lancaster's twin towns: Rendsburg (Germany), Perpignan (France), Viana do Castelo (Portugal), Aalborg (Denmark), Almere (Netherlands), Lublin (Poland) and Växjö (Sweden).

Lancaster Cricket Club is sited near the River Lune. It has two senior teams that participate in the Palace Shield. Rugby union is a popular sport in the area, with the local clubs being Vale of Lune RUFC and Lancaster CATS.

Lancaster is home to the Golf Centre, Lansil Golf Club, Forest Hills and Lancaster Golf Club. It also has a Lancaster Amateur Swimming and Waterpolo Club that competes in the north-west. It trains at Salt Ayre and at Lancaster University Sports Centre. Lancaster is home to a senior UK team. Water polo is also popular in the area.

The local athletics track near the Salt Ayre Sports Centre is home to both Lancaster and Morecambe AC. It regularly fields athletes across disciplines including track and field, cross country, road and fell running. It competes in several local and national leagues including the Young Athletics League, the Northern Athletics League and the local Mid Lancs League (Cross-Country in Winter, and Track and Field in Summer).


Lancaster Grammar School
Lancaster Royal Grammar School

At Bailrigg south of the city is Lancaster University, a research university founded in the 1960s with an annual income of about £319 million, 3,000 staff and 17,415 registered students. Its business school is one of two in the country to gain a six-star research rating. Its physics department rated #1 in the United Kingdom in 2008. InfoLab21 at the university is a Centre of Excellence for Information and Communication Technologies. LEC (Lancaster Environment Centre) has over 200 staff and shares premises with the government-funded CEH. In 2017 it was rated 21st nationally for research in The Times Higher league table. For teaching, it gained the highest Gold ranking for quality in the 2017 government TEF, and in 2018 was ranked 9th for its teaching by The Independent and 9th by The Guardian. The Times Higher placed it 137th worldwide for research and 58th worldwide for arts and humanities. Lancaster University was named International University of the Year by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide in 2020. It has campuses in Malaysia, China and Ghana and plans one in Leipzig, Germany.

Lancaster is also home to a campus of the University of Cumbria – more centrally located on the site of the former St Martin's College – which was inaugurated in 2007. It provides undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the arts, social sciences, business, teacher training, health care and nursing.

Jamea Al Kauthar Islamic College, in the former Royal Albert Hospital building on Ashton Road, is an independent girls' school, providing education in a Muslim tradition.

Further education

  • Lancaster and Morecambe College

Secondary schools

  • Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Lancaster Girls' Grammar School are selective-entry grammar schools. In 2016 both were rated by the Sunday Timesin the top 50 UK schools based on student achievement.
  • Ripley St Thomas Church of England Academy
  • Our Lady's Catholic College
  • Central Lancaster High School
  • Skerton Community High School (now closed)

Primary schools

  • Lancaster Steiner School
  • Scotforth St Pauls CofE Primary School
  • Moorside Primary School
  • St Bernadette's Catholic Primary School
  • Bowerham Primary School
  • The Cathedral Catholic Primary School
  • Dallas Road Community Primary School
  • Willow Lane (formerly Marsh) Community Primary School
  • Castle View (formerly Ridge) Community Primary School
  • Lancaster Christ Church CofE Primary School
  • St Joseph's Catholic Primary School
  • Skerton St Lukes CofE Primary School
  • Lancaster Ryelands Primary School

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Schools

  • The Loyne
  • Morecambe Road School

Notable people

Arts and entertainment

  • Joe Abercrombie (born 1974) – fantasy writer and film editor, was born in Lancaster and attended LRGS.
  • Cherith Baldry (born 1947) – children's and fantasy writer, was born in Lancaster.
  • Laurence Binyon (1869–1943) – poet and dramatist, was born in Lancaster.
  • Hubert Henry Norsworthy (1885–1961) – organist and composer, died in Lancaster.
  • Mabel Pakenham-Walsh (1937–2013) – artist, was born in Lancaster.
  • Jon Richardson (born 1982) – comedian, grew up in Lancaster and attended LRGS.
  • Thomas Thompson (1880–1951) – writer and broadcaster
  • John Waite (born 1952) – rock musician, was born in Lancaster.
  • Dustin Demri-Burns (born 1978) – actor, writer and comedian
  • Andy Wear – television and stage actor, was born in Lancaster.
  • Keith Wilkinson (living) – television news reporter, was born in Lancaster.


  • Henry Cort (c. 1741–1800) – English ironmaster and inventor, was probably born in Lancaster.
  • James Crosby (born 1956) – chief executive of HBOS until 2006, attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School.
  • Thomas Edmondson (1792–1851) – businessman and inventor of the Edmondson railway ticket, was born in Lancaster.
  • Robert Gillow (1704–1772) was the founder of Gillows of Lancaster, an English furniture manufacturer.
  • Sir Ronald Halstead (1927–2021) – chair and Chief Executive of the Beecham Group in 1984–1985 and Deputy Chair of British Steel in 1986–1994 was born in Lancaster and attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School.
  • James Williamson (1842–1930) – businessman and politician who created Williamson Park and Ashton memorial, was born in Lancaster and attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

Science and humanities

  • J. L. Austin (1911–1960) – philosopher and developer of the theory of speech acts, was born in Lancaster.
  • John Ambrose Fleming (1849–1945) – electrical engineer and physicist, was born in Lancaster.
  • Edward Frankland (1825–1899) – chemist who originated the concept of valence, was born near Lancaster and educated at LRGS.
  • Jaroslav Krejčí (1916–2014) – Czech-British sociologist, was a professor at the University of Lancaster and died in Lancaster.
  • Geoffrey Leech (1936–2014) – linguistics researcher, was a professor at the University of Lancaster and died in Lancaster.
  • Richard Owen (1804–1892) – biologist who coined the term "dinosaur", lived in Brock Street.
  • William Turner (1832–1916) – anatomist and academic, was born in Lancaster.
  • Paul Wellings (born 1953) – ecologist, served as a professor and Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University.
  • Emily Williamson (1855–1936), English philanthropist and co-founder of the RSPB, was born in Lancaster.
  • Gavin Wood (born 1980) – co-founded and headed Ethereum.


  • Michael Allen (1933–1995) – international cricketer, died in Lancaster.
  • Arthur Bate (1908–1993) – professional footballer, died in Lancaster.
  • James Beattie (born 1978) – professional footballer, was born in Lancaster.
  • Harold Douthwaite (1900–1972) – first-class cricketer, was born and died in Lancaster.
  • Scott Durant (born 1988) – Olympic gold medal-winning rower, was a pupil at Lancaster Royal Grammar School
  • Trevor Glover (born 1951) – first-class cricketer and rugby union player, was born in Lancaster.
  • William Gregson (1877–1963) – first-class cricketer, died in Lancaster.
  • Sarah Illingworth (born 1963) – international cricketer (New Zealand), was born in Lancaster.
  • Edward Jackson (1849–1926) – first-class cricketer, was born in Lancaster.
  • John Jackson (1841–1906) – first-class cricketer, was born in Lancaster.
  • Scott McTominay (born 1996) – professional footballer currently with Manchester United, was born in Lancaster.
  • John Pinch (1870–1946) – international rugby union player, was born and died in Lancaster.
  • Jason Queally (born 1970) – Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist, was a pupil at Lancaster Royal Grammar School.
  • Matt Rogerson (born 1993) – professional Rugby Union player currently with London Irish, was born in Lancaster
  • Fred Shinton (1883–1923) – professional footballer, died in Lancaster.
  • Alan Warriner-Little (born 1962) – champion darts player, was born in Lancaster.

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See also

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