the St annes story...

The birth of St. Annes-on-Sea is closely related to the story of some of the local wealthy families of the day. Colonel Clifton, the Squire of Lytham, wanted to develop the area known as 'West End' that would become St.Annes. All there was amongst the dunes in 1870 was a railway from Blackpool to Lytham, a lighthouse, and several farms and cottages that paid rent to the Clifton estate. They had seen what had happened to Lytham as a resort and considered the dunes along the coast as a blank canvas. They started in 1872 with a road parallel to the coast - Clifton Drive and this was linked to the existing road from Lytham to Blackpool - Heyhouses Lane, by another new road St.Annes Road named after the new Parish church.St Annes Parish Church 1885

The Parish church was paid for by Lady Eleanor, the Colonel's wife. The church originally only had the small spire; the tower was added in 1890. It was completed in 1874 as an alternative to the Trawl Boat Inn for the farmers and fishermen of the 'West End'. The church was called St.Anne's Parish Church. From then on the town was known as 'St.Annes-on-the-Sea'.

Elijah Hargreaves had made his fortune in the cotton industry. While on a visit to Blackpool he was walking through the dunes he saw what was happening and could see the great potential ahead. In 1874 he formed the St.Annes Land & Building Company with eight directors and leased land from the Cliftons in what was to be the centre of the town. Other companies joined them to provide the services and organisation the new town needed. Plans were drawn, builders huts appeared and the building began, slowly at first. This moved on when another wealthy cotton merchant, William Porritt, arrived and invested a huge £250,000 into developing the town and giving it much of the character it still has today. The town's growth raced ahead.

St Annes HotelThe St.Annes Hotel was the first main project with the foundation stone laid by a seven year old John Talbot Clifton in March 1875.

Royal Lytham Golf Club was formed in 1886 and met at the St.Annes Hotel. The course lay between the railway, Headroomgate Road and St.Annes Road East. The present clubhouse was started in 1896 and completed in March 1898 with the course where it is now.

The town's second club, The Old Links, was created in June 1901. Their first clubhouse was what is now the British Legion Club on the corner of Mayfield Road and Oxford Road using part of the old course before moving to their new (present) clubhouse and course in January 1911.

St Annes PierThe Pier was started in 1879, opened in June 1885 by Lord Derby. It was 315 yards long and cost £18,000. The Pier was uncovered except for a shelter at the far end. An elaborate a 1000 seat Moorish Pavilion was built in 1895 along with the black and white mock Tudor entrance it still has today. A Floral Hall was added in 1910 which hosted concerts and vaudaville acts. It had a three storey structure that allowed passengers to board vessels whatever the level of the tide, the boats included Winnie which made trips across to Southport. In the 1950s and 60s the Pier had an amusement arcade and restaurant added and major renovation after years of being hit by the elements. In June 1974 Princess Anne paid a visit to the Pavilion to celebrate the centenary of the St.Annes Land & Building Company but a month later it was gutted by fire. Another fire destroyed the Floral Hall in 1982. It was thought too dangerous to keep the end of the pier so it was demolished reducing to two thirds of the original length.

St Annes Lifeboat StatueThe Lifeboat monument was erected in May 1888 after the disaster of December 1886 when the entire crew of 13 from the St.Annes lifeboat 'Laura Janet' and 14 crew from Southport died trying rescue the crew from 'Mexico' which had run aground in the Ribble estuary. The old lifeboat station on Eastbank Road was used 1879 to 1925 and is now a funeral directors.

With the growing population of the town there was a demand for churches. In a period of twenty years several churches were founded and established. Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church that faces up the Crescent started being built 1888 and opened 1890. The Wesleyan Chapel on Eastbank Road, now called the Drive Methodist, was built 1892. St.Thomas' Church of England Parish Church was founded 1900 and was opened in 1910.

Kilgrimol School 1875St.Annes was considered an ideal location to send your child to school with its clean fresh sea air, private education, so the number of schools built also grew significantly. Kilgrimol School on Clifton Drive opened in 1875 and it is now the District Club. Lawrence House was another school opened 1906 overlooking Royal Lytham & St.Annes Golf Course but was closed and demolished in 1993. St.Annes College for Girls founded 1882 on the Drive, it is now a mixed school. The College opened 1907 next to the Andrew Carnegie Library (opened Jan 1906) and is now flats.

By 1895 trams were travelling to St.Annes from Blackpool along Clifton Drive and extended through to Lytham the following year. The tram waiting room at the corner of the Square became the Tourist Information Office but this was transferred to the council offices. The gas tram was converted to electric in 1904, but both were always affected by the sand in the rails along Clifton Drive which stopped the service for days in windy conditions.

St Georges SquareIn 1875 Hargreaves' town plans included the layout for St.Georges Gardens and Porritt built St.Georges Square around one side, over the years these gardens were developed and matured.

In January 1914 Lord Ashton made a donation of £22,000 to the town and they were renamed Ashton Gardens. After World War One the War Memorial was erected with another gift of £10,000 from Lord Ashton. 15,000 people paid tribute, including 800 servicemen at the unveiling in 1922. In 1977 The Ashton Pavilion Theatre burnt to the ground and was not rebuilt.

The Majestic HotelThe huge Majestic Hotel was originally called the Imperial Hydropathic (you can still see the initials IH on the gates) opened in 1910. It was built between the pier and the Square, had 200 bedrooms, tennis courts (where the pub is now) and was the height of luxury. It was renamed the Majestic in 1920 and many stars appearing in Blackpool shows stayed there over the years. Later on it struggled and despite many attempts to keep one of St.Annes' finest treasures it was demolished in 1975 as it could no longer sustain the costs, to be replaced by five storey flats.

In 1985 the St.Annes Hotel was also demolished, another victim of being too big for the number of visitors it could attract. It was replaced by what is now the Crescent pub.

1962 the St.Annes Land & Building Company was bought by a London firm which went bust so it was then bought by the local Webb family who also bought the Fairhaven Estate Company.

Lytham and St.Annes each had their own town council who were responsible for everything; the roads, paving, public transport, all the public parks and their theatres, the open air baths on the front at St.Annes and the public baths at Lytham, electricity and gas supplies and the local fire brigade. It was considered more practical to combine the two and so on 1st May 1922 with some reluctance on both parts they became a single borough to create Lytham St.Annes.

In April 1974 local government was reorganised nationally and Lytham St.Annes and South Fylde were amalgamated into Fylde Borough. So, 100 years after the birth of St.Annes, a town with a population in the thousands has its authority under a larger area.

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