Lytham-St. Annes in old picture postcards

Lytham-St. Annes in old picture postcards

Auteur
:   Kathleen Eyre
Gemeente
:  
Provincie
:   Lancashire
Land
:   United Kingdom
ISBN13
:   978-90-288-2185-9
Pagina's
:   120
Prijs
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Lytham-St. Annes in old picture postcards'

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INTRODUCTION

Lytham-St, Annes, a very pleasant seaside resort situated on the Lancashire coast between the Ribbie mouth and worldfamous Blackpool, is perhaps best known for a superb Championship Golf Course, of ten seen, world-wide, on television.

The modern Borough was formed on a pouring wet May Day in 1922 by the amalgamation of ancient Lytham, an Anglian settlement founded circa 700 A.D., with its daughter town, St. Annes-on-the-Sea, a Victorian development promoted as recently as 1875. It was an inspired partnership of two contrasting townships though the reactions of some Lythamers were as dismal as the Charter Day weather! They were fiercely proud of their leafy community and suspieious that union would relegate them to a secondary roIe. (No-ene dreamed, then, that the whole Borough would be swept into the new larger Fylde Authority in 1974.)

For a while it seemed that St. Annes had the best of it. lts romantic birth, the struggles of the pioneers and triumphs over many difficulties and setbacks, captured the popular imagination. The national press splashed the news, eulogising the setting 'at the very brink of the billows of the Irish Sea', declaring it 'in point of healthiness ... not surpassed in the Kingdom' , and describing this new resort springing up in a wildemess of sand and starr-grass as "The Opalof the West'! Lytham stood still as its new neighbour grew apace, creaming off the holiday trade, attracting the carriage folk and gentry, golfers, and the offspring of well-to-do families, sent here to be educated in private schools which broke out like a rash almost overnight,

Wind-blown sand and Victorian snobbery prevailed long after chauffeur-driven limousines had replaced private carriages with coachmen in traditional silk toppers and fur tippets. The builder was steadily biting into the primeval sand-dune belt where abundant wild life had flourished without hindrance, attracting naturalists from far and wide,

Even in the 1920's wealthy families could still employ several domestic servants and support sons and daughters in pleasant idleness. There was plenty going on. St. Annes Pier (1885) provided popular shows in the ornate Moorish Pavilion (1904), and orchestral concerts in the Floral Hall (1910). Sunday morning fashion parades became a1most obligatory for those anxious to stay 'in the swim'. On the promenade opposite stood the imposing Majestic Hotel where the great and famous invariably booked in. Here were held all the elegant social functions; thé-dansants were popular and Geraldo (Gerald Bright) conducted a famous broadcasting dance band. St. Annes had two cinemas and a troupe of seaside pierrots who took the collecting box round after performing 'al fresco' in the sand-dunes at Happy Valley (now a car park opposite Fairhaven Road). If wet, they transferred to the Ashton Pavilion (burned to the ground in 1977) named after Baron Ashton who donated many valuable amenities to the town.

All the exciting developments and most of the boarding houses and hotels were at St. Annes which, however, suffered during the great cotton slump of the 1920's and 1930's. Family fortunes disappeared overnight, half the properties in the town went up for sale, prices plummeted, private schools closed down. It was the Second World War, involving wholesale transfer of Government departments from London and fugitives from vulnerable big cities snapping up all available accommodation, which retrieved a sorry situation. Ironically, the only fatal casualty from bombing by a lone Germain raider in 1940 was an evacuee!

Since those days St. Annes has spread to the surrounding mosslands, submerging pastures under a tide of red brick. Yet the sand-dunes survive, and the Lytham-St, Annes Reserve established in 1968 along Clifton Drive, the highroad leading into Blackpool, gives access to 38 acres of unspoilt Nature, to the delight of visitors and students. The whole of Lytham-St,

Annes once fell within the 'Lidun' of Domesday Survey, which had two carucates (240 acres) under cultivation, the rest being wasteland. But for Richard Fitz Roger's gift of the manor in 1188 to the Benedictines of Durham, we would have known little of Lytham's early history. Fortunately, the Durham house despatched a handful of monks and secular employees who Iicked the estate into shape. Their modest priory occupied the site of Lytham Hall. lts personnel wielded considerable authority, income from rents, wrecks of the sea, wharfages, alterages, the common oven of the town and the grinding of corn. They squabbled incessantly with neighbouring landowners about boundaries and, having separated from Durham, were dissolved in 1536, leaving fascinating records.

