Postcards of Morecambe

Warwick's Revolving Tower

Thomas Warwick, an English engineer and founder of Warwick’s Revolving Tower Company, brought the licence for constructing revolving tower in the UK from the Revolving Observation Tower Patent Syndicate after having seen the world’s first such tower, which was opened in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the USA. The latticework steel frame of the tower stood approximately 150 feet tall and the moving observation platform, which could accommodate up to around 200 people, was raised via a steel cable using a combination of steam power and weights.

Towers were built in various locations, including Great Yarmouth, Scarborough, Cleethorpes and Douglas in the Isle of Man, in a bid to capitalise on the rapidly increasing popularity of seaside resorts.

The Morecambe Revolving Tower was opened on 30 June 1898 and, although initially popular, proved to be a short-lived fad – following the failure of Warwick’s Revolving Tower Company, the Morecambe Tower closed and was demolished in 1902.

The pavilion at the base of the Tower survived the demolition and was converted first into a skating rink, then a dance hall, before operating as the Whitehall Cinema between 1913 and 1955. It was then converted into a bingo hall and then a J. Tussaud’s Waxwork exhibition between 1988 and 1993. From 1993 it housed the Megazone laser game show, before finally being demolished in 2016 having been extensively damaged by fire on 12 June 2014.

Morecambe Tower

Occupying the site of what is now Gala Bingo on Marine Road East, the 232ft high Tower was constructed in 1898 as a rival to Blackpool Tower. However, economic constraints meant that the original design was never fully completed and it was demolished at the start of World War I, with the Tower’s steel being used to make munitions.

The Tower Pavilion

Originally located at the base of Morecambe Tower, the Morecambe Pavilion, which opened in 1902, was variously used to house a casino, dancehall, theatre and cinema. Renamed the Gaumont after World War II, it was eventually demolished in 1959.

Poulton Hall

Poulton Hall, the mediaeval manor house of Poulton-le-Sands, stood on the site of what is now Poulton Square. The oldest parts of the Hall were thought to date from the 12th century, although it is thought that the original manor house underwent subsequent rebuilding. During the 16th century, Poulton Hall was owned by George Washington’s direct ancestors, but by the early 20th century the Hall was owned by Mr William Tilly. The Hall itself was demolished in 1932 and was replaced by an open public space. The only remnant of the Hall is a stone archway, which probably dates to the 14th century and which is now Grade II listed.

Morecambe Town Hall

Planning for the building of Morecambe Town Hall began in 1930, when funds for its construction were made available from the Unemployment Grants Committee. The building was designed by Borough Engineer P.W. Ladmore, with the Classical, 18th-century-style façade being designed by Alfred Cross, his son, Kenneth Cross and C. Sutton. The foundation stone was laid on 12th August 1931 by the then Mayor, Councillor J.S. Cottingley J.P., with the official opening of the building taking place on 7 June 1932. The final cost of the project was over £40,000. The Town Hall is now Grade II listed

Holy Trinity Church, Morecambe

The parish church for Morecambe, Holy Trinity Church in Church Street, a Victorian-era building that was erected on the site of the previous church, which dated from 1745. The existing building, which was designed by architect Edmund Sharpe and built at a cost of £1,288, was consecrated on 15 June 1841. Expansion of the church saw the construction of a south aisle, built in 1866 to a design by E.G. Paley, and a chancel, organ chamber and vestries, designed by Austin and Paley, in 1897. It is now a Grade II listed building.

Holy Trinity Church, Bolton-le-Sands

Although the oldest parts of the current building, the tower and north arcade, only date from the late 15th century, a church has stood on the site of Holy Trinity – formerly St Michael’s - Church since at least 1094. Considerable renovation work was undertaken during the 19th century; the chancel, designed by Sharpe and Paley, dates from 1847 and further restoration work was undertaken by E.G. Paley in 1863-64. Austin and Paley made further alterations, including the widening of the north aisle, adding a vestry, pulpit, porch and font. Apart from the ashlar sandstone tower, the exterior of the church is constructed of rubble. It is now a Grade II* listed building.

The Central Pier

Located opposite the Queen’s Hotel just to the north of the Clock Tower in Marine Road Central, construction of the Central Pier was begun in 1868 by the Morecambe Pier Company and was reported in the Manchester Times as follows; “the length will be 950ft and the general width 20ft. At the entrance the width will be about 40ft, and here a refreshment room and offices will be erected. At intervals there will be recesses, where sitting accommodation will be provided; and at the pier head – which will be 130ft long and 40ft in width – there will be refreshment and retiring rooms, and facilities to enable visitors to get on board boats and steamers. The pier is the property of the company, and the cost will be £ 9,000 or £ 10,000.” The pier was opened on 25th March 1869, although the Bradford Observer noted the following day that “it is not yet finished; but when it is so, it will be brilliantly lighted with gas”.

