Friday, July 06, 2007

A Short History of Fleetwood Mount

The Mount, once known as the ‘Starr Hill’ (after the type of grass growing on it) and also as ‘Tup Hill’ (a name related to the activities of the sheep here belonging to Duelacres Abbey) was, originally, the highest of the sand dunes on Fleetwood peninsula. Because of this it became the central hub around which Decimus Burton (an architect best remembered for his stupid name) designed the fishing port. The single-storey lodge that stands to this day at the entrance gates was used by Burton for his office.
The hill, itself, is unnatural in shape, having been formed most likely by some sort of obstruction, such as a tree stump or a rock, around which wind-blown sand very gradually accumulated. As far as speculation goes, its history seems to have extremely ancient roots, with certain authorities, such as Thompson Watkin, believing it to have once been the site of a Roman watchtower, whilst others, such as Ben Edwards, reckon it might have been a Norman motte and bailey.
To the east of the Mount (although most people get confused by the bend in the Fleetwood peninsula at Rossall Point and believe that they’re looking north here) stands Bold Street, shown in the Edwardian photograph below. When Bold Street was being built several stone balls, possibly used in association with ancient stones querns, were discovered, adding speculation to the Mount’s ancient history.





The Mount Pavilion was originally constructed in a ‘Chinese Pagoda’ style, and was known as ‘Temple View’ for reasons best left to those who feel the necessity to give buildings names. It was replaced in 1902 by the infinitely more dalek-like present structure. Isaac Spencer presented the clock on the Pavilion’s roof to Fleetwood in 1919, as a memorial to those killed in World War I.


In the 1840s Peter Hesketh, Fleetwood’s visionary founding father, built a cobbled wall around the Mount, proclaiming exclusive rights to a footpath here. Predictably, founding father or not, a riot ensured, angry residents kicking part of the wall down and forcing Hesketh to relinquish control.
The roads of Fleetwood were originally marked out using a plough, in the fashion of spokes on a cartwheel (or, at least, half a cartwheel) using the Mount as their central point. Rumour has it (and we really ought to emphasis the word ‘rumour’ here) that, in the 1980s, a deep Roman well was discovered somewhere on the Mount’s slopes. Being considered as dangerous it was immediately filled with rubble and grassed over.
On slightly firmer historic ground, in 1945 a Wellington Bomber crashed into the sea in front of the Mount.





To the immediate west of the Mount stands the Mount Hotel (shown above) built in 1900 on the site previously occupied by the ‘White Houses’, a huddle of cottages dating back to the 1800s. Originally the ‘Town Yard’ in London Street stored ‘golden gravel’ borrowed from the beach, which was used for road surfacing. This practice of borrowing shingle from the shore, unfortunately, led to the destruction of Fleetwood’s natural sea defences resulting in the White Houses being destroyed by a huge wave in 1869.
An earlier incident involving the sea’s destructive powers is recorded by John Porter in his ‘History of the Fylde’, which reads: “The whole of the wall under the Mount, which had been brought to light by some gales in the previous November, after having been buried in the sand for long, was utterly demolished.” Exactly how ancient this wall was nobody has ever been able to determine, mainly because it only reappeared for a short while and the archaeologists were probably all arguing amongst themselves at the time. However, our suspicions at least, are that it was part of a mediaeval ram enclosure. In the thirteenth century, as already mentioned, Duelacres Abbey owned most of the peninsula, grazing their sheep here and, it’s reckoned that the abbot would often walk along the appropriately named Abbot’s Walk from Rossall Grange as far as the Mount before turning back. It’s probable that his prize rams were separated in a walled enclosure from the ewes here, hence the name Tup Hill.
In 1228 Henry the Third ordered the Sheriff of Lancaster not to interfere with the abbot’s sheep. Exactly what the sheriff was up to with Rossall’s ovine population we can only speculate…although, perhaps, not for too long.
By way of one last historical fact before we sign off, in the 1980s a young man, presumably suffering from depression, hanged himself from the Mount’s flagpole. Fleetwood has that effect on people.

4 comments:

John said...

Another excellent post!

I've always loved these areas where history lies on one spot like a blt, or perhaps a Dagwood, sandwich.

Reminds me of a Clifford D. Simak story where a historian, with a time viewer, studied one acre of land throughout the millenia. He said that most of it was watching the grass grow, but he did have a bit of excitement when a murder occured just outside his acre, but the murderer actually ran through a corner of it.

Of course, he should have chosen a better acre, such as any of the many wonders of the Wyre and Fylde.


PS Why aren't people joining the fabulous discussions at your message board? I as online the other day, and saw that people were coming and going, but none took the time to write.

Too bad, really, since they might have something good to contribute if they'd only take a moment.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...

John,

I honestly don't know why people aren't starting debates, asking questions, posting photographs or joining in discussions over at the forum but, unfortunately, I can't force 'em. (There's something in the law books about 'horses and water and drinking' I think.) It would be more entertaining, I'm sure, if a few more visitors dropped by to sell hello, criticise, tell us something new, remind us of something old etc. Er...not that I'm saying your contributions aren't up to much...it's just that, obviously, the more the merrier and all that. (Did I manage to rescue my foot from my throat then?) Perhaps I'd better get some coffee inside me and wake up properly.

Brian

n.b. The link to the forum is in the right hand side bar of the main page of this web site.

Brian Hughes said...

p.s. The fact that, as I've just realised, the forum goes down for maintainance every day when America wakes up and Britain goes to bed, might have something to do with it. Hopefully the great and the good who run the forum site will have finished pratting around with the server soon and then thousands of eager posters will come pouring in with their fascinating debates...

er...yes...

Caroline said...

I think you are wrong about the suicide at the Mount. I had a school friend who lived in the houses that back onto the Memorial Park and someone in her family was traumatised by finding a young man who had hung himself from a tree. Unless it was an epidemic of similar events, which is quite possible.