Fleetwood in old picture postcards volume 1

Fleetwood in old picture postcards volume 1

:   Catherine Rothwell
:   Lancashire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2128-6
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Fleetwood in old picture postcards volume 1'

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Whereas other towns and cities in Lancashire are legacies of the Middle Ages and Industrial Revolution, Fleetwood is unique in being the first planned town in the county. One hundred and fifty years ago it was aptly described as 'beautiful town from the wilderness won', akin to a mirage in the desert rising before the astonished gaze of some passing caravan.

The great, many-winged white house of the Fleetwood family, which was situated at nearby Rossall Point, close to the sea, was associated with the monks of Dieulacres although their ancient grange had long since crumbled, worn away into the pounding, restless ocean. Apart from Robert and Bold, Fleetwood Lords of the Manor who inter-married with Heskeths, thereby bringing more wealth into their coffers, made little change except to the mansion itself or in experiments with farm ing. However, in 1826 at the age of twenty four, Peter inherited nearly a third of the coastline between Formby Point and Mouth of Wyre. Idealistic, wealthy, a visionary, he was also sympathetic to the plight of the poor, aware that they lacked education and the means of recreation, aware also of the crying need for a port on the north-west coast. To cope with the massive output of wares flowing from the inland factories of Lancashire he conceived a daring plan, namely to build at one and the same time a fashionable seaside pleasure resort and a thriving port to handle commerce from Ireland, Scotland and beyond the seven seas. With countless acres of land at his disposal and an excellent river shaped by nature, his idea was sound. The number of wrecks alone that occurred along this stretch of coast made a harbour of refuge imperative.

RossaIl Hall looked out onto a smaIl community of whitewashed, thatched buildings. Beyend rolled acres of tree-Ie ss pasture land dotted with farms: West Warren, East Warren, Fenny, Fleetwood, Larkham, Carr Houses. Inland the flatness

of the horizon was broken by the outlines of Burn Hall and Marsh Mill. Unchanged over centuries and subject to seaflooding, this bleak terrain harboured rabbits, hares, herringgulls and oyster catchers in their thousands. Sandhills, tufted with marram grass and starred with sea pinks, sea lavender, evening primrose and sea holly, bordered the shingly beach which was strewn with a great variety of shells including 'purple trochuses', The crudely-shaped wooden Landmark, topped by an iron beacon, marked the jagged rocks of Rossall Point. On clear days across Morecambe Bay were visible 'the northern mountains', sometimes snow-capped and, as the eye looked inland, the steel-blue hulk of Bleasdale Fells.

On June 21st 1824 Mr. Elletson, legal adviser to the family, recorded in his diary, Valued Warren Farm f.360 - 10-0; Rabbit Warren Ba. In the March of that same year Peter Hesketh came into his inheritance and out of that sandy warren grew Fleetwood-on-Wyre, a town and port in the township of Thornton, Parish of Poulton, Union of the Fylde, Hundred of Amounderness, North Division of the County of Lancaster.

As High Sheriff he attended the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830, which strengthened his resolve to establish a link with Preston, eighteen miles away. The building ofthe Preston and Wyre Railway, a pre-requisite in the venture, was to prove his undoing. The cost of the line, also vital as a link with steam-packet services, was underestimated by Civil Engineer George Landmann, but deterrninedly and in the face of deep personal sadness the founder would not be deflected, He was knighted and by special licence adopted the additional name of Fleetwood. In the original plan drawn up by eminent architect Decimus Burton, 'New Liverpool' was first thought of as a good name for the port and 'Fleetwood-onWyre' for the fashionable area whose buildings were intended to match those of Brighton and Hove.

Building began in eamest. Five streets, four rows of cottages for workmen, a station, two lighthouses and a gasworks sprang up. There followed hotels, boarding houses, churches, shops and halls, but a true dock was not to come until1877. Streets were paved, a bonding warehouse, customs house, watch house and market appeared, but with so many advisers and hangers-on, coupled with bad fortune and abuse, mounting expenses brought financial collapse within four years. Peter was forced to sell the rieh contents of Rossall Hall and move south, eventually seeking sanctuary in Naples. The sale at Rossall Hall lasted a fortnight during whieh special trains were run on the very line that had cost him his family fortunes.

