Frank Robinson.

A descriptive history of the popular watering place of Southport in the Parish of North Meols, on the western coast of Lancashire online

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Online LibraryFrank RobinsonA descriptive history of the popular watering place of Southport in the Parish of North Meols, on the western coast of Lancashire → online text (page 4 of 8)
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farewell ! the scream of the railway whistle is to be
substituted for the sonorous " all right " of your careful
charioteers, and the progress of Southport is onward !

To say that our two direct lines will place us in



connection with the great trunk lines of railway which
intersect the country, is sufficient to prove that with
respect to facility in travelling, we have all that we could
reasonably desire.


Apartments, either at the inns or private houses, may be
obtained at comparative moderate terms. Bed-rooms and
sitting-rooms range from half a guinea to fifteen shillings
each per week. In private lodgings, a charge of half a
crown per week is made for cooking, and a gratuity is
expected for waiting and extra attention. At the hotels,
board and lodging may be obtained at from six to seven
shillings per day, including gratuities to the servants of the

Furnished cottages are charged from one guinea and a
half to six guineas per week, according to the number of
beds, in " the season," the parties who take them finding
their own linen and plate, and half-price in winter ; which
reduced terms are also observed at the lodging-houses in
the latter season.

It is questionable whether these reduced terms ought to
take place. The advantages of a winter residence are
decidedly great in many cases. Many still exclaim at the
idea of a sea-side residence in the winter, and would as
soon think of fixing their abode at Greenland or
Spitzbergen, being little aware that the climate of South-
port, situated as it is on the open coast, and swept from
east to west and from north to south by the winds of
heaven, is dryer and milder at that time than any of our
inland towns ; that it is seldom visited by fogs, and those
fogs might rather be termed mists ; and that rain falls in
very small quantities, and is almost immediately absorbed
by our sandy, thirsty soil. These are characteristics which


cannot be overrated, and are well appreciated by those who
have ventured to try whether it were possible to exist here
in winter. To their surprise, the aged have found that
they breathed more freely ; that their step became firmer ;
that their appetite, supposed to be irrecoverably lost, had
again returned to them ; to sum up all, that they had
taken out a new lease of their lives. Parents have seen their
puny, sickly offspring, whom they had treated as hot-house
plants, gradually, we might almost say suddenly, assume
a healthy, cheerful appearance. In every stage of life,
and at every part of the year, persons may be benefited
by a residence in Southport ; and it is impossible to say
whether more invalids require the dry, bracing breezes of
winter, or the soft and balmy zephyrs of summer. If
these are facts, and who will be so reckless of their
veracity as to deny the truth of them ? why should a
" half-price " exist at all ? Certainly not ; unless it can
be satisfactorily proved that in the winter season persons
only receive half benefit. Look at the natives ; or the
settlers either ; they do not find it necessary to leave this
supposed frigid latitude for a more torrid one ; and
yet our parish registers display the astounding and
gratifying information that " three score years and ten "
is not, by any means, the limit, and scarcely the average,
of a Meols man's existence. These important truths
ought to be widely disseminated, as much for the interests
of the town as for the common cause of humanity.

Persons often remark that the terms for apartments
are too high ; but never was there a greater fallacy.
Visitors arrive here, perhaps, in the height of the season,
when almost every apartment may be engaged, and they
find that for the accommodation of a comfortable and well
furnished house, including cooking and attendance, families


