Reg Yorke 28 March 2003
A joint application by the Society and the National Trust to fund an Interpretive
Trail at Freshfield is being put together. This project highlights an important aspect
of the life of this community in the past; the exploitation and cultivation, by certain
local families, of the barren and exposed dune landscape not previously cultivatable.
It also illustrates the way that the need for sewage disposal in mid 19th century
Liverpool was used in a manner beneficial to the adjacent rural community at a time
before the development of the later methods of sewage disposal to the sea. Formby
Asparagus became for a period national renowned and won prestigious trophies at such
centres of excellence as the Vale of Evesham. Atlantic liners leaving Liverpool offered
this regional delicacy to their passengers, during its 6 week season. There is a
strong association between the NT Property and some of the well-known ‘asparagus
families’, notably the Lowes, Aindows, Jennings and Brooks and the Trust have recorded
some very interesting audio-tapes with members of these families describing their
methods and traditions. Sadly, one of the senior member of the Brooks family, Mr
John Brooks died only a few months ago
The Asparagus Trail will help ensure preservation of the surviving cultivation ridges
and fields (known as ‘pieces’), not at present recognised as field-monuments. This
project will also highlight the historic contribution of Thomas Fresh, who was central
to the supply of ‘night-soil’ from Liverpool. Fresh was one of the three original
pioneers of Sanitary reform in Liverpool following the Sanitary reform Act of 1849.
The others, Dr. Duncan the first MOH and first City Engineer, James Newlands are
better remembered but Thomas Fresh was the man, who promoting the establishment of
Formby’s second railway station, gave his name to the new ‘Freshfield’ and as its
‘founder’ deserves to be commemorated here!
The Trust is willing to maintain access routes and associated on-site interpretation
and is also working to re-introduce an ‘Asparagus Enterprise’ as a demonstration
project. This would be managed by a tenant. Visitors to the Victoria Road Property,
currently number about 320,000 per year. Some asparagus still grows ‘wild’ on the
sand-dunes and we have been successful in germinating seeds collected from these.
A member of the Society and her friends are now growing these on their allotments.
Would you like to join our "Asparagus Club"?