Formby: Spot the differences 1888 - 2018

I was browsing an old map of Formby recently and the longer I looked at it the more I noticed significant differences between now and then. (Click on the Map to view in more detail).

Formby Station Composite

The map was surveyed and published between 1888 and 1893. It's just a fragment from a map of the whole of Lancashire. This particular image is a composite made with three screenshots, carefully arranged to ensure that the joins are as invisible as possible 

Nonetheless, there are some interesting features, I wonder whether you'll notice more than me.

You can either comment using the text box at the bottom of the story or try the 'Blog Chat' link in the righthand column, I've set up a 'WhatsApp group' as an experiment.

Tell me what you find and any other observation you want to add.

I hope you enjoy this puzzle to start the week.

Did Formby residents ever celebrate a January Wassail?

Posted Tuesday 9 January 9.30 am

According to my copy of 'The Almanac: A seasonal guide to 2018' by Lia Leendertz it is the season of the Wassail.

Wassail 2The tradition of wassailing falls into two distinct categories: the house-visiting wassail and the orchard-visiting wassail.

Apparently, January offers two festivities that celebrate trees.

Wassailing - pieces of cider-soaked toast are hung on the branches of apple trees and wassail songs sung.

Tu BiShvat - a Jewish holiday, this marks 'The New Year of the Trees' and is day of mass tree-planting in Israel.

So in accord with these traditions I offer you this traditional Wassail song from Wikipedia and sung by The U.S. Army Band.

I'd love to know whether there was ever a local tradition here in Formby that marked the month of January in this way. Does anybody know?

Wigan And District Pawnbrokers’ Association Annual Picnic Week

Posted Thursday 4 January 10.45 am 

As it's mid-winter and the news is dominated frequently with the effects of bad weather I thought you might enjoy this true report of a summer event at the Grapes Hotel, Freshfield in July 1907.


The Wigan and District Pawnbrokers' Association second annual picnic week July 1907

The annual picnic was held, the Grapes Hotel, Freshfield, being the rendezvous.

Wakes week charabancs

Favoured with fine weather, the party, which numbered 57, left Wigan Station for Southport, where Charabancs were waiting to convey them their destination. Arriving at the Grapes Hotel the party betook themselves to various recreations, for be it understood that plan had been made out both for the ladies and the gentlemen, in the shape of bowling matches, which were eagerly contested.

Tea was announced 5.30 pm and after a sumptuous meal, the president (Mr Councillor Ed. Dickinson) presented the prizes to the respective winners. A vote of thanks to the president brought the Freahfield portion of the day's programme to an end.

Charabancs were again mounted, the party arriving back in Southport about 9 pm the day throughout having been fine, although "King Sol" and "Jupiter Pluvious" had held at times a contest for supremacy, which wound up, as usual, a heavy downpour of rain. Wigan was reached shortly before eleven, this concluding a second pleasurable day with members and their friends of the Wigan and District Pawnbrokers’ Association.

Source: Wigan Observer and District Advertiser - Saturday 06 July 1907

I'd like to imagine that in the early stages of winter 1907 all those involved in the event above were longingly turning their minds to summer Wakes weeks activities.  It seems from this report this was the second such picnic event. The first, we must presume, was so successful to justify this one.

One final question springs to my mind. The Charabancs illustrated above are motorised, I wonder whether in the year 1907 they were more likely to be horse-driven.

Enjoy a January sale at The Lifeboat

Pub-goers can enjoy a January Sale at The Lifeboat in Formby.

image from
Manager Ashleigh-Jane Briscoe is reducing the price of a selection of drinks at the Wetherspoon pub in Three Tuns Lane from Tuesday January 2 until Wednesday January 17 inclusive.

The range of drinks featured in the sale are;

  • a real ale (Sharp's Doom Bar),
  • a craft beer (Shipyard),
  • one lager (Coors Light),
  • two ciders (Strongbow Dark Fruit and Magners),
  • a selection of wines including three from Coldwater Creek (red, white and rose),
  • three spirits; Gordon's gin, Smirnoff vodka, Bacardi rum (inclusive of a mixer),
  • four soft drinks; Sanpellegrino (blood orange and also lemon), Old Jamaica
    Ginger Beer (regular and diet version), Guinness,
  • as well as a Lavazza coffee (including refills).

The sale prices include

  • a pint of Shipyard at £2.29,
  • a pint of Coors Light at £2.49,
  • a glass of Coldwater Creek wine (175ml glass) at £2.60,
  • a pint of Guinness at £2.99,
  • a pint of Magners at £2.39,
  • Gordon's gin (single measure with mixer) at £2.90,
  • Sanpellegrino at 89p
  • and a Lavazza coffee at 99p.

Ashleigh-Jane said :

"Department stores and shops hold their sales in January, so it is the perfect time to have a sale in the pub too.
The range of drinks on sale in the pub is aimed at suiting a wide variety of tastes.
I believe that the January Sale will prove popular with our customers.
As always, staff at the pub will serve customers responsibly."

Wetherspoon will also be reducing the price of rooms at their hotels during the sale period with all rooms priced from £49 per night from January 2 to January 17 inclusive.


Carols with Brass Concert

Posted Wednesday 20 December 7.30 pm

Formby Choral Society is performing a carol concert this December with the Formby Band.

New members are always welcome and further details can be obtained by contacting the Membership Secretary

FCS Carols with brass