are charged as much, or it may be more, as three guineas
per week ; or at the rate of one hundred and fifty-six
guineas per year ! " An imposition," say they ; but
how does the case really stand ? A respectable widow
lady, for instance, becomes the tenant of a house at the
rent of twenty pounds, or including rates and taxes,
about twenty-four pounds, per annum. Having almost
impoverished herself to obtain every article necessary
for the accommodation of visiters, the house, at the
spring of the year, is decorated and made as attractive as
possible. Towards April or May visiters begin to arrive
rather freely ; and if our heroine has " a connexion,"
(that is, if she has been a resident for some years,) she
may let her rooms about that time, and, with intervals,
continue to re-let them to the end of October, and if she
does she is extremely fortunate. In the course of that
time she may have received seventy pounds ; out of which
she has to pay twenty-four pounds for rent, &c., to pay
for assistance, which cannot be rated at less than ten
pounds, leaving, in one of the most profitable instances
that can be imagined, an overplus of between thirty and
forty pounds, not too much for her comfortable support for
a year. To obtain this sum, even under such favourable
auspices, she has had to sacrifice all ideas of her own
personal accommodation ; has had to take her meals no
one knows when, and to sleep no one knows where. If
this is the condition of a lodging-house keeper with a
connexion, how do those fare who have no connexion,
but await with patience that zenith of such an existence ?
The sum received will scarcely be two-thirds of the above
amount ; may not be one half. Thirty-five pounds for
rent, taxes, and existence ! who can tell the privations
which must be undergone before the commencement of

another season induces the renewed hope of a connexion ?
Bad as this latter state is, there is a worse, to which all
are liable. Changes in the times, uncertain weather, and
other causes, may make a bad and unprofitable season ; in
which case, too often, the effects of the lodging-house
keeper are " sold, without reserve," and the unfortunate
owner " changes her residence." Are these extreme or
rare cases ? No ; each year swells the catalogue of such
unfortunates, and " their name is legion, for they are
many." The benevolent and facetious Punch has caricatured
the lodging-house keepers at watering-places as " the
ogres who live upon their lodgers ; " and it would be well
if all who embark in this uncertain and unprofitable
calling could really do so. Nothing more would be
required to produce this desirable state of affairs than that
the advantages of a sea-side residence be obtained by all
who require it. As this is not, nor will not ever be the
case, a repetition of such domestic calamities as we have
alluded to must take place. Visitors, pay freely, and be
liberal to the lodging-house keeper !

Of how much importance to visitors is the assurance
that the " supplies " are abundant and regular. To be
informed that the town is beautiful, the shore extensive,
the air pure, the accommodation first-rate, the travelling
all that can be desired, are trifling matters, if the visitors
are in a state of oblivion as to this most consequential
one. Well, then, be it known to all whom it may concern,
that whether they desire to live extravagantly or economi-
cally, to discuss port or porter, their wishes may be fully

An abundant supply of flesh-meat, fowls, and game
(when in season), is always kept up. Rabbits, with which

the sand-hills swarm, are noted for their delicacy. Fish
of the choicest kind is caught in immense quantities, and
is remarkably cheap. Shrimps and cockles, respecting
which much has been sung and said, are also taken in
extraordinary quantities, and are much esteemed for their
size and flavour.

Provisions of every kind, groceries, wines and spirits,
ale and porter, all of first-rate quality, may be purchased
on fully as advantageous terms as in large towns.

It may be interesting to state the fact that the town is
singularly well supplied with that necessary of life, pure
water. Even on the shore, almost washed over by the
tide, water, clear as crystal, and without the slightest
brackish taste, is met with at the depth of half a yard.
As may be readily conceived, the sinking of a well in the
town is a very inexpensive undertaking.



Considering the population, Southport is remarkable for
the number of its benevolent institutions, and for the
liberality with which the branch associations for religious
purposes, in connection with their gigantic parents, are
supported. Whether for the relief of the sick or
distressed, to clothe the naked, to instruct the ignorant,
to bury the dead, or to afford spiritual consolation to those
who require it, for each and all of these works of
mercy there is some provision provided. There are
rewards for those who risk their personal safety in their
benevolent wish to save the lives of the crews of the unfor-
tunate vessels cast upon our coast ; there are loyal and
philanthropic institutions, the members of which meet and
vie with each other in teaching and spreading the principles
of brotherly love and truth, and mutually assisting each
other ; there are schools for the poor and the wealthy,
for the infant and the adult. The propensities for evil
must be very strong in the individuals who, with such
advantages, and such few temptations, go astray ; and it
is pleasing to think that, although there are numbers of
poor persons in the neighbourhood, it is only in the very
worst of times that there is any actual want.