An ornate pavilion was constructed during 1897/98, which was referred to locally as ‘the Taj Mahal of the North’, could accommodate over 1,100 people. On 31st July 1933 the original pavilion was destroyed by fire which started in the paint shop and caused an estimated £60,000 damages. In addition to the pavilion, the fire destroyed a skating rink, the ballroom, cafés and eight shops. The fire, which was first reported at about 5.30pm, had completed gutted the Pier by 7.00pm; in spite of three fire appliances from both Morecambe and Lancaster and a fire boat attending the fire, the prevailing 60-mile an hour winds mean that the blaze could not be contained and, indeed, sparks blown on to houses along the promenade caused minor fires in Eidsforth Terrace, Beecham Street, Clark Street and Main Street. The fire was eventually extinguished at 2.30am, by which point only about 70 yards of the Pier adjacent to the promenade remained.

Within days of the fire, work had commenced on temporary repairs, with an open air dance floor and a bandstand being opened less than a week after the fire occurred. More permanent structures were eventually constructed, with a new 2,000 seat art deco-style pavilion and café opening on 16th July 1936.

Pier deteriorated in condition and was declared structurally unsafe in 1986, its condition further deteriorating following fires in the amusement arcade in 1987 and ballroom in 1991. It was eventually demolished in 1992.

West End Pier

Located on Marine Road West at the junction of Regent Road, the West End Pier was built by the Morecambe (Regent Road West End) Pier Company. Construction of West End Pier by the Widnes Foundry Company started in March 1893 to designs drafted by Messrs Magnall and Littlewoods of Manchester. The initial phase of construction was completed in 1896, with the official opening by the local MP, Colonel Forster, took place on Easter Monday 1896. At this point, the pier measured about 1,000ft long and 36ft wide: construction costs were estimated to be about £24,000. The pavilion could accommodate around 2,000 people on the ground floor, with further space available around the galleries. Decorated by A.R. Dean Limited of Birmingham at a cost of over £1,000, the interior of the pavilion had walls that, according to The Era of 10 April 1897 “have been panelled and covered in “Anaglypta”, painted in various shades and numerous mirrors have been introduced. The large dome is painted to represent the celestial regions, in which several cupids are seen disporting themselves; and the ceiling – set out with various panels – is beautifully decorated with figured medallions and named scrolls, framed in elaborate raised plaster work. The iron columns have been treated excellently, capitals heavily gilt being added, and the main pillar has been covered with a bold design in gold on a crimson background…The Pavilion is generally admitted by those who have seen it to be one of the most artistically and elaborately decorated buildings of the kind in the country.”

Following the construction of an extension in 1898, the Pier stood a total of 1800 feet in length. However, a severe storm on 27th February 1903 breached the extension in two places and the decision was taken to abandon it. This effectively prevented the Company’s steamer, Lady North, from sailing from the West End Pier, so she commenced sailing from the Central Pier instead. On 17th March 1907, a second storm washed a further 180 feet of the Pier away. The Pier’s pavilion was then destroyed by fire on 31st May 1917 and a further storm on 18th October 1927 reduced its overall length to just 900 feet. On 11th November 1977, yet another storm resulted in the destruction of over 300 feet of the central section of the Pier and, as repair costs were prohibitive, the Pier was finally demolished in 1978.

Winter Gardens

The Winter Gardens can be found on Marine Road Central. The oldest part of the Winter Gardens complex, which was originally known as the People’s Palace and Aquaria, was built in 1878, with an extension, originally named the Victoria Pavilion Theatre, being constructed in 1897. That same year the People’s Palace was renamed the Oriental Ballroom. In 1908, the buildings were renamed once again, this time becoming the Empress Ballroom and King’s Pavilion. The theatre was declared a Grade II* listed building in 1977, but declining profits resulted in its closure the same year with the Ballroom being demolished in 1982.

The Clock Tower

The Clock Tower, which is located on Marine Road Central, is built of red brick and sandstone. It was donated to the town in 1905 by John Robert Birkett Esq JP, who was mayor of the town between 1903 to 1906, and designed by Cressey and Keighley, Architects. It was declared a Grade II listed building in 1993.

The War Memorial

Morecambe War Memorial, which was unveiled in 1921, is of granite topped with the bronze statue of a lion. It is Grade II listed.

The Alhambra Palace Theatre

The Alhambra Palace Theatre, which stands on the corner of Marine Road West and Regent Road, was built in 1901. The ground floor of the building was occupied by a market and shops, with the music hall being located on the first floor. It originally began screening films in 1910 and was eventually renamed the Astoria Super Cinema in the 1920s. Closed for the duration of World War II, the building was reopened as the Alhambra Palace Theatre in 1946. In 1960, the Alhambra was used as the location for the filming of the theatre scenes for ‘The Entertainer’, which starred Laurence Olivier. Following a fire, the Theatre was closed in 1970, but reopened in as a disco and, eventually, as the Alhambra Leisure Centre, an amusement arcade. The ground floor is now occupied by antique shops.

Stone Jetty

The Stone Jetty, which was constructed in 1851 by the Morecambe Bay Harbour Company, originally formed one half of the Harbour complex and including both a station (now used as a café) and a lighthouse. The jetty was intended to facilitate the transportation of iron from Glasgow and cattle from Ireland. The North Western railway, which had opened the Morecambe-Skipton line in 1848, opened an extension of the line with a station on the Stone Jetty that connected with the steam ship service to Ireland. In 1861, the Stone Jetty was also connected to the Hest Bank-Lancaster-Carlisle line. By 1896, two routes – to Dublin and to Londonderry – were operating out of Morecambe.

