Thursday, 21 November 2013

LYTHAM ST ANNES



There are actually two main communities occupying the stretch of coast between Blackpool and the Ribble Estuary, an area which has been inhabited since the Bronze Age: Lytham and St-Anne's-on-the-Sea.  Tourism came to the area with the advent of recreational opportunities for the workers of the nearby mill towns, and thus the two settlements gradually melded into one resort, commonly known as Lytham St Annes.  The resort is best known for its golf, with four courses in all.  One of these, the Royal Lytham & St Anne's Golf Club, founded in 1886, has hosted many important tournaments over the years, including 10 Opens and 2 Ryder Cups.  The Walker Cup is due to be held there in 2015. 

The main feature of Lytham's seafront is The Green, a strip of grass between the main road and the shore.  If strolling along The Green for the first time, you could be forgiven for thinking you had been flung across the country to Norfolk, as one of the most prominent sights you are greeted with is The Windmill, a handsome whitewash building, built in 1805 and restored in 1989.  The windmill houses a seasonal museum telling the history of mills and milling.  Next door is the Lifeboat Museum - also seasonal - housed in the Old Lifeboat House.  The views from the seafront are lovely, taking in the mountains of North Wales.  In the gardens next to the pier is a statue of Les Dawson, the late comedian, who lived in the town.  Another comedian who was resident in the town was the late George Formby, while Roy Walker, originally from Northern Ireland, currently lives there.  On the outskirts of town is Lytham Hall, the family seat of the local Clifton family until 1979.  The grounds are occasionally used for open-air concerts and plays.

St-Anne's-on-the-Sea started out as a 19th century planned town, from a plan drawn up by businessman Eliljah Hargreaves, aimed at attracting visitors from the mill towns.  It is a traditional resort with a sandy beach, donkey rides and a small pier.  There is also a nature reserve occupying an area of sand dunes.  One piece of trivia associated with St-Anne's-on-Sea is that it was the original home of the Premium Bonds and ERNIE, the machine that decides who is going to be rich and who isn't by generating the random numbers of the winning bonds.  The operation moved to larger premises in Blackpool in the late 1990s.

There is a third area between Lytham and St Anne's called Fairhaven, which has a wildfowl reserve at Ashton Marine Park, aka Fairhaven Lake.  There is also an RSPB Visitor Centre dispensing information about the birds of the area.  The Ribble Estuary, meanwhile, is an important habitat for waders.  

For a list of events in Lytham St Annes see here.  

Map of the area.

File:Windmill, Lytham - DSC07143.JPG
Photo by Green Lane, via Wikimedia Commons

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