Make some noise for Lancaster's Mill Race

Lancastrians are invited to go with the Flow this spring and celebrate a hidden feature of the city’s history.

By Michelle Blade
Friday, 1st April 2022, 3:45 pm

Flow: Marking the Mill Race is the first event in an exciting three-year programme of cultural activity overseen by Lancaster Arts coinciding with redevelopment work in the High Street Heritage Action Zone led by Lancaster City Council and funded by Historic England.

The historic Mill Race, once the lifeblood of local industry, flows under the Action Zone and a special event to mark its presence takes place on April 30.

Lancaster residents and visitors will be asked to form a line along the route of the Mill Race starting from where it emerges onto the River Lune near the Millennium Bridge and encompassing the north east area of the city centre including North Road, St Leonardgate and Lower Church Street.

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Damside Street is in the Mill Race area.

Sounds and actions will be passed along the line reflecting the water running beneath and will be a chance to be involved in a unique artwork which truly reflects Lancaster’s character and its people.

Participants can just get involved on the day or also attend workshops on April 9 and 16.

Producer Alice Booth of Lancaster Arts said: “This project is a brilliant opportunity for people in Lancaster to explore the often overlooked Mill Race area in Lancaster as well as connecting with great artists and each other.”

“I love the idea of creating an overground stream with lots of people. It’s a big challenge but a really exciting one.”

Make some noise at Flow Marking the Mill Race.

A talk on The People of the Mill Race on April 6 will launch the project. The presentation by Lancaster City Museums collections registrar, Rachel Roberts, looks at the lives of the ordinary residents of the Mill Race area and takes place at the Maritime Museum.

The Flow of Voices Sound Creation Workshop is the project’s first fun workshop exploring how the voice of a buried river might sound.

Led by choir leader and vocal teacher, Loz Kaye, it will explore different kinds of sound in fun and imaginative ways before creating a recording based on the theme of surfacing a hidden brook.

On April 16, Loz will be joined by artist David Boultbee for a workshop using sound and voice to help plan, shape and test ideas for the April 30 event.

The Mill Race area of the city includes North Road in Lancaster.

Both workshops are suitable for anyone aged 16 plus, singers and non-singers. No previous experience is necessary, just an interest in the voice or the environment and/or local history.

The April 9 workshop runs from 2pm-4pm at the Friends Meeting House in Lancaster while the April 16 workshop takes place inside and outside the Great Hall at Lancaster University from 2-4pm. Both are free.

For more details about the talk and the workshops and to book, visit: here

It is thought that the Mill Race dates back to Lancaster’s Roman origins. Later, mills and other industries grew up along its banks and it is shown on maps dating back to at least 1610, a time when Lancaster established itself as a key settlement in the north of England.

Where the old meets the new, Sugar House Alley is in the Mill Race area.

Although it was culverted from the late 1800s because of health concerns, the Mill Race continues to make its presence felt, most recently during the 2015 floods.

Mill Race Flow of Change is a three-year cultural programme. Image by David Boultbee (1)