Wesham

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Medlar with Wesham is civil parish on the Fylde in Lancashire, England. It lies within the Borough of Fylde, and had a population of 3,245 in 1,294 households recorded in the 2001 census.

The parish contains the town of Wesham, adjacent to the larger town of Kirkham outside the parish. Technically, town status attaches to the whole parish, but in practice it is the settlement of Wesham that is referred to as a “town”.

“Historically the village of Wesham is reputed to have come to the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem by the gift of Cicely, daughter of Roger de Gernet. The Lancasters subsequently gave it to the Abbey of Cockersand. On the dissolution of monasteries, the land seems to have been granted or sold to the family of Westby. In the reign of Philip and Mary, William Westbye held “Medlarghe,” “Wessham,” and other property in the area, and his descendants long continued to reside at what was Mowbreck Hall, now lost. Bradkirk, in the township, was owned as a manor in the reign of Edward III by a family of the same name, and was their residence for centuries. The estate later became the property of Hugh Hornby, Esq., of Ribby Hall, by purchase from a Mr. Kearsley.”

The area within the boundaries of the parish have been populated since early medieval times, prior to the Norman conquest, with separate settlements at Bradkirk, Medlar, Wesham and Mowbreck. There was also a single moated farmstead at Pasture Barn midway between Medlar and Mowbreck. The present bridleway of Mowbreck Lane was the medieval route to Treales.

The modern town of Wesham (pronounced variously `Wesham’, `Wessam’ and `Wezzum’) is only about 160 years old, and developed as the railway expanded to serve the growing popularity of resort towns such as Blackpool. From the 1920s to the 1950s huge numbers of steam trains plied their way to the coast via the station at Kirkham and Wesham.

Situated to the north of the rail station, from ½ a mile to 2½ miles North of Kirkham, in 1870-72 it had an area of 1,971 acres (798 ha) and property worth £3,441. The population in 1851 was 170 but by 1861 was 563. The increase of population arose largely from additional employment in cotton mills. At that time the manor of Wesham, with Mowbreck Hall, belonged to J. T. Fazakerley-Westby, Esq. The Hall was a fine edifice of red brick, castellated with stone and contained a domestic Roman Catholic chapel. It was once reputed to be haunted and had at one time been used as a Catholic School, one of whose pupils was Bible scholar George Leo Haydock.

A large school, used also as a lecture hall, belonging to the Independents, was built at Wesham in 1864 and opened in 1866. The premises is now the showroom for Salisburys Electricals.

A large new workhouse, to replace the much older one in Kirkham, was erected in 1903-7 designed on a pavilion plan by Charles S Haywood and Fred Harrison. Modern for its time, separate pavilions were provided for mothers and infants, and for infirm females, and also a two-roomed cottage for married couples. The heating and hot water were worked from a central station, under the control of the resident engineer, and with rotary pumps to assist circulation. The buildings were faced with Accrington red-pressed bricks, and stone dressings, the work being carried out by a Mr. Sam Wilson, of Lytham St. Annes. During the First World War the buildings were used as a Military Hospital and later became Wesham Park Hospital, a specialist geriatric and psychiatric institution). The buildings which remain today are now the administrative home to North Lancashire NHS Trust, with the remainder becoming a much needed brown field site for the “Willowfields” housing development.

The boundaries of Wesham were established over 100 years ago and did not change until local government changes in 1935 meant that 82 acres (33 ha) and 48 residents were transferred to Kirkham. Kirham lost only 8 acres (3.2 ha) of land, but with no loss of residents.

The town has two churches. Christ Church, Church of England, which is a Grade II listed building, was founded in 1894. The minister is Rev Julie Jones and the vicarage is situated on Mowbeck Lane. St Joseph’s Roman Catholic was founded in 1885. Both churches have adjacent graveyards and affiliated junior schools nearby. St Joseph’s has an attached Presbytery, also on Mowbreck Lane.

The foundation stone for St Joseph’s was laid on 13 July 1884 by Dr O’Reilly after two members of the local Billington family left funds for the construction of a Catholic church in Wesham. The church was consecrated and dedicated to St Joseph on 18 March 1886 in a large ceremony, led by the Bishop of Leeds. It was opened for the public on the following Sunday, 21 March 1886.

The Primitive Methodist chapel, located nearest to the small town square, was founded in 1895. It has now been converted to private dwellings, but retains its main architectural features including foundation stones.

