Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


The Great Storm of Christmas 1852.

Over the Christmas period (25th to 27th) there were two major storms with winds and heavy rain from the south-west. The storm on December 25th was the worst "nearly equal to that of January 7th, 1839". On December 27th, again a "great storm of wind" caused extensive damage along the Lancashire coast from the Lake District to Southport.

The Preston Guardian, Saturday, January 1, 1853 (illustrations added)


Cottages at Fumblers Hill, Blackpool c1860.
By far the most suffering locality has been the favourite bathing resort of Blackpool. The destruction there has been very general—scarcely a house in the town has escaped damage more or less, in the blowing off of slates and the prostration of stacks of chimneys, some of which latter have fallen through the roofs into the chambers below, to the imminent peril of the inmates; most of the damage being the result of the gale of Christmas-day. Our reporter began his survey of Blackpool at Mount Pleasant, or Fumbler's Hill, where he found most of the houses more or less stripped; but the damage here was inconsiderable compared with that of the more southern portion of the town. Little damage has been done to most of the sea defences.

  Cottages at Fumblers Hill (seaward end of Cocker Street), Blackpool c1860.


Blackpool in the 1850s with Dickson's Hotel (now Butlins Metropole) to the left & Queen Street (centre).
Blackpool in the 1850s with Dickson's Hotel (now Butlins Metropole) to the left & Queen Street (centre).

Dickson's Hotel , occupied by Mr. Rossall, suffered very considerably, the roof of the building being almost skeletonised—chiefly occasioned by the eddying of the wind round a higher part of the building facing the sea, and the wind, coming round this elevated corner, in a very short time stripped the lower part of the house roof looking down the beach southwards.— Two houses in Albert-terrace, adjoining the hotel, but looking seawards, were much damaged in the stripping of the roof ; the chimney of Mr Mc. Gowan's house, and that of Mr. Richard Cookson, tenanted by his sister, fell through the roof, and penetrating the highest ceiling the rubbish fell en masse into the third storey bedrooms. At the end of this terrace the houses occupied by Mr. Lawrence Charnley and Mrs. Lowe, were bared of fully two-thirds of the slates; and a house built by Mr. Worthington, near the railway station, is similarly denuded of a great portion of the roof.

Coming southwards, the Central Beach and the Hygeian-terrace were found to have been little injured, only a very few slates being taken off.—The wall-fence of Sir Benjamin Heywood's seat—a very strong erection—was completely destroyed by the waves, scarcely one stone being left standing upon another.—At Robinson's Royal Hotel the water got into the cellar to the depth of a yard and a half ; but as Mr. Robinson, with some prescience of the coming danger, had taken the taps from the barrels in the cellar and substituted corks, no damage whatever has accrued to that gentleman, though every vessel so prepared was floating about in mad confusion and contusion ; but in the matter of window panes he has been a loser of nearly a hundred—some broken by falling slates, but most by the pebbles hurled from the sea-bord by the tremendous force of wind and wave. His porch, also facing the sea, has gone hence over the “wide waste of waters." He is also the most considerable sufferer in the item of sea-fence, as his beach wall is almost totally destroyed. Two or three yards of a wall on the south side of his house have also been forced outwards into the adjoining street.

Mr. White, the proprietor of the whole of Queen's-terrace, has sustained very considerable, injury in the almost total destruction of his palisading, though it was deeply set, and of a very strong character. The slates and chimney-pots wore blown off to a serious extent, some of the latter penetrating the roof, bursting through the ceiling, the débris being deposited in the top bedrooms.—Mr. Duke, of the New Inn, is a loser to the amount of £100 by the wrenching of taps from the barrels in the cellar, occasioned by their violent collision one against another, and against the sides of the vaults.—In front of the houses of Dr. Kershaw, Mrs. Cogwell, and Messrs. Parr, Croft, Howson, and Hardman, the railing has been entirely washed down ; Mr. Parr's yard door was also burst in by the watery foe, as were likewise the doors of Messrs. Bagot and Waddington—the latter gentleman was also a very considerable sufferer in the loss of a great quantity of provisions, meal, flour, groceries, &c., all much injured by the salt water.

