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History Group Report -  November  2014

Local list/ neighbourhood plan - structures of historical interest and listed buildings, as previously reported,  Ray Derricott and I are working with the Parish Council on the Neighbourhood Plan and in particular providing advice on historical and heritage aspects. We already of course have a list of listed buildings but in the last 2 years I have compiled a list of structures of historical interest, previously unlisted. I have a meeting arranged with Dr Ben Croxford, Historic Environment Record Office, Merseyside Environmental Advisory Service Heritage Environment Record (HER), next week and will be able to report back at our next meeting.

Placecheck project. In the meantime the placecheck project has been publicised in our newsletter and I will be speaking about it at Formby Duke Street library on 9th December. Unfortunately the response to the newsletter article has so far been very poor even though reply slips were provided. The Parish Council are looking to us to provide a lead on this following the display at the Gild Hall during last summer. I do hope some volunteers will be forthcoming.

Freshfield House blue plaque. This was a joint effort between ourselves and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, researched originally by myself and former member the late Neville Carrick and later continued by Norman Parkinson of the CIEH. Funding for the actual plaque was provided by the CIEH. We were joined by senior colleagues of the Institute and provided with welcome refreshment by Mr and Mrs Terry Jackson. Inevitably the only local newspaper to report “the first blue plaque in Formby” incorrectly assumed that it had been placed by English Heritage!

National Trust Asparagus Trail; Thomas Fresh information panel. Now the Asparagus Trail is nearing completion several interpretive panels are being erected. One of these will be about Thomas Fresh,  using information provided by ourselves.

Ravenmeols Heritage Trails project. This project is now reaching completion. Three trails will be featured and described. It now only remains to produce the printed guides and set up the website. The difficulty now is in deciding what information to provide, from the mass we have obtained.

History Group meetings program,  We have now departed from alternating general interest subjects and local history but trying to keep a balance. Since September attendance has improved. We have been lucky to attract some excellent speakers, particularly Graham Fisher speaking about John Douglas in October and Ron Cowell who will be giving an account of his research on the newly discovered Neolithic settlement on Lunt Meadows in March.

Lancashire Local History Federation newsletter;  We are flattered that an article on the Second WW Formby Lighthouse demolition, originally published in our newsletter has been republished in the newsletter of the Lancashire Local History Federation, with our permission.

World War I Home Front study. With the help of John Phillips and Tony Pawson, joined now by David and Glenys Poole and with background computer support from Tony Bonney, great progress is being made, searching and recording relevant Formby Times news items week by week. Since we started in mid August, exactly 100 years from the beginning of the war we have now covered the first year. With the use of the microfilm digital copier at Crosby Library, we now have copies of relevant items, of varying degrees of clarity, good enough to be able to read and transcribe – (which will be my contribution!). In four months four hundred and fifty three newsprint files have been acquired by John Phillips and Tony Pawson and indexed by Tony Bonney.

‘Operation Sandstone’ dossier. We are grateful to Liverpool Museums archaeologist Mark Adams who has discovered a closely guarded dossier of carefully compiled information which according to the National Archives catalogue was a survey of “the coast of the United Kingdom to facilitate re-occupation by the United States in the event of the UK being over-run in war”; The section on our coastline contains about 450 mainly aerial) photographs, maps, and very detailed information on the coast compiled and surveyed in the 40s.  Presumably there’s a copy somewhere in the USA, but it’s existence has not been known to local historians previously. Mark has photographed it page by page and I now have it on my computer. Alongside the photographs there are copious and detailed notes on the topography and terrain of the coast from low waterline, the beach, dunes, woodland, and particularly access points, tracks, buildings, structures and all identifiable landmarks, stretching from the Liverpool docks to Southport.

RAF Woodvale War Memorial proposal. After a lot of thought I would like to suggest that we examine the possibility for the creation of a War Memorial to the personnel of RAF Woodvale who lost their lives in service during World War II. The need for such a Memorial has already been raised by relatives of the Polish airmen who served here and also relatives of the crew of the Americans B-24 Liberator crash who we have been in contact with in order to pay tribute on site on its 70th anniversary, as described in our last newsletter. In view of the publication of the well-researched history of Woodvale, by Aldon Ferguson in 1991 detailing the deaths that occurred during wartime it is somewhat surprising that a Memorial has not previously been created. As a society with a strong interest in local history and knowledge of the role that Woodvale played during World War II in the defence of North-West England including Merseyside, (which is now almost completely forgotten by the population at large), I feel this should be remedied and due tribute paid to those airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice. I suggest that we, as a society should help provide a suitable simple Memorial. A glance at the relevant web site shows a vast variety of examples on other airfields.

R.A.Y. November 2014