A newspaper report on the laying of the Foundation Stone of
St.Annes-on-the-Sea on 31st March, 1875. The Stone was laid in the foundations of the St.Annes
Hotel which stood opposite the railway station.
The Preston Guardian, Saturday, April 3, 1875 (with additional images
& notes in blue)
COMMENCEMENT OF A NEW TOWN.
It is not often that we have to record the
commencement of a new town. In that land of shoddy and celerity —America—where a couple of
houses, run up of wood, in a back settlement, are termed a " town," and where about six
constitute a " city," such things are frequently heard of; but in this part of the world new
towns are not often started, whilst fresh " cities" seem to be never ever dreamed of. On
Wednesday, however, we saw a new town commenced—at any rate, saw the first stone of the first
building connected with such a place laid.
On the western coast of Lancashire there are four
watering places—Southport, Lytham, Blackpool, and Morecambe; and it is now in contemplation to
haw. another, called St. Anne's-on-the-Sea, situated about two and a half miles west of Lytham.
For generations the, coast land in this quarter has been devoted to sand hills and rabbits;
probably not a wilder, sandier, or more barren spot could be found on the western side of
Lancashire; but enterprise and taste are great transformers —are the real magician's wand,
turning sterility into fruitfulness, isolation into crowded activity, bleakness into beauty, and
wildness into order and usefulness.
The land forming the Site of St. Anne's-on-the Sea
is owned and has for long been the property of the Clifton family; and following in the wake of
much of their property, which has undergone such an improvement in recent years, this particular
portion of the estate is now in a fair way for even eclipsing in excellence of result, much of
what has hitherto been achieved.
Under the late Mr. Fair, the estate was
marvellously changed and improved; and his son and successor appears to be sparing neither
thought nor energy in promoting the work of progress and the the cause of success so well begun
and so steadily sustained in the district. Of course, several years must elapse before St.
Anne's-on-the-Sea assumes that size and consequence which its promoters have in view; but they
need not be disheartened. Present appearances seem to tell against it ; but the spirit of
enterprise looks to the future. There was a time when the site occupied by Southport was wild
and merely made up of sand hills; Blackpool was at one period an ancient little fishing place;
and it is not such a tremendous while since the ground which Fleetwood now covers was a mere
rabbit warren. So that with patience and perseverance, we may at no very distant day see the
sandy, hillocky, barren ground set apart for St. Anne's covered with houses, shops, and the the
multiform "institutions" associated with a modern watering place.
Access to this contemplated new town is easy: it
can be reached from Lytham by a good road - by and bye a coast carriage drive (Clifton Drive) or promenade will
connect the two places, and be continued to Blackpool; and in the case of people wishing to
reach it from a greater distance—people no matter where they may reside in the country desirous
of patronising it—a line connected with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway system runs
directly to and through it.
The town of St. Anne's-on-the-Sea, which received
its name on Wednesday, is intended to become a watering place of unique reputation among similar
institutions in this county. Facing the open sea, it will claim more invigorating properties
than its neighbours, Lytham and Southport, on the northern and southern sides of the estuary of
the Ribble. As regarded by its projectors, it is expected to become more n place for quiet
relaxation than a gay resort of holiday-makers, like its northern neighbour, Blackpool; though
this, we should imagine, must depend more upon the public themselves than upon the promoters.
And lastly, if present designs be carried out, it is to endeavour to excel all these now
favourite haunts of our industrial population in its artistic appearance, and in the general
disposition of its roads and buildings. The streets are to be laid out in gently curved lines,
and the houses built mainly in semi-detached couples, well back from the wide roads, from which
they will be separated by large front gardens. Some regard to aesthetics will be had in the
adoption of a uniformity of style, without, of course, monotony in the detail of the
The domestic Gothic architecture will be adopted.
The large spaces left between the blocks of the houses are not the only precautions thought of
in the interests of future inhabitants. The centre of the town will have its "lung” in a well
laid out pleasure ground or public park, to be called "The Oval," and the directors are
anticipating the demands of sanitary legislation by projecting a sewage scheme of their own. The
waste water will undergo complete filtration before reaching the sewers, and the carbonising
process will be employed in dealing with the sewage generally.
A promenade, 300ft. long by 180ft-wide, with a
belt of green sward in the centre, is in course of construction, and it will be embanked on the
seaside by a handsome stone wall. A pier will run out 300 yards, and will have erected at its
extreme end an assembly room with orchestra. The town will further have its own gasworks at a
desirable distance, and will be supplied with water from the Fylde Waterworks.