At Cragg's Victoria and Family Hotel, about 60 or 70 panes of glass were wholly broken by flying pebbles from the beach, and a chimney was blown down.—The railings of Brunswick and Leamington Houses, as well as those of other houses adjoining, were completely destroyed ; and twenty or thirty panes of glass in each, including Salop House, the property of Mr. Worthington, wore broken by the pebbles from the beach ; many of the slates of Leamington House have, been carried off by the eddying of the wind round one of the chimneys on the south side.— Glen Cottage, occupied by Mr. Richard Bonny, has also been much injured in a similar manner ; the waves burst in the door facing the sea, and many squares of glass were broken by pebbles.


Blackpool in 1852 with Robert Bickerstaffe's Wellington Hotel is the second building on the right, by Chapel Street.
Blackpool in 1852; Robert Bickerstaffe's Wellington Hotel is the second building on the right, by Chapel Street.

Wellington House , in the occupation of Mr. Robert Bickerstaff, was completely buried in the tide and spray ; the "long waves" accumulating and bursting against the sides of the house, dashed the water and spray right over the roof, so as to hide it almost from the view of those who were hardy enough to brave the fury of the storm and venture upon the beach.—A Cottage, a shippon and a mangle house, both built of boulder-stones, were completely destroyed ; and at Brewer's Hotel the sea-fence and sky-lights were much injured, and many elates torn from the roof of the building.

 South of this a new sea-fence, constructed entirely of heavy blocks of Longridge stone, was a portion of it wrenched from its position, though the stones, many hundred-weights each, (were cramped with iron,) and thrown upwards on to the promenade. Mr. Richard Caton, of the Vauxhall Inn, had his front door burst in by the tide; and even the flag of the kitchen and lobby were torn up; the pig-cote in the yard was destroyed, and an old sow set a swimming in search of a footing—the young ones had just been lifted into the house through one of the windows, and snugly ensconced in one of the upper rooms. The road from Caton's to the Manchester Hotel is almost totally swept away, being quite impassable for vehicles, and nearly so for foot passengers. The bridge over the brook Blackpool (from which the town takes its name), near the Manchester Hotel, was part of it washed away.

Here, opposite the hotel just mentioned, four heavy stone posts, each of them at least half a ton weight, and sunk three feet deep, were wrenched from their places; two of them being washed nearly forty yards into Fenton's field, adjacent; and seven or eight heavy logs of hard wood were washed inland, one of them having made a voyage of three-quarters of a mile.

The roofing and windows of Manchester Hotel, occupied by Mr. Anthony Salthouse, were much damaged ; and a bowling-green, with three parts of the fence finished, and half of the green laid, in preparation for the ensuing summer, was entirely destroyed, the surface of the green being torn up in every direction, presenting the appearance of being ploughed up from east to west, and from north to south ; and mixed up with the soil was the debris of the wall, which had been very strongly built of bricks and boulder stones. Mr. Salthouse's horses were standing eighteen inches deep in water, but the pigs were carried into the tap-room. The sea burst in the outer door of the cellar, which was immediately five feet deep, and the store casks floating about ; but he sent men down to secure the spirits, which they did at some risk, and they were brought up into the house, for he was fearful that the taps might be broken or wrenched from the casks, either by coming in contact with each other, with the walls, or with the floor of the cellar on the subsidence of the water, He did not expect that the water would reach the ground floor ; but to be prepared, he got all the carpets and floor cloths up, and by these precautions saved much property that might otherwise have been lost.

Several pleasure boats lying on this part of the beach, belonging to the Boating Company—Messrs. Bickerstaff, Salthouse, Swarbrick, Parr, and others —were materially injured by being dashed against each other. A house near the Manchester Hotel, now in course of erection by Mr. Armstead, of this town, and which had a considerable portion of the plastering and other interior work completed, had the north gable blown out, and the roof lifted off, which latter fell upon the interior walls and carried some of them with it to the ground, and some of the windows were blown out ; this was occasioned by a part of the windows not being in, through which the wind filled the unfinished house with a tremendous pressure, and caused the injury just detailed — Two adjoining houses, built by Mr. Swindells, and which had been reared on Christmas Eve, suffered very materially—the front walls were blown down, some of the interior, and all the roofing and room timber split up like matchwood and is now of little value.