However, the Midland Railway, which had taken over the North Western railway in 1871, argued that the silting up of the waters around the Stone Jetty resulted in serious delays to the services using the Jetty. That, coupled with the increase of the volume of goods being transported – especially in cattle and grain – made the Jetty no longer suitable for purpose. This resulted in plans to build a new harbour at Heysham, which was first proposed in 1896.

The Stone Jetty became largely redundant when Heysham Harbour was eventually opened in 1904. It was then leased to Messrs T.W. Ward of Sheffield for use as a shipbreaking yard from 1905 to 1932. Ward’s operations on the Stone Jetty were ended when it was acquired from London, Midland and Scottish Railway by Morecambe Council. Once under Council ownership, it was redeveloped for leisure use, and incorporated a paddling pool and a café in the former station building to augment the bandstand and open-air swimming pool that were built on the adjacent section of the promenade. The Stone Jetty was rebuilt and extended in 1994/95, incorporating the TERN art project of bird sculptures by Gordon Young and refurbishment of the café and Grade II listed lighthouse.

North Western Hotel / Old Midland Hotel

The North Western Hotel was built in 1847/48 for the North Western Railway Company to a design by Lancaster architects Paley and Austin. When this railway company was incorporated into the Midland Railway Company in 1871 the Hotel was renamed as the Midland Hotel. It was demolished in 1932 to allow for the building of the current Grade II listed art deco building under the ownership of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

Midland Hotel

The Midland Hotel is an imposing Art Deco building built on the site of the Old Midland Hotel by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Designed by Oliver Hill, the building is curvilinear in shape and is three here stories in height, with a central, cylindrical tower. It was notable for the Triton medallion and the sculpture ‘Odysseus welcomed from the sea by Nausicaa’, created by Eric Gill, who also designed the map of the Lake District and Lancashire coastline inscribed into the wall in the Eric Gill Suite. The hotel originally also contained murals by Eric Ravilious, but these have been lost. Opened on 12 July 1933, the hotel rapidly became a fashionable retreat for the rich and famous, with visitors including Coco Chanel, Noël Coward, Lawrence Olivier and Trevor Howard. Although neglected from the 1970s, the hotel has recently been refurbished to its former condition. It is a Grade II* listed building.

Morecambe Promenade Railway Station

The first railway to serve Morecambe was constructed by the Morecambe Harbour and Railway Company (MHR) in 1848, with the station being located at Northumberland Street. The MHR amalgamated with the North Western Railway (NWR), which was then taken over by Midland Railways in 1874.

The old Northumberland Street station was replaced by Morecambe Promenade railway station, which was built, using stone recycled from the old station, by the Midland Railway Company and opened on 24th March 1907. Services from the station went to east Bradford / Leeds and south to Heysham to connect with steamers from Ireland. Eventually closed in 1994, the station buildings now form the Platform Arts Centre, which opened in 1997 and hosts a variety of music and entertainment events.

Morecambe Euston Road Station

The London and North Western Railway (LNWR) built its own branch line to compete with the Midland Railway service. This branch line connected with the LNWR services via Hest Bank and Bare Lane south to Preston/London and north to Carlisle/western Scotland. The first LNWR service station, which opened in 1870, was located at Poulton Lane. However, this was replaced by a more substantial station at Euston Road, which opened as Morecambe station on 9th May 1886. It was renamed Morecambe Euston Road on 2nd June 1924. Services were curtailed and from 15th September 1958 Morecambe Euston Road station offered only summer excursion, before eventually ceasing to operate on 9th September 1963.

Hest Bank Station

Hest Bank station was built by the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway in 1846 and was leased by the London and North Western Railway in 1859. It was the LNWR that constructed the branch line running from Hest Bank through Bare Lane and on to Morecambe, which opened in 1864. The station finally closed on 3rd February 1969 and, although the station buildings have been demolished, the crossing keeper’s cottage and footbridge over the tracks still remain.

Bare Lane Station

Bare Lane Station, which opened in 1864, was built by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR). It stands on the Hest Bank to Morecambe branch line, which connected services from Preston / London in the south and Scotland in the north to Morecambe, initially at Poulton Lane station and, later, at Euston Road station. The signal box opposite the main station buildings controlled the immediately adjacent level crossing on Bare Lane.

Morecambe Tramways Company

The Morecambe Tramway Act was passed by parliament on 4 June 1886 and paved the way for allowing the Morecambe Tramway Company’s to widen roads in Morecambe and Lancaster and lay tracks ready for the introduction of its horse drawn tram service on 3 June 1887. The initial service ran for approximately 1.25 miles between the Central Pier and Morecambe Battery, but a service to Strawberry Gardens, Heysham was introduced on 19 May 1888, with a further extension to Rossendale Avenue being constructed in 1893. A further extension, this time to the north, led to the introduction of a service to Elms Road, Bare in 1898.

