Friday 18 August

Raindrops drumming on the roof disturbed our sleep last night and we were drinking tea in bed at 4 o’clock before nodding off again once the rain stopped.

Max was restless and keen for his walk this morning as he wasn’t feeling too well.  After an hour he was fully recovered and we were able to leave him while we went off to explore.

Storm and I headed to the castle first.  As we climbed the steps up from the canal, the castle on the hill in the distance looked very imposing.

We paid to join one of its half-hourly tours as this was the only way we could gain entry inside.

 

We learnt that the castle is owned by The Queen, the current Duke of Lancaster.   Previous Dukes since the 13th Century have influenced the development of the castle over the years.  The medieval fortress, is still a working castle.  It has been used for Court Hearings for many years and until March 2011 it was also a Category C Prison.   Crown court hearings are still heard in the castle and we visited two of the court rooms.  The Pendle Witch Trial of 1612 was held here, as was the trial of the Birmingham 6 in 1975.  At one time children as young as nine could be tried and hung for steeling a handkerchief and prisoners found guilty of a crime would have the palm of their left handed branded with an ‘M’ so that if they re-offended the judge would know instantly that they’d been in trouble before.

We visited the preserved prison cells in A wing and learnt about the different punishments for prisoners over the years and how conditions have improved considerably in recent times.

Seeking some fresh air we headed down the hill towards the River Lune.  The Millennium cable stay bridge was an impressive sight.

We turned left along the river walkway, shortly arriving at St George’s Quay.  At one time Lancaster was one of the country’s busiest ports, busier than Liverpool.

The Customs House and adjacent warehouse have been converted into the Maritime Museum, the remaining warehouses along the quay have have now been converted into flats.  Here were learnt about the role Lancaster played in the slavery trade and how Lancaster achieved much of its wealth through trade with the rest of the world.  We learnt about the building of the Lancaster Canal and the success of the canal until the railways took over.  The packet boat that ran from Lancaster to Preston along the canal was an impressive service; two horses at a gallop, would pull the boat at a speed of 9 miles/hr, with the horses being swapped every four miles.   The maximum speed limit on the canal now is only 4 miles/hour.   Other boats on the canal had to give way to the packet boats.  Meeting it head on, at that pace, must have been quite scary.

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