Heritage and history

The area is steeped in history and many aspects of today have an interesting heritage that’s definitely worth exploring. In the Autumn, the Heritage Open Day programme gives you the opportunity to explore some of these buildings behind the scenes.

Les Dawson statue

Comedy and music

Famous for his mother in law jokes, Les Dawson lived in the area and enjoyed the view out from Granny’s Bay in Fairhaven. These days you’ll find a statue of Les in the Peace and Happiness Garden adjacent to St Anne’s Pier. Famous entertainer George Formby also had a house in the area and you’ll find a blue plaque outside his former residence named Beryldene after his wife at 199 Clifton Drive, between Fairhaven Lake and St Annes. He lived there until his death aged 56 in 1961. There’s many singers, musicians and famous broadcasters who hail from St Annes and Lytham, or who have strong connections with the area, including Amanda Barrie, Jenny Éclair, Roy Walker, Bobby Ball and Josef Locke.

In the Peace and Happiness Garden, you will find some images of famous faces associated with the area and some interesting information about them. These were installed in the summer of 2018 and in attendance at the official opening were Amanda Barrie, Charlotte Dawson and Bobby Ball.

flying boats

Aviation

Warton Aerodrome located between Lytham and Freckleton had an important role during World War Two and acted as a staging post for the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) where thousands of aircraft were processed on their way to Britain, mainland Europe, North Africa and the Mediterranean. On 23rd August 1944, the accidental crash of a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber caused the Freckleton Air disaster when it crashed into the Holy Trinity Church of England School, demolishing three houses and a snack bar, killing 61 people including 38 children. There is a memorial in the village churchyard and a marker placed at the actual site. These days, you’ll hear the sound of the Typhoon aircraft which is assembled on the site by BAE Systems. From 1917, unique aircraft that could land on water, known as flying boats, were manufactured and flight tested in Lytham. They were built by Dick, Ker Co., a predecessor company of BAE Systems.

Lytham Hall

The finest Georgian house in Lancashire, so said John Champness, the former Conservation Officer for Lancashire County Council. Only one mile from the centre of Lytham, the Hall is set in 78 acres of wooded parkland with an attractive 18th C Dovecote, a lily pond and fine mature trees. The Hall was constructed between 1752 and 1764 in front of an earlier hall from the seventeenth century, some of which still remains. It has a very interesting history and is linked closely to that of the Clifton family and the house and gardens are well worth a visit. There is an on going restoration programme and the Hall is managed by the Heritage Trust for the North West (HTNW) on behalf of the Lytham Town Trust. There is a very popular tea room too!

Ansdell The Rescue

Richard Ansdell

Richard Ansdell was born in Liverpool, the son of Thomas Griffiths Ansdell. He had a natural talent for art from an early age, and after leaving school worked for a portrait painter in Chatham, Kent, and also spent time as a sign painter in the Netherlands. He first exhibited at the Liverpool Academy in 1835, becoming a student there the following year. His animal and rural subjects proved to be popular and he soon attracted wealthy patrons. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARA) in 1861 and a Royal Academician (RA) in 1870. During part of his career he kept a “summer house” in the area, where the area of Ansdell is named after him. He is the only English artist to have been honoured in this way. He died in Surrey in 1885.

A selection of his paintings is periodically exhibited at the Fylde Gallery, Booth’s, Lytham where The Herd Lassie is on long-term loan. There are further Ansdell paintings hanging in non-public rooms at the Town Hall in St Anne’s that can be viewed by prior arrangement or on heritage open days.

Lytham Heritage centre

Lytham Heritage Centre

Lytham Heritage Group was established in 1987 to preserve and promote the history of the Ancient Parish of Lytham, which includes St Annes, Kilgrimol, Heyhouses, Fairhaven, Ansdell, Lytham and Saltcotes. The group, with its large and active membership, regularly presents exhibitions and speakers. It also has wide-ranging facilities including the Heritage Centre for exhibitions, the Archive Centre and the Windmill Museum.

Lytham Heritage Group now occupies the Grade II listed building which was originally built in 1899 for the Manchester and County Bank and later used by the Trustees Savings Bank. The interior has been enhanced by careful restoration and converted into an exhibition centre of considerable charm, providing a splendid backdrop of late Victorian architecture to complement the new and modern piazza in the town centre.

Singleton - The Pump House

History around the area

The area is steeped in history and across Fylde, you’ll find many historic buildings and churches that are worth exploring. Below are just a few ideas of places worth further exploration:

The Fire Engine House, Singleton (pictured) built in 1882 housed a horse drawn fire engine and was manned by local volunteers. In the event of a fire the first job was to catch the horse that was grazing in a nearby field. The fire station became redundant in 1946 but is still a focal point for the village. The village of Singleton has plenty of interesting history and more can be found here

Lytham Windmill. In 1805 Richard Cookson sought and obtained a lease from the Squire for a plot of land on which to build a ‘windy milne’. Later in 1860, when the prestigious houses in the area were being built the residents looked upon the windmill as an ‘industrial nuisance’. In 1919, a tremendous gale turned the sales despite the powerful brake and sparks ignited the woodwork, causing the windmill to be ravaged by fire with the interior being entirely gutted. The Windmill remained derelict until 1921, when it was given by the Squire to the Lytham Urban District Council. In 1989, the Windmill was restored by Fylde Borough Council and opened to the public. Lytham Windmill is run in partnership with Fylde Borough Council and Lytham Heritage Group. The Windmill is situated on Lytham Green and is open to the public during the season and entry is free of charge.

The Mexico disaster – On 9th December 1886, the barque ‘Mexico of Hamburg’ with a crew of twelve, was travelling from Liverpool to South America when it was caught in a fierce storm.  Lifeboats from Southport (the Eliza Fernley), Lytham (the Charles Biggs) and St Annes (the Laura Janet), responded to the distress signals. Relatives and friends waited on the shore all night and the news came that the bodies of seamen had been washed ashore. The Lytham lifeboat and crew arrived home at 3:30am, wet through and half drowned after having tied themselves to the rigging. All on board the Mexico were rescued by the Lytham lifeboat. All but two of the Eliza Fernley were lost and the entire crew of the St Annes crew (Laura Janet) perished at sea. Never in the lifeboat service has there been a disaster this great, in which 27 men of the lifeboat service lost their lives in one night, leaving 16 widows and 50 orphans in three towns a fortnight before Christmas. On 23rd May 1888 the Lifeboat Monument was unveiled in St Annes to commemorate the bravery of these crews and it still stands proudly on the promenade as a reminder of their valour.