For years he laboured to pay off the debts and although never a declared bankrupt, this ignominy fell to his surviving son Louis at whose death the baronetcy died out. The rest of Peter's life was overshadowed by what he grew to regard as his folly, hastening his end. He left behind a collection of letters revealing the kindness and heart-searching complexity of a character devoid of shrewdness and self-gain. He made a remarkably brave and bold attempt, laying foundations for generations to follow and enabling a community to grow up all the more vigorous because it was bom of striving. One joy he did experience in 1847, when Queen Victoria and family called in specially on their way back from Scotland to see the newest town in all Her Majesty's dominions. Government of the town, whose constitution was evidenced by the liberal syrnpathies of its founder, was taken over by the lmprovement Commissioners, provided for in the 1842 Act whose passage through parliament had also been paid for by Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood. So it was that a group of hardheaded men, pioneers, by dint of care and extreme frugality managed to get the infant town on its feet and steer it to more prosperous days, The new doek brought a wave of

prosperity and more building. Even when the cargo trade declined it was replaced by the fishing industry, burgeoning so successfully that by the nineteen twenties Fleetwood had become the premier hake port and the third most important fishing port in Great Britain.

The town's short history has engendered a special interest with its fund of stories passed on over the generations and its core of families whose roots go back to the very beginnings. This history , one of dramatic ups and downs, reflects a healthy, fighting spirit and a refusal to give in. It adheres to all lovers of Fleetwood, whether or not they were bom there and is the very hall mark of its founder.

A beautiful setting, incomparable sunsets and sunrises, air like wine, clarity of light, ruggedness, an atmosphere of past glory and endeavour too subtle to define, the ability to rise phoenix-like against adversity ; even on short acquaintance these many-faceted qualities are apparent. So also does the uniqueness endure. Though the great fishing industry has dwindled, suffering one staggering blow after another, the fort is held by a smal!, gallant fleet of inshore boats determined not to yield, as determined indeed as the great-hearted man who gave F1eetwood not only his name but his all. The first census bearing the enumerator's comment, The whole population may be considered as increase, it being a new town, contrasts tellingly with today's figures. Now Fleetwood is part of a District comprising more than 90,000 souls. The voices of our ancestors whisper through old postcards, telling of fluctuating fortunes, presaging coming events, and perhaps we should pay them more attention in order to shape all the better our own destiny .

1. Peter Hesketh and Decimus Burton were life-long friends. Both were founder-rnembers of the Athenaeum Club and competed in archery contests. With such an exciting project in the air one can imagine their discussions over c1aret. It is known that Burton stayed at Rossall Hall and whilst building was going on he lived in a house on Doek Street, which is still there. This highly revealing card, based upon a sketch by Burton himself, shows what changes time and fortune wrought. No statue to the founder was ever raised. Tall Pharos lighthouse was differently positioned. A T-shaped jetty had to be removed as it proved a hazard to shipping and the parish church lost its steeple. The original crescent shape of the North Euston Hotel was diminished by the pulling down of the Bath Houses and Belle View House early this century. The shore lighthouse has also dispensed with the use of a black ball hoisted ona pole, which denoted the depth of the tide.

2. Decimus Burton, the last great architect of the British Classical School of Architecture, lived to a ripe old age, dying in 1881. He was a bachelor, seemingly devoted to his profession, for nothing is known ofhis private life. The tenth son (hence his Christian name), he worked with his father in the building of St. Leonard's-on-Sea, whose sea-side terraces and general layout so pleased Peter Hesketh he desired them for his proposed town of Fleetwood. Decimus Burton was one of the four shareholders in the Fleetwood Gas Company and obviously evinced much interest in the whole idea, purchasing a house on Queen's Terrace. He and the founder were intrigued by an alternative plan to exploit Rossall Warren, proposed by the industrialist and philanthropist Robert Owen, who had successfully established a principle of labour based on collective farming at New Lanark, but the idea of farming and fishing collectively at Rossall and sharing the profits was not taken up. Peter was not happy about Owen's atheistic principles.

3. This 1890 picture shows how the Mount was laid out. Intended as the focal point from which wide streets radiate, it had been a favourite picnic spot for many years. It was the largest of a chain of sandhills, the rest having been washed away by the sea. The slopes were grassed, shrubs planted, flower beds made and paths formed. On top was placed an octagonal Chinese pagoda with a balcony where refreshments could be bought and fr om where a good view out to the sea and across the bay could be obtained. The railings were taken away for the war effort in 1942 and the town's crest, laid out in flowers complete with motto, was not yet a feature. Eventually a large pavilion replaced the summer house.

