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


 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) 


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.

 Proposed plan of St.Annes-on-the-Sea c1874

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 structures.

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 sanitary welfare.


St.Annes Church, Heyhouses, St.Annes-on-the-Sea c1885The 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 Wednesday performed.

The St.Annes Hotel, St.Annes-on-the-Sea, pictured c1880.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 pleaded  during 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 drunk,

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 both.

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 visitors."

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 Witches."

The band of the Third Lancashire Militia, under the conductorship of Mr. Norwood, played at intervals during to luncheon.