Skip to content

The Parish of Garstang in 1881

Extract from Topography and Directory of Lancaster and Sixteen Miles Round by P. Mannex and Co. of Preston. The book, described as neatly bound, cost 6 shillings and sixpence.

Garstang is a small, ancient market town occupying a pleasant and healthy situation on the western bank of the Wyre, which is here crossed by a noble bridge about two miles west from the Garstang and Catterall station, on the London and North Western Railway, 10 3/4 miles south from Lancaster and the same distance north northwest from Preston.

It is a clean town, consisting principally of one long street, and previous to the introduction of the railways was a busy thoroughfare, being on the Great Western road from London to Edinburgh.

The name was anciently spelt Gayrstang and is said to have been derived from a Saxon baron.

Dr. Whittaker considers theat Garri was a personal appellation, and Stang a derivative from the Latin Stagnum, a pool. In Domesday Survey it is called Cherestanc.

Some eighty years ago a Roman shield was found on the line of the Roman road which passed near the town; other objects of interest have also been found in the parish at various times.

The town, having no staple trade of any kind, is chiefly supported by the agriculturalists of the neighbouring townships, but several hands from the town and its vicinity are employed at the contiguous works of Mr. Jonathan Collinson, joiner, builder, saw mill proprietor, and general contractor.

The township

The township of Garstang consisted of 503 acres, principally owned by the Reverend W. A. W. Keppel. The rateable value is £2640.


In 1801 – 731

In 1821 – 936

In 1841 – 909

In 1851 – 839

In 1861 – 714

In 1871 – 687

The Railway

The railway to Knott End, near Fleetwood, now constructed as far as Pilling, a distance of seven miles from its junction with the London and North Western Railway, can hardly fail to be of immense benefit to the place. This portion of the line was opened in 1870.

The Charter

The charter incorporating Garstang was granted by Edward II in 1314. It conferred upon it the privilege of a market and fair, directed that it should be governed by seven capital burgesses, who were to elect annually a bailiff and other officers; the right of electing freemen being in the Corporation.

In 1680 Charles II granted a new charter and additional privileges. The bailiff is the trustee of the corporate funds, clerk of the market, collector of tolls, and chief preserver of the peace by virtue of his office.

The Market and Fairs

The market is held on Thursday, and is well supplied with corn and provisions, and the butter and cheese sold here is of excellent quality. A new market was built in 1843.

Fairs are held on Holy Thursday, July 10th and 11th, and November 22nd and 23rd. A cattle fair is also held every fortnight, from the first Thursday in Lent to Holy Thursday.

The Town Hall

The Town Hall consists of an upper and a lower room, the former being used for public business, and the latter for a corn market.

The Corporation assemble here on the 29th September to choose their municipal officers for the coming year.

Petty sessions are held here every alternate Thursday, and a County Court is held monthly. John Forshaw is clerk to the magistrates, W. A. Hulton Esq. judge of the County Court, James Whiteside, High Bailiff, and G. H. Dickson, registrar.

Businesses in the parish of Garstang in 1881

Garstang was a busy town in 1881, with a variety of businesses including:

Several grocers, butchers, cloggers and boot/shoemakers, milliners and hatters, dressmakers and tailors, drapers, coal merchants, farmers and cowkeepers, poultry dealers and feather merchants, potato dealers, saddler and harness makers, joiners, blacksmiths, fancy goods and toy dealers, a brickmaker, a maltmaker, a hairdresser, a plumber and glazier, a cooper, a newsagent, a confectioner, a fruiterer, a painter and paper hanger, a printer/bookseller/stationer, an auctioneer and valuer, a watchmaker and jeweller, a veterinary surgeon, and a Post Office, not to mention 9 pubs.

The watchmaker and jeweller, W and J Carr still exists today in the same family, today it is simply known as Carr’s Jewellers.

There was a gas works which was opened on Moss Lane in 1880, costing £2000. It supplied gas to Barnacre with Bonds, Catterall, Kirkland, Nateby, Garstang and Winmarleigh.


Policing the town was carried out from the County Police Office and occasional Court House at Bowgreave, where Superintendent James Webb was in charge of 21 policemen.