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Garstang is a small town and civil parish within the Wyre borough of Lancashire, England. It is ten miles north-northwest of the city of Preston and eleven miles south of Lancaster, and had a total resident population of 4,074 in 2001. It is famous for being the world’s first ever Fairtrade Town.

A brief but comprehensive history of the parish, including the parish church of St Helen in Churchtown and Greenhalgh Castle can be found in “The Parish of Garstang”, A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7.

King Charles II is alleged to have spent the night in a town centre pub, the Royal Oak, during the Civil War.

St. John Plessington was born at Dimples Hall, which is just outside the town.

Garstang was once served by Garstang and Catterall railway station which closed in 1969, and Garstang Town railway station which closed to passengers in 1930.

The town is overlooked by the ruined remains of Greenhalgh Castle, built in 1490 by Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby.

Garstang is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Cherestanc. Later recordings of the name include Geresteng, Grestein, 1204; Gayrestan, 1236; Gayerstang, 1246; Gayrstang, 1274; Gayrestang, 1292.

The town celebrates an arts festival and an agricultural show every year in August.

In April 2000 Garstang declared itself “the world’s first Fairtrade Town”, influencing many other towns, cities and counties around the United Kingdom to work towards the same goal. The Fairtrade Town status was renewed by the Fairtrade Foundation on 13 August 2003.

In 2011 a 518 ft wind turbine, the UK’s largest, was built in the town to provide power for a local factory producing the award winning Garstang Blue cheese.

The local newspaper, the Garstang Courier, is available on tape free of charge to blind and partially sighted people from Galloway’s Society for the Blind.

Following success in winning the Small Country Town category in the 2002 Britain in Bloom Awards, Garstang won the Small Town category in the 2005  and 2010 Awards.

Local primary schools are Garstang Community Primary School, with approximately two hundred and forty-five pupils, St Thomas’ CE School and SS Mary and Michael Catholic School. The local secondary school is Garstang Community Academy which does not offer sixth form courses; pupils travel to Lancaster, Preston or Blackpool and further for A level courses.

The town has nine pubs: The Bell and Bottle (formerly the Farmers’ Arms), the Crown, the Eagle and Child, the King’s Arms, the Royal Oak, the Wheatsheaf, Th’Owd Tithe Barn, the Church Inn and The Bellflower (formerly the Flag). It has three restaurants: Pipers, Ken Ma and The Great Season, the latter two being Chinese restaurants. There is also a Golf Club and Country Hotel and the Crofter’s Hotel, on the main A6 road.

Garstang is referenced in episode 5 of the first series of the comedy Phoenix Nights. Brian Potter (played by Peter Kay) said “What have you called us? What have you called the best cabaret lounge this side of Garstang?” in reference to an alternative comedy night being run at his fictional club.

The town is served by the Anglican church of St Thomas and the Catholic church of St Mary and St Michael (just outside the town’s boundaries in Bonds). Until 1881, Garstang’s official parish church was St Helen’s, 2 miles (3 km) away in Churchtown.

From a very early time, Garstang lay within the Amounderness Hundred of Lancashire. From 1894 until 1974 Garstang formed its own local government district in the administrative county of Lancashire; “Garstang Rural District”, which extended beyond the current civil parish boundaries, including villages such as Pilling.

Since 1974, Garstang has formed part of the Wyre borough of Lancashire and all the councillors elected to Wyre Borough Council in the Garstang ward have been conservative. The ward has three borough councillors, including Lady Dulcie Atkins, wife of MEP Sir Robert Atkins.

Lying on the River Wyre and the Lancaster Canal, Garstang is situated close to the A6 road, the M6 motorway, and the West Coast Main Line, between Lancaster and Preston. It lies on the eastern edge of the Fylde, and the Forest of Bowland is not far to the east.

Garstang and the nearby villages of Bonds, Bowgreave and Catterall form an almost continuous built-up area, bypassed by the A6 road in 1926.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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