Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Photographic Delve into the Past

One of the advantages of modern technology (and despite what some of our more old fashioned local antiquarians reckon, modern technology does have certain advantages) is that people can scan in photographs and send them directly to us by e-mail. Which is exactly what happened in the case of the photograph below, courtesy of Audrey Baker:

Readers might have some difficulty recognising the location (especially our American and Australian readers I suspect -- but even those readers who’ve inhabited these parochial regions for years and believe they might know every square inch of the Fylde and Wyre will probably still have difficulty placing it). That’s because the house occupying the right hand side of the photograph no longer exists. We’ll let Mrs Baker explain:
“The first of the cottages is taken from the side of the cottage that the Dooney's lived in and the one on the other side is the one that I lived in with my parents, Alfred and May Roe, and my sisters. Springfield Terrace is in the background.”
Any the wiser yet? We’ll give you a clue -- it’s the northwest corner of the Bourne Hall estate, next to Springfield Terrace on the patch of ground separated nowadays from said terrace by Burglars’ Lane/Alley (delete where appropriate).
That was too big a clue, wasn’t it?
Not to worry, at least you should know where we are now (apart from our Australian and American readers, of course, but that’s just tuff I’m afraid). Mrs Baker can take up the story again:
“Frances Dooney is in the picture in front of the Dooney cottage with her fiancĂ© Michael Shepherd. They married and went to Australia more than 40 years ago and I am still in touch with them. They are now in their seventies…A few years ago I contacted Tom Bond from Thornton, and he remembers the cottages very well and is quite sure that they were gamekeepers’ cottages. He used to deliver milk with Frank Dooney many years ago when there were very few houses around.”
Gamekeepers’ cottages, eh? Now there’s a bit of Bourne Hall’s history that we didn’t know about, and we thought that we knew just about everything connected with the place. Naturally we decided to check this theory out.
The cottages appear to be included on the 1950’s Ordnance Survey map (at least something is…so it’s probably them) but not on the first edition Ordnance Survey map, which probably places their construction somewhere between the late Victorian and the early Edwardian period.
Now let’s turn to an article entitled ‘A Vast Land Sale’ written by the late, great Ralph Smedley, who informs us: “(In 1904) The Fleetwood Estate Company bought from Messrs Horrocks of Preston, the famous textile firm, what had previously been called the Thornton Estate.”
This estate, effectively, started at Broadwater, ran all the way to Victoria Road (at the time called Ramper Road) and included Bourne Hall (or Burn Hall as it was known back then).
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The bit that we’re interested in is the Horrocks family, who, as Ralph Smedley informs us: “…used the Thornton Estate chiefly for hunting and shooting and the near the centre of the Thornton Estate was a hunting lodge named the Towers.”
Now, if anyone can remember far enough back to an article that we wrote long, long ago about the sundial at Bourne Hall ending up in the Towers, acting nowadays as a bird table by one of the ponds (yes, we have covered an eclectic mix of topics in our time) then this would be about the right period (during the sale of the estate that is) for that particular move to have taken place. (If you see what we mean?)
It would also be about the right period (late Victorian, early Edwardian) for the cottages in the photograph to have been built to house the Thornton Estate gamekeepers.
So the theory certainly holds water.
Right…our second photograph (also courtesy of Mrs Baker) shows Thornton Gala circa 1912.

Old photographs like this are brilliant, aren’t they, if only for the tons of social history crammed into them? We’re not sure where the photograph was taken (somewhere in Thornton presumably) because Thornton’s full of winding lanes exactly like this one, but I can’t help thinking that it might be Meadows Avenue, for some unfathomable reason that I can’t explain.
Whatever the case, Mrs Baker also provided us with the following bit of information (for which we’re extremely grateful, otherwise this would have been a much shorter article):
“The other picture is of Thornton Gala and the young man holding the horse is my father, Alfred Roe, born 1897. The man in the trilby in the centre of the picture is my grandfather, William Roe.”
We’re going to leave these photographs at that I think (mainly because we haven’t really got anything else to add) so I’d better mention a quick thanks to Mrs Baker for sending them to us before I move on.
The third and final photograph for this article (after all, we don’t want to over-excite our readers) was kindly donated to us by an anonymous visitor to Fleetwood library who, having left said photograph by the side of the photocopier and gone off shopping or something, gave us free reign (although not necessarily his/her permission) to quickly copy it, slide it back under the book where it had been quietly resting, and then stroll away whistling nonchalantly.
This is the sort of old photograph that just goes to show, some places get better with age:

