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


George Lord - Reminicences of St.Annes

Newspaper article dated 1924

Reminiscences of Mr. George Lord



Mr. George William Lord is one of St. Annes pioneers. No one is more competent than he to recount the story of the town's earliest days or the history of its development since the 'seventies. The memory of those early days come ever fresh to Mr. Lord and to those like him who knew St. Annes when it was little more than a rather ambitious hamlet set in a waste of sandhills.

Memory speeds back quickly over the fifty years' period of St. Annes’ development, when one compares the St. Annes of 1875 with its little cottages and great ambitions pictured by Mr. Lord with the St. Annes of 1924, the modern holiday resort, with its pier, hotels, cinemas, gardens and all its other attractions, one realises in how great a degree the town owes its present proud position to the undaunted efforts of its pioneers.

Once the potentialities of St. Annes were recognised, it grew with the rapidity of an American prairie town, and, passing through more than one period of slump, attained its present proud position among English watering-places within a comparatively short time. Mr. Lord is one of the few who have seen the town grow from insignificance to fame, and it is an interesting story that he can tell of that development.

Mr. Lord was about twenty years of age when he came to St. Annes front Bacup in August, 1875. For live months he worked on the making of the old St. George's Gardens—the site of the present Ashton Gardens —travelling between St. Annes and Black- pool each day, until, on January 3rd, 1876, he went to live with the late Mr. Clement Rawstron (the father of Mr. Arthur Rawstron), at Alpha House, which is, of course, still situate in St. Andrew's Road South, and which was the first Post Office in St. Annes. Then Mr. Lord served his apprenticeship as a painter with the late Mr. Frank Lomax, whose workshop was close to the Parish Church, and with whom Mr. Lord worked for five or six years.

Meanwhile, St. Annes had been steadily developing. Then the first building slump came, and, as there was no work for painters, Mr. Lord joined his fortunes with the late Mr. John Diggle, whose workshop was next to the Church Road Wesleyan Church, and learned the slating trade. A few years later he was busy one day repairing the roof of the Drive Church Schoolroom, when the late Mr. Daniel Leach, newly arrived back from America, came past. “That’s not your job, George," said Mr. Leach, and front that day Mr. Lord's activities were re-transferred to the painting trade, and he worked for Mr. Leach for many years in Blackpool, St. Annes, Lytham, Bury and Preston. In those days Mr. Leach worked for Mr. William John Porritt, and when he returned to America Mr. Lord took over his contracts and was in charge of all the painting and Slating work for Mr. Porritt for eleven years. Subsequently he confined himself solely to the slating business again, anti so worked until the outbreak of the war, when he, went back once again to the painting trade.

It was shortly after the end of the war that for Mr. Lord the light failed. Previously he had seriously injured his right eye at cricket, and about live years ago his sight was lost to him. He bears his great affliction with a brave philosophy. It is still his boast that, given a friend to guide him across the busy roads, he could find his way anywhere about St. Annes. For has he not seen practically every street laid and every house built, and, even denied his sight, can there be any strange place for him in the town of his adoption? In his memory alone he has a happy companion.


The St. Annes Hotel was in course of construction when Mr. Lord first set foot in the town. There were a number of fishermen's cottages in Church Road, but on the front there were two residences only—a house adjoining the site of the present Southdown Hotel and Miss Davis's School. A short time passed and then Claremont Villas, at the corner of Eastbank Road, were erected, with six houses—including Kilgrimol School, then in charge of Mr. John Allen on South Drive. A few more houses nearer the centre of the town sprang up on the Drive, and then more houses were erected in Park Road and Wood Street.

An era of prosperity for St. Annes had apparently set in, but the promise of success for the town's promoters was not yet to be fulfilled, for shortly afterwards, and while the gas works were in course of construction, the first building slump came and put it check to all progress. It was then, said Mr. Lord, that the late Mr. W. J. Porritt, a director of the Land and Building Co., first came prominently into the field. Mr. Porritt was a man of great faith and sound judgment, and by building property of good quality and enduring substance, he paved the way for a renewal of prosperity.

It was about this time that disaster befel Mr. John Ogden, who had obtained the contract for the construction of the gas works, for during a gale one winter's night in the late 'seventies the wall on the railway side of the new buildings was blown down, and so much damage was caused to the properly that the work of construction had to be recommenced. Mr. Porritt took over and completed three houses on Summerfield Terrace in St. Annes Road East, which Mr. Ogden had commenced, and proceeded to build extensively on North Promenade and in other parts of the town. That was the real starting-point of St. Annes’ prosperity.


