Lytham St Annes

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Lytham St Annes (pron.: /ˈlɪðəm səntˈænz/ LIDH-əm sənt-ANZ) is a conurbation in the Fylde district of Lancashire, England. The neighbouring towns of Lytham and St-Anne’s-on-the-Sea (nearly always abbreviated to St Annes) have grown together and now form a seaside resort. The towns are situated on the Fylde coast, south of Blackpool at the point where the coastline turns east to form the estuary of the River Ribble leading inland to Preston. St Annes is situated on the northern side of the turning and, like Blackpool, overlooks the Irish Sea, whereas Lytham is on the eastern side and overlooks the Ribble Estuary.

Lytham St Annes is internationally renowned for golf and has four courses and links, the most notable being the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, one of the host courses for the Open Championship, also known as the “British Open”, which has been a competition course since first hosting the Open in 1926. Approximately once every ten years, the coming of The Open—a major sporting event—brings a major influx of visitors, including the world’s media, into a fairly peaceful community. Lytham St Annes is considered to be a wealthy area with residents’ earnings among the highest in Lancashire. It is popular with engineers and scientists from the nearby BAE Systems site in Warton, which provides some highly paid jobs that underpin the local economy.

Lytham was founded around 600 BCE. For many centuries the economy of Lytham was dependent on fishing and shrimping, until the advent of tourism and seaside health cures. After the start of the Industrial Revolution, wealthy industrialists moved from the east of the county. Lytham’s tree-lined streets are flanked by small shops, of which many are still family businesses.

Notable Lytham landmarks include the Green, a strip of grass running between the shore and the main road; the recently restored Windmill and Old Lifeboat House Museum are to be found here. The Green overlooks the estuary of the River Ribble and the Welsh mountains. The centre of Lytham contains many notable buildings including Lytham public library, railway station, market hall and “The Clifton Arms” Hotel. Also located there are “The County” and “The Ship and Royal” public houses. Some of the oldest buildings are found in Henry Street and Dicconson Terrace. Henry Street is also the location of the Taps public house, which is one of the most popuar real ale establishments on the Fylde and which has won an award every year since the present proprietors arrived in 1991.

Until the middle of the 20th century the Clifton family was the leading family in Lytham and two of the town’s main thoroughfares are named in their honour. Their estate on the outskirts of Lytham and Ansdell originally occupied a huge area. Lytham Hall, the family seat, remained in the family’s ownership until 1979, after which ownership passed to a number of corporate bodies. The grounds of the Hall are occasionally opened to the public for open-air concerts and plays. Several of the ornate gates to the estate and much of the distinctive pebble bricked boundary wall survive. The parish church for Lytham is St Cuthbert’s Church located on Church Road overlooking the Lytham YMCA Football ground and the Ribble Estuary. The town has its own brewery.

St Anne’s-on-the-Sea (also known as St Annes-on-Sea or St Annes) was a 19th-century planned town, officially founded on 31 March 1875 when the cornerstone of the St Anne’s Hotel was laid. The town was mostly laid out according to a plan drawn up by businessman Elijah Hargreaves, who saw the economic benefits of attracting large numbers of visitors from the mill towns to the east. It retains much of its original character today, and is fighting hard to become a stylish town to rival Lytham, its nearby neighbour. It is a traditional quiet Victorian/Edwardian seaside resort with up-market hotels, a sandy beach, donkeys, a small pier and ice cream stalls. Sand dunes fringe the beach and the town has an excellent, but little-known sand dune nature reserve and very good floral displays.

St Annes is the original home of Premium Bonds and their prize-selecting computer ERNIE, which were situated on a site between Shepherd Road and Heyhouses Lane. Premium Bonds operated from there for more than 40 years and then moved to Blackpool.The shopping area declined towards the end of the 20th century and was redeveloped in an attempt to attract more retailers and shoppers. As part of this project a restaurant quarter was established, centred around Wood Street. Work began on a £2m restoration project in Ashton Gardens, a park situated near the town centre. As this is where many of the activities for St Annes Carnival are held, the 2009 carnival was cancelled and the 2009 carnival queen’s title was extended by one year.

