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Baptists, Primitive Methodists, &c. have smaller chapels in other parts of the town, for 1380 persons.
THE TOWN HALL.
THE Town Hall was built in 1781, from a design by Major Jarrat, for which he was presented, by the Corporation, with the Freedom of the Borough, in a silver box. It is an imposing building, situate on the west side of the Market Place. The Tower is an Ionic Peristyle; and the portico, with its noble columns, pediment, and the lofty cupola, appears to great advantage from the open area in front. The arcade and portico are used as a grain and butter market on Saturdays. In the council chamber are paintings of William Pitt and Lord Nelson, by the late Mr. Lonsdale, an artist whose genius has reflected honour upon Lancaster as his birth-place. In the same apartments are also full-length portraits, of George III. and George IV., by Mr. Henderson, of Liverpool, another native of Lancaster.
The Town Hall was commenced in 1781, and was completed two years afterwards. It cost £1300 in its erection.
THE CUSTOM HOUSE
Is situated on St. George's Quay. It is an appropriate building, with a fine portico and pediment, supported by four Ionic columns, fifteen feet and a half high, each of which is formed by a single stone. The building was designed by Mr. Gillow of this town, and was completed in 1764.
Lancaster formerly possessed an extensive trade with the West Indies, which has since been transferred to her more successful rival Liverpool. In 1801 there were 76 vessels (including coasters) employed in the trade of this port, with a tonnage of 13,996 tons and employing 1605 sailors. The majority of the vessels, not coasters, traded to the West Indies. These vessels were from 160 to 500 tons burthen: and the older inhabitants are fond of remembering the scenes of bustle and animation witnessed on the now deserted Quay, when ships were moored four or five deep, laden with sugar and coffee, cotton, rum, mahogany, and other colonial produce. The exports were Manchester and Glasgow manufactures, cutlery and hardware from Sheffield and Birmingham, candles and soap from Lancaster, &c. The West India trade in 1799 suffered severely, and five of the largest houses engaged in it failed. At a later period the trade of the town received a further shock from the failure of two banks, that of Messrs. Worswick and Co. and that of Messrs. Dilworth and Co. The losses sustained by the town from this cause are estimated at £600,000.
The commerce of Lancaster has been greatly hindered of late years by the accumulations of sand in the channel of the river, which prevent vessels of 200 tons from reaching the town without risk. Many plans and proposals for deepening and improving the navigation of the Lune, between Lancaster and the sea, have been broached at various times. Some recent surveys encourage the hope that vessels of considerable burthen could at high tide be
brought up in safety, and without the danger of running aground, to St. George's Quay. The difficult navigation of the river led in 1787 to the erection of new docks at Glasson, five miles below the town. A spacious dock capable of containing 25 large merchantmen, with extensive quays, was accordingly constructed, and the cargoes being transferred to lighters were thus brought up the river. In 1825 the Lancaster Canal Company constructed a branch from their main Canal to Glasson Dock, since which period the merchant vessels have discharged their cargoes into barges, in which they have been forwarded by canal to Lancaster, and also to Preston and Kendal.
THE OLD BRIDGE.
A PORTION of this ancient structure yet remains at the upper end of St. George's Quay. It is said to be of Danish origin; but vestiges of a still more ancient bridge, probably of Roman construction, have been found near the site of the new bridge, higher up the river. The old bridge on the Quay consisted of four arches, one of which and part of another still remain in a dilapidated
Before the new bridge was built the North road ran through the narrow and inconvenient street known as Bridge lane, down which it seems almost impossible that coaches and large vehicles could have passed. When the county determined to build a new bridge the old one was purchased by John Brockbank, esq., ship builder, who took down one arch to permit vessels launched at his building yard to proceed down the river.
THE NEW BRIDGE.
THIS bridge, designed by Mr. Harrison, was built in 1788. It is greatly and deservedly admired for its light and elegant appearance, and consists of five equal elliptical arches. Its length is 549 feet. There are perforations over each pier to diminish the pressure on the foundations; and above each of these apertures is a pediment supported by two Doric pillars. This bridge forms a bold and handsome entrance to the town, from the north. Lancaster, as a picturesque object (says a modern writer) seen from the river either above or below the town, possesses a character of almost romantic attraction. 'Distance lends enchantment to the view'; the Church seems to unite with the Castle, and the entire combination is one of rare occurrence in scenery of the highest character. From the bridge up the river the hill seems crowned with a noble castellated palace, having at one extremity a circular keep, and at the other the tower of the church; while the intermediate space is filled up by inferior towers, buttresses, and battlements, in that irregular mode which is so gratifying to the eye of taste." The town is built up the side of the hill which is crowned by the church and castle; while the Vicarage grounds and the trees, and the gardens of the dwellings in Church street, agreeably relieve the picture. At the foot of the hill, where the Lune makes a bold curve, stand the noble pile of warehouses on St. George's Quay.
The new bridge was built by the county, the cost of its erection being £14,000.