A short history of Garstang
Garstang is an attractive, popular market town situated on the banks of the River Wyre and close to the Forest of Bowland, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from where the river springs.
Garstang was recorded in the Doomsday Book as Cherestanc and received a Royal Charter to hold an annual fair in 1288 and a market from 1314. The weekly street market continues to this day every Thursday. In 2001 Garstang became the world’s first Fairtrade Town.
The town has a population of 5,000 and is a true mixture of the old and the new with historic buildings and medieval weinds (passage ways) alongside contemporary shops and services.
Until 1926, when the first by-pass was built, the main A6 road from north to south went through the town and over the River Wyre at the Stone Bridge. It formed the Drove Road for the Highland Cattle being walked from Scotland to markets in London and the Midlands. Robert the Bruce, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Oliver Cromwell all brought their armies through the town, and when travel was mainly by horse drawn coach, up to twenty-four a day stopped here to change horses. All these animals and people needing rest, food and drink accounts for the large number of inns, which existed here – at least thirteen – many of which survive today.
Garstang was also a focal point for the local area and was well known for its own horse fairs, livestock and grain markets.
Historic landmarks include Greenhalgh Castle the remains of which overlook the town from a small hillock in the east. During the Civil War it withstood a twelve month siege before surrendering and being dismantled by Cromwell’s men. In the High Street the Town Hall was built in 1680 but burnt down in 1750 and again in 1939, fortunately much of the Georgian exterior remains. Another landmark is the old grammar school built in 1756, now the Arts Centre. In addition to the River Wyre, the Kendal – Preston Canal runs through part of the town. Originally constructed in 1791 for the passage of freight it is now a leisure amenity for pleasure craft, long walks and even fishing.
The Garstang Heritage Trail
The Garstang Heritage Trail was developed by the Garstang Partnership after receiving a grant from the Awards for All Lottery Fund for 6050k. After many months of research, working with local historians, community groups and residents we finally launched the trail on December 15th 2008.
The launch was a short walk around the town to give the walkers a taster of the main trail. We started at the Discovery Centre and had a gentle walk around the town for approx an hour where we ended at No18. After which we drank hot drinks and ate mince pies!
The Heritage Trail leaflet includes original artwork of local attractions, kindly drawn for us by the Garstang Painting Group. It also includes plenty of interesting facts and information about this historic market town. The leaflet consists of 3 walks. A short walk, a medium length walk and a long walk.
The Garstang Heritage Trail follows the history of the town. This leaflet will guide you along the route of Garstang’s past, via the many historic buildings and landmarks that remain today. There are three options for walks (shown on the map in different colours), varying in distance, all starting from the Old Council Offices.
Firstly a Short Walk, (yellow), down the High Street and Church Street to Th’ Owd Tithebarn retracing your steps back to the Old Council Offices. Time, approximately 55 minutes, wheelchair/pushchair friendly.
Secondly a Medium Length Walk, (light blue), continuing on from the Th’Owd Tithebarn, along the canal and river returning by the Riverside Walk. Time, approximately 1 hour 40 minutes,- steep steps, not suitable for wheelchairs/pushchairs.
Thirdly a Long Walk, (red), down the High Street, along the canal to Bonds Lane returning by the far side of the river to the Old Railway Station. Time, approximately 2 hours, wheelchair/pushchair friendly to Wyre Bridge. Those not able to climb stiles should follow the instructions for the medium walk from Wyre Bridge to no.32 onwards.
Thanks to Dina Carter for historical information, help in the collation of the data and assistance in the layout of the leaflet. Acknowledgements are given to Paul Smith and Ben Andrews for their contribution of historical data. Thanks to the Garstang Painting Group (Arts Centre) for their excellent illustrations. Finally acknowledgement is given to Wyre Coast and Countryside Rangers for their assistance in checking the walks.
This information/leaflet has been produced by Garstang and District Partnership with financial support from the NWDA and Awards for All.