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History Group Report July 2008

Barbara Yorke 18 August 2008

The History Group has had a busy but enjoyable summer. The highlight of this was the publication of ‘Sand and Sea’, published by Sefton Library Services and launched at the Luncheon Club, Rosemary Lane on 12th May. This is the proceedings of the conference on ‘Sefton’s Coastal Heritage’ organised with the help of the Society and held in Formby in October 2004. Members of the history group contributed two chapters to the publication, which is selling well at Pritchard’s ookshop and elsewhere.

A Special Sand-winning Meeting, was held on Thursday19th June, 7pm at St Luke’s Church Meeting Room, St Luke’s Church Road, to discuss the findings of the recent project. Following a general review by John Houston we then enjoyed a walk round some of the sand-quarried areas between Lifeboat Road and Wicks Lane. As a result of the recent research carried out by members of the Society and professional experts we now have a much clearer idea of the significance of this local industry in the first half of the 20th Century and better understanding of the resulting dune landscape and ecological changes. More details of this project are to be found in the current issue of Coastlines magazine.

Wicks Lane Manorial (Warren) Boundary Walk. This was organised by the History Group as a contribution to National Archaeology Week. On Sunday, 13th July twenty three walkers met outside St Jerome’s Church to explore, examine and consider the history of the Wicks Lane Warren Boundary agreed in 1667 between the two manorial families.

Cast iron Boundary Marker

Having recently researched the 18th - 20th century exploitation of the coastal dune system, (Pine plantations, asparagus cultivation and more recently sand extraction), we went further back in time to look at the former value of rabbit warrens, the livelihood they provided to tenant lease holders and income to manorial land-owners. In addition the event highlighted the existence, significance (and need for protection) of the remaining cast iron boundary markers We found that the lower- most boundary marker is now 250 metres below the Mean High Water Line! This brought home how much land has been lost to the sea at Formby Point since the boundary was first established by the then Joint Lords of the Manor, Richard Formby and Henry Blundell in 1667

Historical Displays

We were invited to contribute to the historical displays set up for National Archaeology Week (but in fact on display for three weeks). Our displays featured the history of Formby Lifeboat Station and also Formby Hall, and its Dovecote. We have now been invited to put on a new display at the Sefton Coast Partnership Conference on ‘Sefton’s

Dynamic Coastto be held at Southport on 1st September. This display will focus on the history of Cultivation on the Dunes of the Sefton Coast.

Society Scrapbook collection. Digital scanning of these has continued by Tony Bonney and the value of this has already become very evident. We have been able to deal very quickly indeed with several recent enquiries. These enquiries often result in the placing of an order for a copy of a Sibley Drawing or a photograph from our archives. In other cases it is simply information that is requested and our digitisation programme has been a great asset in dealing with these.

Historical Structures in Sefton

Information has been requested from Dorothy Bradley, Conservation Officer, Sefton MBC on the scattered often small, neglected free- standing structures of historical significance which may have been overlooked or omitted from previously compiled lists. These are often small structures hiding in gardens/fields or in our area, the dunes and

difficult to locate. The purpose of this enquiry is to investigate what

still exists and its condition. The Conservation Department will then be able to consider what will be possible to protect them for the future.

So far members of the History Group have drawn up a list of some twenty suitable items but much work needs to be done in providing full details, location grid references, etc.

Possible items already identified include navigation beacons, tide- poles, boundary markers. Milestines, Formby’s buried promenade,, observation posts (See article by Javk Gore in this issue), Wartime bunkers and pill-boxes’ and even the Control Tower at RAF Woodvale, which according to Aldon Ferguson is the only one of its date and type surviving in the North of England, certainly the only one still in use!

Future Events and Programme

The visit to Holker Hall and Cartmel on Friday 12th September will have a strong historical interest; (Please note change from previously suggested venue).

The unique ‘Thomas Fresh Evening’ on Saturday 18th October at The Freshfield Hotel, kindly supported by a grant from Sefton Express will also be about the history of both Liverpool and Freshfield, but enlivened by music and an actual appearance by Thomas Fresh ,

(played by David Davies!). See details in this newsletter. Early booking advised. ‘A Visit to Another Time’, the Little Crosby Folk Museum, has been Postponed to Spring 2009 (Details to be announced in future Newsletter