St Annes Pier
St Annes Pier
The Grand Hotel
A brief look back through time, to see how the Victorian seaside town of St Annes evolved.
By the mid 1700s, nearby Lytham was a town in its own right. In 1873, the Cliftons of Lytham built a chapel dedicated to St Anne to serve the tiny hamlet of Heyhouses which lay at the northern end of Lytham among the sand dunes. Of course this became the parish church of St Annes, which continued to grow from the late 1800’s.
St Annes was a Victorian planned town, officially founded on 31 March 1875 with the positioning of the cornerstone of the St Annes Hotel, which has since been demolished. That was quickly followed by the Hydro Terrace (which became St Annes Square) and the railway station. The businessman Elijah Hargreaves was the person responsible for drawing out the plan of the town, because he saw that attracting large numbers of visitors from the mill towns of Lancashire could be highly profitable. In 1874 he registered the St Annes on the Sea Land and Building Company Ltd, and the land of St Annes was leased from the Clifton family of Lytham on a 999 year term.
St Annes retains a lot of the original Victorian/Edwardian character, along with many of the original period buildings which line the main shopping area and promenade. It’s best known as a family friendly resort that bursts into floral colour each summer, with a wide sandy beach and small pier with accompanying sea front seaside attractions.
St Annes has some claims to fame, including being the original home of ERNIE, the premium bond selector. The late, great Les Dawson lived at St Annes and his statue can be seen laughing on the seafront. Many other northern celebrities still live in the area, and the late George Formby Jr was one of them.
Loss of life through the Mexico Disaster of 1886 is remembered with a memorial statue of a lifeboatman looking out to sea on the promenade. The original lifeboat station closed in 1925 due to silting of the channel, and now the Lytham St Annes area is served from the brand new all-weather RNLI base just south of St Annes pier, near The Island Complex, which opened in 2000.
St Annes pier opened in June 1885, and in 1910 the Floral Hall opened at the end of the pier. In 1974 it survived a major fire which caused serious damage to the hall, but not a second one in 1982 which destroyed it, after which, half the pier was demolished for safety.
When the pier opened the main channel of the River Ribble ran by the end of the pier, making it a popular berth for boats sailing from Lytham and Southport. Unfortunately, the Ribble Navigation Act of 1883, designed to allow trade into Preston Docks, meant that the channel moved further out into the river and left St Annes pier on sandbanks and inaccessible to boats.
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