Rossall Beach is the sand and shingle beach heading north beyond the ‘new’ stepped sea defences at Cleveleys. It’s a wilder, more natural landscape than the formal, central section of seafront.
The top section of beach is pebble and shingle, giving way to beautiful clean sand. On all but the roughest of stormy day there’s always a dry section of shingle left against the wall when the tide comes in.
This video clip is from the free seafront car parking area at Rossall Promenade –
What do you know about the ‘Tank Traps’?
As you go through the Five Bar Gate from Cleveleys, heading towards Rossall School, there’s a series of square concrete posts. You can see them in this photo.
There’s always been debate locally, about what these blocks were built for and hence what they should be called.
They’re known in these parts as the ‘tank traps’. Stemming from the theory that they were built as anti-tank blocks, to protect the beach from invasion during World War 2.
However, there’s another theory, that the blocks are nothing more complicated than wave breakers. Were they built to protect the nearby outdoor pool at Rossall School, which was once behind the tall wall to their rear? (See the wall in the photo below).
It’s a mystery that Visit Cleveleys is intrigued by, so we’ve made it our mission to try and find out the answer for once and for all!
What the ‘Experts’ Think
Pootling around the internet (as you do) Visit Cleveleys uncovered a ‘Pillbox Study Group‘ and asked the experts there. They are ‘Committed To The Study & Preservation Of 20th Century United Kingdom & International Pillboxes & Anti-Invasion Defences’.
Their answer was “These measure up to anti-tank blocks – a nice find”, going on to add more information…
Following the link provided in the reply takes you to Historic England’s Pastscape Website. There, as Steve Thompson says, is a listing for anti-tank blocks at Rossall School.
Unfortunately the information contained in their listing is a bit sketchy, and clicking on the maps/photograph links at the top doesn’t yield much more detail.
Do you know how to locate the Vertical aerial photograph referenced in the source text?
The ‘old map’ link does take you to another website and this map (if it’s relevant).
What Thornton Cleveleys Past Members Think
Are you a member of Thornton Cleveleys Past on Facebook? Now that’s an interesting group, full of information about the area. But opinion is even divided there!
Are they tank traps?
Local historian Dick Gillingham tells us “there were shooting ranges to the North and South of Rossall school. The one to the North was far older and used by the school cadets and earlier by the Army as well, on occasions. In WWII there was an RAF range to the South of the school. The tram sidings at Rossall were used by men using the ranges and arriving by tram. The promenade walkway often had to be closed off to allow the Northern range to be used.”
Malcom Crane adds “The whole of the Fylde coast was cordoned off from the public – actually the Knott End seashore was covered in tank traps. It was only the Royal Navy that prevented an invasion. One of my earliest recollections was the prom around Rossall covered in army lorries and equipment.
Days before radar…
Malcolm goes on to add “U boats were operating freely in the Irish Sea until radar put an end to them. They mainly sank fishing boats. The worry was that if neutral Ireland was overrun then the West coast of England was vulnerable. The Germans had invaded neutral countries all over the place. Fortunately the Royal Navy kept the German Navy in check, so they couldn’t have attacked Eire. Fleetwood and Knott End golf courses were fortified and patrolled by the Home Guard.
The case for wavebreakers…
Others remain unconvinced and instead are sure they are wavebreakers.
- Do you know anything? Have you got any photos? Anything to add to help to solve this conundrum?
- Just email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk – full credit given, as always!
And Sonia Percival posted this old aerial photo of the swimming pool. It’s from the Britain from Above website, dated 1937. There’s no sign of any blocks on there. In fact it doesn’t look like there’s much of a sea wall at all.
Rossall Beach – a Natural Sea Defence
This natural sea defence is considered to be the most stable of the Wyre coastline. The natural high sandy, shingle beach is the best possible type of protection against the sea and efficiently dissipates the energy of the waves.
In the next photo you can see how, in moderately rough weather, the waves taper to nothing on the shingle of the beach in the front of shot. Yet they bounce off the wall and into the air when they hit the concrete defences in front of Rossall School.
Please don’t take the pebbles
This is why you’re asked not to take the pebbles off the beach, because in doing so you remove the sea defences. You’d be surprised how, if left to their own devices, people will take near-on industrial quantities of them – not just an odd one or two. If everyone did that there’d be no beach left, and the area would be prone to flooding.
A Natural Environment at Rossall Beach
The beach material is naturally graded by the sea. The biggest of the pebbles are left on the higher reaches of beach, filtering down to smaller ones as you approach the golden sand that lays beyond.
At a glance it looks like quite an inhospitable environment, just pebbles and sand.
It’s actually a rich resource for wildlife, and supports many sea birds all through the year. The twigs and seaweed on the strandline provide a home for invertebrates and in turn they are the meal for hungry sea birds.
Sanderlings, Turnstones and Knot can often be seen in large numbers, along with flocks of Oystercatchers with their distinctive long bright orange beaks and legs. Not forgetting the resident population of gulls, who stand facing into the wind, peeping with their plaintive cries and waiting for anyone to feed them!
Indeed many seabirds use this beach to refuel when they stop off on their migratory flight paths around the world. It’s an important stopping off point throughout the year.
As a testament to how clean the water is, seals are often seen at Rossall Beach. Be quick to spot their black heads bobbing along.
You’ll usually need binoculars to pick them out them from a swimming gull, and you need to be fast! Occasionally an odd one ends up on the beach too. More often than not when they’re washed up after meeting their maker, but very rarely a real, live seal will stop for a rest.