Believe it or not, this is Skippool Creek, and if you’re wondering what that building is on the left, that’s the now long since demolished Tomlinson’s Mill. To be honest, despite its name, it wasn’t actually a mill at all. It was (as we’re informed by another excellent and informative booklet entitled ‘Skippool, old port of Poulton le Fylde’ by Graham Evans): “…two or three large wooden buildings on stakes, being entirely surrounded by water at high tide, used as an Animal Feeds warehouse.”
In the 1920s, apparently, the building fell into disuse but, true to the entrepreneurial spirit of little old Lancashire ladies, was run as a Tea House by a certain Mrs Mac. (See Shirley...I said I had a photograph of it, didn't I?)
All of which is just about enough for one article, don’t you think?


Anonymous said...

thanks Brian fond memories of stewed tea and musty biscuits and an experience on the over water loo with gaping floorboards. Sometimes at high tide we had to abandon ship (cafe) as the water crept in over the tide washed carpets. All the fun of the fifties..How about a pic of windy harbour another Sunday jaunt in our old car nicknamed Hoppy as it could manouver hills with great dexteritory (an Austin Ruby wound up with a key!!!) see thy inth' mill later

Andrew said...

Not sure why you would imagine you have any Australian readers. Why would they be interested in Fields and Wire? I don't know the Shepherds, but I will ask folk on the tram to work tomorrow morning. I'm sure someone will know them.

John said...

The photos are great! It's funny how events can be so unrecognizable inlater years. I would have thought that was a wedding going on in the third pic. And if trying to identify the location, perhaps that iron fence at left can give a clue?

As for the last photo, it's odd thta feed would be stored over the water, where it might go bad or start to grow, but then again, it would be harder for rodents and other little beggars to get to it. I just hope they cleaned it out real good before they opened the tea shop!

Old photos are great. More please!

JOHN :0)

Anonymous said...

I think it A Mr Grimes ran that Cafe (he was in a wheel Chair I knew Him, His Wife and Mr & Mrs MC crelann very well, who lived they lived inthe end house across the rd sold ice cream cigarettes sweeta in the end house her was the Creeks and bread & milk for theweekend boat owners,Master,
Old Mac had 2 motor boats EX life boats Used to run to the the Cafe at Stanah Via Wardleys in summer, I used to run one of them for him when it was busy, at that time 1947/1948 used to live on a house boat opposite river house

Happy days

an old un said...

Addition the Black building was used By Robin Blackledge after WW2 as a ships Chandler and sailmaker

James said...

Re; the above post Acredited to Anomynous is My postI apologise asI'm known as anomynous on another site,
I'll have another go at deciphe ring my first effort,The Cafe across the Creek was owned and run by Mr Grimes and his wife,Mr & Mrs Mac( Maclelon live across the road in the end house, know them since the 1930s She sold ice Cream Gigarettes, sweets bread milkl and the boatowners got their fresh water from there, i think you had to pay a mooring fee of £3 per year to qualify. Mr Mac was "The Creek Master" in summer he ran 2 pleasure boats to the Stanah Cafe Via wardleys I used to run one of them for him when it was busy,I lived on a housboat opposite THE River House From 1947/1949 so I new them well.
The black building next to the cafe was a ships chandler and sail maker run by Robin Blackledge

hope this helps

Brian Hughes said...