Mr. Thomas Morris' new baths and billiard rooms , which had been just got up to " the square" —that is, up to where the roof springs from the walls—were blown to the ground ; and at his own house at South Shore, he lost between £30 and £40 worth of spirits by the forcing of taps from casks by water.—A new house, belonging to Mr. Robert Shaw, in which the windows had not been inserted, nor any interior work done, was levelled with the ground, scarcely a brick being left standing ; and two other new houses, now building by Mr. George Butcher, had some of the walls blown down. Mr. Whiteley's new house is injured in a similar manner to that which Mr. Armstead is building.

An extraordinary casualty occurred to Mr. Joseph Worthington, the occupier of a house belonging to Mr. Webster, of Morton (Marton?); the chimney was blown down and penetrating the roof and the ceiling of the third story, carried with it, in the fall, some of the joists, completely covering him and his youngest child, who were in bed at the time; they were only saved from being crushed by the intervention of a beam, which preserved them from the injury they would otherwise have sustained. He had considerable difficulty in extricating himself and the child from their perilous situation.

It is stated that the water rose seven or eight feet higher at Blackpool than the tide height marked in the tables —thus making a tide of 23 or 24 feet. Within the memory of man such a tide was never before seen ; and with the boisterous storminess of the water, and the lifting and splitting of foam-crested waves, it is described to have formed an awful but sublimely magnificent scene.

The Manchester Hotel, Blackpool, in the 1860s.
The Manchester Hotel, Blackpool, in the 1860s.

The whole of the road called South Shore, from the Manchester Hotel to the south end of the shore, has been washed away, with the whole of the walls and railings, the stones from the fences lying in the contiguous fields, and forming, at first sight, a level pavement. Where the road was last week is now a portion of the sea. The beach, being from 4 to 5 feet lower; and this has been split up into small ravines or gullies, so that even foot-passengers have to take the fields and climb the stone fences at right angles with the sea.

At the south end of South Shore the sea has encroached from 20 to 30 yards, and washed down the sand-hills to that extent on to the, beach, forming beautiful bathing grounds.—the beer-house called the " Seven Stars," occupied by Mr. Ball, at the extreme end of South Shore, has been a little damaged, but the north-west corner of the house adjoining has been entirely blown away; both are new erections. The damage done in Blackpool and along South Shore cannot at present be estimated; and we have heard that the distance from the Manchester Hotel to the south end of South Shore will have to be repaired by private individuals, as it is the property of persons owning land and houses abutting upon it.—On each side of


Lytham Lighthouse in the 1850sThe sand hills have been swept away upon the beach, leaving a wider sea-bord of 12 or 14 yards; and the pebbles forming the inner “stanner,"—many thousands of tons—have been lifted back towards the fields fully the same distance. The lighthouse itself has stood the storm nobly ; for, though the pebbles at its base have been removed quite the distance we have named, and two yards of the lower stones exposed that were previously covered, not a stone of the building itself has given way, though it rocked considerably during the storm on Monday. Instead of the usual ebb on that day, the tide was kept up at about half ebb by the force of the wind, which increased in violence as the tide came in and put up a higher and heavier tide than was ever before seen. The depth of water at the lighthouse was not less than 40 feet of rise, being a depth of (8 feet— including the low-water depth of 18 feet, Mr. Walmsley, the Keeper of the lighthouse, observed the water making up the "stanner” by eight o'clock


Clifton Arms Hotel, Lytham, in the 1850sHas also been a considerable sufferer by the storm. Several hundred yards of boulder stone wall, on the south side of Mr. Eden's seat north of Lytham (Fairlawn), with great weight of earth in front, have been totally swept away by the tide. The Clifton Arms Hotel (Mr. Knowles's) has been very much stripped of slates, and many panes of glass have been demolished by the flying pebbles from the beach, flung inland by wind and water.— Mr. William Miller's new houses, not yet finished, near the Market-house, have sustained considerable damage ; the wind gathered in the inside of the buildings through the open window-apertures, and blew off from the roof a great number of the slates.— Many other houses in Lytham have been damaged by the blowing away of slates and the falling of chimneys.