In 1909, the Morecambe Corporation took over the running of the services between the Battery and Bare. The final horse drawn service to run in Morecambe – and, indeed, the English mainland – ran in October 1926, when Jack Birch drove a tram pulled by Adam and Eve to Bare and back to the Battery where the Mayor at the time, Alderman Gorton, marked the end of the service with a speech.

The Morecambe Tramway Company continued to operate a service between the Battery and Strawberry Gardens and, following adaptations to the rails, introducing the first petrol trams to operate in England along this route on 15 January 1912. These had to be converted to run using gas due to petrol shortages during World War I. The final tram to be operated by the Morecambe Tramway Company ran on 24 October 1924.

Lancaster and District Tramway Company

The Lancaster and District Tramway Company operated horse-drawn tram service along a route that ran between a terminus in Stonewell, Lancaster, via Skerton Bridge, Scale Hall Lane, Torrisholme, Lancaster Road and Euston Road before terminating in Market Street. The first service ran on 2 August 1890 and, although initially successful, the company was heavily reliant on the tourist trade and began to struggle financially after World War I – its final tram ran on 31 December 1921.

Bare Hall, Bare Lane, Bare

Bare Hall, which is now a residential home, was built in 1830 by John Lodge, although the hall appears to have incorporated parts of an earlier building. It is a Grade II listed building.

The Lodge, Craig Convalescent Home for Children

Located in Elm Road, Bare the Lodge was built in around 1840. Constructed of rendered sandstone, with distinctive gothick glazed windows and an oversailing roof, the Lodge is now Grade II listed.

St Patrick’s Chapel, Main Street, Heysham

St Patrick’s Chapel is a ruin located on Heysham Head close to St Peter’s Church. Dating from 8th or 9th century, the extant remains now consist only of the south, east and eastern most part of the north wall, although the foundations of other walls still exist. Archaeological excavations in 1977-78 discovered the remains of an earlier chapel on the site and excavation of the adjacent burial ground, which is believed to date to the 10th and 11th centuries, found 85 sets of human remains. A notable feature of the Chapel are the eight rock hewn graves – six of which lie to the west of the Chapel and two to the south east (one of which is small and possibly intended for a child) – which are cut into the sandstone bedrock. Although the coffins differ in morphology – some reflect the human form, while others are straight-sided – all have sockets, which are believed to have housed timber crosses. The exact age off the rock hewn graves is unclear, but the consensus of opinion is that they are contemporaneous with the Chapel itself. The Chapel is now owned by the National Trust and is both a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Monument.

St Patrick’s Well, 6 Main Street, Heysham

The well is set within a retaining wall in Main Street, just to the south of St Peter’s Church. Accessed by two steps up from the road, the well is believed to probably date from the 18th century. It is Grade II listed.

St Peter’s Church, Main Street, Heysham

It is believed that a church has stood on this site since the 7th or 8th century. The current building, which is Grade I listed, incorporates the remains of a Saxon church. It has a chancel dating to the 14th century and a 15th century south aisle, while the south porch and the bellcote both date from the 17th century. The chancel arch was also rebuilt during the 17th century. The east and south chancel windows date from the 14th century, while the octagonal font probably dates from the 16th century. A Viking hogback stone, which dates to about 950AD and depicts scenes from Norse mythology, was found in the area in about 1800 and was originally located in the churchyard, but was moved into the south chancel in 1961. During the construction of the north aisle in 1864, the Saxon archway – the original entrance to the first church – was removed from the building and reconstructed in the churchyard. The Saxon Archway is Grade II listed, as is a mediaeval coffin also to be found in the Churchyard. The coffin, which was discovered under the south window of the chancel during the renovation work of 1864, contained not only human remains, but also a chalice, which is now on display inside the Church.

Greese Cottage, Main Street, Heysham

According to the date stone above the door, Greese Cottage was built in around 1670 and extended in the 18th century. Formerly the Rectory, as well as being home to Hadath’s Tea Gardens until the 1960s, Greese Cottage is now a Grade II listed building.

Manor House, Main Street, Heysham

The Manor House was built in the early 19th century. The main house is constructed to a symmetrical, three bay design, with a Tuscan porch and is stuccoed. In contrast, the adjoining cottage at the back of the property, which probably pre-dates the rest of the house, is of roughcast sandstone. It is Grade II listed.

8, 10 and 12 Main Street, Heysham

This row of roughcast houses date originally from the 18th century – they carry a date stone from 1721 – although they were modified in the 19th and 20th centuries. They are Grade II listed.

The Royal Hotel, 9 Main Street, Heysham

The Royal Hotel public house, parts of which date from the mid-18th century although it displays extensive late-18th and early-19th century alteration, is a roughcast building with slate roof. It is Grade II listed.

19 Main Street, Heysham

According to the datestone that appears on the low extension to 19 Main Street – also known as Cosy Cottage – the building dates from 1633. It is a double-fronted, roughcast cottage, with some mullioned windows. It is Grade II listed.