The beach to the north of St Anne’s Pier was an internationally renowned sand yachting location for many years, but sand yachting has been suspended since 2002, when a visitor to the beach died after being hit by a sand yacht. St Annes Beach also hosts a number of kite flying events each year. In 2006 kite enthusiasts raised concerns about the future of these activities following a decision by Fylde Borough Council in 2006 to ban the flying of kites with two or more lines anywhere in the Fylde. Following representations from kite-fliers and completion of a risk assessment, the council rescinded the ban on condition that kite fliers remain at least 50m from the sand dunes. A memorial statue of a lifeboatman looking out to sea was placed on the promenade at St Annes after the Mexico Disaster of 1886. The original lifeboat station was established in 1881 but closed in 1925 due to silting of the channel (a secondary channel of the Ribble that ran past the pier). A lifeboat continued to operate from Lytham, but the main channel of the River Ribble also became silted up, so the lifeboat was moved to a new all-weather RNLI base a few hundred metres south of St Annes pier which opened in 2000.St Annes Library and Information Service is situated just outside of the town centre in an Edwardian, Carnegie-funded building.

There is some confusion, even among residents of the town, about whether the correct name is “St Annes” or “St Anne’s”. The apostrophe has been dropped from the name by many of the residents of the town and has long been absent in many formal uses, such as local newspaper the Lytham St Annes Express, St Annes Parish Church, and Lytham St. Annes High Technology College, although the spelling St. Anne’s is still sometimes used.

On 23 October 2008 a bronze statue by sculptor Graham Ibbeson of comedian Les Dawson, who lived in the town, was unveiled by Dawson’s widow and daughter in the ornamental gardens next to St Annes Pier. Comedian George Formby, Jr. lived in the town.

Ansdell is a small village between Lytham and St Annes, on the landward side of the railway line. It has its own railway station (shared with Fairhaven), the “Ansdell Institute” club and a public library. It is famous because of Richard Ansdell RA, an artist who lived in the area and painted a large number of oils depicting hunting scenes. In fact, Ansdell enjoys the distinction of being the only place in England to be named after an artist.

Ansdell hosts the largest school in Lancashire, Lytham St. Annes High Technology College, with over 2000 students, a dedicated technology and IT department, and an integrated A-Level College. Ansdell also encompasses the southern end of Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club. Ansdell is also the home of Fylde Rugby Club, established in May 1920, later to be closed during the war effort, and re-opened in 1946. FRC has reared many eminent players, notably Malcolm Phillips (a former President of the club) who earned 25 England caps, and Bill Beaumont who earned 34 caps before retiring in 1982.

Fairhaven is the district between Lytham and St Annes on the coastal side of the railway line. It is named after Thomas Fair, an early resident of Lytham St Annes. Its main claim to fame is an artificial lake, known as Fairhaven Lake or more formally as the Ashton Marine Park, which is an important wildfowl habitat. Its other famous landmark is the Fairhaven United Reformed Church, which is of unusual design, being built in Byzantine style and faced with glazed white tiles, and commonly known as the White Church. Fairhaven contains King Edward VII and Queen Mary School (KEQMS). The sands and tidal mudflats of the area (the mouth of the River Ribble) are an important feeding area for wintering waders and the RSPB operate a visitor centre from Fairhaven Lake to provide information and guided walks.

Fairhaven occupies an area of former sand dunes previously known as Starr Hills. This area extended as far as St Annes town centre along the southern side of the railway. The name Starr Hills is still used for a residential home named after the eponymous residence constructed in the 1860s for Richard Ansdell, which was transformed into a hospital during World War I, before assuming its present use. The Fairhaven Estate was first laid out in 1892. Beginning in 1895, the estate was divided into parcels of land which could be purchased or leased for residential development.