The sea has partially spoiled the dock by ripping up the boards; it has also washed up the road adjacent, thrown many schooners and flats on to the banks and beach, and many fishermen's boats have been taken as far as Mr. Cartmel's, nearly two miles inland. Of a great number of fishermen's boats that had been moored opposite to Lytham only four rode out the gale—the remainder went ashore at various places, and one fell to pieces altogether. Many of the poor owners are completely ruined. The Thomas Clifton, and John, of Preston, the sloop Alice, of Lancaster, and the Bee, are now lying on the beach—two of them between the mill and the watchhouse.

Mr. Cornelius Crookall , farmer, of Saltcoats, is a loser to a considerable amount by the irruption of the sea over the embankment on his land. A great part of his farm was completely covered with water, and produce of various kinds, including five stacks of grain, were irretrievably lost, and about fourteen acres of sown corn were washed away, the loss being quite £300.—The farm produce of Mr. Cookson has also received much injury in a similar manner.

Mr, J. Cartmel, farmer, of Moss-side, has also been a sufferer to a heavy amount. He saw the sea coming over the land with a sort of breast, and ran to the house to give warning of its approach; the alarm was at first received with some incredulity, but a good part of the furniture was removed up-stairs. His cattle, about 30 head, were at that time up to the belly in water, but they were saved by being driven to Mr. Fair's, at Lodge Hall. The produce lost by him includes turnips, hay, potatoes, and mangold-wurtzel, some of which have been carried down the river as far as Ashton and Lea. He cannot at present form any idea of the damage he has sustained; the stacks of hay and grain remaining are so much injured that he is going to house them as soon as he can make room. A very fat sow, that could hardly walk, swam across two fields, and Mr. Cartmell's son, a fine young man, braved the stormy waters, and swam after her, brought her back, and landed the fugitive safely upon a manure heap. Close to Mr. Cartmell's were two old houses, in one of which a man had been bedridden for ten weeks ; the inmates had barely time to escape, and carry the invalid through the midst of the storm to the adjoining farm, when both the dwellings were swept away.

Mr. John Salthouse, farmer, near Lytham Hall, has suffered in a similar manner. He has lost 150 tons of turnips; which have also been washed down the Ribble; part of them have been picked up from the beach;—he has also had several stacks of hay and wheat unthatched.— About three-quarters of a mile of the Lytham railway was totally destroyed, beginning at about a mile from the town, and it was here that the water broke through the embankment into Mr. Crookall's sown corn.

Mr. Peter Sykes, of the Carr House Farm, near Rossall Hall, has suffered to the extent of some hundred pounds. The sea broke through the embankment opposite his farm, and swept away with irresistible fury a great part of his corn stacks, drowned all his sheep, pigs, poultry, &c., and, in his house, destroyed all his furniture, actually breaking it into splinters, The horses, cows, &c. were got off, but narrowly escaped the same fate. The whole of the farms, except a few isolated fields, belonging to John Horrocks, Esq., of Preston, and Sir P. H. Fleetwood, Bart, were completely inundated with salt-water, and we fear that immense damage will be sustained by the fanners to their new-sown wheat. Such a destruction of property was never known in this neighbourhood.

A funeral left Lytham for Preston on Monday last, but the cortege was obliged to go round by Kirkham and Lea, towards the Marshes, and did not reach the town till considerably after night-fall. The corpse was interred, at the Parish Church, here, by candle-light, at 8 o’clock.


Very great damage has accrued to all the embankments in these places. The tide overflowed its banks, and rushed as far up as Warton Brow, and the roads and hedges are quite destroyed. As might be expected, all the farmers in the vicinity of the Ribble have suffered losses of greater or less magnitude. In this neighbourhood, hundreds of hare, partridges, and pheasants were driven in crowds to the highest lands they could avail themselves of and it was almost laughable to see the hares standing on their hind legs, looking about in the misery of despair, for a place of greater safety. Scores different kinds of game were picked up drowned when the flood subsided.