Mr. Lord has always been associated with the church and musical life of the town. He remembers when people of all denominations used to meet for worship every Sunday in a hay loft over the stables then owned by Mr. Ogden and now the property of Messrs. T. Whiteside and Sons, off Park Road, and he can recall the first Free Church services held in the town—it was actually the United Methodist Church, although in those days Nonconformists of all creeds had, perforce, to sink all their little differences and worship together—in a bakehouse in Church Road—a building which stands to-day.

That was in 1876, and a year later the Drive Wesleyan School Chapel (as it was then called) was built. Mr. Lord attended the opening ceremony, and he remembers that, among others, there were present Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Nutter and their three daughters, Mr. and Mrs. John Ogden and their three daughters, Mr. Thomas Ormerod (the first superintendent of the school), Mr. and Mrs. Edward Walmsley and their son (Mr. Harry Walmsley), and daughter, and Mr. Edward Hargreaves. It is interesting to note that Mr. Lord, Mr. Hargreaves and Mr. Harry Walmsley attended the services held recently in celebration of the 46th anniversary.


Mr. Lord held the position of organist at the Drive for 16 years, and was secretary of the Sunday School for 14 years. Always has he lent his talented services as an organist willingly. He has played, at some time or other, in every church in the town with the exception of the Roman Catholic Church. After his long term of office at the Drive Church, the held a similar position at the Church Road Church for four years and at the Primitive Methodist Church for twelve months, while at the Congregational Church, where he also played occasionally he had a singing class at one time.

He did not take any part in the construction of the Drive School Chapel, and it was with a few misgivings that he consented to associate in his business capacity as a slater painter with the erection of the places of worship which followed the Drive, for the last thing he wanted people to think was that he went to church with any idea of promoting his business interests. Rather would he sacrifice those interests than that people should think that of him--although, really those who knew Mr. Lord were never likely to think of him as anything but the Christian gentleman he always proved himself. Mr Lord, it should be mentioned, was the first music seller in St. Annes, and there was a time in those early days, when the front room of his house in Church Roach, was a Mecca of all local music lovers.


Mr Lord was a devotee of the King Willow in the days before the Palace Shield came into existence, and when the St.Annes team used to play "friendly” games with Blackpool, Lytham, Kirkham, and Fleetwood and when the home games were played on a field which stretched at that time from the present Oxford Road to Highbury Road. As members of the team he can recollect the Rev. W. G. Terry (vicar of the Parish Church before the Rev. H. F Butler), George and William Howarth, Sam Parkinson and Peter Moore. Mr. Lord was also one of the first members of the present Ashton Institute when it was situated in Wood Street—before it was transferred to the St. George's Gardens entrance.


The night of the "Mexico" disaster still lives vividly in Mr. Lord's memory. It was while he was in residence in Church Road, and he remembers that he had just returned from a music lesson and was having his supper before the fire when the alarm was sounded. Everybody, in those days, whatever the time of day or night, rushed down to the shore to help in the launch of the lifeboat immediately the gun was heard. Accordingly Mr. Lord was soon on the scene of action. It was a glorious moonlight night, following a day during which a gale had raged furiously, and a heavy sea was running. The boat was launched and the watchers on the shore were able to follow its course for a long way in the bright light of the full moon.

They saw it vanish in the distance, and though they did not know it then they saw the brave men who manned its going to their death. No news had come through at 12-30, and Mr. Lord, with many others, went home fully expecting that by morning the boat would have arrived safely back again. The morning, instead, brought the terrible news of the boat's loss. That ill-fated craft was the "Laura Janet," and in the summer before the disaster Mr. Lord had painted it with no little pride.


One of Mr. Lord's pet hobbies for twenty years was the breeding of collie dogs, and with his son, Mr. Fred Lord, who left England in November last, and who now holds the position of High Sheriff of New Jersey, America, he gained many successes at shows in various parts of the country. In his new home across the Atlantic Mr. Fred Lord has now some excellent kennels.

Mr. Lord is 68 years of age, and he has been married 40 years. He is one of the old brigade who played a worthy part in the building of the town, and now he "looks on” with the few others who are left, proud of I the work's culmination. It is right not to forget the patient, ever-hopeful labours of the pioneers in the era of subsequent prosperity, for those men of the early days builded well.

Newspaper article dated 1924.