The estate was snapped up by that 'devourer of monastic lands', Sir Thomas Holcroft, and later acquired by the Molyneux family of Sefton whose young conneetion by marriage, Cuthbert Clifton of Westby Hall (now a farmhouse), bought the Lytham estate in 1606, including church, farmsteads, cottages and extensive manorial privileges and rights, for !4,300.

Sir Cuthbert Clifton, knighted at Lathom House by James I in 1617, proved an admirable landlord for the farming-fishermen who wrested a living from the estate. Basically they were Angles, with an infusion of blood from Norsemen who settled here circa 900 A.D. They were splendid people, humbie, hardy, blue-eyed and long-lived, amphibious to a man and equally skilful with boat or plough. Modest and unassuming, they lived and died within the manor, honouring their Squires, giving suit and service to the medieval Courts Leet which were held regularly at Lytham until 1948; clinging to the Old Faith, expecting nothing from this life beyend hardship, poverty and toil.

In 1760, when Lytham's ancient church threatened to collapse, they rebuilt on the same modest scale, unaware that

a startling new craze would presently bring swarms of visitors from the outside world. Before that disagreeable marsh-weed, Spartina Townsend took over, Lytham's level golden sands were ideal for see-bathing. Indeed, this obscure but picturesque hamlet, proved so popular that many wealthy outsiders settled and built fine residences overlooking the Ribbie estuary,

The 19th century brought many irnprovements. Old properties, the fish-stones, village cross and stocks disappeared; the railway arrived (1846) and the first Wesleyan Chapel (now a Clinic) in Bath Street. Two years later a handsome Market House, later turned into shops, attracted large crowds from the villages around.

Lytham's second church, completed circa 1764, became inadequate and had to be replaced. The present brick structure (1834), like its predecessors, is dedicated to St. Cuthbert whose body borne by Lindisfarne monks during Danish raids briefly rested here about 882 A.D. A restored cross near the church bears the legend.

After 95 years of life, the pier had to be dismantled but the beautiful white windmill, built in 1805 at the water's edge, looks as good as new and still as charming as ever. Small vessels bob at their moorings. There are memorable views across to Southport, glorious sunsets, a proud record of Lifeboat Service and a band of fresh-faced fishermen whose ancestors settled here centuries ago.

From the very beginning, Lytham and St. Annes were totally different. To-day, they form the perfect whole, each town complementing the other, revalries and resentments buried long ago, visitors loving the place and residents declaring that they would live nowhere else on earth!

1. LYTHAM, EAST BEACH from the Pier looking east in the late 1890's.

2. LYTHAM PIER, favourite venue of Victorian visitors before the cinema when live entertainment was in its hey-day and everything to do with the sea was a novelty with the folks from inland. The activities of local fishermen and the passing of great vessels en route to or from Preston Doek also added much fascination.

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3. THE PAVILlON, LYTHAM PIER, which straddled the structure halfway along, provided accommodation for summer shows, band concerts, dancing, a roller skating rink, pierrots and other public events, finally being transformed into a cinema of short duration before fire engulfed and destroyed it in 1928. The Pavilion was the last major development of Lytham Pier which began virtually as a wooden promenade over the waves. The Floral Hall at the seaward end was added in the 1890's, followed by the Pavilion which miraculously escaped destruction when barges went adrift in 1903.

