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History Group beginnings

18 November 2006

A major objective of the Society has been to collect and preserve information about Formby. and this has always been the principal aim of the History Group. One of its first talks, in March 1954, was ‘In Search of Formbys Past’ by Mrs J.Murphy and the collection of local records began that year. Members undertook research into the old village of Formby, Formby schools, church records and the Formby coastline.

The Group has had a programme of monthly meetings during the winter months with speakers on the history of Formby and South-West Lancashire. Over the past few years, members of the History Group have been encouraged to present their own research at one of the meetings. During the summer the Group arranges at least one outing. lnce Blundell Hall, Crosby Hail, Aughton Church, Sefton Church, Liverpool’s Chinatown and historic canals are among places visited.

The most recent example of the Group representing the Society was in June 1993 when the Group attended the North West Local History Fair in Manchester Town Hall commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Cheetham Society, the oldest local history society in the North West. Some 85 exhibItors, including 42 local history societies, were present.

In 1954 the Society became affiliated to the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire and continues to receive copies of their research papers.

Secretaries have been:
1953 Mrs E.Kelly
1975 Professor T.Kelly
1976 Mr K.du Boisson
1977 Mrs J. Lewis
1981 Mrs B. Yorke.

The History Group Secretary has been responsible for the Society’s collection of archives. These include maps - among them the 1845 Tithe Map, a copy of the Formby census of 1851, minutes of the Formby District Nursing Association committee meetings and a large collection of photographs.

The Society has also accumulated a Library of approximately 200 books on local topics which are available to Society members.

In 1972 a small team led by Mrs Edith Kelly wrote the Story of Formby in book form. Its publication in April1973 under the title ‘Viking Village’ was facilitated by a generous contribution to the cost of printing and binding by the Formby Urban District Council. A surplus of funds of £650 was later put into a ‘Viking Village Fund’ to be used to make donations to projects which would benefit Formby.

Donations made were £150 to the Abbeyfield Society and £150 to The National Trust both to be used locally. In the autumn of 1975, the Fund supported a ‘Shore Exhibition and in 1984 the Fund was finally closed, with the balance of the money being used for conservation of maps owned by the Society and the purchase of new books for the Library. Second and third editions of Viking Village were printed but, alas, it is now out of print. In 1992 the Committee decided that further reprints would not be appropriate owing to the many changes that had taken place in Formby since the original publication and the potentially high cost of a new edition.

In 1984 a team lead by Mrs Barbara Yorke began work on a town trail leaflet which was published under the title ‘Discovering Formby’ in 1986 and recently re-published.

This article originally appeared in "A Short History of the Formby Society" written in 1993; copies still available from the Chairman.