Thornton shares a postal address with Cleveleys (Thornton Cleveleys) but is actually a separate place, just a few miles inland from the coast. It’s where you’ll find Marsh Mill windmill. Then of course there’s also Thornton Village…
Look at Google maps (below) and you’ll see Cleveleys, Thornton Cleveleys (around Marsh Mill), Thornton (Village) and Little Thornton. Confusing or what!
How Thornton Grew
The advent of the railway lines was responsible for the growth and development of much of the Fylde Coast. First the line went to Fleetwood, then soon after to Blackpool. The station between them was at Thornton. Originally called ‘Thornton for Cleveleys’ the ‘for’ was dropped over time, and the name stuck.
First mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086, Thornton was called Torentum. Back then it took in a large area, parts of which we now know as Cleveleys and Fleetwood. It’s thought there’d been a settlement here since the Iron Age. A Roman Road passes close to the village. Like most other places at the time, Torentum was sparsely populated with farmsteads. In about 1799 that all started to change when the marshland was drained and farming moved to a much larger scale.
Thornton Railway station opened in 1865. Then in the 1890s the United Alkali Company (later to become ICI) opened the salt works at Burn Naze – the Hillhouse site we know today. The salt works needed workers, and so the area grew. Thornton became an urban district council in 1900.
Between 1927 and 1974, it joined with Cleveleys to become a joint urban district area. Then in 1974 they became part of Wyre Council.
Look Around Thornton
Thornton is a nice place to live. There’s a wide variety of housing, schools and plenty of public facilities. The A585 main road network, Amounderness Way, is easily accessible. So are the seaside towns of Cleveleys, Fleetwood and Blackpool.
We’ve done a whistle stop tour of the main landmarks on this page. Why don’t you go and take a look?
Four Lane Ends
Heading out of Cleveleys, Victoria Road West turns into Victoria Road East at Morrisons roundabout. You’ll pass the YMCA and Marsh Mill on your left (watch the speed camera!) before coming to the traffic lights at Four Lane Ends.
Four Lane Ends is marked by the War Memorial on one corner, with Thornton Library and Thornton Little Theatre on the opposite corner. These public spaces are surrounded by trees and planted up throughout the seasons with bedding and shrubs.
It’s an attractive spot where Victoria Road East goes through the intersection of Fleetwood Roads North and South. From here you can go inland to the main road network, to Thornton Village or to Marsh Mill and then Fleetwood.
Just off Four Lane Ends, Marsh Mill windmill is an unmissable landmark in that area. In fact you can see it as you approach along the A585 Amounderness Way. In the winter months it paints a very pretty scene, highlighted against the rising or setting sun.
The windmill at Marsh Mill is a well preserved example of it’s kind, in fact one of the best you’ll visit. You can go inside it, climb to the top, and on high days and holidays you’ll see the sails turning too.
It’s set within the Marsh Mill Village complex – a courtyard of small craft and artisan shops (plus a pub!) around the central square. Events and entertainment is often held here, and it’s also the site of their special Christmas Switch On.
Around Marsh Mill
All along the Fylde Coast you’ll find little clusters of shops, and Thornton is no exception.
Around Marsh Mill Village there are more shops including a Tesco Express, Seniors Fish and Chip restaurant, a pet shop, laundry, post office and various convenience/food stores.
There’s a small supermarket at Thornton Village, along with various local shops and businesses. It’s a popular spot, well used by local people.
It’s also where the community gathers for the Switch On of the Thornton Christmas Lights each year, organised by Thornton Action Group.
Thornton Village is close by the former Thornton for Cleveleys railway station, which isn’t now used. The station fell victim to Mr Beeching’s cuts and along with Fleetwood, closed in 1970. Poulton and Wyre Railway Society look after the station and have restored much of its former glory. Their long term aim is to restore services on all or part of the line.
Where Little Thornton meets Skippool
Continue along the B5412 as if heading towards the A585 at the River Wyre roundabout and you’ll pass through Little Thornton. You’re not far from the River Wyre here, the main road is parallel to the river at this point.
There’s another pub on your left just before you get to the roundabout, called Thornton Lodge. That’s your marker for a tiny little left turn at the very narrow and winding Wyre Road which goes round to the river itself.
This is Skippool Creek – it’s just like stepping into the past and is an interesting spot to explore. Did you know it was once the main trading port for the area? There’s wildlife aplenty plus little boats and muddy creeks. Go take a look!
Burn Naze is around the area where West Drive meets Fleetwood Road North, not far from Redmarsh Industrial Estate and the entrance to Hillhouse International (the old ICI site).
Watching Wildlife at Thornton
As you leave Cleveleys via Victoria Road, there’s a big wetland area in the triangle of land just off Morrisons roundabout. The grassland at the A585 side of the space is now flooded and has naturally created a flash. The Victoria Road East side of the grassland is drier and still laid out as grazing fields.
When we moved to the area in the late 1990’s, the wetland was rough grassland. It only ever collected standing water in winter, but, has progressively become more submerged as the years have passed. Of course much of the Thornton Cleveleys area is at or very near to sea level, so it’s obviously a natural low spot. It’s important to have areas like this that can absorb excess water and help to prevent flooding.
The benefit of it is that an amazing variety of wildlife now lives in this patch. Bordered on one side by a busy main road it’s pretty inaccessible therefore a perfect place for creatures to be safe. From man at least, if not from predators like the visiting Herons and Sparrowhawks!
The best place to see what you can see is from the verge along Victoria Road West. Or have a look as you drive by.
Stanah is where you’ll find the Wyre Estuary Country Park. As the name suggests, it’s an attractive, natural public space, set on the banks of the River Wyre.
The address is River Rd, Thornton-Cleveleys, FY5 5LR
It’s a bit of a challenge to find if you’re not familiar with the area, so best to use sat nav or a map! At the end of country roads, not far from the A585 Amounderness Way, there’s a car park and a cafe/information building and toilets. So it’s a good spot to head to for a visit. The Fylde Coast is quite urban, and what ‘countryside’ there is is mostly in the shape of local parks. So Wyre Estuary Country Park is a nice change from the purely coastal scenery.
It’s also packed full of wildlife as you might expect, so you might want a pair of binoculars handy too.
What’s at Wyre Estuary Country Park
We’ve already mentioned the car park, toilets, cafe and information point. It’s also a base for volunteers with the Wyre Ranger service.
There’s a children’s play area and picnic spots, plus a network of accessible footpaths for you to explore.
You can walk along the banks of the River Wyre, and there’s slipway access to the river too.
It’s a great place for anyone who enjoys walking, cycling, horse riding and water sports. Sensitive management allows public access and community involvement whilst conserving the nationally important habitats and wildlife of the site.
Can you think of anything that we’ve missed in our whistle-stop tour of Thornton? Let us know – just email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk
While you’re here…
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