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


 The Lost Beaches

Paddling at Lytham.

West, Beach Lytham.

East Beach, Lytham.

Lytham, Ansdell, and Fairhaven once boasted beautiful golden beaches but within living memory they have changed beyond all recognition.

Lancashire Evening Post - Saturday 18 September 1937

Mud & grass on Lytham Beach in the early 1950s.
Mud & grass on Lytham Beach in the early 1950s.

In the 1930s silt started to accumulate on Lytham Beach, forming a thick layer of mud. This "mud menace" was compounded in the 1940s when Spartina grass seeded itself in the silt deposits. The beaches at Lytham and Fairhaven are now covered with this highly invasive grass, which continues to spread along the coast.

Fairhaven Beach viewed from St Annes, October 2020.

About 2010 several groups joined forces to help prevent the grass from completely taking over this section of the beach and to stop the rampant colonisation of the main tourist beaches at St Annes. This involved Fylde Borough Council, St Annes Chamber of Trade,  the Community Pay Back Scheme, and volunteers.

It was backbreaking work. The tufts of grass and the roots had to be dug out by hand, carried off the beach and disposed of. The volunteers were successful but unfortunately, over the past decade, the relentless march of the grass has continued, and once again it threatens the sands at St Anne's. The beaches are of course vital to tourism and the local economy.

The Root Cause?

All these environmental changes appear to be rooted in Preston Corporation's construction, between the 1880s and early 1900s, of their new channel - see the "Ribble Navigation" page - and the planting of Spartina grass along the Ribble banks.

Lytham St Annes and Southport experienced identical problems over the same period - the silting up of channels, rising beach levels and silt on the beaches followed by an infestation of Spartina grass. In the 1980s Fylde Borough Council and Sefton Borough Council commissioned a three-year survey and the results were published early in 1987. On the page "Sand, Silt & Spartina Solutions" press cuttings from 1987 and 1988 give expert and local opinion on the matter.


90 Years of Change at Lytham

East Beach

West Beach

Ansdell Beach - Granny's Bay

By the slade, Ansdell Beach, Granny's Bay, Lytham c1903

Ansdell Beach, Granny's Bay, viewed from Outer Promenade, Fairhaven (Lake), Lytham c1903

Fairhaven Beach

Between Fairhaven Lake and Fairhaven Road, St Annes.

Fairhaven Beach, viewed from opposite Fairhaven Road, St Annes, 1986.

This part of the coast, stretching from St Annes to Fairhaven Lake, was sand dunes fronted by a continuous ridge of shingle and below was a sandy beach. By the time this photo was taken in 1986 a thin layer of silt had formed on the sands. Since then the relentless march of Spartina grass has transformed it.

 Aerial views of Fairhaven Beach in 1988 and 2019.

Fairhaven Beach Today

View from Fairhaven Lake towards St.Annes  with grass smothering the once golden sands (2009).

Fairhaven Beach, looking towards Lytham (2009); the sand dunes, shingle 'Stanner' and grass covered beach.

Looking from Outer Promenade, St.Annes, towards Fairhaven, with grass spreading along the beach (2009).