Such is St. Anne's-on-the-Sea as it exists in the
minds of the limited company who have bought the land from Colonel Clifton, and who have
entrusted to Messrs. Maxwell and Tuke, architects, Bury, the duty of designing their future
town. The site of the town is on the outermost point of the crescent formed by the coast between
Lytham and Blackpool. There is a fine sandy beach for miles round coming up nearly to the verge
of the sandhills, a line of shingle, marking the highest water mark, only intervening. The
undulation of the coastline and of the low sandhills is too slight to break perceptibly the
general flatness of the country, and, though in one sense this may be deemed a "disadvantage, it
can on the other hand be claimed for the new seaside town that its openness will promote its
The rude railway platform, piles of timber, drains, and a tool shed were not the
only signs of civilisation already evident at St. Anne's. Not far from and opposite the "
station" there is a brick church, with stone facings, which the Bishop of Manchester
consecrated in 1873. It had previously been (in) a schoolhouse, (on Heyhouses Lane) and the
ministrations at present there conducted are availed of by the residents of a small village a
quarter of a mile off. The church is so constructed that with the growth of a town near it,
an enlargement may be made with ease and with positive advantage to the appearance of the
building. The church was erected at the expense of Lady Eleanor Cecily Clifton.
The spiritual wants of the district are,
therefore, so far supplied in anticipation ; and if hints which were given on Wednesday in a
purely business spirit by the Mayor of Southport, who has been so identified with the recent
rapid development of his own thriving town, the friends of Dissent will not want encouragement
to set up places of worship for their friends as soon as it may seem to them desirable to do so.
A large, well made road, already named " the Drive,"(St.Annes Road) runs from the church to the seashore, and
will by-and-bye connect St. Anne's with Lytham and Blackpool. Close to the station are already
laid out the foundations of a large hotel, within which the chief ceremony of the day was on
The selection of an hotel building as that which should be publicly honoured in
the laying of the "first stone" of a town, rather than the church already mentioned, the
railway station, or some municipal institution, was an obvious subject of remark; but it was
the proceedings that the hotel would probably have to answer the purposes of a municipal
building in the early years of the town, and it no doubt suggested itself to the proprietors
that an hotel, being essentially necessary to the existence of such a town, deserved the
distinction thus conferred upon it.
The space enclosed by the rising walls of this
building was planted at intervals with flagstaffs, from which the Union Jack and other colours
were hung, and as upon ropes stretching front pole to pole numerous streamers also gaily
flattered in the breeze, a holiday appearance was imparted even to the site. A gangway covered
partly with red drugget led to the scene of the day's formalities—a simple shed, upon which an
inscription had been traced, " Welcome to St. Anne's." Between eleven and twelve trains from
Blackpool and Lytham left a good few visitors on the platform already mentioned, and the number
was augmented considerably by the arrival of a special train from Lytham shortly before noon,
which conveyed also the chief performer in the day's proceedings. The party from Lytham Hail
consisted of Lady Eleanor Cecily Clifton, Lady Bertha Clifton, Mr. T. H. Clifton, M.P., and Mrs.
Clifton, Master John Talbot Clifton and Miss Edith Clifton; Colonel Clifton, being driven by the
rigours of the English climate to winter on the Continent, was unable to be present. The
proceedings commenced promptly on their arrival. The Rev. H. P. Hawkins, vicar of Lytham, having
read a short prayer, Mr, J.W. Whitehead, Rawtenstall, the chairman of the Company, presented a
mallet and a silver trowel to the young gentleman who was to lay the stone.
A bottle, with local papers containing some
allusion to the present state of St. Anne's and to the ceremony of the day, and coins of the
age, were put into a cavity in the foundation, and then Master Clifton performed his duties,
afterwards standing on the stone and declining, in a firm voice, that the stone was duly
laid.—MR. WHITEHEAD proposed the vote of thanks to the juvenile mason, and his father, Mr.
CLIFTON, M.P., replied on his behalf, expressing the wishes of his family for the SUCCESS of the
new town. The novelty of the day's ceremony was also the subject of some of the hon. gentleman's
observations, but finding one precedent for the foundation of a town so far back as in the days
of Romulus, a comparison was suggested which, as intended, raised the good humour perhaps rather
than flattered the hopes of the promoters of St. Anne's. At the close of Mr. Clifton's speech, "
God save the Queen '' was sung, and three cheers, given at the suggestion of an outsider, for
the Clifton family, brought that part of the ceremony to a close.
Afterwards there was it sumptuous luncheon at the
Clifton Arms, Lytham. The following is a list of the guests present :—Lady Eleanor Cecily
Clifton, Mrs. T. H. Clifton, T. H. Clifton, Esq., Miss Edith Clifton, J. Wood Whitehead, Esq.,
J.P., Rawtenstall; Peter Halstead Whitehead, Esq., Rawtenstall; Mr. James Taylor, Waterfoot; H.