This noble and philanthropic institution, belongs rather
to the county in general than to Southport, but it well
deserves to be the first-named. It was established in
1806, a very early period in Southport history, at the
suggestion of the benevolent Miss Leigh, one of the
earliest residents in the town, assisted by the late Thomas
Ridgway, Esq., of Walsuches, in this county. Its object
is the relief of poor sick strangers, to whose recovery sea
air or bathing may be conducive ; and in order to prevent
imposition, a patient is required to procure a recommenda-
tion from a subscriber, and also a certificate from a
regular medical practitioner, stating the complaint, and his
opinion as to whether the patient is likely to receive
benefit from the above sources. If accepted by the
committee, they are allowed the sum of seven shillings
per week for their maintenance, with medical advice,
medicines, warm and cold baths, for three weeks, which
is the allotted time allowed by the rules ; and if it
is considered desirable that they should remain any
longer it is required that they shall make application for
the renewal of their recommendation, and again be subject
to the decisions of the committee. Each subscriber can
recommend one poor patient for every twenty-four shillings
sterling of subscription, which sum is the average cost of
a patient staying three weeks. The business of the charity
is conducted by a committee, treasurer, secretary, and the
medical gentlemen. It is supported by voluntary sub-
scriptions and donations, to the amount of between six
and seven hundred pounds annually, and the wealthy
subscribers from the manufacturing districts who sojourn
here cannot but view with the most intense pleasure the
Samaritan-like labours of the officers to render the charity


as efficient as possible. In the year 1809, forty-two
patients were admitted, the income for that year being;
78 Is. 6d. ; but in the year 1846, the amount of
subscriptions and donations had increased to 682 5s. Od.,
and the number of patients to 570. The question, as to
the propriety of disposing of the present building and
erecting a more commodious one in Sea-bank-road, for
the purpose of admitting in-patients, has been discussed,
but no definite arrangement has been made. In concluding
this sketch of the Strangers' Charity, we cannot refrain
from expressing our opinion that an institution with such
noble and generous patrons, such diligent and faithful
officers, and, above all, such truly Christian objects, cannot
fail to prosper.


A public meeting was held in the town in March, 1825,
" for the purpose of considering the propriety of establishing
a Local Dispensary for the benefit of the poor of North
Meols and its vicinity," an object which the Strangers'
Charity was not intended to comprehend. Resolutions in
favour of the undertaking were passed, a committee
appointed, and the Dispensary was opened on the 3rd of
May following. The institution, which was found to be
of great service, was in existence for a few years, but
afterwards decayed for want of support ; or, perhaps, for
want of exertion being made to obtain subscriptions. The
late Mr. Blundell, one of its medical officers, was very
anxious to see it re-established, as, indeed, were many of
its original supporters j and the absence of any relief for
the sick poor rendered it actually necessary. In the
Visiter of May 22nd, 1847, an advertisement was inserted
calling a meeting of such persons as were favourable to
the establishment of a Local Dispensary, on the 26th of



the same mouth. The meeting took place in the Assembly
Room, the Rev. C. Hesketh, rector of the parish, in the
chair, and rules were proposed, and agreed to unanimously,
for the institution's government. Four resident medical
gentlemen who had kindly volunteered their services, were
also appointed. An adjourned meeting was held on the
2nd of June, at which the Rev. C. Hesketh was appointed
president ; Thomas Hulme, Esq., treasurer ; and Mr.
Robert Johnson, secretary. Messrs. Garside, Walker, and
Kershaw were appointed dispensing chemists to the
institution j to take the office six months in succession.
An active canvass was made in the town, and near upon
100 was raised within a very few weeks. All poor
persons residing in the parish of North Meols, and not
admitted to parochial relief, are admissable as patients of
the Dispensary, on producing a subscriber's recommendation,
between the hours of nine and ten in the morning any
day except Sunday. The management of the institution,
including making, altering, and repealing the rules 3 the
control of the funds, and the appointment of the medical
and other officers, is vested in a committee, consisting of
all subscribers of one guinea and upwards, all donors
of ten guineas and upwards at one time, and the medical
officers for the time being. The surgeons receive no
remuneration for their services, except when it is necessary
to make visits in Birkdale and other places at some
distance from the town, in which case they receive half-a-
crown for each visit. Every subscriber is entitled to have
one patient constantly on the books for each guinea
annually subscribed ; and a donation of ten guineas
entitles the donor to the same privileges as an annual
subscriber of one guinea. A half-yearly subscription of
half-a-guinea, paid at Midsummer or Christmas, entitles