(I know that's you, even if you are signed in under Anonymous)...we had a smashin' mornin' int' mill wi' thee! The hearts-on-springs headgear really suited you. I only wish we could have stayed longer, know how it is...Valentine's day and rolling pins and stuff. We shall return in search of that tunnel as soon as we can. And thanks for showing us round. It were reet grand.


What with all those sheep you've got in Oz, I'm surprised that you don't know quite a lot of shepherds.


"I would have thought that was a wedding going on in the third pic."'s definitely Skippool Creek. More old photos to follow at some point. There's plenty of 'em on my hard drive.

James, (Anonymous II and an Old Un -- presumably you're all three at once, although if I've got that wrong, many humble apologies. It's been a long day...)

I wish I'd talked to you before I wrote the article. It would have been twice as big. Thanks for the info! It'll come in handy next time I write something about Skippool Creek, I'm sure.

Jayne said...

That top pic is impressive - did they import the tree growing out of Mrs Shepherds head to Oz, too?

2nd pic - for a gala they look awfully glum.
Castor oil day, again?

3rd reminds me of Mordialloc Creek...which is obviously busier these days than Skippool Creek in the past...and doesn't boast a tea rooms perched above high tide...unless you count the seagulls swooping off with hot chippies.

WV=porki subtle reminder for me to go on a diet?!

Anonymous said...

The last photo is my favourite; it has a sort of atmosphere - like the one you'd get in a Dr. Who episode involving the Sea Devils.

And I still see that Britain's reputation for having little in the way of suburban greenery persists unmodified by photoshop.

Brian Hughes said...


Re first picture: No. That'd be another branch of the family.

Re second picture: You've obviously never been to Thornton Gala.

Re third picture: Whatever you do, don't put vinegar on those chips...not unless you want exploded seagull all over your head.


Skippool Creek looks completely different nowadays. Lots more trees and stuff. Less buildings on stilts with bums hanging out of holes in the floor.

Anonymous said...

You should, perhaps, have done a 'now and then' comparison.

Brian Hughes said...

Reuben...I might just do that at some point. It'll mean having to go down to Skippool to take some photographs first though...and what with me suffering from boneidleitus, it might be some time yet.

james.scott said...

There used to be a foot path from Silcocks Cottages on Underbank on the fields above BlueBell Wood, used by the Silcocks Bone Mill workers who lived in the cottages,

Brian Hughes said...


I know where Silcocks Cottages are (just down the road from my sister's house actually), but I've never heard of Bluebell Wood. Whereabouts is that?

james.scott said...

Theres another set of Silcocks cottages older than those on Lambs Hill on Underbank Rd,Russell Forsyth lives in one, Dr Lluellen lives or lived in another as did a Mrs Taylor her husband (sadly no longer with us )Managed Silcocks Pedigree Pig Farm (its now Adams Stables),Silcocks workers from the Bone Mill and later Thornton Hall Farm lived there and made their way to work in the fields above Blue Bell Wood.Sadly its now mostly eroded,by the high tides.I dont know if you know this the owners of the land that abuts the river also own the river to mean high water,My cousin owns the stretch from the style at wardleys ferry to the junction with Underbank Rd,

Brian Hughes said...


The stile at Wardley's Ferry...that'd be the cuttings near the Yacht Club, I assume, otherwise known as Bulker, where the old ford once ran? Roman cuttings them. I wonder if your cousin would mind having a few archaeoligists ferretting around.

james.scott said...

No its the other end of the river, opposite Wardleys theres a Public FootPath starts in the field opposite Stanah Hill Farm House , just past Adams Stables on Underbank theres a sign post by the style comes out at the the end
of Wyre Wild Life Park The old jetty is still there,I've had a word with my cousin and she said its Ok ,Shedose'nt live at the farm her son does iof he askes just tell hom his mother Elsie Swift, gave her permission.

good Luck

Brian Hughes said...


That'd be the footpath in the photograph of the latest post then. The extremely ancient one over the top of Stanah Hill?