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.

Manchester-moments and musings on the Lancashire cotton mills and the cotton famine. 1862.

These red bricks, these tall chimneys,

Coloured by their blood, shaped by the hands of their children

Carried on their rugged shoulders and working class calves.

We don’t look up enough, we don’t marvel at what they gave us.

These edifices echo with their pain and suffering

Voices of our forefathers, sinewed souls of our ancestors

They built their empires in cotton and coal so that we could enjoy

The fruits of their labours and be forever known as the workshop of the world.

 

Salford, Stalybridge, Manchester, Blackburn, Wigan-working that weft

Darwen, Accrington, Chorley, Preston, winding that bobbin up.

And the roll call falters, unemployment, hunger, desperation, and impoverishment

They stood together arm in arm, hand in hand, through protest and starvation,

To demonstrate their love and pride for another brother in another place.

We should stand tall for we stand on the shoulders of giants

They gave us humility, compassion, work ethic and pride.

True northern spirit and true northern soul.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

Featured image from the public domain labelled for reuse. Horrockses Cotton Mill Preston.

Other images are my own.

This journey into the cotton famine was a soulful journey and I am very proud of the stance taken by the Lancashire millworkers and the sacrifices they made. We were encouraged to look at soul for poetics at d’Verse. 

I have edited this and made some changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A year ago…dark satanic mills

800px-mcconnel_26_company_mills2c_about_1820

A year ago we were on our way… we had driven to Auckland, boarded the plane and we were probably somewhere around Australia now…mischief is sat on her cushion and she is thinking…mmm a year ago we were at the cattery…

School had finished and it was CHRISTMAS…. we still have a week to go this year…no wonder we are all grumpy.

A whole year ago…it felt so good, we were so excited, it was the holiday of a lifetime, funny that a trip “home” could be classed as a holiday of a lifetime but it was. The girls were 16, old enough to appreciate it and we had been gone for 10 long years. We took them back and helped them to reconnect, we took them to visit people and places that were part of their history and heritage. We wanted them to know the buildings and the customs and the language and the meaning of what it is to be English.

We love all that they have had and experienced here in Whangarei. We love all that they have learned and the friends they have made but we also wanted them to know their roots, they stand on the shoulders of giants and they need to know that part of the story too.

We come from the mill and mining towns of Lancashire, our forefathers were immigrants who came to build canals and railways and they gave blood sweat and tears to make Britain great in the Industrial revolution. They were working folk, the wives and women were brought up to be strong and steadfast. They men eked out an existence in the Pit or the factory and they found their strength and support in the Church, the Union or the Alehouse in no particular order. They lived loved and died amongst the bricks and the dirt, the smog and the soot, the dark dismal days of winter and the bracing breezes of brief summer days.

I wanted them to see the bricks, and feel the warmth of the hearts and souls who walked before them-whose existence they owe their own story and fortunes to. A year ago still feels like yesterday.

 

Image: Ancoats, Manchester. McConnel & Company’s mills, about 1820. From an old water-colour drawing of the period. Scanned from A Century of fine Cotton Spinning, 1790-1913. McConnel & Co. Ltd. Frontispiece. Scanned by Mr Stephen.

 

 

 

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