10 interesting facts about Garstang; the home of York House...


What you might not realise is that your parcels from all over the UK end up in the sunny market town of Garstang in the north-west of England. You might think it's in Yorkshire because of our York House address, but no, forward2me is actually a Lancashire-based company.

If your parcels could talk, what would they say about Garstang?

1. World's 1st Fairtrade Town

This is actually a very interesting thing (honest). Are we sitting ethically? Good, then I'll begin...Fairtrade goods have become commonplace in our supermarkets and High Street stores but not so long ago, few people had heard of fair trade at all. A group of locals (mainly vets) decided that they would do something about this and with much fund-raising and campaigning, they managed to get Garstang recognised as the World's First Fairtrade Town. This means that the businesses, schools and shops use and stock Fairtrade products from sugar and coffee through to T-shirts and of course, bananas. This Fairtrade status has been a great benefit to the town because visitors have come from all over the world to find out how to become a Fairtrade Town by following Garstang's shining example.

2. We're twinned with a town in Ghana called New Koforidua where a lot of the Fairtrade chocolate comes from.

3. We produce 'green' cheese. And a lovely Garstang Blue. Dewlay, a local cheese manufacturer, has one of the largest wind turbines in the country at 126m high. Known affectionately as 'Windy', the turbine saves almost 3000 tonnes of carbon per year and produces the equivalent power for 1100 homes. Garstang has the greenest cheese in the country!

4. There's a canal. It's pretty, you can walk along it. Work began in 1793. It took over 20 years to complete but was only operational for a relatively short time because someone had the audacity to invent the railway which rapidly made canal travel seem ludicrously slow.

5.The picturesque River Wyre runs through (and sometimes over) parts of Garstang. There are kingfishers, dippers and even otters along its banks. The river starts in the Bowland Fells and is one of the few rivers where you can see its estuary from the source. It has two major tributaries, the Brock and the Calder. In Garstang, there's a very attractive stone aqueduct where the river crosses the canal.

6. Garstang has 7 pubs! An impressive number for a relatively small town, don't you think? They have some interesting names  - The Eagle and Child, The Farmer's Arms, The Old Tithe Barn, The Royal Oak, The Wheatsheaf and the Crown to name half-a-dozen, oh, and the King's Head. Garstang used to be a coaching stop as well as a market town and the many inns grew up to accommodate the trade. I'm also fairly certain that I read once that the villages in the hills were often part of the temperance movement and so the denizens would come into Garstang for a drink...

7. Walking Festival. It's quite pretty round here, what with the canal, the turbine and the lovely M6. No, really it is lovely. We're on the edge of the Forest of Bowland which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty . Strangely enough, this is not a forest with trees but actually a large area of moorland owned mainly by the Duchy of Lancaster and United Utilities (for water catchment). The 'forest' in the title relates to land exclusively for hunting by royalty. In the middle ages, the peasants were prohibited from clearing or farming in the area and would have been severely punished if caught hunting...

8. Garstang Victorian Festival. A Dickensian Christmas extravaganza. Need I say more? Well I will anyway...The festival started in the 1980s with some baked potatoes in a barrow and has grown into a large event that brings people from all over Lancashire to enjoy the mulled wine, parched peas and the Victorian entertainment including Punch and Judy, a steam organ and street performances.

9. Britain in Bloom. Garstang has some dedicated teams of volunteers, one of which is busy at the moment preparing the town for judging in the UK's Britain in Bloom competition. We've won 3 times  in the past and were invited to take part in the prestigious European 'champion of champions' award. It is pretty here.

Blimey. Made it to 10. The Garstang Millennium Green, established in 2000 (if you hadn't guessed that). Another band of fearless volunteers own and manage this area of green space for nature and the public at large. It's also very pretty by the river with lovely views out over the treeless Forest of Bowland. Interestingly, the site is classed as a reservoir and is often flooded by the River Wyre to protect the rest of Garstang.

 Wow! Garstang's more interesting than I thought. And it's quite pretty! What lucky parcels you have coming to York House here in Garstang.