Flotsam and Jetsam
The beach here gets lots of flotsam and jetsam washed up by the tide, where it’s deposited along the strandline. Particularly at the northern end of the beach, around the Rossall Promenade car parking area and heading further north to Fleetwood, you’ll find all kinds of things.
Lots of interesting things can be found on the strandline (the highest point where the tide turns), particularly after a high tide and strong winds. You’ll find natural debris like mermaids purses, shells, and small creatures. Plus of course, the ever present plastic waste.
From time to time you’ll see dead animals washed up. Quite often you’ll smell them first! It’s not unusual to see dead porpoise, seals, seabirds and even sheep.
Watch this clip of the sea and beach on a lovely sunny day in December.
Rossall Beach is Dog Friendly
In common with most UK seaside resorts, the main beach at Cleveleys is subject to a dog ban during the summer season.
As popular as it is, Rossall Beach isn’t classed as a bathing beach. This means that it’s somewhere you can walk your dog, all year round.
Please note that you’re still expected to follow certain guidelines:
- Dogs should be on a lead on the promenade walkway,
- You should always pick up after your dog (and bin it) whether you’re on the path or beach,
- Please keep an eye on your dog and keep it under control. Respect other beach users, and also keep an eye on its own safety. From time to time there can be dangers lurking on the beach, for example broken glass, discarded fishing hooks and palm oil.
Rossall Beach is a popular spot with visitors because you can park right against the sea wall and sit and watch the world go by. Enjoy all of the fabulous views and sunsets, whatever the weather.
It’s a fabulous spot to come for a walk, or potter about on the beach, and of course it’s all for free. There are plenty of seafront benches, with Danfo public toilets a little further south at the cafe. It’s like home from home!
On sunny days (and Bank Holidays) throughout the year it’s not unusual to find the seafront car park completely full. Alternative parking is available.
Cleveleys Sea Foam
Have you seen the foam at Cleveleys?
It can happen at any time during the year and not just in winter. This video was filmed on 2 June in 2015. A combination of wind blowing in the right direction and conditions in the water agitates the froth into a wobbly mass which blows off the beach.
By contrast, the next video was taken in December – from the warmth of the car! In the worst weather the foam can actually build up to several feet in depth.
It builds up during rough weather and is actually caused by entirely harmless, natural decomposing algae.
Watersports and Things to Watch
Rossall Beach is a popular destination throughout the year for water sports. See people kitesurfing, paddleboarding, fishing and such like. You’ll also see people swimming, and it’s a popular place for horse riding too. That’s before we mention dog walking – so there’s always something to watch!
Watch the kitesurfers in this short clip –
not to mention the sunsets…
We couldn’t leave this page without a mention for the amazing west coast sunsets.
Rossall Beach is the place to visit at the end of a bright, sunny day, to watch the sun go down. Winter and summer sees the most beautiful skies – no two are the same. Why don’t you join the audience!
Love sunsets? You’ll love this gallery of sunset photos on Visit Fylde Coast.
Looking after Rossall Beach
Rossall Beach Residents & Community Group look after this area of beach.
They hold monthly community beach cleans for members and the general public to join in with. There are full details on their website – anyone is welcome to join the group and join in with activities.
The Waterfront Rangers at Wyre Council support the group who have Adopted the Beach through the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). Part of the MCS work is to monitor what is washed up by the tide, and petition utility companies and manufacturers to change their practices and stop the rubbish getting into the sea in the first place.
Benches at Rossall Beach
When Rossall Beach Residents & Community Group formed in 2008, there was hardly any seating along the seafront, so the group provided two new benches.
Way back in 2012, with £850 of funding from the People’s Postcode Trust, the Group installed benches on the built out areas against the beach.
In the following years, many more memorial benches have been added, each one with a plaque in remembrance of loved ones. Even though they look like wood, they’re in fact made from recycled plastic. Weather proof and maintenance free they cost in the region of £500 and are available by contacting Wyre Council.
Information Boards on the Seafront
Rossall Beach Residents and Community Group provided the information signs which make your walk more interesting by telling you all about the beach. Information is included about the plants and animals and the views. The marine environment, pollution and how you can help by doing your bit. They stretch from the end of the new sea defences at Cleveleys to the Five Bar Gate near Rossall School, creating a trail to lead you along the beach.
Members of the group used their experience and knowledge to research and share the information. They successfully applied for grant funding to manufacture and install the notices. In September 2012 the first five boards were installed, and the next five added on Friday 18 May 2018.
Learn about the marine environment
The new boards explain various aspects of the beach environment. One is about bathing waters and the work which is being done to make the sea cleaner. Another about the damage which plastic does in a marine environment. Why the pebbles are an important part of the sea defences. Find out about just some of the creatures which live here. Meet the Rossall Beach Group and find out how you can do your bit to help – at home and on the beach. This popular one explains the views and the windfarm.
Grant awards were thanks to United Utilities managed by the Community Foundation for Lancashire. The Lancashire Environmental Fund, DONG Energy and the Big Lottery.
While you’re here…
Have a look at the homepage of the Visit Cleveleys website for more of the latest updates.
Love the Fylde Coast? Sign up for your weekly email newsletter. Packed full of interesting things it arrives in your inbox all 52 weeks of the year.
Join us on Facebook and share your photos in our Visit Fylde Coast Facebook Group
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @visitFyldeCoast