Book review: Lancashire Coast Through Time by Jack Smith
Travel back through time and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Lancashire coastline with a fascinating selection of photographs old and new.
Local historian Jack Smith’s nostalgic, pictorial journey from the Ribble Estuary near Preston to the beautiful village of Arnside on the border with Cumbria traces some of the many ways in which this section of coast has changed and developed over the last century.
As we make our way from the River Douglas in the south to the River Kent in the north of the county, we are treated to spectacular views and tantalising glimpses of the county’s industrial heritage.
The County Palatine of Lancashire dates back to 1351 but, for administrative purposes, its boundaries have been greatly reduced with the Southport stretch of the North West coast now included in Merseyside.
The boundary line in the north is just a few miles south of the River Kent, passing north of Carnforth and through Silverdale.
When the Industrial Revolution took hold in the 18th and 19th centuries, Lancashire flourished, producing over 80 per cent of the world’s cotton. People flocked to the county’s picturesque coastline, and towns like Lytham St Annes, Blackpool and Morecambe became popular coastal resorts.
Although much has changed over the years, the coastline still retains many of its traditional features including the glorious beaches and sand dunes of the Fylde.
Smith charts the various developments as he delves into the history of the coastal towns and villages, showcasing the many points of interest and awakening treasured memories.
In Lytham, we visit the famous Lytham Hall, home of the Clifton family from the 11th century to the 1930s, see the town’s famous shoreline windmill as it looked around the turn of the 20th century and enjoy new and old views of the eye-catching ‘White Church.’
Moving on to St Annes, we witness tourists strolling down the pier and past its stylish Moorish Pavilion in 1909, the now demolished and impressive Imperial Hydro and a packed outdoor swimming pool which has now been replaced by a car park.
Blackpool, one of England’s most popular resorts, still boasts three piers and we look back through time to their heyday when visitors swarmed onto their decks to enjoy the entertainment and healthy sea air.
The tower, which opened in 1894 and reaches a lofty 518 feet, was the tallest building in Britain until the completion of the Post Office Tower in London in 1964.
Onwards and northwards through Cleveleys and Fleetwood, noted for its once flourishing fishing industry, we reach the historic town of Heysham where the old – an ancient Saxon chapel on a windswept promontory – and the new – a huge nuclear power station – stand only a mile or so apart.
Last but not least is Morecambe with its iconic, art-deco Midland Hotel, which has recently been restored to its full splendour, and the busy Central Beach seen in 1905 when crowds flocked to the grand sweep of sand.
Smith’s photographic tribute to the Lancashire coast is packed with history, nostalgia and places of beauty and interest. Don’t miss the adventure!
(Amberley, paperback, £14.99)