Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Tale of Cockle Hall (Part Two)

Freda didn’t have much more of a clue than we did about the hall’s actual whereabouts, although, after some investigation, we eventually decided that the pump, shown in the photograph below, most likely stood a few feet to the north of the entrance as seen in the smudge/old photograph in the first part of this article.

What might surprise a lot of people who’ve never seen the smudgy brown photograph before, is the size of the building. For a start it’s two stories high. Secondly it’s got an extension on the right hand side as viewed from the front. And on the left hand side there appears to be another low building edge onto the riverbank.
That’s because most people have probably seen the painting/photograph below (we’re not sure which it is…we’re informed it’s the former, but it’s photographic in quality, so who knows) taken sometime around the 1930s.

Looks like a bungalow, doesn’t it? That’s because it’s misleading. The two figures in the painting are posing in the field to the rear of the hall, which is actually on top of a bank. The hall’s first floor is below the viewer’s line of sight.
Anyhow, let’s have some of that history we mentioned. We went searching for any smidgeons we could muster, and discovered an article (or a book or something) on the Internet, written by Mary Welsh (we think…it all got a bit confusing) that informed us: “Cockle Hall was named after a great cockle bed in the nearby river. Because it was so remote the original tenant, the father of 13 children, described himself as the ‘only squire this side of the Wyre’. In 1989 the small site was developed and picnic tables added so that it could be enjoyed by those of limited mobility.”
We can add a bit more to that courtesy of Ralph Smedley’s ‘Thornton Cleveleys Remembered’ which says: “Alas, no carriage and pair ever swept up to the front door of Cockle Hall, no liveried retainer speeded the departing guests. Why it was ever called Cockle Hall I don’t know, but it was like an old farm worker’s cottage and it was bought by Thornton Cleveleys Council over thirty years ago and demolished.”
How old the building was, we just don’t know. Freda showed us some letters dati
ng from the late 19th century (circa 1896 if memory serves) when the Fleetwood Estate Company were purchasing the hall from Peter Hesketh. And the hall itself appears on the Ordnance Survey maps from the 1840s. Earlier than that we couldn’t say. We don’t even know if it was random build or brick, the only remains of the building nowadays forming a large bump in the middle of the path, a bit like the sort of bump that’s created when all the dust and rubbish in a living room is swept underneath the carpet.
There are the remains of an orchard to the south of the ruins, consisting mainly, it seems of plum trees. There are signs of coppicing amongst the trees occupying the steep bank behind the hall, the bank itself suggesting that, the original builders, dug into the hillside and used the earth removed to create a platform above the marsh on which to build.
But there you go; like we said, not much is known about its history. Being the naturally curious people what we are, we had a rummage around the few remaining bits of rubble and unearthed the following bits and pieces.

The fragment of fire-blackened brick tends to indicate that the chimney, if nothing else, was Victorian. We also found a shard of milk-bottle with part of the word ‘Carlton’ on it and the neck of a cider bottle, which we strongly suspect was added in more recent times.

Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable jaunt out, so cheers to Nathan and his Mum for giving up their Sunday afternoon for our guided tour and if anybody knows any more details about Cockle Hall then feel free to write to us at the usual address.


Andrew said...

'if it was random build or brick,'

What does random build mean?

Ozfemme said...

Tha were a right ripper of a story, Mr Hughes. Many thanks for that.

Ozfemme said...

Andrew, I think random build refers to the lack of uniformity of building materials. However, I would defer to Mr Hughes' knowledge of such matters because he's right clever and all.

Brian Hughes said...

Andrew, Bella is correct. 'Random build' means simply built out of any old random stuff that happens to be at hand. This could be bits of old wood, clay, cobbles, broken roof tiles, rocks, sandstone blocks nicked from some ruined monastry, roman hypercaust tiles, abandoned cross bases, the next door neighbour's patio, piano wire, hedgehogs, etc. It's the traditional building material for the Fylde and Wyre, 'cos we're cheapskate sods around these parts.

Jayne said...

A great read, I enjoyed it a lot :)

Brian Hughes said...


Not sure why...absolutely nothing happened in it. You're not a Harry Potter fan, are you?

Anonymous said...

Have info about pineapples! will see you soon

Brian Hughes said...

Okay...that's not something I hear every day, I must admit. I'm just guessing here, but would those pineapples be stone ones, and would that be Carol having knowledge of them?

sueglossy said...

Archaeological digs? Sounds exciting. I doubt you would be able to find a milk carton made by today's materials.

Jayne said...

Yes, Brian I am a Potter fan but Derrrr.
I was referring to the rounded out explanation of how such an itty bitty house became a hall (thought my eyesight was really off,couldn't see a massive "hall" in that brown splodge)and the associated people.

Aren't stone pineapples a symbol of welcome/ living the high life and Bacchus the god of wine?

Brian Hughes said...

"Archaeological digs? Sounds exciting."

They do sound exciting, Sue. Especially when there's bulls loose around the site. They sound very exciting then.


I suspect that 'hall' was one of those ironic titles such as 'Pleasant Street' in Blackpool, or 'Super' Shopper. As for the stone pineapples, they used to belong to Layton Hall, ended up at Stanley Park and then went missing. We've been trying to find them ever since. Well...we've got to have something to do at weekend.

Jayne said...

The stone pineapples will probably be found propping open a barn door, like the Helsinki sterling silver Olympic torch that was recently identified on a farm in Tasmania lol.

Brian Hughes said...


In my experience they're more likely to be found in the hands of some private dealer who obtained them 'totally legal like, guv'nor, 'onest."

John said...

Have you looked on eBay? Your stone pineapples could have been listed there, although you have to catch them at the right moment... eBay no longer shows listings for all eternity, so after a month, the evidence is gone.

Then again, there could be a guy in a long oddly bulky coat standing at the train station looking out for wealthy tourists?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...

"Then again, there could be a guy in a long oddly bulky coat standing at the train station looking out for wealthy tourists?"

I've seen him about...but it's not his pineapples that likes to show people.

Gavin Garth said...

Hi, my grandfather Ephraim Lawrenson was one of the children who made up the much quoted family of thirteen that lived at Cockle Hall. My mother was a keen amateur historian and knew more of their history than I recall but I do have all their names and my uncle could supply some more details if you would be interested.

Brian Hughes said...


Absolutely I'm interested! If you want to email me, my address is at the top of the right hand column on this page. Well, all right...the link to my email address is at the top...or very near the top...of the right hand column on this page. Just under Gary Thornton's telephone number.

Cheers muchly.