Places of Interest
The FIG Tree (Fairtrade In Garstang – branching out around the world) International Visitor Centre and café opened in November 2011 and is the site of Garstang’s official declaration as the world’s first Fairtrade Town that took place ten years earlier in November 2001. The very first Fairtrade Town certificate presented by Harriet Lamb CBE, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation is displayed in the centre alongside the ceremonial plaque sponsored by The Co-operative and unveiled by comedy actor Tony Robinson. This international visitor centre not only provides information and workshops on Fairtrade and Fairtrade Towns but also offers an exclusive Fairtrade and local produce café and gift shop. The café and shop is open every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays when the centre will be used for workshops. So before embarking on the Fair Trade Way you will be able to pop into the FIG Tree and fill your flasks with Fairtrade hot drinks as well as nipping over to the Garstang Co-op store opposite to stock up with Fairtrade chocolate, bananas, juices or other Fairtrade goodies from the extensive Co-op Fairtrade range.
Two flags representing Garstang’s link with the Kuapa Kokoo Society of New Koforidua in Ghana fly outside the Council Offices next to the FIG Tree. Kuapa Kokoo is a Fairtrade cocoa farming cooperative who also part-own the Fairtrade chocolate company Divine Chocolate Ltd.
Garstang is a market town that was granted its Market Charter by Edward ll in 1310 and was mentioned in the Domesday Book where it was referred to as Cherestanc. The name Garstang may have sprung from the Saxon word “Gaerstung” meaning common land or meadowland. Despite being a small provincial town with a population of just over 5,000, Garstang punches well above its weight in terms of its international reputation. As well as being the place where the international Fair Trade Towns movement was born, it was voted the best town in Europe in 2008 – winning a gold award in the prestigious Entente Florale competition.
Mustard Seed, Park Hill Road
The Mustard Seed is a Fairtrade and One World shop and was the first to sell Fairtrade products in Garstang. It was founded by Rev. Peter Haywood in September 1991 and is situated at Garstang Methodist Church. The shop is staffed by volunteers from the town and the surrounding area and is open three days a week. The adjacent church hall, now Wesleys Coffee Lounge supported the inaugural meeting of the Garstang Oxfam Group founded by Bruce Crowther just a few months after the Mustard Seed opened. It was the Garstang Oxfam Fairtrade campaign that led to Garstang becoming a Fairtrade Town in April 2000.
Pipers Restaurant, High Street
Formerly known as ‘The Jacobite’ this was the location of the Fairtrade and local produce meal held by the Garstang Oxfam Group during Fairtrade Fortnight 2000. Until this point the Oxfam supporters were having little success in getting Fairtrade products used and sold across the Garstang community. In an attempt to persuade them they invited local councillors, heads of schools and faith groups and representatives from local businesses and the Chamber of Trade to a three course meal made up entirely of Fairtrade and local produce; as well as Fairtrade they wanted to show empathy and support for local farmers also struggling to get a fair price for their products.
Donations were not accepted from the guests who instead were asked to sign a pledge form stating that they would support Fairtrade by either selling and/or using Fairtrade products on their premises. This was a success with all the schools and faith groups and eventually 95% of small businesses in Garstang signing up to the pledge and displaying a window sticker demonstrating their support. At the Public Meeting that followed in April 2000 the people of Garstang voted to make their town the world’s first Fairtrade Town.
Today Pipers continue supporting Fairtrade by providing Fairtrade coffee, tea and wine in the restaurant.
URC Church Hall, Croston Road
This was the venue for the annual public meeting held on 27 April 2000 when the people of Garstang declared their town the world’s first Fairtrade Town. Attendance at these meetings is often sparse but on this day between 30 and 40 people gathered to witness and instigate this now famous public action that has led to over 1,000 Fair Trade Towns across the world including the cities of London, Paris, Rome, Brussels, Copenhagen, Bonn, Boston and San Francisco.
The Lancaster to Preston canal was built in 1792 and this single span aqueduct (110 feet long and 34 feet high) carries the canal over the River Wyre at Garstang. Like the larger Lune Aqueduct (see section 2) further along the canal and also included in the Fair Trade Way it was built in 1797 and designed by Scottish surveyor and engineer, John Rennie (1761 – 1821). The design of both aqueducts is similar in that there is a deep Doric cornice on both sides.
Conder Green (Glasson Dock)
From Conder Green it is possible to see Glasson Dock (otherwise known as Glasson) that lies at the mouth of the River Lune. Lancaster port commission decided to build the dock in 1779 due to the difficulty of navigation up the Lune to the docks in Lancaster. The dock was completed in 1787 but initially there were very few settlements built around it. A shipyard and Customs House were built in 1834, a Watch House in 1836, and a Dry Dock in 1841. The shipyards were largely concerned with ship repair rather than shipbuilding, eventually closing in 1968, with the dry dock filled in a year later. To some extent the dock is still use today with outbound shipments including coal for the Isle of Man and the Western Islands of Scotland, and incoming cargoes including animal foodstuffs and fertilizer.
