LOCAL HISTORY SECTION
A blue plaque for Freshfield House
Reg Yorke -
We were there that afternoon courtesy of Mr and Mrs Jackson specifically to honour the memory of its former resident Thomas Fresh, now recognised on the one hand as one of Liverpool’s mid-
We were grateful on this special occasion to be joined by 2 medical historians who have taken a special interest and published important papers on Fresh’s contribution to public health. Perhaps I might say a little about the house where he lived during the time when he was so active in Liverpool 1853 – 1857.
Until the mid-
Four Acre Lane was then extended round the East end of the house (where the shippon had been), to provide access to a new Station , at a cost of £180 including a platform 200 feet long, proposed by Mr Fresh in July 1853, which was originally to be called ‘Bradshaw’s’ (after the former occupant ) but instead changed to ‘Freshfield’.
In January 1854 Mr Fresh requested a person to take charge of the new station and sidings and the new roads to the station were finished. A datestone with the date 1855 was added with Thomas and Martha’s initials placed over the new south facing doorway. 4 Acres Lane then became known as ‘Freshfield Road’. The evolution of the building is relatively clear and its historic interest very significant but at present the date of building of the original cottage still obscure. (Examination of old structural timbers would help to provide a date). An interesting complication is that subsequently the original part of the house was for a time let separately (as 97 Freshfield Road), and had its own (still existing) door onto Freshfield Road. I am arranging to speak to a 90 year old lady who at one time lived in the house apparently retaining her faculties and retaining a good memory.
There is no doubt that the new station with its manure siding which brought copious amounts of night soil from Liverpool stimulated not only local agriculture but also the growth of Formby around the new station which gave its name to the development of the smart new development of the North of Formby.
We also know that as a sideline from conventional farming asparagus cultivation was very successfully introduced. This was not the original intention however. An article in the Liverpool Mercury of 11 October 1853 states;
“There may now be seen at our office samples of the largest and finest potatoes which have been grown in this part of England. They were raised upon sandhills (which were lately levelled, near Formby, upon the estate of Thomas Weld Blundell, Esq., of Ince Hall), by the application of night soil from this town, and were planted in May last. This result will settle entirely to the satisfaction of all the question of the great utility of applying night soil to the cultivation of sandy land. As thousands of acres of such land are now lying waste between this town and Southport, and as a continuous and plentiful supply of the cheapest and best manure in the world is fully available here for its cultivation, and the means of its cheap transit is secured by the railway, it undoubtedly only requires the hand of enterprise and skill to convert this now unproductive sandy waste into one of the most fertile districts in the kingdom. We understand that similar specimens of these splendid potatoes were placed for inspection in the Exchange newsroom, on Friday last, by Henry Cleaver Chapman Esq.; and that another sample was exhibited in the corn market, upon a stall of Messrs. Jones and Abraham, corn merchants, of this town. Forty acres of land were placed under cultivation, and it was manured with 850 tons of night-
I am only speculating but I suspect Thomas started to grow potatoes and that it was the Lord of the Manor with his wider horizons who suggested asparagus?
Bradshaw’s Railway handbook of 1863 (the book that inspired the current TV series), notes a station at Freshfield, and states about Formby, “this bathing place was once a market town. It is situated near Formby Point, in the Irish Sea, and outside the bank there is a floating light. It is much frequented by the Lancastrians. Population, 1,780”.
Formby and Freshfield have grown considerably since then and Thomas Weld-