Castle inspires music

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Ex-pat Dave Hodkinson couldn’t resist posing for this picture outside Lancaster Castle last week.

Toting his brand new electric ukulele, purchased from Promenade Music in Morecambe a few hours earlier, Dave, who moved to Canada in 1969, was visiting his home city to catch up with old friends.

He told me about a song he’d written about the castle, and its relationship with the people of Lancaster, as we enjoyed a pint in the Robert Gillow round the corner.

Settling near Oshawa, in Ontario, the former headteacher has been regaling gig-goers thousands of miles away with the story, or at least his version, of the castle and its dark history.

Dave, 68, who lived in Ullswater Road and attended Skerton High School, took up music quite late in life, and wrote A Town With A Castle, after deciding to focus on the area in which he grew up.

“It’s about the relationship between the castle and the people in Lancaster and it’s quite a dark song,” he said.

“I’ve explored the issues around the castle dominating the town and that for quite some time people would have had to keep their heads down because of it.

“It touches upon the story of the witches, and the papists, and the effect this kind of persecution must have had on the people of the town.”

Dave has also written songs about Morecambe – Sand Grown Uns – which explores Morecambe’s halcyon days and the perception of the town now, and the north Lancs football league as well.

Dave was extremely interested to hear that the Duchy of Lancaster had opened up the castle to the public, and that there were exciting opportunities to program music there as well, in the stunning setting of the courtyard.

Plans are currently in the offing to use the courtyard as the main arena for Lancaster Music Festival on October 11 - 13. Hearing Dave’s song, and the inevitably negative aspects of it, made the idea of the castle becoming a destination for music lovers all the more alluring.