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History Group Report -  February 2015

Meetings; since my previous report in November 2014, our meetings programme has continued to have a strong historical bias with a talk on the history of the Liverpool Southport Railway,  (the “Shrimp Line”), given by John Quirk in November, Frank Formby and his model trains in December, and Sefton’s now vanished Coast Guard service by former Chief Coastguard, Mike Roberts, last Thursday. A pleasant additional benefit from the last meeting has been the subsequent gift of a number of audio tapes, recorded by Gladys Bevan some years ago. Her husband was of course a coastguard himself when the station was at Formby and so we look forward to the opportunity to hear the tapes. Gladys had a good memory and an aptitude for bringing the past to life.

‘Placecheck’ project. In my last report I mentioned the forthcoming ‘Placecheck’ project. This went ahead successfully with a group of six or seven of us, walking round the village on a very cold morning early in January. Despite the cold we were able to discuss different aspects of Formby village identifying the things we liked and the things we disliked about it at present. We have been able to communicate our thoughts to the Formby Neighbourhood Plan, working party. A further contribution to the Neighbourhood Plan has been a detailed list of Formby Heritage sites, buildings and structures of historic significance. This has been compiled with the help of Dr Ben Croxford, Historic Environment Record Officer, Merseyside Environmental Advisory Service  Heritage Environment Record (HER). We had already prepared a list of additional items, some of particular interest as previously unrecorded,  such as the archaic electrical junction boxes still standing near the Old School, School Lane and in the garden of a house in Barkfield Lane.

The World War one ‘Home Front’ study has continued apace thanks mainly to regular visits to Crosby library by John Phillips, Tony Pawson and Mr and Mrs Poole with a digital Excel index of some 537 PDF files compiled and updated by Tony Bonney so far up to 13th May 1916. We are very grateful to Crosby library for their willing assistance and also in retrospect to the then meticulous journalist staff of the Formby Times. Many forgotten aspects of Formby’s role (and many of its inhabitants) during the ‘Great War’ are now being remembered.

RAF Woodvale. In my last report I referred to the possibility that the society might offer to organise a suitable memorial to the many RAF personnel who lost their lives whilst serving with the RAF at Woodvale during World War II. This idea was strongly supported by Aldon Ferguson who wrote the definitive history of the airfield and gave us a very impressive talk on it some years ago. The idea has not however created as much interest as we hoped except by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust who now of course manage the southern portion of the airfield, one of the country’s most important areas of Dune Heathland, a nationally rare habitat. Rather than a Memorial I now suggest we commission an interpretive panel just inside the Dune Heath perimeter fence but overlooking runway 2, where one obtains a very good view of the airfield.


Reg Yorke,

Secretary FCS History Group.