The area is known to have been populated during the Bronze Age, and scattered hamlets have existed there ever since, including a village called Kilgrimol or Kilgrimhow, which is believed to have been founded in around 900 AD by Vikings expelled from Dublin. The area including the Fylde was known in Anglo-Saxon and medieval times as Amounderness. Lytham is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Lidun. In 1199 Richard Fitzroger gave his Lytham estates (then known as Lethun) to the Benedictine monks of Durham. The monks established a priory (although it was really too small to be called that as it comprised three or four monks only) on the site of the present Lytham Hall. The Priory existed until 1539; in 1540 the monastery at Durham was dissolved and the Crown became Lord of the Manor.

The manor of Lytham passed through several owners until in 1606 it was sold to Cuthbert Clifton for £4300. Clifton enlarged the manor house and made it the family seat. The house was replaced in 1757 with the present Lytham Hall, designed by architect John Carr of York. At this time St Annes did not exist, but Lytham was large enough to be called a town, with its own promenade and a reputation as a resort.

Northwards along the coast from Lytham, within the Clifton estates, were mostly sand dunes. The only habitations were the tiny hamlet of Heyhouses and the rural Trawl Boat Inn (a name resurrected in recent times for a public house in Wood Street in St Annes, opened by Wetherspoons). In 1873 the Cliftons built a chapel of ease dedicated to St Anne in this area, to encourage better religious observance, as most inhabitants found the long journey to St Cuthbert’s in Lytham too onerous. This became the parish church of St. Anne’s. At the time it was built the church had no tower. On 14 October 1874 the St Anne’s-on-the-Sea Land and Building Company Ltd was registered, mainly at the instigation of Elijah Hargreaves, a wealthy Lancashire mill owner from Rawtenstall whose intention was to develop the area as a resort. The land of St Annes was leased from the Clifton estate for 999 years, although the lease still gave the Cliftons the right to kill game on the land for this period. Building rapidly commenced with the St Anne’s Hotel (built in 1875, since demolished), the Hydro Terrace, which later became St Annes Square, and the railway station being among the first buildings. A separate company was formed to finance the construction of the pier, which was opened on 15 June 1885. At that time the main channel of the River Ribble ran by the end of the pier, and boats would bring people in from Lytham and Southport. The Ribble Navigation Act of 1883, which came into force in 1889, was intended to stabilise the often silted River Ribble to allow a steady trade into Preston docks. However, this work moved the main channel much further out and left St Annes Pier on flat sandbanks, where no ships could dock. In June 1910 the Floral Hall was opened at the end of the pier. It was a popular attraction and stars including Gracie Fields, Leslie Henson and Claude Hulbert all performed there. In 1974 a major fire seriously damaged the hall. It was restored to some extent, but another fire in July 1982 destroyed it. About half the pier was then demolished to make the beach safe to use.

Lytham station, St Annes station and Ansdell & Fairhaven station all lie on the Blackpool South to Preston branch of the Blackpool Branch Lines.Prior to the closure of Blackpool Central in 1964 the Coast Road, as it was known, was the main line into Blackpool. It has been reported that Central station in Blackpool could handle with ease one million people, in and out, in one day. Today the line is truncated at South station and the branch is operated euphemistically as “one engine in steam” but in fact is just a long siding from Kirkham.

Previously there were stations in Station Road, Lytham (1846–1874) and at Gillett’s Crossing Halt near the Old Links Golf Course, St Annes (1913–1949).

In 2008 local residents became aware that Fylde Borough Council was struggling financially, and in particular was becoming unable to subsidise local amenities. The closure of St.Annes swimming pool demonstrated how serious the situation was. It was felt that a group needed to take immediate action if they wished to reduce the subsidy from the council and ensure that Lowther Pavilion, the only purpose-built theatre in the area, remained open. In November 2008 Friends of Lowther Pavilion was formed, with the stated purposes of reducing the subsidy required from the Council; securing the future of Lowther Pavilion, raising money for improvements, and ultimately generate profits; involving the local community in the running of the theatre and making it part of the town; and becoming the basis of a networking forum for the participating groups.

