Explore the history of St Annes, and how the town we know today grew. Look around and see traces of the towns ancestors in local architecture.
It’s understood that all of the Fylde Coast had been populated since the Bronze Age, with hamlets scattered throughout. In Anglo-Saxon and Medieval times it was known as Amounderness, and several of our familiar place names are mentioned in the Domesday Book. By the mid 1700s, nearby Lytham was already a town in its own right.
Early History of St Annes
St Annes began with a chapel. In 1873, the Cliftons of Lytham built a chapel dedicated to St Anne to serve the tiny hamlet of Hey Houses, which is at the northern end of Lytham.
At the time it was among the sand dunes. Of course this became the parish church of St Annes, which continued to grow from the late 1800’s.
Founding of St Annes
The Victorian planned town of St Annes was officially founded on 31 March 1875 with the positioning of the cornerstone of the St Annes Hotel, which has since been demolished. It’s also one of the few British towns (along with Fleetwood) which was built originally following a grid pattern.
That was quickly followed by the Hydro Terrace (which became St Annes Square) and the railway station.
The businessman Elijah Hargreaves was the person responsible for drawing out the plan of the town. He saw that attracting large numbers of visitors from the mill towns of Lancashire could be highly profitable.
In 1874 he registered the St Annes on the Sea Land and Building Company Ltd, and the land of St Annes was leased from the Clifton family of Lytham on a 999 year term.
Ashton Gardens was first laid out between 1875 and 1877. After a number of setbacks Lord Ashton eventually bought the park for the inhabitants of St Annes. The gardens are named after him.
There are many beautiful buildings in St Annes, and lots of architectural details can still be seen. If this lights your interest, read more about the growth of St Annes.
Look up, down and around!
The photo of this chap (above) was sent in by Aidan Prince. He asked if anyone knew what it was or what it meant? At the time of taking the photo in 2018, the building it stands at the top of is a William Hill bookmakers.
Tony Ford told us on the Visit St Annes Facebook page “The story I have is that it was put there by a local builder as a snub to his colleague who was building properties across the road.
It used to be on top of a different building but was relocated when the new shops (Home Bargains etc) were created.”
Do you know anything about this ‘2&8’ detail, on one of the high street shops?
See the History of St Annes Today
If you like old photos you might enjoy having a look at our ‘Old St Annes’ Pinterest Board.
St Annes retains a lot of the original Victorian/Edwardian character, along with many of the original period buildings which line the main high street and promenade.
It’s best known as a family friendly resort that bursts into floral colour each summer. There’s an enormous sandy beach and a small pier with accompanying seaside attractions along the promenade.
History of St Annes Pier
St Annes pier opened in June 1885, and in 1910 the Floral Hall opened at the end of the pier.
In 1974 it survived a major fire which caused serious damage to the hall. However, a second fire in 1982 destroyed the Floral Hall, after which half of the pier was demolished for safety. In this photo you can see the remains of the seaward half of St Annes Pier.
History of St Annes People and Events
St Annes claims to fame include being the original home of ERNIE, the premium bond selector.
The late, great, Les Dawson lived at St Annes and his statue can be seen laughing on the seafront near to the pier.
Many other northern celebrities still live in the area, and the late George Formby Jr was one of them.
The Mexico Disaster of 1886 is remembered with a memorial statue of a lifeboatman looking out to sea. To date, this remains the greatest loss of life for the RNLI.
The original lifeboat station closed in 1925 due to silting of the channel.
The Lytham St Annes area is now served from the brand new all-weather RNLI base which opened in 2000. It’s just south of St Annes pier, near to The Island Complex.
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