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History Group Report - September 2011

By Reg Yorke Sept 2011

Festival of British archaeology, It has not been a quiet summer for the History Group. The two events arranged for the Festival of the British Archaeology went ahead as planned and were enjoyed by those who participated despite the first, a visit to the Crosby Beacon,  being held in appalling weather conditions. This was only possible by the kind provision by Sefton Coast and Countryside of Land Rover transport to and from the site. We were accompanied by Mike Stammers, maritime historian, who despite the wind and rain managed to do some sketches of the adjacent vestigial remains of a previous beacon.

The second event, a visit to the remains of Formby Lifeboat Station, was by contrast held during a glorious summer’s afternoon. As planned, Tony Bonney and I, were able to show on a laptop, how the lifeboat was launched,  using a cine-film made in 1916 during a practice launch, two years before the station was finally closed.

Timeline of Sefton’s Changing Coastline, During the summer we were invited to provide historical information and illustrations for a new publication by Sefton Council on ‘A  Timeline of Sefton’s Changing Coastline, funded by European funding from  Imcore (innovative management of Europe’s changing coastal resorts). Copies of this very nicely produced publication were made available for all members of the society and went out with the August Newsletter. Some of the material submitted by the Society was used in a parallel display held in Formby Duke Street library from mid-June for six weeks on  Formby Point Through Time. According to the librarians many users of the library enjoyed looking at this.

Ravenmeols Heritage Trails. When not working on these projects a fair amount of time has been spent researching the proposed  Ravenmeols Heritage Trails, preparing background information, drafting a ‘pocket guide’ and sending some volunteers out with  the draft guide to find out how well it helped them discover and understand selected points of interest. We have now sketched out four possible routes. Two of these will eventually be way-marked and it is hoped that when finalised, the pocket guides will be published. Having piloted this we now need to extend the experiment to larger numbers of walkers and it is hoped to arrange a meeting of possible volunteers at St Luke’s Church meeting room in the near future.

Formby Civic Society website. Much thought has gone into the local history content of the new Formby Civic Society website. As one small contribution to this the former Discovering Formby leaflet first published some years ago is now being redesigned and preparations made for it to be incorporated into our new website. In connection with our researches on Ravenmeols we hope also to produce a parallel Discovering Ravenmeols  leaflet and corresponding addition to the website.

Formby Village heritage panel.  First mooted several  years ago it now seems that the Formby Parish Council would like to make progress on this and have funds set aside. From the beginning we have supported the concept and produced some ideas up regarding content but the aim and topographical scope of this has from the beginning been rather ill-defined. Following recent discussion we now have a clearer idea of what is needed and where it would be placed. We are in a good position to provide the necessary illustrations and textual information but have had to make it clear that we do not have the design skills needed for this sort of project. The services of an appropriate professional will be needed.

Old Post Office Listing application. The possibility of a further attempt to seek listing for the old Post Office has been brought forward in the last week or two by the kind presentation of the original linen-backed architect's drawings created by H.M. Office of Works, London, dated 25.5.22. We also have amended plans including the sorting office, dated 30.3.39 and further plans, scale 1/8" = 1 foot dated, 31.1.55.  These may help strengthen a further application.

Future Publications. Two further local history publications are in the offing. In addition to one on Sefton Coast Through Time to be published by Amberley, another on Formby, Then and Now has been suggested by History Press. Royalties from these would come to the Society.

Archives. We are very grateful for helpful advice from the Community Archives and Heritage Group who have produced useful guidelines designed to help small heritage projects and community archives catalogue their collections.  Formby Civic Society archives have been so far as possible been listed but our methodology falls far short of desirable standards. It will not be easy to create an acceptable record of our overall collection  but I believe we should try using the guidelines provided. This is a subject which will be raised at future History Group meetings.