Petrified forest on Cleveleys beach
Current sea defences with the roof of Rossall School showing in the background
Cleveleys is a coast with a wealth of history, going back to petrified forests and sunken villages.
Starting in recent times, with the last in a long line of shipwrecks, on the night of 31st January 2008, a storm blew the Riverdance Ferry off the course of its Ireland to Heysham sailing, and it ended up on the beach at Ancholsholme, just on the southern edge of the Cleveleys shore. You can read all about Riverdance and see photos in the page in this section.
Going back to the eighteen hundreds.... Just at the side of where Riverdance was beached, at low tide you can see the wooden remains of another wreck, the Abana.
The Abana was sailing from Liverpool to Savello, Florida, when she was caught in a storm in the Irish Sea on 22nd December 1894. She was spotted at 3pm drifting in a northwesterly direction with her sails torn to shreds. The crew mistook Blackpool Tower for a lighthouse and the ship was first spotted floundering at North Pier, and ended up drifting north and was wrecked off Little Bispham at 5pm. Flares were fired and the lifeboat was called out. The alarm was raised by the landlord of the Cleveleys Hotel. Due to the weather conditions, the Blackpool lifeboat Samuel Fletcher had to be taken some 7 miles (11 km) overland to Bispham before it could be launched. The lifeboat had a crew of 16, and the Abana had a crew of 17, all of whom were taken on board along with the ships dog, which belonged to Captain Danielson. This meant that the lifeboat grounded on a sandbank whilst returning to shore. Some of the crew members pushed the boat afloat and they managed to reach shore safely. All were taken to the Red Lion Inn to recover from their ordeal. The ships bell and dog were given to the landlord of the Cleveleys Hotel, who had raised the alarm. The remains of the Abana can still be seen at low tide at Anchorsholme, off Princes Prom and the ships bell hangs in St. Andrew's Church in Cleveleys.
In 1820 because of sea erosion the old 'Ross Hall' and its accompanying building had to be abandoned and is now underwater. A new 'Ross Hall' was built further inland which is now part of Rossall School.
The Cleveleys Coastline was wider in the eighteen hundreds. Spring tides before sea defences were built had speeded erosion which was quite alarming to the authorities and to the estate companies who were losing land. Some dwellings, like Fanny Hall, crumbled and fell. The Coast Erosion Committe found that the loss of land was three yards every year. In 1901, in spite of a notice displayed by the Fylde Rural District Council, 6-12 carts were taking materials daily from the shore in front of Cleveleys Hydro (the Kingsway area to the side of the pitch and putt behind Princes Way). Sand, gravel and boulders were moved, which were the natural sea defence. On April 18th 1905 a notice by the Board of Trade was printed in the London Gazette prohibiting this removal. Cleveleys Hydro was fully licensed, heated throughout , with hydropathic baths, an 18 hole golf course, tennis courts and a resident orchestra. It held banquets, dance and whist drives.
Victoria Road, the main shopping street of Cleveleys, was originally called Ramper Road, this name came from ramparts or banks enclosing the marshland. Gravel from the beach was used in the making of the first road which led over Thornton Marsh and was orderd by the Marsh Act Award in 1805. Ramper Road was re-named Victoria Road at the time of the Queens Jubilee.
An old resident recalled that in 1909, when rates were less than 5/- in the pound, Victoria Square was offered at 2/6 a square yard. It then contained only a confectioners shop and a tea garden over which towered a pear tree. The same land sold in 1939 for £5 a square yard.
And then back even further ..... Heading out about a mile into the sea in front of Rossall School was Singleton Thorp, the name Singleton being a derivation of Shingleton. In 1555 the sea surged inland and destroyed several villages, one of which was Singleton Thorp but the inhabitants, or the bulk of them, escaped and moved inland and settled in what is now Singleton Village. This was the end of the Forest of Amounderness, and farmers still find broken twigs from that surge in their fields today. The sea never retreated back to where it came from, and year on year the Fylde coast started to erode. There is still the evidence on the beach at Cleveleys of petrified forests when the tide goes out - what look like brown soggy deposits are actually the ends of tree stumps which were buried under the tide all those years ago.
In 1643 a Spanish Vessel came ashore at Rossall Beach. Both armies were after the prize, but as Cromwell’s army had to go round by Garstang and over Wyre where his supporters were, and Lord Derby being amongst friends was able to march right up to Layton Hawes and alongside the Fylde coast without any interference, he therefore secured the Prize for the Royalists.
There is lots of history to be uncovered on this coast, most of which is accessible through the internet, if this small section has whetted your appetite!
Cleveleys is allied to nearby Thornton and a good local history website is Thornton Through Time.
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