Friday, 21 January 2011

Lancaster Castle closure

In my photography blog you can see photos of York as I was there a couple of days ago. I live near Lancaster and if I had to choose between the two cities I would take into account how much there is to do and the historic buildings. York wins hands down. However my preference is for Lancaster. I know that as a Lancastrian I am biased but bigger isn't always better and the big difference for me is the physical geography. There is another dimension to Lancaster with its rolling hills.

I may not have convinced you but Lancaster does have a tremendous castle. The trouble is that you have to be a criminal to fully appreciate it. The good news is that Ken Clarke announced last week that Lancaster Castle prison will be closing in March and there are plans to turn it into a tourist attraction. This is exactly what Lancaster needs but not everyone sees it as good news.

There is a cost to changing the role of the castle. It has been a prison for centuries and nobody will ever get through its walls, but times have changed. Can you imagine the American reaction if they had such a building. We should appreciate our history too. Prison officers aren't too keen on the closure but that is only to be expected. The Green Party have expressed concern but reports in the local paper don't give details of their opposition.

If I showed you photos of Lancaster's Roman heritage you may laugh when compared to York's. Lancaster Castle is a great asset and we need to make better use of it.

Change the world (or at least the Lancaster Castle bit)


  1. The closure of the Castle as a prison will prevent the release of repeat offenders into the local area. However, turning the Castle inot a tourist attraction will take years! Its history will dictate that every layer of paint removed will be documanted with archeological precision. And the old sticking point remains...Lancaster does not have the parking capacity to facilitate the 200,000 or so visitors which would be required to make the Castle a commercially viable tourist attraction.

  2. Thanks Gardener. I think in general prisoners when released go home, wherever that may be. You are right about it taking years to convert a castle that has been a prison into a tourist attraction. I wrote a blog about solving the parking problem in Lancaster. It is some time ago and I think I have a good answer but there are lots of other people out there who also have good answers. It's whether we want to look for them - and that will be the subject of my blog today.