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History Group Report  - June 2011

By Reg Yorke June 2011

It was intended that during the summer months, members of the society would make progress with fieldwork on the proposed Ravenmeols Heritage Trails. This is in fact starting and we hope will make steady progress during the next few months. Much historical and archaeological information regarding Ravenmeols has been compiled and the story of Formby-by-the-Sea, although little known turns out to be very interesting.

The challenge now is to delineate several different trail routes which highlight what we know about the history of the area and then to provide some easy to follow Trail guides. Several volunteers have commenced ‘field testing’ provisional trail guides and this process will continue during the next few months. I will be very pleased to receive further offers of help in this connection. 

Unfortunately my time on this project has been somewhat reduced by an invitation ‘out of the blue’ by Sefton Coast and Countryside to provide information for a special edition of Coastlines being published during the next month or so on the ‘Sefton Coast Historical Timeline’. As it happens the necessary work for this is very much in line with the preparation of material for a proposed book on ‘The Sefton Coast through Time’ to be published by Amberley next year. The opportunity is also going to be taken to produce a display at Duke Street library for one month from mid-June.

I am very pleased with the progress which is being made with the assistance of Noel Blundell to revamp the Society website and provide a long missing history section. There is no doubt that many of the enquiries we receive as a society relate to Formby’s history. We continue to exchange interesting information with descendants of Dr. Richard Sumner in Australia but also more recently descendants in the USA of Dr. A. B. Sykes formerly in practice in Formby, one of whom is visiting Formby for the first time in the next few months.

Preparations are in hand for our participation in the festival of British Archaeology in July, organising two events, a walk out to the Crosby Beacon and a re-visit to the remains of the Formby Life Boat Station, to discuss the technique formerly used to actually launch the boat when needed, often in the teeth of a gale and of course without modern tractors. We are going to attempt to show a short film clip on-site. Interest in the station is likely to be increased by the recent recognition published by a Canadian maritime historian that Formby was not just Britain's first but the World’s first station and boat dedicated to saving life at sea.

A possible future project may be a study of the historical development of Formby's ‘High Street’, (Chapel Lane and Brows Lane), along the lines of a recent BBC series. In this and also other projects it would be useful to have a handheld digital recorder similar to the one which was used in the sand winning project, which has now had to be returned to Sefton.