4. LYTHAM, LüWTHER GARDENS in the 1890's looking across the Tennis Courts to the imposing properties of Woodville Terrace with the tower of St. Cuthbert's Parish Church in the background. In the 1870's, a time of expansion and development when the locallandowner constructed Clifton Drive linking Lytham with the future site of St. Annes, Squire J.T. Clifton ('The Colonel') took over an expanse of former common land referred to as 'Hungry Moor' on account of the sparseness of vegetation, laid out gardens named after his wife whose maiden name was Lowther and handed them over to the township of Lytham, At least one loeal family whose ancestors traditionally had grazed their beasts on 'Hungry Moor' confided to the author in modern times that the Squire had 'stolen' their land, a totally mistaken claim, however, since the Cliftons had held Lytharn since their purchase of the Maner in 1606.

5. LYTHAM TOWN CENTRE in the late 1890's in the days of the gas trams when the track turned into the terminus in Dicconson Terrace (centre-left), A landau-horse waits patiently on the site of the present underground toilets. To the right are cobble setts leading into Park Street. The Market House (centre) was erected in 1848 at a cost of n ,000 to the design of Reed of Liverpool. Twenty years later Lady Eleanor Cecily Clifton donated a doek to the town 'which will be of great benefit to the inhabitants' and by 1872 the tower of the Market Hall had been raised to accommodate it. The building was an exceedingly popular shopping centre, housing about twenty stalls, for thirty to forty years, but its popularity declined when new shops began to appear. Note the drinking fountain on the present site of the Cenotaph. It now stands a1most overlooked at the approach to Lytham railway station and was Lady Eleanor Cecily's memorial to her husband, The Colonel, who died in 1882, two years after the death of their only son, Thomas Henry Clifton, M.P., at the age of thirty-five.

6. LYTHAM PROMENADE AND GREEN, LOOKING WEST from the Pierhead in the late 1890's, showing fine private residences erected by new settlers in Lytham after they had sampled the seabathing and fallen in love with the place. The Clifton Arms Hotel (extreme right) was providing accommodation from 6s. Od. (30p) a day, exclusive of wines and liquors, in the 1820's. In that decade, Porter informs us, it had 'recently been overlaid with a thick coating of cement resembling stone'. The flagpole, 'Charlie's Mast' beside the shelter, began (according to Ed. Ashton's 'Lytham') as a cart shaft with alantern attached, set up by Charlie Townsend, an old Guinea trader who signalled to passing vessels bound for Lytham's Mud Doek last century, befare Preston Doek existed. The Lytham Improvement Commissioners who were in charge of the town's affairs until the Urban District Council was established in 1895, taak over the responsibility for the upkeep of the mast which was a useful landmark to mariners in the estuary .

7. L YTHAM GREEN AND CENTRAL BEACH LOOKING EAST showing the Clifton Arms Hotel (left) which had stabling for a considerable number of horses and a 30 feet weIl which supplied 'the coldest water in Lytharn'. It was described by a Captain Latham in 1799 as being conducted by Mr. Hampson 'in such a style of elegance, civility and propriety as to ensure him the distinguished support of the public', In 1822 it was undergoing considerable improvements for a Mrs. Lillyman of Liverpool. By 1830 it was covered with Roman cement resembling polished stone, 'an elegant building ... pallisaded from one extremity to the other ... which commands an extensive view of the briny ocean'. 'Ennis's warm and cold baths' were available on the premises. The Baths and Assernbly Rooms (right), erected by a private concern in early Victorian times, proved unprofitable. The Clifton farnily took them over and maintained them until1920 when they were transferred to Lytham Urban District Council.

8. LYTHAM COTTAGE HOSPITAL AND CONVALESCENT HOME, provided 'for the purpose of rellef to poor people in case of sickness and accidents' was built ofbrick and sea 'cobbels' following a low fever epidemie which hit Lytham in 1870. The Squire, Col. John Talbot Clifton, donated the site and bore the entire cost of building and equipping the hospital. His wife, the future Lady Eleanor Cecily Clifton, laid the foundation stone on 2nd September 1870. The grand opening was ceIebrated on 3rd August 1871 with a procession headed by the band of the 29th Lytham Rille Volunteers. Mrs. CIifton represented her husband and handed over the hospital to the town of Lytham and a Management Committee.

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