Jenny Wren Cottages

These houses, which can be found at the junction of St Mary’s Road and Bailey Lane and which overlook the site of the old Heysham Pump, date from the 17th century. The two double-fronted cottages are built of sandstone, with brown tile roofs. They are Grade II listed.

Heysham Head House Lodge

The Lodge, which is in Barrows Lane, was built in the mid-19th century. It is of roughcast construction, with distinctive quoins – cornerstones – and castellation along the parapet. It is Grade II listed.

Heysham Head House

Heysham Head House was built in the early 19th century by George Wright. During the mid-20th century, it was renowned for its Pleasure Gardens: the Rose Garden adjacent to the house was used for a variety of concerts and other entertainments. Both the House and sections of the walls of the Rose Gardens are now Grade II listed.

The Battery Hotel

This former public house – now closed and reportedly soon to be converted into flats – derives its name from the gunnery range used for practice by the Lancashire Artillery Volunteers that existed in the vicinity in the 19th century. The oldest part of The Battery Hotel, which was built by Edward Edmondson in about 1863, is the white rendered building with distinctive cornerstones – or quoins – that lies to the southeast of the site. It is similar in construction to the contemporaneous Queen’s Hotel in Marine Road Central. The larger section of the building, which has a sandstone frontage and a distinctive cupola, dates from about 1900.

The Queen’s Hotel, Morecambe

The Queen’s hotel was built in around 1840 and was one of the first buildings constructed when Morecambe started to develop as a tourist destination. The building is rendered, with painted stone dressings and quoins. The building is Grade II listed.

217 – 221 Marine Road Central, Craven Terrace

These properties, now shops with accommodation above, were initially houses built in the early- to mid-19th century and were formerly known as Craven Terrace, named after the Craven Banking company, which had funded the construction of the Stone Jetty. 217 Marine Road Central – now Brucciani’s café – retains many Art Deco features. All three properties are Grade II listed.

333 – 343 Marine Road Central

This row of houses, near the junction of Marine Road Central and Lord Street, date to the early– to mid–19th century – two bear a date inscription ‘1828’ – although several display signs of subsequent alteration. All are Grade II listed.

The Pot House

The original pothouses – so named either because they were used for manufacturing pottery or because of a public house (or Pot House) on the site – were destroyed by a major storm in 1853. The building visible in some of the postcards of Heysham was recorded as being the Pot House Inn in 1901 but, at some point prior to 1907, had been divided into two cottages – South Cottage and Bay Cottage – before being demolished in the late 1960s.

Trinity Methodist Church Morecambe

Trinity Methodist Church stands at the junction of West Street and Marine Road West. The construction of the Church, to a design by Samuel Wright, was begun in 1897, though the foundation stone of the adjoining meeting room were laid in 1883 by Richard Crabtree. The Church was declared a Grade II listed building in 1993, but was badly damaged by fire in 2000.

West End Amusement Park

The West End Amusement Park on Marine Road West was originally opened in 1909 by the Thompson family, who also owned Blackpool Pleasure Beach. For many years the dominant feature of the Amusement Park was the Figure of Eight rollercoaster. The Amusement Park was renamed Morecambe Pleasure Park and, in 1987, it was rebranded as a Western Theme Park, Frontierland. Frontierland eventually closed 7th November 1999. The site was purchased by Morrison’s and part of it now houses a supermarket, together with branches of Homebase and Next: the remaining section of the site is still derelict.

Lancaster Canal

Plans to build a canal in Lancaster originally date to 1772, but it wasn’t until 11th June 1792 that an act of parliament incorporating the Lancaster Canal Company received royal assent. Construction of the initial 68.3km phase of the canal between Ashton Basin in Preston and Tewitfield, to plans drafted by the engineer John Rennie, was completed in five years, with the official opening of the canal taking place on 22nd November 1797. According to the Leeds Intelligencer “the first loads of coal and limestone, bought on the Lancaster Canal Navigation, were landed at the wharf, in Lancaster, amidst a vast concourse of spectators”. It further reported that the opening of the canal meant that the “price of them (coal) is already reduced to 4s. 6d. per ton, and when the aqueduct over the Ribble is completed, a further reduction must of course take place”.

Construction of an extension to the canal from Tewitfield to Canal Head in Kendal was started in 1812, with the official opening of this section taking place on 18th June 1819. Although a further spur to Glasson Dock was opened in 1826, financial constraints meant that the link to the south of Preston joining the Lancaster Canal to the Leeds–Liverpool Canal was never built.

At its height, over 420,000 tonnes of cargo was being transported annually on the Canal. The main cargoes transported on the Canal were coals from the Lancashire coalfields and limestone from Cumbria, which resulted in the local nickname: the Black and White Canal. However, slate, grain, timber, potatoes and salt were also among the cargo commonly carried. The relative lack of locks meant that the Canal also provided an ‘express’ route for passenger travel. The packet boats Water Witch came into service from 1833 and, according to the Newcastle Courant of 8th March 1834 “within the past six months, no fewer than 16,000 passengers have been conveyed on the Lancaster Canal, by the Water Witch, running daily from Preston to Kendal and back, a distance of 114 miles, at a speed of more than 8 miles an hour. The success of the effort is so decided, that it has been resolved to add a second boat during the ensuing summer”. Eventually the packet boats Swiftsure, Swallow and Crewdson (later renamed Water Witch II) were to join the Water Witch plying the canal.

