The old road through Caton was a track in Celtic times. Rotten Row still survives where it forded the stony beck by the Black Bull (from “rhodden” Celtic= wheels “ruh” OE = rough. i.e. a stony ford over the beck, rough for wheels). Later, the Romans built a road through, from Lancaster to Burrow.
A village was established where the road was joined by the track up to Littledale to the other Roman road going east over the fells to Ivah (past the lookout on Swaintley Hill).
It became the Saxon Katti-tun, set on a rise with a good stream for water.
The ancient road ran on the high ground above the flood plain of the Lune, following the easy route by the river up to Tebay, then over Ravensworth Fell and along the Eden valley. This road through Caton became the main road north, travelled by kings and armies. James I had to cross Artle Beck Bridge in 1618 and it was so dilapidated that he was afraid to cross and he ordered that it be rebuilt, costing the locals £100!
The Normans built a church on the mound between the two streams and the village clustered around it. They called it Cattun. Nothing changed much until the late 1700’s and into the 1800’s when the mills were built, taking water from the Arkel Beck (a Norse settler), a mile down the road. Another village grew there to service the mills, around the ancient hamlet known as Town End i.e. the part of Caton nearest Lancaster Town.
Looking at Yate’s map of 1786, it can be seen that no mention is made of Brookhouse. This is because present day Brookhouse was the centre of activity and was actually Caton, the present day Caton being the hamlet of Town End. So how did old Caton become Brookhouse?
The G.P.O. had difficulties with the wide area of the “Caton” address and arranged with Lancashire County to formally split it into two villages, calling Old Caton “Brookhouse” (after Brookhouse Hall) and Town End became “Caton”.
This explains why Caton Green is no longer next to Caton but has Brookhouse in between. It also explains why the parish church for Caton is in Brookhouse!
It can also be seen from the 1786 map that the A683 turnpike road has not yet been built although statutory authority for its construction was granted in 1750. The railway opened in 1849 and was closed to passengers in 1966 being closed completely in 1968. The stretch from Lancaster to Bull Beck is now a cycle path.
The 1847 map of Caton shows the soon to be opened railway and the completed turnpike road.
Lancaster Civic Vision has devised an interesting historical walk through Caton.