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Lancaster ( or ) is the county town of Lancashiremarker, in North West England. It is situated on the River Lune and has a population of 45,952. Lancaster is a constituent settlement of the wider City of Lancastermarker, local government district which has a population of 133,914 and encompasses several outlying towns, including neighbouring Morecambemarker.

Long existing as a commercial, cultural and educational centre, Lancaster is the settlement that gives Lancashire its name. Lancaster has several unique ties to the British monarchy; the House of Lancaster was a branch of the English royal family, whilst the Duchy of Lancaster holds large estates on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, who herself is also the Duke of Lancaster. Lancaster was granted city statusin 1937 for its "long association with the crown" and because it was "the county town of the King's Duchy of Lancaster".

With its history based on its port and canal, Lancaster is an ancient settlement, dominated by Lancaster Castlemarker.


Lancaster Castlemarker, 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 infamous 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 of Londonmarker, earning Lancaster the nickname, "the Hanging Town".

The city's name, first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Loncastre means 'Roman fort on the River Lune', from the Old English cæster.

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 Lancashiremarker and Yorkshiremarker, not just the cities of Lancaster and Yorkmarker. It is also applied to the Roses Tournament in which Lancaster and York universities compete every year.

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 1800s, 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. However, Lancaster's role as a major port was short lived, as the river began to silt up. Morecambemarker, Glasson Dockmarker and Sunderland Pointmarker served as Lancaster's port for brief periods. Heyshammarker now serves as the district's main port.

Lancaster is primarily a service-orientated 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.

Lancaster was also home to the European headquarters of Reebok. Following their merger with Adidas, Reebok moved to Boltonmarker and Stockportmarker in 2007.


Lancaster and Morecambemarker have grown into a single conurbation and are no longer administered separately. The former City and Municipal Borough of Lancaster and the Municipal Borough of Morecambe and Heyshammarker along with other authorities merged in 1974 to form the District of Lancastermarker within the shire county of Lancashire. This was given city status in the United Kingdom and Lancaster City Council is the local governing body for the district.

Political representation

The city lies in the Lancaster and Wyremarker constituency for elections of Members of Parliament to the House of Commonsmarker, and the North West which elects nine Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The current MP for Lancaster and Wyremarker is Ben Wallace of the Conservative Party.

In the late-1990s and early-2000s, the city council was under the control of the Morecambe Bay Independents (MBIs)who campaigned for an independent Morecambemarker council. In 2003their influence waned and Labour became the largest party on the council. They formed a 'trafficlight' coalition with the LibDems and Greens.

At the May, 2007 local elections, Labour lost ground to the Green in Lancaster and the MBIs in Morecambe resulting in a no overall control, with all parties represented in a PR administration, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats supporting a Conservative Party leader.

Lancaster is one of the few places in the country where the Greens have a significant number of councillors (12 in 2007). They were first elected to the council in 1999 and have seen their number increase at each election since.

A long-standing debate to determine the nature of a proposed high capacity road, that would link the port of Heyshammarker to the M6 motorway with the intention of reducing traffic congestion in the city centre, is arguably the most prominent issue in local politics today.

2006 saw the city selected as one of just six places in the country to be named a 'cycling demonstration' town. This accolade was awarded even though Lancaster has a very poor network of cycle paths (especially on busy roads for cyclists, such as the A6).

On March 5, 2004, Lancaster was granted Fairtrade City status.


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

Wards in Lancaster


The M6 motorway passes to the east of Lancaster, with junctions 33 and 34 to the south and north respectively. The A6 road passes through the city leading southwards to Prestonmarker, Chorleymarker and Manchestermarker and northwards to Carnforthmarker, Kendalmarker, Penrithmarker and Carlislemarker.

Lancaster is served by the West Coast Main Linemarker which runs through Lancaster railway stationmarker. This station was formerly named Lancaster Castle railway station in order to differentiate it from Lancaster Green Ayre railway stationmarker on the Leeds–Morecambe line, which closed in 1966. The Caton–Morecambe section of this railway is now used as a cycle path.

The main bus operator in Lancaster is Stagecoach, which operates over thirty services in Lancaster and Morecambe.

The Lancaster Canalmarker and River Lune also pass through the city. The nearest airport is Blackpool Internationalmarker, some 21 miles away.

In 2005, Lancaster was one of six English towns chosen to be cycling demonstration towns to promote the use of cycling as a means of transport.


At Bailriggmarker, just south of the city, is Lancaster Universitymarker, a research university, and one of only two business schools in the country to have, in 2003, achieved a 6 star research rating. Lancaster University's Physics Department was recently rated #1 in England. InfoLab21 at the University is Centre of Excellence for Information and Communication Technologies. Lancaster is also home to a campus of the University of Cumbria – on the site of the former St Martin's Collegemarker – which was inaugurated in 2007. It provides undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the arts, social sciences, business, teacher training, health care and nursing.

