Shortly after writing my first book A-Z of Lancaster I embarked upon writing Lancaster The Postcard Collection. The idea of presenting a town and its history using only postcards was an interesting and intriguing proposition allowing me to search for the most unusual and interesting illustrations available.

Within Williamson Park stands the imposing structure of Ashton Memorial, which is one of the largest follies in Britain. (c. Lancaster The Postcard Collection, Amberley Publishing)

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 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.

One of the most prominent structures on the Lancaster skyline is the imposing fortress of Lancaster Castle that has stood proudly on Castle Hill for over 900 years. (c. Lancaster The Postcard Collection, Amberley Publishing)

I also decided that whilst the town 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. Further inland the Lune Valley is home to many small, yet important, villages including Caton, Hornby and Wray. If you head the other direction 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. 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 town. As you go through the book you can explore the sites along the River Lune, around Castle Hill and in Dalton Square and the book acts as a guide offering a potted history into each area.

When we take a look at the local landscape in the area, there is one feature that has played a major part in local history – the River Lune. (c. Lancaster The Postcard Collection, Amberley Publishing)

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, every aspect and detail was pictured whilst 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 the towns history, and also act as the starting point to look a little further into the history of Lancaster and its buildings.


Billy F. K. Howorth's new book Lancaster The Postcard Collection is available for purchase now.