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Black History Month

Explore Library resources, stories and perspectives on Black History Month from Lancaster University Library and beyond.

Castle Park stories

The Castle Park Stories project was given a grant to inspire local residents to uncover the hidden stories in the area around the castle.

Read more about Fanny's hand in Castle Park Stories where Karen Burns writes about her encounter with the story of a severed hand in Lancaster. 

Local history

As Lancaster used to be a shipping port in the past with tall ships coming up the river Lune, this created businesses in Lancaster such as Gillows who used the wood used as ballast on the ships to create furniture.   We have a microfilm of the Gillows Archive at 4/0361 with microfilms on A Floor, the original is now housed in Westminster.  Gillows imported Mahogany and started working on Castle Hill moving to North Road where Papa John's is now.  They worked in St Leonard's Gate which later was the first location for Lancaster University.

Some of the signs of Lancaster's past shipping trade can be seen even now:

  • Maritime Museum which used to be a Custom House  which was designed by Robert Gillow in 1764 for all the goods going in and out of the Quay. 
  • Warehouses were also built along the Quay the majority recently demolished to make way for housing.
  • The Sugar House where many students partied was where they stored sugar coming from the ships. 
  • Powder House Lane was where ammunition from the ships were stored at a safe enough distance from the port so as not to cause an accidental explosion. 
  • "Snatchems" gained its name from the time when unknowing individuals would be press-ganged into service at sea. 
  • Near the Stonewell area of town there was sailcloth making in Allbright's factory.

Many businessmen in Lancaster were Quakers who were anti-slavery, however Lancaster was clearly involved with the slave trade with ships coming and going between the West Indies. Later the port of Lancaster moved to Glasson Dock. 


There is a memorial to a slave marked Sambo's grave at Sunderland Point in the estuary of the River Lune.

image of Sambo's grave from plaque on Sambo's grave from














Here lies
Poor Samboo
A faithfull Negro
(Attending his Maſter from the Weſt Indies)
Died on his Arrival at Sunderland

Full sixty Years the angry Winter's Wave
  Has thundering daſhd this bleak & barren Shore
Since Sambo's Head laid in this lonely Grave
  Lies still & ne'er will hear their turmoil more.

Full many a Sandbird chirps upon the Sod
  And many a Moonlight Elfin round him trips
Full many a Summer's Sunbeam warms the Clod
  And many a teeming Cloud upon him drips.

But still he sleeps _ till the awakening Sounds
  Of the Archangel's Trump new Life impart
Then the Great Judge his Approbation founds
  Not on Man's Color but his_Worth of Heart

James Watſon Scr.               H.Bell del. 1796

The Lancaster Slave Trade and Fair Trade Town Trail highlights some of the houses and buildings connected to the transatlantic slave trade and the campaigns for fair trade. 

Responses in local art