For the Love of Lancashire- Focus on Fleetwood.

Historically speaking the origins of Fleetwood might go back to Roman times but the Fleetwood you and I know really dates back to the nineteenth century when the area was developed as a fishing port and seaport.

The manor house at Rossall had been notable back in the 16th century and it was later taken over by the Fleetwood family, they were a respected baronial family whose lineage dated back to the 14th Century.

It was Peter Hesketh, a Fleetwood descendent through his maternal lineage, who effectively created what we know as Fleetwood. He was Lord of the Manor, High Sheriff of the County of Lancashire and MP for Preston, and he had designs on creating a port at Fleetwood an extension and link to what was the existing port at Skippool. He commissioned an architect to plan the town and envisioned a thriving port at the sheltered mouth of the River Wyre. It seems so strange to think that it was entirely a planned town unlike so many of the other towns that flourished and grew during the Industrial revolution.

Fleetwood for a short time became a well-travelled routeway to Scotland, and folks would board ferries at Fleetwood to take them to Ardrossan where there was a rail link to Glasgow. It also began to flourish as a market town and seaside resort, the market was established in 1840 and the rail links enabled it to became a popular day trip resort especially at Whitsuntide Week where thousands of trippers travelled to Fleetwood on the half fares offered by the railways. Fishing also became an important part of Fleetwood’s economy and by the late 1870’s Fleetwood had become the third largest fishing port in the country. It was the Cod wars of the 1960’s that caused the collapse of the fishing industry.

There were maritime tragedies and one of the saddest was the sinking of the trawler Michael Griffiths which got into difficulties on January 30th 1953 during the great storm. She put out a mayday just eight miles South of Barra Head, but the wreck was never found.  All 13 hands on deck were lost despite the search efforts of lifeboats aircraft and a destroyer and a combined maritime effort from both England Scotland and Ireland.

Ferries from Fleetwood took travellers to Ardrossan, Belfast and the Isle of Man, but the ferry services gradually went in to decline towards the end of the twentieth century.

No story of Fleetwood would be complete without mentioning “Fishermen’s friends”, and the very first ones were developed James Lofthouse, a Fleetwood pharmacist in 1865 to help with a variety of respiratory complaints suffered by fishermen working in the extreme conditions of the Northern deep-sea fishing grounds. The mixture was originally a liquid but he then began to manufacture it in a lozenge form that was easier for the fishermen to carry around. In the 1960’s Doreen Lofthouse (a Lofthouse by marriage), turned the lozenges nicknamed Fisherman’s friends into an international renowned product/business with global exports and reportedly still producing 5 billion lozenges annually.

Doreen Lofthouse was a philanthropist as well as a shrewd businesswoman and always contributed to the upkeep and maintenance of Fleetwood and funded many charitable projects including a Lifeboat for the Fleetwood RNLI and the Welcome Home statue on the Promenade. For her charitable works she was awarded both and OBE and an MBE in her lifetime. She passed away in March this year at the grand old age of 91. She bequeathed £41.4million to the Lofthouse foundation to continue to support efforts to revitalise the town. A true gem, she has often been referred to as the Mother of Fleetwood.

©Alison Jean Hankinson.

The wealth and beauty in the time-worn.

In Japan they have a word Kintsugi and it relates to keeping something and continuing to use it even when it has become damaged and care-worn. I am finding that as I age in our very materialistic and modern world that this idea resonates greatly with me. I feel that I myself am almost Kintsugi as I have been broken and fixed so many times.

I no longer feel the need to have everything shiny and new and in the latest style, it is as if I feel now more than ever that there was a time where it was the meaning that gave the value and this was more important than the monetary value of the “thing”. On my wall I have a clock that my mother got for me many years ago and its monetary value is meaningless but it still adorns my wall, she got it for me because she thought it would appeal to me and it still holds that value and the love that came with it deep within.

Sunday afternoon was very cold and wintery and in an attempt to stave off the cold we ventured into Bruccianis for a hot chocolate. Bruccianis is on the promenade at Morecambe and it opened in 1939 and still occupies the same building and much of the interior design and decor is still untouched and it is now a grade 2 listed building.

For me the comfort is in its menu. It takes me back to days gone by when I would warm my hands on a mug of Horlicks in the Bus Station cafe in Rawtenstall after shopping with mum, Terry Jacks and “Seasons in the sun” playing on the radio. The menu here boasts Horlicks, Vimto, Bovril and the ultimate decadence of the Knickerbocker Glory. It isn’t shabby chic, or modern art nouveau but simply still the same as it was many years ago.

Its wealth and beauty is that it is what it is. No charlatan here. A place to warm up with a hot chocolate in the winter-time and chat with family and friends or a special ice-cream treat at the beach in a red-hot summer when the sand feels like it is on fire. Sometimes we don’t need perfection what we really need is congruence and familiarity.

 

Morecambe by the sea

Icy cold toes, winter sun

Horlicks comforts me.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

I am submitting this for Haibun Monday at d’Verse, it breaks the rules a tad, but I think it reflects change and perhaps it is also indicative of a change yet to come, a return to a different set of values.

 

Spring lingers long….

