LOCAL HISTORY SECTION
Formby by the Sea 2008
F C Beardwood -
Within a few years after the completion of the Liverpool-
With the exception of Mr. Bell, a Manchester man, they were from Southport, The first directors were:-
The Memorandum of Association of the company gave as its first object the purchasing of a freehold estate at Raven Meols, Formby. £12,100 was “expended on “the four several plots of freehold land situate at Raven Meols in the township of Formby, containing 105 acres”. The accompanying map showed an oblong area bounded on three Sides by Andrews Lane, Barton Heys Rd. and Miles [sic] Lane, which obviously refers to Raven Meols Lane. (At one time the latter name is understood to have applied to the entire length leading to the coast). In between these roads they acquired a field of 11 acres, and two narrow fields connecting them to the shore.
The Company raised a mortgage on at least a portion of their property at an early stage. This was discharged in 1878, and as a result, several new names came into the picture, James Carr, John Elson and Samuel Foster, subsequently to be perpetuated by street names in this part of Formby.
The remainder of the Company’s objects were set out as follows:-
Truly an ambitious programme!
The first preparatory step was to run a narrow-
Behind the promenade, and parallel with it, two other roads were partly made; one was named Lord St. Houses of the sea-
When one considers this quite modest record in the light of the glittering possibilities set out in the articles of association a number of suggestions spring to mind. What made these men launch out as they did? What grounds had they for thinking they were on a good thing?. Why did they fail?
One explanation could be that it was nothing more than another business proposition on the part of men with a “hunch” that Formby could be developed in much the same way, and with as much success as Southport. Most of them belonged to Southport, and had seen how the newly-
Further evidence that such possibilities were in mind came from the Sentence of Consecration of St. Luke’s Church, Formby, on l4th December,1855:-
And when in 1878 a Bill promoted by the Southport Water Co. was being examined -
As the real facts of the Land and Building Company’s formation and somewhat ignominious failure may never be known it may be that their venture was simply an unfortunate speculation.-
At Formby Point they had the longest haul for their building materials, the site was virtually unapproachable until new roads were made; the visitors for whom they looked would-
Was there an alternative explanation? Was the inspiration behind these men not a hunch, nor a vague inkling;-
One remembers that this was a period of great activity in the making of railways all over the country. Had they at that time any degree of fore-
The old Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company is known to have had something of this nature under contemplation; about the same time that the Land and Building Co. was fizzling out a coastal railway began to emerge as a live proposition. Mr. Wetherall, who came to Freshfield as stationmaster in 1901, soon heard of it, and recalled frequent visits by the General Manager of the railway company as the route was prospected.
Shortly before World War I the line was pegged out for at least a portion of its length in fields belonging to Marsh Farm and Cabin Hill Farm. Application for the necessary authority was made in May 1915, but not until 1918 was this forthcoming. The Board of Trade then made an Order “authorising the Lancs, and Yorks. Rly Co.to construct Light Railways at and near Formby”.
The line was to begin at Hightown station, running westwards of the existing line, swinging gradually away to pass on the west side of the lighthouse, thence to the coast at Formby Point. From there it ran in a wide arc to rejoin the main length just south of Ainsdale. It was to cross the Alt by a girder bridge similar to that crossing the main lines. There was to be one station at, or near Alexandra Rd., and a bridge over Lifeboat Rd. 36 ft. wide and of a gradient no steeper than 1 in 30. The Railway Co. was to make and maintain six level crossings for all purposes at Cabin Hill, Cocklepath Rd. (i.e. an extension of Range Lane); between Cocklepath Rd. and Albert Rd. (behind Asparagus Cottage) Albert Rd; Alexandra Rd.; and a westward extension of Kirklake Rd. The entire cost was estimate4 at £77,000. In 1924 the London, Midland and Scottish Rly Co. applied for a revival of the 1918 authority, but no further action transpired; the rapid development of road transport presumably being the decisive factor.
The foregoing account of an imposing “might-
Taken from F.C. Beardwood’s ‘Notes on the History of Formby’, privately published 1970; (Copyright F.C. Beardwood).