the subscriber to have one patient on the books for the
half year immediately succeeding that on which such
subscription has been paid. Clergymen and other persons
making collections in churches, chapels, and elsewhere,
and paying over the same to the treasurer of the institution,
are entitled to the same privileges in recommending patients
as an annual subscriber of the like amount. An annual
public meeting takes place, at which a report of the
proceedings, and the financial state of the institution, is


The object of the Marine Fund is to reward those
persons who save, or attempt to save, lives and property
in cases of shipwreck, and give assistance to vessels in
distress. It is thus distributed. A reward of two pounds
ten shillings is given to the crew of the first boat that
reaches a vessel in distress, or gives effectual assistance ;
a reward of two pounds is given to the second boat, and
one guinea to the third. In addition to the sum each
boat may be entitled to, a further reward is given for
every life saved from the wreck. The committee reserves
to itself, in every instance, the power of increasing or
diminishing, or even entirely withholding, premiums,
according to the circumstances of the case. The Rev.
G. Ford, the former rector of the parish, was the
originator of this excellent institution, about the year
1816. Three or four years previous to that time, a life-
boat was built by subscription, but proved to be unfit for
the purpose, she was therefore used as a pleasure boat
during the summer months. Mr. Ford, feeling anxious
that some means should be adopted to prevent, as far as
possible, that destruction of life and property which so
frequently took place upon this dangerous coast, recom-


mended the disposal of the boat, and the establishment of
a fund, the interest of which would be sufficient to defray
any claims which might be made, without encroaching
upon the principal sum. The subscribers, nothing loath,
agreed, and, including subscriptions, a considerable amount
of money was raised, sufficient to carry into effect the
benevolent intentions of the founder, for the interest has
in general been amply sufficient for the expenses of the
year. A life-boat, properly constructed, has also been
established for several years ; so that it will be seen that
all the means that humanity could suggest have been
provided for the assistance of those luckless mariners who
by the storm or tempest, or ignorance of the coast, are in
danger of perishing. The Rev. W. Docker has for
some years been both treasurer and secretary of the fund,
and we have reason to believe that its distribution is
in most excellent hands.


Ten or eleven years ago, a number of young men in
the town, determined to establish a " Mechanics' Institution,
for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. The first meetings
were held in a kitchen, to which the librarian brought all
the library in a basket for distribution amongst the
members. The members and books increased pretty
rapidly, and in the course of three or four years the
committee felt themselves justified in renting a convenient
and commodious room in Lords'-street, opposite to the
Bold Arms Hotel, and the advantages of membership were
considerably increased, as much as ten-and-a-half guineas
having been given for a course of lectures. The number
of members at this time was about sixty. A dispute
amongst the committee led to the dissolution of the
institution, and the library, which had then become of


some value, remained out of use for four or five years.
Some of the seceding members formed themselves into a
society called the " Southport Reading and Discussion
Society," which afterwards merged into a mere reading
society, and was eventually dissolved. The Rev. J.
E. Millson, soon after his appointment as pastor of
the Independent congregation in the town, having been
previously connected with a Literary Institute, suggested to
the inhabitants, through the columns of the Visiter, the
desirableness of forming the present Literary and Scientific
Institution. Convinced, by the reverend gentleman's hints,
of the usefulness of such an institution, a number of
respectable inhabitants requested him to deliver a lecture
more fully explanatory of his views upon the subject. To
this request he, without hesitation, acceded, and his lecture
upon " Mental Culture " made a decided impression upon
the numerous audience who heard it. The chair was taken
by the Rev. J. Jackson, and the objects proposed were
supported, in a series of resolutions, by persons of almost
every grade of religious belief. The foundation of the
institution may be dated from the delivery of this lecture,
which took place on the 14th of October, 1847. A
meeting of the subscribers, officers, and members of the
late Mechanics' Institution was called by its secretary -a
few days afterwards, at which it was unanimously agreed
that the library and all other property of that institution
should be transferred to the newly-formed one. A number
of resident gentlemen offered their services to canvass the
inhabitants for subscriptions to increase the library, and
for the general support of the new institution, and they
were remarkably successful in -their applications. Upwards
of one hundred members were entered upon the books the
first quarter, including youths and adults of all age?.