It feels as though it is winter that has lingered. I look around me daily and wonder at the daffodils just peeping through and everything seems to be a month behind where it was this time last year. The order is the same, but the flowering has been delayed, the rosy red tulips are only just nodding their heads toward the sun and yet April is past midway and almost done.

Then just a sprinkling of sunshine and an early evening stroll and we have stolen moments of pleasure to treasure as the daylight lingers and the smell of spring scintillates the soul.

Pebbles underfoot

Ripples of lingering spring

Sunsets in the west.

 

© Alsion Jean Hankinson

This is for d’Verse haibun monday.

 

 

The Perfect Storm…reflections on the storm of 1953.

It was England’s worst natural disaster of the twentieth century. A combination of a winter windstorm and high spring tides brought disaster and flooding to Scotland, England, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Between January 31 and February 1st a storm tide in the North Sea raised the water level by as much as 5.6metres above sea level in parts of the East coast. There was catastrophic flooding on a massive scale and huge loss of life.

In the Netherlands there were approx 1836 deaths, In England in the east coast counties of Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Essex 307 lives were lost, a further 19 in Scotland and 28 people lost their lives in the Flanders region of Belgium. A further 230 people lost their lives at sea, on small craft, fishing vessels and with the sinking of the MV Princess Victoria. Many of those on shore were drowned in their beds as they slept. Thousands of people were made homeless.

The entire crew of 13 from the fishing trawler the Michael Griffith from Fleetwood were lost to the storm along with two crew from the Islay rescue lifeboat. They had set sail on the Thursday from Fleetwood under skipper Charles Singleton with the youngest crewmember being the deckhand George Palin. The boat vanished south of Barra Head in the early hours of Saturday morning following a stark radio message in morse- “Full of water – no steam – helpless”. Eleven women were widowed and 20 children were left fatherless.

The car ferry MV Princess Victoria, travelling from Stranraer to Larne was also lost of Saturday 31st January. Just 90 minutes after she left Stranraer a wave burst through the stern doors and despite all efforts the car decks were flooded. There were 44 survivors but 133 others perished. Not a single woman or child survived the disaster. They had all been put together in one lifeboat and it was lifted by a wave and smashed against the hull of the ship and they were all lost to the water. Portpatrick, Donaghadee and Cloughy lifeboats all made attempts to locate and help rescue those aboard. The Donaghadee lifeboat, the Sir Samuel Kelly joined the frantic search for survivors after the ship went down finally at approx 13.58 with her Captain still bravely at the helm. Its crew eventually plucked 33 men to safety. Bravery medals were awarded to many for their valiant rescue efforts that day.

This still remains one of the most little-known tragedies of the twentieth century. Thank you dad for telling me about it.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

399px-A_tribute_to_the_Lifeboatmen_of_Portpatrick_-_geograph.org.uk_-_26385

The featured image is from Wikimedia and is in the public domain- By Wrecksite (www.wrecksite.eu) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

the other image is the memorial at Portpatrick again in wikimedia- andy [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Guardian, the storm in pictures

Seaside Summer Blues…

Buckets spades and sandcastles

Donkeys on the beach

Paddling at the water’s edge

Family in easy reach.

 

Seashells on the shoreline

Waves lapping at our feet

Coconut oil and sunburn

Ice cream 99’s for a treat.

 

Arcade penny slot machines

Grab machines galore

Potted shrimps and cockles in a tub

Mum goes back for more.

 

Holidays at the seaside

Family fun days out

Car breaks down on the way back home

That’s what summer was all about.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

 

 

 

Shall we sit on the park bench at sundown…?

Shall we sit a while,

Watching the sun go down over yonder?

Shall we share our bravest thoughts and dreams

Express in silent contemplation

Our sense of wonder?

 

Shall we watch the night unfold

Hold hands and watch the day grow old,

Pause a while, dream a little, share a smile

Knowing that the stars meanwhile

will always serve as a reminder

 

Of the love we shared?

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for d’Verse  where Bjorn has challenged us to write a poem of only questions…my first effort was very questionable….this is my second….

Changing Seasons…

Winsome wind

Lifting leaves

From autumn trees.

 

Gusty squalls

Across the reach

Hearty waves crash on a windswept beach.

 

Stormy days unease

September’s short reprise

Before relentless chill of winter.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

As summer gives way to Autumn and we near the Fall equinox this seems to be the right poem for d’Verse open link night. Soon be out in those wellies crunching the fallen leaves…

 

 

 

 

And the band played on…

 

English summers wouldn’t be the same

If families didn’t enjoy fun in the sun

Carnival queens and burger vans

Seaside singalongs and festival fun.

 

We went to the Morecambe Carnival

With bagpipes and drums on hand

The parade moved stately down the prom

To the sound of the big brass band.

 

Seagulls on standby to have a feast

Candyfloss and greasy chips on the ground

The Bay belting out across the stage

And fairground rides spinning teenagers around

 

Toploader took to the stage

Boogie-Storm boogied on down

Sandcastle competitions throughout the day

Magical show-stopping firework display at sundown.

 

English summers wouldn’t be the same

If families didn’t enjoy fun in the sun

Carnival queens and burger vans

Seaside singalongs and festival fun.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

So tonight it is Magic over at dVerse

My magic in this is a bit like Puff the magic dragon…

“Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…”

Yes I know I always have seagulls and chips…perhaps it is my signature…

 

 

 

 

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