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History Group Report - April 2012

During the year, work has continued on researching and planning the Ravenmeols Heritage Trails, as part of the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership, (Heritage Lottery funded), programme. This has included organising and conducting some guided walks and  producing prototype trail guides. The proposed trails have now been extended as far as (but not including) Altcar Rifle Range, thus taking in Cabin Hill NNR. A video-tape production is being considered together with the possibility of digital or audio trail guides.

During the spring several weeks were spent assisting with the preparation of a well-produced new Sefton Coast And Countryside publication, ‘A Timeline of Sefton’s Changing Coastline’. Free copies of this were sent out to all our members, with our Newsletter.

Highlights of the History group summer programme 2011 included participation in the Festival of British Archaeology, once again, with the organisation of a very wet and windy ‘Crosby Beacon walk’, followed a week later by a Formby Lifeboat Station event, designed to show how the Formby Lifeboat was launched, in the 19th/early 20thC, using horses. This was done with on-site lap-top video-film and a de-mountable display. I was grateful for the assistance of Tony Bonney with this. We also organised a six weeks display at Duke Street library on ‘Formby Point through Time’.

During the last year our Society website was re-vamped and updated thanks to Noel Blundell and is now a model of its kind. This included re-designing the Formby Local History section. It is interesting that the Merseyside Civic Society are now seeking Noel’s advice on re-designing their own website! We have also provided Formby Parish Council with information and advice on contents for their proposed Formby Heritage Information panel, to be sited in the Village centre . Our winter programme of talks from October through to this month was successfully held as programmed except for the February meeting, which had to be changed as the speaker Prof Annie Worsley had moved to another university. Mark Adams, archaeologist Liverpool museums, was a very satisfactory substitute. Member interest in local history continues to be good.

Royalties from ‘Formby and Freshfield through Time’ have at last been received and a new publication, ‘Formby, Then and Now’, prepared,  written  and submitted . This should appear,  published by The History Press , later this year. Tony Bonney's welcome assistance with photography is gratefully acknowledged.

Following the termination of our use of Swift’s shop in Formby Street, our historical archives have been transferred, as the Treasurer has reported, to ‘Medlar Lodge’, but because of space considerations, the framed Sibley watercolours are kindly being looked after by David and Ginny Willis. This followed a discussion with Sefton Library services re the future storage of the Sibley Watercolours. A final decision on this must await the two year on-going re-construction of the Sefton Central Library building in Duke Street, Southport.

A working group has started under the leadership of Mark Adams to organise the photography and subsequent transcription of old Formby and Ravenmeols-related documents, in Lancashire Record Office as part of the ‘Lost Settlements’ project, (also a part of the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership Project). About 7-8 members have kindly offered to help with this, meeting at David Poole’s house. Mark is also interested in using the Formby Tithe Map, initially by digitising the Index to the Schedule. It has given me much pleasure to tell him we have already done it!

In relation to the Formby Parish Boundary study and forthcoming publication, the transcription of important 16thC. documents relating to the boundary from photographic copies held by the Society is now almost complete, thanks to the palaeographic skills of member Dilys Firn. We now need to look at Halsall records. Research on the Formby Parish Boundary will then be complete. I apologise once again for the delay in this but historical research takes time, and the end results are now in sight.

During the last year many e-mailed  historical enquiries have been answered, advice given, and often copies of photographs supplied with help from Tony Bonney. Later this year instead of participating in the Festival of British Archaeology as we have done in the last five years we intend once again to participate in Heritage Open Days,  September 6th-9th, with an event ‘Formby-by-the-Sea, rediscovered’, details being planned.

Finally, planning of next year’s programme of History Group meetings is now beginning.  If members have any special ideas for subjects or speakers – please let me know. Further volunteers to try the Ravenmeols Heritage Trails and complete a short report will also be more than welcome.