H. Ashworth, Esq., Clough Fold ; John Warburton, Esq., Haslingden ; Thomas Barrowclough, Esq.,
Bacup; Elijah Hargreaves, Rawtenstall ; Mr. T.. Thomas, Rawtenstall ; James Maxwell, Esq., Bury
; John Woodcock, Esq., Haslingden C. Tuke, Esq., Eccles; B. Chaffer, Esq., Nelson; Mr. S.
Sugden, Newchurch; W. J. Porritt, Esq., Helmshore; Mr. James Smith, Bacup; John Grundy, Esq.,
Bury; Rev. George Lancaster, Clitheroe; James Pennington, Esq., Hyde; R. Townsend, Esq.,
Helmshore; Rev. W. Briscombe, Rawtenstall; Mr, T. Gregory, Bacup; Mr. G. Bridge, Rawtenstall;
Mr. T. H. Carr, Fleetwood; Mr. J, Shaw, Liverpool; Rev. H. B. and Mrs. Hawkins; Rev. Mr. Booker,
Rev. Mr. Robinson, Rev. Mr. Taylor, Rev. S. Clarkson, Rev. W. E. Codling, Rev. T. G. Smart, Mr.
Wilson, jun., and Mrs E. Wilson, Dr. and Mrs. Fisher, Capt. and Mrs. Hincksman, Mr. and Mrs.
Lomas, Mr. and Mrs. Catterall, Mr. and Mrs. Threlfall, Mr, and Mrs. J. F. Leese. Mr. and Mrs.
Turner, Mr. and Mrs. Wartenberg, Mr. Edmondson, Dr. Bird, Dr. Garstang, Mr. Richardson, Mr. and
Mrs. Fair, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Fair, Mr. Mellor, Mr. Hincksman, Dr. and Mrs. Hammond, Lady Bertha
Clifton, Mayor of Preston, Mr. Garlick, C.E., Mr. Edmund Birley, Rev. J. S. Birley, Mr. W. H.
Cocker, Mr. Walter Smith, Mayor of Southport; Mr. T. H. Myres, Mr. J. L. Cannon, Mr. Grundy, Mr.
Wescott, Mr. W. Porter, Fleetwood; representatives of the Manchester Courier, Guardian, Examiner
and Times, Evening News; Preston Chronicle, Guardian, and ; Blackpool Herald, Gazette, Lytham
Times, Southport Visiter.
After the luncheon, Master Clifton took the chair;
but his father fulfilled the duties of it for him. When the usual loyal toasts had been
Mr. T. H. CLIFTON gave " Success to the town of
St. Anne's-on-the-Sea, coupled with the name of the Chairman of the St. Anne's-on-the-Sea Land
and Building Company." (Hear, hear.) He need hardly say that but for the spirit, energy, and
enterprise which had characterised the movements of the promoters, St. Anne's would hardly have
come into existence. He felt the new town would be the means of giving health, and he might say
at the same time wealth, to a large portion of the North of England people.
Mr. WHITEHEAD (chairman of the Directors)
responded. He said that perhaps many would be surprised at the scheme being taken up by
Rossendale people. After relating the circumstances which led to the negotiations with Col.
Clifton, he said that an arrangement was made with Mr. Fair by which 82 acres of land had been
secured upon a long lease, a portion of which they had been upon that day. The company was
floated and had succeeded beyond their expectations. It was their intention, as a large sum of
money had been subscribed, to build as quickly as possible. In conclusion he proposed the health
of the Chairman, Master Clifton.
Master CLIFTON said: Ladies and gentlemen, I thank
you very much for drinking my health.
The Rev. J. SHEPHERD BIRLEY proposed the health of
the Lord of the Manor and Lady Eleanor Cecily Clifton, and paid a high compliment to
Mr. T. H. CLIFTON responded on behalf of his
father. The MAYOR of PRESTON proposed the health of Mr. and Mrs. T. H. Clifton.
Mr. CLIFTON briefly returned thanks.
The Rev. H. B. HAWKINS rose and proposed " The
The MAYOR of SOUTHPORT responded.
Mr. E. Bunn' also responded.
" The Press" was next proposed by Mr. MAXWELL.
WHITEHEAD proposed the health of Mr. T. Fair in very complimentary terms.
Mr. Fair congratulated his East Lancashire friends
upon their enterprise, and instanced as a proof of what had been accomplished by speculation of
this character that land which had been bought in Blackpool thirty years ago for £50 an acre was
from its development now worth £15,000, and he did not see why a similar result could not occur
at St. Anne's.
Mr. CLIFTON proposed "The Lancashire
The band of the Third Lancashire Militia, under
the conductorship of Mr. Norwood, played at intervals during to luncheon.