Many of us may not think of Lancaster as a maritime hub, which is one reason to visit. Overlooking the river Lune, and the fabulous Georgian architecture of St George’s Quay sits Lancaster Maritime Museum. The museum is housed in the Port of Lancaster Custom House and warehouse buildings which date from the second half of the 18th century. The buildings along the quayside developed around this time as a result of the success of overseas trade. Alongside of the museum are buildings which belonged to prosperous Quaker slave trader Dodshon Foster. He was involved in the shipping of over 700 slaves during his career. His commercial success was assisted by his connection through marriage to the Birket family of merchants; he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Myles Birket. Foster was the son of a Quaker merchant from Durham. Foster moved to Lancaster and entered into the slave trade in 1752 at the age of 21. His ship was named the Barlborough, and it made several slaving voyages between 1752 and 1758. He served as one of Lancaster's Port Commissioners between 1755 and 1758.This now peaceful stretch of the river would once have bustled with ship building activity and the loading and unloading of goods. There is now an ever changing view across the river with the ebb and flow of the tide and the presence of the bird life which lives along its banks.
There is an exhibition dedicated to the Lancaster Canal. The line of the canal was first surveyed by Robert Whitworth in 1772. In 1791, John Longbotham, Robert Dickinson and Richard Beck resurveyed the proposed line, and a final survey was carried out later the same year by John Rennie. In 1792 the promoters sought an Act of Parliament urgently, as proposals by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to alter their route would have affected the profitability of the southern section. It received the Royal Assent on 11 June 1792, and was entitled 'An Act for making and maintaining a navigable Canal, from Kirkby Kendal in the county of Westmoreland, to West Houghton in the county palatine of Lancaster, and also a navigable Branch from the said intended Canal at or near Barwick, to or near Warton Cragg, and also another navigable Branch, from, at or near, Galemoss, by Chorley, to or near Duxbury in the said county palatine of Lancaster'. Work started almost immediately on the level pound from Preston to Tewitfield, and in 1794 on the Lune Aqueduct, which was built of stone, although Rennie thought brick should have been used, as it would have been considerably cheaper. By 1797 the aqueduct was open, carrying the canal 62 feet (19 m) above the river, and boats were now able to travel the 42.4 miles (68.2 km) from Preston to Tewitfield. In 1813, work began on the canal north from Tewitfield, which was completed to Kendal in 1819. Construction on the 2.5-mile (4 km) Glasson Dock branch began in 1819, and it opened in 1826, with six locks carrying the canal down to the sea. There are also 4 fishing boats and an aquarium to illustrate the importance of this industry to the area. Shop, café, toilets accessible to disabled people, lift accessible to disabled people, assistance dogs allowed, induction loop, fully accessible to disabled users, baby changing facilities. Due to flood damage in Lancaster caused by Storm Desmond, the Maritime Museum is currently closed. Provisionally due to reopen December 5th.
Location : Custom House, St Georges Quay, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 1RB
Transport: Lancaster (National Rail). Bus routes 3A, 4A, S24 and X4 stop in front.
Opening Times: April to Oct. Daily 11:00 to 17:00
Opening Times: Nov. to March Daily 12:30 to 16:00
Tickets: Adults £3.00 Concessions £2.00 Children / Carer Free
Tel: 01524 382 264