In 2008 Fylde Borough Council announced that the borough’s two public swimming pools, in Kirkham and St Annes, would be closed. Public campaigns were started to oppose both closures. In April 2008 the council gave Kirkham Baths a one-year stay of execution, but St Annes swimming pool was closed. Supporters of the St Annes swimming pool have cited the lack of facilities for the town’s children and young people, and the impact of the closure on the tourist industry. The discussion on St Annes pool continued; as of February 2010 Fylde Council had called for bids from firms to run the pool, and had received “All the bids from those wanting to run the pool”. The bid from Fylde Coast YMCA was accepted, and the pool re-opened on September 1, 2010.

A campaign against the planned closure of Warton Street Post Office, serving the eastern end of Lytham, met with more immediate success. In March 2008, the post office was removed from the national list of post offices scheduled for closure.

As of 2007 the most controversial political issue in Lytham St Annes concerned property development. No more greenfield sites were available and developers were seeking to replace existing buildings or to build on open spaces such as Ashton Gardens in St Annes. Many historic buildings had been demolished and replaced with larger modern constructions of standard design as can be found in many other places. For example the art deco former headquarters of the Football League was demolished and replaced with a block of flats. Fylde Rugby Club’s ground and other open spaces have been built on.

In 2005 a property development company submitted a proposal for a 2,800 apartment development called Lytham Quays to be built on industrial brownfield sites in the east of Lytham; the proposal was rejected by the council’s development control committee after 98.4% of the population voted against the development in a poll organised by the local press. In spite of this, the developer, Kensington Developments, still claimed in a 2008 article in the Daily Telegraph that “In truth, the majority of people were for it”. The “Defend Lytham” pressure group opposed the development. Objections included predictions of a loss of industrial land, increases in traffic congestion, and increased demands on local schools and health services. Environmental objections were also raised, given that the site is in an area prone to flooding and next to an important wildfowl habitat. The developers submitted a substantially smaller proposal for 260 dwellings which was approved in May 2006, and construction started.

In St Annes another group of developers succeeded in gaining planning permission to build a block of flats on the site of a derelict children’s home in the sand dunes to the north of St Annes. This plan was resisted by local campaigners, as a result of which the council initially refused planning permission, but their decision was overturned on appeal to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and building work was nearing completion by late 2007.

The Ribble Estuary and sands of St Annes and Lytham are an Important Bird Area, mainly as a feeding ground for waders during winter and spring. There are flocks of thousands of red knots, dunlins, sanderlings, bar-tailed godwits and other waders; over 100,000 birds winter there. Flocks of pink-footed geese are commonly seen in winter as they fly over St Annes between their feeding grounds around Southport and Over-Wyre. Many pintails and other ducks feed and rest in the estuary.

There are 80ha of sand dune habitat on the coast of Lytham St Annes which is home to a wide variety of rare and interesting plants and wildlife communities. The Lytham St Annes Nature Reserve has around 250 different plant species include internationally rare plants not found outside the UK. Common Lizards are found across the dune system and it is an important habitat for various breeding birds including stonechat, skylark, linnet and reed bunting. The Grayling butterfly, which is a coastal specialist, is also found on the dunes.

The Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club was founded in March 1886 and moved to its present site in 1926. Many world tournaments have been, and are, played there, including the Ryder Cup, the Open Championship and the Dunlop Cup. The clubhouse is situated on Links Gate and the course runs southwards as far as Ansdell, adjacent to the railway line.

Lytham Green Drive Golf Club was founded in 1913 and registered as “Lytham Golf Club Ltd.”, opened with a match on Saturday 3 May, between the Captain, Mr. James Wallace and the President and Landlord, Mr. J. T. Clifton, which was played over 9 holes. The course became 18 holes in early 1914. It hosted qualifying for Open Championship in 1974, 1979 and 1988. The clubhouse is situated on Ballam Road, a little over half a mile from the centre of Lytham. The course runs adjacent to the scenic walk of Green Drive.

Lytham Beer Festival has been held annually in September since 2007, although this has moved to October in 2012 and is organised by the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre branch of CAMRA. The festival offers a choice of around 90 real ales as well as a selection of ciders and foreign bottle beers.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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