Up until about 200 years ago only fields and marshland were at the point where Glasson Dock now stands. If the river Lune had been more navigable may be Glasson Dock would never have been. Glasson Dock was built due to ships finding it difficult to make their way up the channel of the Lune to Lancaster Quays. In 1749 parliament told Lancaster Port Commission to improve the situation so in 1779 the port commission decided to build a wet dock at Glasson although progress was slow at first, it wasn’t until around 1787 when the first ship, the Mary, under captain Thomas Beakbane, tied up at Glasson Dock and from this a new community was born. This was very much a local event, for Beakbane was a local man from Lancaster and the Mary a Lancaster built ship, a brig constructed by John Brockbank in 1783 and originally named Rebecca the docking of the Mary in 1787 was the last of three Atlantic crossings he made in the Mary. Beakbane took over the Minerva the following year but this ship was wreaked off Lytham in November 1791. He survived the ship wreaking, but he now became a merchant in Lancaster before moving to Liverpool in 1797.
On entering Glasson Dock the first house on the left at the road junction now a new mini roundabout is Saltcote House which pre dates the dock, this was once a farm house a reminder of the time the only inhabitants were the farmers of Old Glasson, Brows-saltcote.
Brows farm is still active and you pass through its land entering the village the house being on the right and farm buildings on the left.
Brows-saltcote was a farming settlement, which lay within the manor of Thurnham, which formed part of the Saxon manor of Halton. Thurnham manor came into the possession of the Dalton Family in 1556 and all the land in the area stayed with the family until 1780 when Lancaster Port Commission acquired the site of the dock.
Entering the village you come to the Victoria Hotel that was built in the late 1830s and is one end of a row of four cottages known as Victoria Terrace, the second of which once was the post office. Behind Victoria Terrace is Railway Place with six cottages which pre-date the railway nine were built at the same time as the Victoria Hotel and were acquired by the London & North Western Railway in 1883. The end cottage of Railway Place may be older still, for there is some evidence that a customs officer occupied it in the 1820s. It may even have been built at the same time as the building at the far end of Victoria Terrace still known by the locals as the Caribou; the Caribou was once a public house and is believed to be probably the oldest building in Glasson Dock it got its first licence in 1781 originally known as the Pier Hall, it was for many years called the Grapes and later became Gerrards (after the family which held it for 80 years) it only acquired the name Caribou in 1837. When it was the Pier Hall it looked very much the same as it did up till the middle of this year (2002 now it as been converted into luxury apartments) but inside it was very different it was not just a pub also a dwelling and warehouse, opposite, there is no west quay just a sloping bank. The vessels using the dock didn’t need much local labour and only a few buildings have appeared. One a cottage near the Pier Hall, plus a row of six more on the west bank, of which four have been combined to create another pub the Dalton Arms, receiving its first licence on 19th September 1787.
In addition there is one more cottage, a new one, standing where the swing bridge is now (the canal is still many years away). The new cottage is the home of newly appointed dock gate man John Lamb, and must have been a welcome change from the beached hulk of a ship which until previous year had doubled as a storehouse and a roof over his families head. He’d bought the hulk for £5 and called it ship house, but even by the standards of the time it probably left a lot to be desired.
He held the post until his death in 1828, by which time this tiny community of around 30 people, centred around the pubs, had grown very little, despite the coming of the canal in the mid 1820s.