The terras are one shilling and threepence per quarter, and
an additional threepence is charged to those members
attending the reading, writing, arithmetic, and grammar
classes, in order to defray the expense of lighting, without
encroaching upon the funds. There is also a class for
vocal music, the members of which pay an increased
subscription. Each of the classes have most efficient
teachers, who generously give their services. The library
consists of about four hundred volumes, including works
in various departments of literature, the arts and sciences,
voyages and travels, &c. Lectures upon scientific and
other useful subjects are given at suitable times, and are
well appreciated by the members. The institution has
already done much good in the town, affording, as it does,
an opportunity to the working classes of attaining the
useful, and many of the superior branches of education,
on the latest and most approved systems, at a cost within
the reach of all.


The North Meols Savings' Bank has been established
since the year 1838. The entire cost of founding the
Bank was 25 13s. Od., which was subscribed for by the
public, as no portion of the funds could be appropriated
to that purpose. The prosperous state of the Bank may
be judged by the following statement : On the 20th of
November, 1838, the deposits amounted to 1101 Os. lOd. ;
and on the 20th of November, 1847, the deposits had
increased to 7972 19s. 3d. This latter sum is thus
divided: 157 depositors whose respective balances, including
interest, did not exceed 20 each ; 80 were above 20,
and not exceeding 50 each j 25 were above 50, and not
exceeding 100 each ; 8 were above 100, and not
exceeding 150 each ; 7 were above 150, and not


exceeding 200 each ; making the total number of
depositors 277, the remainder being the funds of five
charitable institutions and four friendly societies. The
actual amount received from depositors in 1840 was
819 9s. 8d. ; whilst in the year 1847 the sum was no
less than 2176 17s. 2d., and that in a period of great
commercial distress. The Bank is open from three to
four o'clock every Friday for the payment and receipt of
cash to or from the depositors. The business is managed
gratuitously, and thus the highest rate allowed by Act of
Parliament is given to the depositor.


As its name implies, the Provident Society was instituted
for the purpose of encouraging the labouring poor to
provide for the future ; and this was accomplished by
holding out the strongest inducements for them to save
money. The most trifling sums were received, and a
bonus was allowed for these deposits which if considered
as interest was enormous. The gifts of the wealthy
enabled these bonuses to be paid, and there is no doubt
but that the society was productive of much good. The
society has not been in active operation for some length of
time ; not from the want of funds, but from one of the
worst of wants, want of inclination.


In connexion with the school and district of Trinity
Church, there is a society for encouraging the poor to
provide themselves and their children with decent apparel,
so that they may attend divine worship in a fit and
becoming manner. Small deposits are received, to which
a bonus is added, and the depositors afterwards select
useful and substantial clothing and bedding at any of the
shops in the town to the amount of their respective


claims, the society discharging the tradesmen's bills.
Those parents who have children attending the school have
greater advantages than those who have not. Subscriptions
are, of course, necessary to enable the society to continue
its operations. There are other similar societies in the
parish, well deserving of support.


The Southport District of this most extensive and
universal benevolent institution includes two lodges, con-
taining about one hundred and fifty members. The Loyal
Fleetwood Lodge was opened on the 6th of November,
1839, at the house of Mr. Salthouse, the Hesketh Arms

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Online LibraryFrank RobinsonA descriptive history of the popular watering place of Southport in the Parish of North Meols, on the western coast of Lancashire → online text (page 4 of 8)