A Coastal Landmark…. and a Historic Rescue

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Lytham Windmill, The Fylde Coast, Lancashire

The Fylde is a an area of the Lancashire Coast that looks out across the Irish Sea.  Bordered to the North by the River Wyre and here at Lytham in the south, the River Ribble. Across the sands that are a feature of the  Ribble estuary,  lies the resort of Southport.

Today the attraction of Lytham’s seafront is a long promenade edge by a broad grass ‘green promenade’. 

Lytham Windmill is a distinctive landmark for the town.  Whilst windmills have long featured in the Fylde’s history, Lytham Mill was only built in 1805 (though suggestions are that an early mill was on this location).  It was built as a grain mill.  The interior shafts and milling equipment supposedly were from other mills. By all accounts it was a productive mill.

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Lytham Mill is a Four Sail Windmill.  Only 3 on the images, as one ‘replica’ sail was lost in high winds a few years ago. Nor are those replica sails the correct size.  Originally they were much longer….. and that is why there is a plinth around the base – built to keep both people and animals away from the dangers of the rotating sails.

Whilst Lytham started to prosper and become both a ‘new’ home for Lancashire Industrialist and as a Seaside Resort, thanks to the Railways.   The Mill continued its work.  But it was also became an added, and interesting visitor attraction.

Fortunes changed in 1919.  A sudden severe Gale sent the giant sails into a uncontrolled spin.  The brakes wouldn’t hold and in the process became hot and set the building alight.  Interior, Cap and Sails all destroyed. 

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In 1921 the Stump of the windmill was given to the people of Lytham. Restoration work was undertaken.  A new replica Dome or Cap fitted, sails added and interior workings for demonstration installed..  It became at times a museum, cafe and at one point an electric substation.  But age and damp became an issue.

So in 1987 the Council attracted funds and refurbished the Windmill as we see it today.  Still attracting visitors as it did in Victorian days.

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Sheltering in the lea of the Windmill is another very important building… The Lytham Lifeboat Station.  Important both in terms of Local History but also a very significant moment in the history of the Royal Life Boat Institution.

In severe gales on the 9th December 1886, the Lytham Lifeboat was launched. It was summoned to take part in an attempt to rescue a German Cargo Boat ‘The Mexico’.  Mexico had departed Liverpool on its way back to the Americas. The gales blew it relentlessly toward the River Ribble and the extensive sandbanks that straddle the estuary from Southport to Lytham. 

The Lytham Lifeboat was not alone.  Sister Lifeboats from Southport and St, Annes on Sea were also sent to the rescue.  The weather was described as extremely sever and the task of reaching the distressed vessel near impossible. Boats who’s only power was the brute strength of the manpower, with  long oars,  supplied by the volunteer crews manning each of the boats, it was indeed a tough task and a very big ask.. 

The Lytham Lifeboat managed to rescue 12 crew from the wreckage of the Mexico (I believe this was the entire crew) and returned them to the safety of dryland.

But the event does not reach a happy conclusion.  Both the Southport and the St. Annes Lifeboats were overwhelmed by the rough seas.  All Lifeboat crew drowned.  14 volunteers for the Southport boat and 13 from St. Annes…. all of course, like all Lifeboat men today…. Volunteers.

The Mexico Disaster is still the worst in the history of the Lifeboat Service.

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The wreck of the Mexico was later found washed up on sandbanks in the estuary.  Interestingly, some many years later, the Anchor above, was snagged in the nets of a fishing vessel  working off the coastal estuary.  It is believed to be, and may well be, the anchor from the Mexico.

Not sure just why the Lifeboat Station was built here in the shadow of the Mill…. but it seems to be ‘just right’.  Today the building houses a restored Lifeboat of a similar era and is also a Museum for the RNLI and related local history. 

The Building also has the additions of weather shelters for visitors to Lytham Promenade….  a venue of rescue of a very different form.

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The RNLI is there for those who need help on the seas and sands around our coast…  So lets

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

19th October

(C) David Oakes 2021

 

Silent Sunday…… Off to Church

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St. Peter’s, The Parish Church of Alstonefield, Staffordshire

High on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands, close to the border with Derbyshire, is the village of Alstonefield and its 12 century Parish Church.  Built in the mid 1100’s, like so many of our ancient Churches it stands on a much earlier religious site. Alstonefield was a large and rather prosperous country Parish.  I am told there are over 700 marked graves which span 5 centuries of Alstonefield’s history, an indicator to the onetime size of this Parish… I also understand that there are many more graves lost to time.

For over 1000 years St. Peter’s has served the Parish. During those times it has endured the many perils of Plaque, Religious unrest and Civil Wars, yet it still stands firm.  The dark interior is simple, yet at the same time mysterious, not spooky but with an unreal fee hard to describe but very much felt…. maybe its the spirits of the those gone before. 

Its Grade 1 Listed Building status should ensure that St. Peter’s it will stand for many centuries more.  

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We should never ignore our old Churches, they have seen much in their lifetimes and can tell us much about our past.

As always on this Sunday and everyday of the week….

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

26th September

(C) David Oakes 2021

 

 

Wordless Wednesday… A Very Favourite Place

Chatsworth From the Air

Location:-  A once in a lifetime shot of Chatsworth House, Gardens and Park, Derbyshire

Up in the air or down on the ground….

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

22nd September

(C) David Oakes 2021

Changing Times…. Changing Fortunes

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Dysart, Fife, Scotland

Along the Firth of Forth, the Fife Coastline has many ports and harbours.  One time Fishing was king.  Gas and Petroleum have become the principle cargoes.

Dysart is one of the oldest harbours.  It is recorded in records dating back to 1450. Its importance to the local economy  saw the harbour expanded and strengthened over the centuries.  Fishing was of course for a time an important  trade for Dysart Harbour. But its real economic importance was the export of the areas two principle products.  Fife had an abundance of productive Coal Mines. It also was a Salt Producer of some size, from the many ‘salt pans’ along the Firth.

The export trade in both these mineral commodities produced a profitable trade across the Norths Sea to the European Low Countries. Return cargo was often Pantiles and bricks.

But times and economics change.  Dysart soon became too small to handle the larger and faster ships that progress  demanded, so its fortunes waned.

Today, Dysart makes use of its harbour mainly for leisure. A rugged harbour still offering safe sanctuary for those venturing out to the Firth of Forth and maybe beyond.

If you are venturing further afield or remaining local…..

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

21st September

(C) David Oakes 2021

Silent Sunday……. Off to Church

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Saint John the Baptist, The Parish Church of Cirencester, Gloucestershire

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Wherever you are this Sunday…..

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

19th September

(C) David Oakes 2021