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History Group Report - January 2011

By Reg Yorke 26 Jan 2011

Barbara is as you know unfortunately out of action at present. This being the case I have “taken over” as History Group Secretary. Barbara's role is now after many years, Chair of the Group.

As Secretary I would now like to form a small committee to help organise the work of the group, particularly our archives. This has been in mind for some time and will help particularly the organisation and conservation of our historic collections, including of course the irreplaceable Sibley originals.

The need for this was emphasised by the recent hint that our storage facilities may not be available for much longer. We also need to review the indexing, listing, access and where appropriate, computer scanning of the many other historical items we possess. Please let us know if you would be interested in helping.

As reported in the last issue, last Summer’s activities included the organisation of a successful visit to the little known site of the old Formby Lighthouse as a contribution to the ‘Festival of British Archaeology’. Mike Stammers, maritime historian, and Mark Adams, archaeologist, assisted with this and Major Hunter Commandant of the Range, has now marked the (previously unidentified) site with a special marker.

Following the celebration of the centenary of the first successful flight off the beach at Freshfield, our historic photographic display went on public view at the Southport Air Show where it was seen by many people. I am very grateful to Jack and Peta Gore for their help in manning the display.

Our winter programme began on 14th of October with a Mark Sargent and Matthew Tinker on the local history archive held by Sefton Library Services, now based, (conveniently for us), in Formby Library. This was followed by an illuminating talk by Ben Rees on Father James Nugent the remarkable 19th-century Liverpool social reformer who died in Formby. Our most recent presentation, on 13th January, was by well known fellow member John Houston who gave a very interesting illustrated talk on the Altcar Rifle Range.

We continue to receive regular enquiries on local history, one recently from as far away as Chile another from California. A recent analysis of the ‘hits’ on our website reveal a preponderance of interest on aspects of local history, particularly local buildings, These enquiries highlight the need for a local history section on the website. 

We are always very glad to help other individuals and organisations with an interest in local history and recently exchanged information with St. Lukes regarding a register of graveyard burials. We already have two such registers, one compiled by former history group secretary, Jennifer Lewis in the 1980’s and another compiled 10 years later now computerised by Tony and searchable by surname. 

Another presentation will be a display in Duke Street Library in May on ‘Ravenmeols’. This will show something of the history of this area, including ‘Formby-by-the Sea’ – the resort that never was! This will link in with the Ravenmeols Heritage Trails (see p 5). A previous display at the library last summer on ‘Early Aviation at Freshfield’ was well received