4. The Crown Hotel, a solid, four-square building, was originally advertised as fitted with every convenience for the accomrnodation of commercial gentlemen and others. It was situated on Doek Street opposite Fleetwood's first railway station, within two rninutes' walk of the steam packets. A bell, communicating with the station, was rung in the hotel ten minutes before a train was due to depart. At the rear, extensive space was available for stabling and coach houses. An arched mews entrance is still there, but the hotel has been made into luxury flats now called Permine View. It used to be a favourite place to hold banquets and Commissioners' meetings. On the roof of this stone building, designed by Architect Tuach, was set the model of a regal crown, which posed problems when it had to be removed and taken to the town's yard. No sign of the original station remains. A garage took over that site and more recently a busy supermarket has been raised.

5. William Lambert, one of the town pioneers, on November 25th 1898 apprentieed his son Thomas, born May 27th 1882, to Thomas Riley, Joiner, to learn the trade. William had helped to build Springfield Hall at Pilling, Over-Wyre and he signed to the effect that his son would serve his master faithfully, keep his secrets, obey his lawful commands, do no damage, nor waste nor lend his goods. For the first year Thomas received five shillings per week with one shilling rise per year so that in his sixth year of service he was earning ten shillings. Thomas Riley himself had been apprentieed this way and built up a highly successful firm in F!eetwood where he also had an ironmonger's shop. He founded the North Lancashire Steam Sawmills and earned contracts for Fairhaven Lake and part of Blackpool sea wall. The cards show William and Thomas Lambert, father and son. Thomas took so much care of his apprenticeship indenture it was still in good state of preservation on his 95th birthday.

6. The north side of Kent St reet and the west side of North Albert Street in 1894 are good examples of the pleasantly proportioned town houses: wide streets and corner shop feature to be found in Fleetwood. Granite setts pave the road which is now macadamised. The grocer's shop has become the Lantern Cafe and all the iron railings have disappeared. At the end of Kent Street was the Wesleyan Church, later demolished, but apart from that, this scene has changed litt1e except for the absence of traffic. With the advent of the motor age it was not so easy to picture quiet, spacious, empty streets. Towards the other end of Kent Street shipping passing up and down channel was and still is visible. In these houses lived fishermen like the Thomasons for it was only a few minutes' walk to the beach launehing spot for eel and herring fishing offWyre Light. Not many towns can claim large container ships visible and moored at the end of the street, or a tram track that passes a lighthouse.

7. Strolling in Fleetwood's Memorial Park, it is not easy to imagine someone living there, but the Warrenhurst Estate, which inc1uded this house, became the park and 'this commodious dwelling with two vineries, conservatory, shippon and outbuildings' was the home of Captain John May 'Jameson, Civil Engineer. The Plans and Particulars of March 25th 1885 speak of rneadows, pasture, garden land and a lake. Warrenhurst, the large, isolated house, was later occupied by Commander Baugh of the Belfast boats. In his days of the nineteen twenties peacocks strutted on the lawns and an aviary was added. When the building was pulled down, tiles from the kitchens and stonework from the window surrounds found their way into Fleetwood gardens on Warrenhurst Road. Long before, the spot was occupied by East Warren Farm whose tenants were instructed to whitewash the walls as a landmark for mariners, it being the lust building visible when approaching by sea.

8. The Fleetwood ChronicIe reported a strange accident on February 25th 1870 when the schooner Elizabeth Jane, under Captain Tyrer and owned by Mr. Richardson of Warton, was caught by the strongly-running tide and dashed bow foremost into the screw-pile lighthouse. The hexagonal building on top of Wyre Light became detached, feil on the deck of E!izabeth Jane, smashing the mainboom and rending the mainsail. Fortunately no one was hurt, but as the vessel was already loaded with iron from Ardrossan it was feared that the additional weight would sink her. Captain Swarbrick in the steam tug Wyre rushed out to give assistance, but amazingly the burdened schooner sailed into port with her strange cargo, where for many years it served as a workmen's hut. The screw-pile lighthouse was erected in 1840, the first of its kind to be !it, and for years it was visited by holidaymakers as a wonderful erection in the midst of the sea. Ladies were hoisted up in baskets; men scrarnbled up the Jacob's ladder, but the 1890's replaced these vislts by sails around the lighthouse. Although the structure ean still be seen, it is no longer in use and in its latter years it was worked by remote con trol instead of by two superannuated seamen whose lonely duty was to keep the light properly attended and warn vessels of approaehing dangers.

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