Secondary schools


Lancaster, as a historic city, offers a moderate level of cultural entertainment. The city is fortunate to have retained many fine examples of Georgian architecture. Lancaster Castlemarker, the Priory Church of St. Marymarker and the Edwardian Ashton Memorialmarker are among many sites of historical importance.
The Lancaster Grand Theatremarker and the Dukesmarker are two of the city's most notable venues for live performances. Lancaster also hosts 'The Play in the Park', a series of open-air performances in the award-winning Williamson Parkmarker. The university has the Nuffield Theatre, with the largest student theatre stage in Europe, which regularly attracts big name comics, dance companies and dramatic productions. Lancaster also offers numerous museums, including the Lancaster City Museum, Maritime Museum and Judges' Lodgings Museum. Throughout the year, various festivals are held in and around the city, such as the Lancaster Jazz Festival and The Maritime Festival.

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 city also entertains contestants in the Lancaster International Youth Games, a multi-sport 'Olympic' style event, featuring competitors from Lancaster's twin towns: Rendsburgmarker (Germany), Perpignanmarker (France), Viana do Castelomarker (Portugal), Aalborgmarker (Denmark), Almeremarker (Netherlands), Lublinmarker (Poland) and Växjömarker (Sweden).

Lancaster has a large arts community.



Lancaster Cricket Club is sited near the River Lune in Lancaster. They have two senior teams that participate in the Northern League.


The local athletics track caters for all ages situated near the Salt Ayre Sports Centre in which the track is home to Lancaster and Morecambe AC.


Lancaster's main football team, Lancaster City, play in the Northern Premier League Division One North.


Lancaster is home to many golf clubs, including the Ashton Golf Centre, Lansil Golf Club, Forest Hills and Lancaster Golf Club.


Lancaster John O'Gaunt Rowing Club is the fourth-oldest rowing club in the UK. It competes nationally at regattas and heads races organised by the Amateur Rowing Association. The clubhouse is located next to the weir at Skerton.

Rugby Union

Rugby Union is a very popular sport in the area with the local clubs being Vale of Lune RUFC and Lancaster RGSmarker.


Lancaster's swimming club is 'Lancaster Amateur Swimming and Waterpolo Club' and they compete in a variety of competitions in the North West.They train at Salt Ayre.

Water Polo

Lancaster is home to one of, if not the top senior team in Great Britain. Water Polo is also the most successful sport in the Lancaster area. The Lancaster seniors hold a handful of water polo records and have won the National title ten times in the past thirteen years including a magnificent five consecutive years. They also have won the British Championship eight times in the past ten years also including five consecutive years. On top of the impressive senior team Lancaster also has a highly successfully junior, youth & academy team. Lancaster city also provides Mini Water Polo for those children who want to have fun and learn about water polo. The local clubs is called Lancaster City Amateur Swimming & Water Polo Club and they train at Salt Ayre Sports Centre.


Lancaster is home to SMARTAC Gym Club, , specialising in acro and with a trampoline subsidiary named SMARTAC Trampoline Club. As well as national competitions, the gym club has competed in two World Gymnaestradas. The club trains at the University of Cumbria Sports Complex, and contact and other details can be found on their recently revamped website [13077]


Lancaster has produced a number of successful bands and musicians since the 1990s, notably the drummer Keith Baxter of 3 Colours Red and the all-girl punk-rock band Angelica. Both 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 in the 1970s; 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, with acts like The Lovely Eggs, The Adventures of Loki and Death In Public 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 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.

Other notable music venues are The Dukes, The Grand Theatre, The Gregson, 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 and 2008 Mercury Prize nominees Rachel Unthank and the Winterset.


The Bay, the largest radio station in North Lancashire and South Cumbria, is based at St. George's Quay in the city and broadcasts on three separate frequencies: 96.9 FM (Lancaster), 102.3 FM (Windermere) and 103.2 FM (Kendal).

Commercially available newspapers include The Lancaster Guardian (a popular broadsheet) and The Visitor (a tabloid newspaper mainly targeted at residents of Morecambe). Freely-available newspapers in Lancaster include The Reporter and, previously, The Lancaster & Morecambe Citizen, which ceased production in January 2009.

The city also has a community radio station, Diversity FM, on 103.5 FM with a five year licence from 2006. The community led project is based at the local YMCA. The station includes a show broadcast in the Polish language.

The city's university, Lancaster Universitymarker, also has its own student radio station, Bailrigg FM, broadcasting on a signal of 87.7 FM, and an online student-run television station called

Places of interest

See also

Notable Lancastrians

Twinned cities

Lancaster's current twinned cities:


Image:King Street, Lancaster.jpg|King StreetImage:005 Friary.jpg|A typical Lancaster city scene. The spire visible belongs to a former church which has been converted into a pubImage:England and Scotland 036.jpg|Looking down North RoadImage:England and Scotland 040.jpg|Signposts


  1. Ekwall, Eilert 'The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Placenames' (1960), 4th edition, p285
  2. Lancaster & District Green Party
  3. Celebrating Cycling in City, Coast and Countryside
  4. BBC NEWS | England | Merseyside | Cities win Fairtrade recognition
  5. RAE 2008: Business & Management Studies
  6. RAE 2008: physics results
  7. Info Lab
  8. [1].
  9. Virtual Lancaster's "What's on"
  10. Studio Arts Events and Exhibitions
  12. The Yorkshire House
  13. News and Views - Issue 91
  14. Virtual Lancaster - News Archive: 1 - November 15, 2007

External links

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