The docks were connected by a branch to the Lancaster Canal in 1826 which now forms the section of the Fair Trade Way that runs from the canal junction at Galgate to Conder Green. Much later the quay was connected to the railway network in 1883. Goods traffic continued on the railway until 7 September 1964. The track bed of the disused branch line is now a linear park and a cycleway that runs alongside the Lune estuary, completing this first section of the Fair Trade Way towards Lancaster.
St. George’s Quay
The final stretch of the Fair Trade Way takes you along St. George’s Quay with its wonderful views across the river and abundant bird life that lives in the now peaceful banks. But this quayside was once a thriving and bustling port. The Lancaster port commission was founded in 1749 to improve the facilities at St. George’s Quay which was built between 1750 and 1755. The Old Custom House, now the Lancaster Maritime Museum was built in 1764 and Skerton Bridge was built in 1788.
In the mid 18th century ships entering and leaving the port brought in hardwoods such as mahogany for furniture making as well as sugar, rum and cotton etc from the West Indies and took away manufactured goods including guns and ammunition, but this trade was not direct. The exports were traded in West Africa for the more sinister human cargo of the slave trade before being exchanged for the luxurious commodities in the Caribbean. This three way trading system became known as the notorious slave trade triangle.
Lancaster Maritime museum
The museum is sited within the Old Custom House and warehouse buildings. The Custom House was built in 1764 and designed by the furniture manufacturer Richard Gillow. The buildings were used by the community as meeting rooms etc until the Maritime Museum was opened in 1985. In 1987 the museum was extended to include the adjacent warehouse that now houses the café selling Fairtrade products.
Dodson Foster’s house
To the left of the Maritime Museum (as you face it) is Dodson Foster’s house and warehouse. Although Quakers were paramount in developing and supporting the slave trade abolition campaign some of those attending the Quaker Meetings at Lancaster and Liverpool were not abolitionists; perhaps due to the fact that both these Northern cities prospered from the immoral trade. As both a Quaker and prosperous slave trader the actions of Dodshon Foster may today appear contradictory, if not hypocritical. He owned two small ships which during five voyages carried 650 African slaves, many of them not surviving the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. He was buried in the Lancaster Quaker Meeting House.
Dodson Foster was not alone in taking on this apparently conflicting life style. The Church of England bought and branded their own slaves and the church in Cape Coast castle in Ghana was built above the male slave dungeon. It begs the question ‘what went on in the minds of those worshipers as the slaves stood suffering beneath them?’ It was the task of the abolitionists to make people aware of their misguided action when they stated “it is simply immoral that people should be allowed to suffer in order to provide us with luxuries like sugar, chocolate, coffee and tea at a cheap price”. Unfortunately this message is still relevant today, but it is now the task of modern day Fair Trade campaigners to make people aware of their harmful, heedless action in consuming products that are not traded fairly.
The settlement of Lancaster grew up around the Roman Fort built in about 80AD. The name Lancaster comes from the river Lune (itself coming from the Celtic word meaning pure or clean) and the Saxon word ‘ceaster’ meaning a group of Roman buildings. Lune Ceaster evolved over time to become Lancaster.
A Norman castle was built on the site of the Roman fort and they formed the priory to go with the church of St Mary in 1094. The stone keep was built in 1170 and the castle wall, towers and gateway were built by King John in the early 13th century.
After Liverpool, Bristol and London, Lancaster was the fourth biggest slave trade port in England and during the 18th century the city prospered from the Atlantic slave trade. You can take the ‘Lancaster Slave Trade Trail’ across the city, developed by the children and teachers of Dallas Road Community Primary School and Lancaster Global Link.
‘Captured Africans’ slave trade memorial
Going past the Millennium footbridge the first section of the Fair Trade Way ends at the ‘Captured Africans’ slave trade memorial, which was developed as part of the Slave Trade Arts Memorial Project (STAMP) in 2002. The sculpture was created by Kevin Dalton Johnson as a memorial to the victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The names of the slave ships and their captains are engraved on the side of the memorial with the number of slaves carried on each voyage. A total of 25 slave ships sailed from Lancaster carrying a total of 5,034 slaves. Unlike their captains we cannot name each slave but at least we can count them down to every man, woman and child. Over 10 million people were taken from their African homeland and transported across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas; another two million did not survive the crossing. This was the greatest enforced movement of people in the history of mankind.