The canal was leased by London and North Western Railways in 1864, with the railway eventually buying the canal outright in 1885. Ownership passed to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923 when it bought out the LNWR. Permission was granted for LMS to close the canal north of Kendal Gas works by 1942, with the last cargo shipments being carried to Kendal in 1944 and Lancaster in 1947 respectively. The canal, which is now navigable between Tewitfield and just north of Preston, now caters for recreation traffic only.

Heysham Harbour

The Dock at Heysham Harbour, which officially opened in 1904, was first proposed in 1896, when the Midland Railway decided that the Stone Jetty in Morecambe was no longer suitable for the steamers to Ireland and the Isle of Man and sought the passing of an act of parliament granting them permission to build an extensive harbour complex at Heysham. In spite of opposition from the North Western Railway Company, who feared that the new harbour would damage its trade, the Bill was passed in July 1896. The contract for the construction of the harbour and pier was secured by Messrs Price and Wills, of 15 Great George Street, Westminster, and building work began in 1897.

Two temporary villages – Klondyke and Dawson City – were constructed in Heysham to accommodate the navvies employed in the building work and their families. In addition to the huts that provided housing, Klondyke had a range of other facilities, including the Klondyke Hotel and bar, a bakery, a canteen, a barbers and a police station. Klondyke Village was located off Banks Lane, which ran between Heysham and Middleton, between Moneyclose Lane and Heysham Power Station. The site of Dawson Village was near Combermere Road, possibly on the current site of Trumacar Community Primary School.

New innovations resulted in the harbour’s equipment being “of the most modern description”. According to the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser 20 August 1904 “The cranes to be used will be worked by electricity and the whole harbour will be lighted by the same means, to provide which the company have put down a large power station”. Estimates of the cost of construction of the Harbour vary between £1,000,000 and £1,500,000.

A fleet of four new steamers were built to provide the services from the new Harbour: generally Antrim, Donegal and Londonderry sailed between Heysham and Belfast, while the Manxman sailed between Heysham and Douglas. According to press releases of the time, the steamers were capable of top speeds of around 22-23 knots in good weather conditions.

Although there was no formal opening ceremony, thousands of people are reported to have travelled to the harbour to watch the steamers depart on their maiden voyages. The first service from the Harbour was to Douglas on the Isle of Mann, with the steamer Londonderry completing the 57 mile journey in three on Saturday 13 August 1904. According to press reports, the voyage, which attracted 1,000 passengers, took place in adverse weather conditions, “there being a stiff breeze from the south-west and a lumpy sea”.

The service to Belfast began operating on Wednesday 7 September, with the steamer Antrim carrying over “fifty cabin passengers…fifteen tons of fruit from Covent Garden Market. The steamer also carried fifteen trucks of general merchandise, and half-a-score of valuable horses.”

In addition to the scheduled services, pleasure excursions also operated out of the Harbour. The tug Wyvern, which was initially built by Midland Railways in 1905 to operate out of Heysham, was used exclusively for excursions between Heysham and Fleetwood from 1908 onwards.

Heysham Harbour Station, which was built to connect with the steamer services opened on 11 July 1904.

Heysham Harbour Station

Heysham Harbour Station was built by Midland Railways to connect with the steamer service operating from the newly constructed Heysham Harbour and opened on 11th July 1904. The Midland Railway announced at its half-yearly meeting in Derby on 17th August 1906 that it was to use the Lancaster-Morecambe-Heysham branch line as an experiment in electrification. According to Sir Ernest Paget, who chaired the meeting, the section of line was chosen due the its proximity to the Railway’s power station at Heysham Harbour and to the ease with which that power station could be expanded to provide the additional power that would be required by the Heysham-Morecambe-Lancaster branch line. Electric multiple units (EMUs) – motorised boat trains – started running to Morecambe on 13th April 1908, with services running through to Lancaster Castle by September that year.

The station now serving Heysham Harbour is on a site adjacent to the original Heysham Harbour Station. The relocated station, which opened on 4th May 1970, was renamed Heysham Port Station on 28th September 1992.

SS Majestic

Commissioned by the White Star Line, SS Majestic was built by Harland and Wolff and was launched on 29th June 1889. Her fitting out took a further nine months and she finally started her maiden voyage between Liverpool and New York on 2nd April 1890. The initial building of the Majestic had been partially funded by the British government, on the condition that she could be called into service by the Royal Navy during times of emergency. This stipulation was enforced when the Majestic was used to transport troops to South Africa during the Boer War, completing trips in December 1899 and again in February 1900. Following her war services, the Majestic underwent a refit in 1902-3, but she was withdrawn from service in 1912 to make way for her replacement – SS Titanic. When the latter sank on her maiden voyage, the Majestic was forced into service once again. Her final trans-Atlantic voyage from New York started on 14th January 1914. She was sold to T.W. Ward for £26,500 and sailed to their shipbreakers yard on the Stone Jetty at Morecambe for scrapping. After being used initially as a something of a tourist destination, with the public keen to see her ornate interior - some of the panelling from which was removed to decorate Ward’s boardroom - with the actual break-up of the ship beginning on 5th May 1914.

