Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Fylde’s Original Promenade: Part Two

At the end of last week’s posting we claimed, somewhat annoyingly perhaps considering that we ended the article abruptly immediately afterwards, that we had evidences for a Roman military coastal route leaving Dowbridge Fort in Kirkham by its western exit, heading off via Wrea Green to St. Anne’s before turning north and circumnavigating the coast towards Fleetwood.
So let’s have the evidence then, shall we? In 1893 the Manchester Guardian reported the discovery by workmen laying a new drain near St. Anne’s Road West, of the remains of a Roman road lying some twelve and a half feet below the present road. It measured thirteen feet across and consisted of split stones laid in cement, eighteen inches thick. It was running east/west towards the seafront.


The photograph of St. Anne’s Road West above is actually an Edwardian postcard, courtesy of Phil Barker from Rossallbeach.co.uk (see the link in the right hand panel).
Okay…before we go any further we’d now better journey north to the Fleetwood peninsula where we can pick up physical evidences for the other end of the road.
Famously, in 1840 near Rossall Point a roman coin horde was discovered in the sand close to a ‘large, paved platform’. The coins are now kept in the Harris museum (although not on display, we should add…you have to ask the curators very nicely in order to see them). William Thornber believed the platform to be of Roman construction although, unfortunately, it was: “…destroyed, for the sake of its materials.” He went on to add that: “At this spot I have heard old people speak of the ruins of a rude, thick-walled circular building, round which it was uncanny to sport.”
The building was, in all probability, a Roman watchtower and, as might be expected, a conjectured highway ran close by. This road originally followed the line of Poulton Road to the mouth of Fleetwood harbour, crossed the Wyre by Min End ford (which, incidentally, was described by Captain Denham before its destruction as being of Roman origin and constructed from red sandstone blocks…remarkably similar, in fact, to the floor at Dowbridge fort) and headed to the base of Preesall Hill. (Preesall Hill, incidentally, has also produced at least three fourth century coin hordes and, according to William Thornber and John Just, originally showed signs of housing another Roman fort.)
Because all of that might sound a bit confusing for those not terribly familiar with the area, we’ve included the map below.


En route the road passed by the site of another coin horde and a suspected Roman building now lying beneath Knott End golf course. (For a more detailed assessment of all this, we recommend that you buy a copy of ‘The History of the Wyre from Harold the Elk to Cardinal Allen’; excellent value at only £9.95 from most leading bookstores. Alternatively you can purchase a copy on line by following the link in the right hand side bar.)
So, two potential Roman roads, both heading without apparent purpose into the Irish Sea, one at either end of the Fylde Coast. It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to join them together. Two thousand years ago the area we’d recognise nowadays as the beach would have been solid land. It was long ago destroyed through erosion.
But again we’re short on space…so perhaps we’d better leave the next section of this article, in which we provide evidences for the road that originally ran along Blackpool cliffs, until next week.

8 comments:

Martyn said...

Why wait a week ? :-)

Brian Hughes said...

Martyn,

Because if I put the third part up now, then I'll have to put the fourth part up the week after. And sooner or later (well, sooner rather than later) I'll be short of a posting, which means I'll have to sit down and write an extra one. Being naturally lazy, this isn't really an option.

Bwca said...

... so there's a golf course over one road,
and another road 12 feet above the first.

That build-up would be all the earth that used to be that 'solid-land' then?

et voila! Beachfront property!

Brian Hughes said...

Bwca,

Don't mention seafront property round here...not with Wyre Borough Council threatening to build a block on flats on Fleetwood's Edwardian seafront. "People'll pay out a small fortune for a view across Morecambe Bay like that." Yes...unfortunately the houses behind the designated plot, bought for a small fortune at the time, already had a view of Morecambe Bay like that. A view that'll be destroyed thus ruining the property prices if and when the new flats are built.

Sorry...got nothing to do with your comment, or indeed the post...just slipped into Evening Gazette Letters Page mode for a moment there.

JahTeh said...

I see what you mean about the coin hoards, kick the things up everywhere. I'm a bit late getting here, I was watching TimeTeam. Our ABC are years behind and don't seem to worry about putting the episodes in order so it's a bit disconcerting to have Baldrick aging and youthening from week to week.

Brian Hughes said...

Jahteh,

'Youthening'...is that an actual word? If it isn't, it ought to be.

Look out for those early (and in my opinion more enjoyable) episodes of Time Team (the ones where Baldric actually has hair down to his shoulders as opposed to a tonsor spanning a similar distance) because one of them's set in Ribchester.

That was about it for Lancashire, apart from the time they dug up an American plane on the banks of the Ribble about 15 years later, which doesn't really count.

We've been trying to get them back ever since, but true to form all they ever cover nowadays are 6 episodes around Bristol a year, 2 in London, 1 in Yorkshire, 1 in the Outer Hebrides and 2 abroad. This just about runs the gamut of British History according to the parochial, narrow minded television executives. No wonder their viewing figures are spiralling ever downwards.

JahTeh said...

I saw the one with the American plane. I usually check out Phil's feather in his hat, it's either pristine or moth-eaten.

Of course 'youthen' is a word, Merlin used it in 'Camelot' and you couldn't get anything more youthening than Sedgwick's brain.

Brian Hughes said...

Jahteh,

You can also tell which series they're on by the size of the grease stain on Phil Harding's hat, as well as by Mick Aston's girth, which increases as time rolls by until the multi-coloured stripes on his sweater end up resembling a massive mint humbug.

As for Sedgwick's brain, it's not so much 'youthening' as 'seniling'.