At the centre of the town is the small War Memorial, with its stone statue of a First World War soldier, which enjoys attractive floral displays throughout the year and a service of remembrance on Remembrance Sunday. Around it are located the old Fire Station, the busy Post Office, the Co-Op supermarket, the Fish and Chip shop and an Off License. The Post Office recently campaigned successfully to remain open.

Wesham Bakery, now the home of Fox’s Biscuits and the largest current commercial concern, was opened in 1957, on the site previously occupied by Phoenix Mill. Near Salisbury’s electrical showroom, on Garstang Road South, is a Chinese restaurant. Other small businesses on Station Road, include a garage/tyre fitters, car sales centre, beautician, sandwich bar, hairdressers, veterinary surgeon, pharmacy and a fast-food outlet. There has been some recent light industrial and small business development in the north of the parish near Junction 3 of the M55 motorway, where a Premier Inn motel and restaurant are also situated. A private residence on Fleetwood Road is the base for a Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, the only flying HUEY in the UK.

On Church Road is a popular Community Centre and nearby are the outdoor Bowling Club and the newly re-built Scout Hut. The centre is used by, amongst others, Wesham Road Runners, Medlar and Wesham Town Council, Wesham Community Pride Trust and Blackpool and The Fylde College. It is also used as the town’s electoral Polling Station. On Fleetwood Road there is a modern Fire Station and adjoining Ambulance Station.

The town also has a recreation field, equipped with a newly-built skateboard park, on Fleetwood Road, where football is regularly played by local teams. The playground has recently been re-equipped with modern new play equipment and the perimeter of the field equipped with sturdy all-weather fitness stations. A doorstep green has recently been created on Derby Road near the former Fylde Borough Council offices. There are public allotments between St. Joseph’s churchyard and the recreation ground.

The town has three busy public houses – The Lane Ends, The Stanley Arms and The Royal Oak Hotel. There are three Biological Heritage Sites at Medlar Ditch, Medlar Meadows and Wesham Marsh.

The town’s annual Club Day is held in early June, jointly with Kirkham. The day involves the various churches and their chosen “Rose Queens”, together with biblical tableau floats, civic dignitaries and brass bands, walking in procession through the town in the morning. In 2011 Club Day was held on Saturday 11 June.

After a comprehensive questionnaire survey of all Wesham residents, a parish plan was published in November 2008.

In recent years the town has seen three large housing developments: the first on greenfield land adjacent to the former Wesham Park Hospital (permission for which was granted only on appeal), the second with 208 houses on brownfield land on part of the hospital site itself and a third with 109 houses on greenfield land between Fleetwood Road and Weeton Road. The building work at the two most recent sites has yet to be completed.

An application was made in 2008 for outline planning permission for a development of up to 264 houses on another greenfield site, adjacent to the Biological Heritage Site at Wesham Marsh, north of Mowbreck Lane. The application was made by land-owner Metacre, a company owned by Blackpool Tower owner Trevor Hemmings, and caused much controversy amongst many existing residents, being viewed as a real threat to the rural character of the town. A pressure group was formed, several well-attended public meetings were held and a petition signed by over 90% of households was delivered. A Landscape Character Assessment has been carried out by the Lancashire branch of CPRE and an ecological survey has revealed the presence of the Natterjack Toad and the Great Crested Newt.

At the public meeting of the Fylde Borough Council Development Control Committee on 17 March 2010, the plan was unanimously rejected. In May 2010 the developer appealed against the decision, bringing the proposal before the Government Planning Inspector. The matter was the subject of a Public Inquiry which ran between 14 and 22 September 2010 at the United Reformed Church at Lytham St Annes. The appellant was represented by high-profile barrister Roger Lancaster. On 23 March 2011, it was announced that the appeal should be dismissed and planning permission refused.

On 11 November 2011 a further application was received, from the same developer, proposing a development of 100 dwellings, on part of the same site. Soon after, a new campaign to stop the plan was begun by the Wesham Action Group. A public meeting took place on 11 January 2012 at the Community Centre and unanimous opposition to the plan was strongly voiced. At their meeting on 12 September, FBC Development Management Committee refused the application. On 9 November it was announced that an appeal against the refusal had been lodged and that the matter would be dealt with by another Inquiry.

The following buildings and structures are all listed Grade II:

  • Bradkirk Hall Farmhouse, Weeton Road (bearing the date plaque EH:1754)
  • Christ Church, Church Road
  • War Memorial with surrounding railings, Garstang Road South
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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