Storms and Floods

The storm of 27 February 1903

A huge storm hit Morecambe on 27th February 1903. According to the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser of 28th February “Considerable damage was done to house property in Morecambe. In almost every street chimney pots and slates were dislodged. The tide was registered to be at its height at about half-past eleven but by half-past nine it was dashing against the promenade. An hour later it was breaking over the promenade and roadway, suspending tram and vehicular traffic. Boats and yachts were tossed like cockle shells, and a magnificent sight was witnessed by thousands of people from various points of vantage. At the West End, the full force of the gale was felt. The wind seemed to increase in its fury and it was not long before some 50 yards of the West End Pier extension was swept away, piles being torn up and decking smashed to matchwood. This was shortly followed by another section of the extension, about 40 yards, being literally carried into the sea. Of the half mile extension, only the pavilion kiosks and the near portion of the Central Pavilion is intact. The damage down is estimated at several thousand pounds altogether. Nearly 200 yards' length of the structure has been swept away.”

The storm and floods of 17th March 1907

A further huge storm on 17th March 1907 exacerbated the damage to the West End Pier done by the 1903 storm, washing away a further 180 of the Pier’s structure. The Burnley Gazzette report of the “terrible gale” on 20th March read as follows:

“At Morecambe the high tide, backed by the wind, flooded the promenade and the basements of many houses the occupiers of which suffered severe loss. Some damage was done at Heysham Harbour and low lying areas were submerged, many sheep being drowned. At Lancaster, the river overran its banks and some remarkable scenes were witnessed. The lower portion of the town was flooded and many houses had to be abandoned. Lord Ashton’s linoleum works were flooded and the Corporation fever hospital was surrounded by water, which entered the building with such rapidity and violence as to reach the beds. Nurses had to wade almost to their waists to remove sick children from their beds and remove them to the upper storey …

…At Morecambe, on Monday, the whole seafront from Bare to the West End Pier was strewn with unruly reminders of the gale. One’s walk along the promenade was impeded every now and then by great heaps of mingled pebbles and slime. Here the partition walls of gardens had been battered down and then one found a place where the wind had twisted iron railings like so much wire. In the West End Pier itself the tide has cut a gap so that now the end of the pier stands out of the sea like a skeleton island severed from the rest of the structure. A once elegant little shelter in this part of the town lies in a sorry heap of wreckage. As the fisherman said “It’s a good thing it wasn’t Whit-week: it would have spoilt things for the trippers”.

Coming from Lancaster to Morecambe the train passes through a huge lake. Miles of the low-lying meadows around the mouth of the Lune have been flooded. It is here, in the country, that the greatest damage has been done. There are pitiful stories of loss from the farmers around Morecambe. On Sunday morning, such of them as went to bed awoke to find their land several feet under water. Some farmers have lost as many as fifty sheep and lambs. For the first time in many years the sea has broken in and mingled with the Lune…

In Morecambe itself damage to the extent of many hundreds of pounds has been done. The gale blew fiercely all Saturday night and reached its climax on Sunday morning. At noon on Sunday a “19 ft tide” was battering the promenade, and the fury of the wind and rain was enormous. The houses rocked, windows were shattered and everything loose was whirled around like leaves. Morecambe front is well-described as a “thorough mess” being strewn with every kind of debris. Moveable wooden buildings have, of course, been smashed to matchwood. The ruin was worst in the West End, as this part of Morecambe suffers the first onset of the tides. The cellars and even the first floors of some buildings were flooded and the occupants were on Monday living on the upper floors. Bricks and huge pieces of stone have been washed into basements, smashing the windows and even the furniture inside. Food in larders has been soaked in sea-water. In streets near the front one might see the own fire engine busy pumping the sea out of people’s cellars.

The railway line between Morecambe and Lancaster was on Monday strewn with timber and loose sleepers. The first train from Lancaster on Sunday took nearly an hour to “do” the few miles, for occasionally it was necessary for the driver to stop the train and remove an obstruction. Damage has been done also down at Heysham Harbour. The fisherman have escaped lightly. When the storm grew loud on Saturday night many of the more cautious drew their boats onshore and placed them in what is usually considered a safe place. But they were not out of reach of the wind, some of them were in splinters before the morning.

The most exciting incident of the storm is the adventures of some people who live in a row of cottages on the inland side of Morecambe. These cottages were entirely surrounded by water. The dwellers were consequently isolated. Townspeople went out in boats on Sunday and Monday to visit their besieged neighbours and to take them food. Some of them were rescued and taken to more comfortable quarters. Most of these unfortunates are working people and they have suffered losses that they can ill afford…

…The inhabitants in the vicinity of Charles Street were in a deplorable plight. The water stood four feet deep in the lower rooms and food had to be handed to the occupants of the upper rooms through the windows, while boats have been requisitioned to take them to and from their houses.

