The idea of presenting the history of the city and its history using only postcards was an interesting and intriguing proposition allowing me to search for the most unusual and interesting illustrations available.
The Lancaster that we see today is the product of centuries of development, expansion and redevelopment.
If you look close enough you can still see signs of Lancaster’s glorious past, however, as is the case with many cities, Lancaster has unfortunately lost many buildings over the past century or so, and you could argue it is a shadow of its former self.
Whilst setting about writing my book, I initially came up with a hit list of the places and sites that I wanted to include.
No book on Lancaster would be complete without the obligatory images of the castle and Ashton Memorial, but finding images which were more obscure and offered a different insight were the real challenge.
Lancaster is a fascinating city with a history stretching back to the Roman Occupation. The town grew in the Middle Ages and by the Georgian Period had a well-developed port and was heavily involved in the Slave Trade. All of these periods have added to the fabric of the city and makes it a great place to explore.
I also decided that whilst the city over the past hundred years had developed and grown it would be interesting to contrast this with the reality of living in one of the surrounding villages and how life would have been for the inhabitants.
For those who know the local area, Lancaster is located on the River Lune, but further inland the Lune Valley is home to many small, yet important villages including Caton, Hornby and Wray, and if you head southwards you come across the Lune Estuary villages of Glasson, Cockerham and Thurnham which have a history connected to Morecambe Bay and Fishing.
In the process of writing my book, I discovered that although many of the buildings in Lancaster still exist, their history and stories seemed to be less well known. Even people who live in the town seemed unaware of the interesting stories behind the facades and this allowed me to pick the sites both popular and less well known as the basis for my narrative.
I decided that in order to show off the history of the town to its full potential, it would be best to split the town into rough areas so each chapter would act as a showcase for the sites and buildings within that part of the city.
As you go through the book you can explore the sites along the River Lune including Lancaster’s various brides including the Lune Aqueduct and Skerton Bridge, around Castle Hill, Dalton Square, Williamson Park and the surrounding villages and the book acts as a guide offering a potted history into each area.
Some of my favourite images used in the book include the various scenes from around Lancaster Castle, the images of daily life around the city centre streets, the beautiful flower gardens in Williamson Park and lastly the scenes of daily life in the small villages.
The final decision on what sites to include and talk about came down to how many postcards I was able to find.
For some sites the choice was huge with every aspect and detail shown, whilst for other sites I struggled to even find a couple of images.
Unfortunately, there were a few buildings that were not to be found on any original postcards and in order to maintain authenticity I decided not to include these. My aim throughout the process was to tell this history of the town through the most comprehensive display of postcards I could put together.
I hope that readers of my book will find it both an interesting interpretation of Lancaster’s history and also act as the starting point to look a little further into the history of the city and its buildings.
l Lancaster The Postcard Collection by Billy F. K. Howorth is available at Carnforth Bookshop.
Standard copies are available at the local Tourist Information Centres, Waterstones and WHSmith.