The day the cross came down

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DESECRATION you say! No the market cross had not been vandalised.

Festival decorations had been put up between the cross and local buildings. The bunting got wet and therefore became heavy and sagged, and a local ribble bus going under it did the rest.

My favourite words about the market cross in Garstang come from the booklet written over a quarter of a century ago by Catherine Rothwell and entitled "Garstang and Over Wyre in Time Past"... they read as follows...

"A focal point for centuries and standing in the middle of the Market Place is the Cross. Nearby were the stocks where wrong-doers were placed to sit out the allotted hours thought necessary to expiate their crime.

The fish stones, curved in shape, also stood here and were used to lay out fish and other foods for sale until one November 5 (known as "mischief night") damaged them so badly they fell apart and had to be moved. A well and a pump, crushed by a cart in the square, also had to go.

On the worn steps of the Market Cross men and women have preached the gospel, orators have harangued passers-by, young men have been urged to "join up" and fight for their country.

The Town Clerk of Garstang in 1715 was Roger Muncaster who boldly spoke out from these steps in defence of Prince Charles Edward, whose forces were then marching to Preston. Six young, local men joined him to assist the rebel army, but four came to grief.

Muncaster was convicted and hanged at Gallows Hill, Preston. John Leybourne of Nateby, Joseph Wadsworth of Catterall, Thomas Cartmell of Bilsborrow and Thomas Goose Junior of Catterall were found guilty and hanged at Stocks Lane End, Catterall, on February 14, 1716. Edward Sykes of Nether Wyresdale and Thomas Walmsley, strangely enough, were acquitted.''

The Cornmill makes up my second picture today. With the hills as the background it does make a very pastoral scene.

Yet the importance of the millwright in any local community like ours cannot be overstated. Part of the vital hustle and bustle of Garstang's life in times past depended on his knowledge, skill and expertise.

Do you realise that for generations the price of eggs for the whole region was set at Garstang market on the first Thursday of every month at 10am. Our Churchtown festival picture of the 1970s float shows a few eggs that could not be priced or mended.