At the Council meeting on Monday afternoon, the Mayor said the storm was the worst they had had since 1853, when the Lune and the sea met.”

Further details of the storm were provided by the Gloucester Citizen, which on 18th March reported the following:

“The hurricane, which attained a velocity of 90 miles an hour, sent the tide from Morecambe Bay inland for miles, and the sea joined the flooded waters of the Lune. Numbers of sheep, cattle and horses perished and farmers’ losses are enormous. The residents in low lying parts toiled all night at rescue work.

The wind obtained the force of a hurricane at Morecambe, and big seas swept right over the front. Forty yards of the West End Pier extension was blown down, and the heavy iron entrance gates, turnstiles and pay-boxes were smashed, and carried some distance along the promenade.

Huge gaps were made in the promenade and 200 yards of terra cotta walling around the esplanade greens were broken up. The lower rooms of the hotels and boarding houses were filled with water and chairs, sofas and tables floated about. The occupants had to take refuge in the upper rooms and food was, in some instances, handed up to the attics. At Sandylands the walls in front of the gardens facing the boarding houses were smashed and carried with terrific force against the lower windows and doorways. For over a mile of frontage there is nothing but heaps of masonry. In other parts of the town shop windows were blown in and goods were swept into the sea.”

The storm of 30th December 1925

Yet more damage was done to the promenade by another violent storm on 30th December 1925. According to the Yorkshire Evening Post:

“Great damage was done to Morecambe and Sandylands promenade. Backed by a 50 miles an hour wind, the sea assumed alarming proportions, flooding three miles of the promenade, which resembled a river. Shops and houses were flooded, and the force of the waves was so great that three gaping holes 50 feet square were torn out of the promenade.

Seats were smashed to matchwood and huge pieces of concrete were torn out of the sea wall and thrown yards away. The sea poured into the side streets, which resembled a cataract.

At Sandylands, Mrs Disney, wife of a Heysham councillor, was trapped in the basement when a huge wave smashed the door. She was rescued with difficulty.”

Lancashire nobby

First developed around Morecambe Bay in about 1840, and subsequently used throughout northwest England, the Lancashire nobby is a traditional small, inshore, shallow-drafted trawler used for catching both shrimp and fish. The boats, often referred to as ‘prawners’, were once ubiquitous, but declined in numbers after World War II.

Wakes week

Although originally based upon religious celebrations, wakes week were adapted to become a holiday period predominantly in industrialised areas in northern England. All the factories and mills in a given village or town would close during the same week while new equipment would be installed and maintenance work carried out, during which the workers would take unpaid holiday. A different week would be selected by each town, resulting in an influx of visitors from one town at a time to seaside resorts, which were extremely popular due to the perceived health benefits of bathing in the sea and more easily accessible due to the expansion of the railway network. In Morecambe, most of the visitors tended to come from the mill towns of Yorkshire and Scotland, while Blackpool was more popular with workers from other parts of Lancashire. The introduction of paid annual leave, combined with a decline in the textile and other traditional industries, effectively brought an end to the wakes week holiday by the 1970s.

St Helen's Church, Overton

St Helen’s Church is a Grade II* listed building, the oldest parts of which, including the south door with its distinctive Norman arch, date from the 12th century. Alterations to the building were undertaken in 1771, when the chancel was widened, and in 1830, when the north transept, vestry and west gallery were added. Restoration work by Austin and Paley, the same firm of Lancastrian architects responsible for the design of the Old Midland Hotel, was carried out in 1902 at a cost of £650.

The remains of a mediaeval cross, only the base and the lower part of which are still extant, lie to the south of the church and is Grade II listed.

North Farmhouse, Main Street, Overton

North Farmhouse, is a two storey, three bay building, built of sandstone and with a slate roof. The date stone carries the inscription ‘RH EH TH 1674’. It is now Grade II listed.

Manor House Farmhouse, Main Street, Overton

This symmetrical, two storey, five bay building, of sandstone construction and with a slate roof, dates from the early- to mid-18th century. It is Grade II listed.

8, 9, 10 and 11 First Terrace, Sunderland – or Sunderland Point – near Overton

This row of houses, which are of rendered rubble construct, date to the late 18th and early 19th century. All four properties are Grace II listed.

The Cotton Tree, Cotton Tree Cottage, Sunderland Point

The Cotton Tree was a familiar landmark in Second Terrace, Sunderland – a large tree that appeared to grow out of the foot of the wall of the adjacent cottage. The tree – which was actually a black poplar, Populus nigra – was estimated to be between 200 and 250 years old when it finally toppled over having been damaged by a recent storm in January 1998.

Bare Artillery Camp, Scalestone Point, Bare

Morecambe was long associated with British army artillery ranges, with the original range, which operated close to what is now Sandylands promenade during the 19th century, lending its name to Battery Corner in the West End of Morecambe. The range was later relocated north to Bare at Scalestone Point, where Happy Mount Park and Morecambe Golf Club now stand, where it operated during the late 19th- early 20th century. The camp operated throughout the summer months and was initially used for artillery training by the Lancashire Artillery Volunteers and, later, the Territorial Army.