Fleetwood-on-Wyre

FLEETWOOD-on-Wyre, a town and port, in the township of Thornton, parish of Poulton, union of the Fylde, hundred of Amounderness, N. division of the county of Lancaster, 20 miles (S. W. by W.) from Lancaster, and 238 (N. W.) from London; containing, in 1841, 2833, and now upwards of 3000, inhabitants. This place, which is bounded on the north by Lancaster and Morecambe bays, and on the east and south by the river Wyre, has risen within the last few years into some importance. The lands on which the town is built have been for some centuries the property of the ancestors of Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood, Bart.; and prior to the year 1836, formed a wild tract of rabbit-warren without any buildings save one solitary kiln for burning limestone. The baronet, from whom the place derives its name, perceiving the facilities afforded by the river, for the construction of a capacious harbour and docks, and the great advantages the locality derived from its proximity to the manufacturing districts, projected the erection of a town, the plan of which was drawn by Decimus Burton, Esq. The town is laid out for streets radiating to the south-east and south-west from its northern boundary, and intersected at right angles by others: the buildings are chiefly of stone from the quarries in the neighbouring districts, and such as are of brick are principally stuccoed. It is lighted with gas, and the inhabitants are supplied with water from wells attached to the houses. To the north is a mount commanding fine views; and east of this is a lighthouse, a handsome structure of stone with alcoves on either side, to the south of which stands the North Euston hotel, a spacious and elegant building of stone, with an extensive establishment of public baths. At the eastern extremity of Pharos-street is a circus, with another lighthouse, a Tuscan column 95 feet in height. On the south side of the town is Dock-street, near which is the terminus of the Preston and Wyre railway, appropriated for passengers, from which a branch diverges to the landing-quay, where is the terminus for goods and merchandise: the cost of the main line, a length of 20 miles, was £430,000; and there are branches to Blackpool and Lytham, which cost £40,000.

The harbour, which is about a mile and a half from the sea, and to which the river Wyre for that distance forms the entrance, is situated to the east and south of the town, and has been greatly improved under the superintendence of Captain Denham, F.R.S.: the average depth at low water is 20 feet, and it is protected from storms and heavy seas by a natural breakwater consisting of an immense bank of clay, in which coarse gravel is thickly imbedded. The navigation of the river is assisted by a screwpile lighthouse, erected in June, 1840, on pillars of iron driven into the bed of the river, and admitting between them a free passage for the water; it has an elevation of 45 feet above the level of half-tide, and at night displays a light visible at a distance of ten miles. The foreign trade is chiefly in corn, flour, flax, cotton, sugar, rice, timber, and various wooden wares, from the British plantations, and other ports: a coastingtrade is carried on with Ireland and the south of Scotland, in grain, meal, flour, provisions, flax, linen, and cattle; and the exports are chiefly coal, slates, and manufactured goods, from the neighbouring counties. The place has also been made a warehousing port for tobacco removed coastwise for home consumption, for all East India produce after having been warehoused at an approved port, and removed coastwise under certain regulations, and for all other articles of merchandise whether imported direct or otherwise; for the reception of which, bonding warehouses have been erected, and timber, coal, stone, and slate yards have been inclosed. The number of vessels in the foreign trade that entered inwards in the year 1845, was 23, of the aggregate burthen of 7366 tons, the number in the coasting-trade, inwards, was 580, and outwards, 473, whose aggregate burthen was 111,202, and 104,218 tons, respectively: the amount of customs' duties in the same year, was £6714. 18. 11. Steamers ply to Ardrossan and Glasgow, to the Isle of Man, to Ulverston and the Lake district, and to Belfast; the passengers step from carriages into the steamers under an arched building. Her Majesty and the court landed here from Scotland, in September, 1847. The market is supplied with corn and other produce by the farmers of the vicinity, with poultry by steamers from Ulverston, and with provisions from Belfast; it is open daily, but the principal business is transacted on Friday. The land in the neighbourhood is fertile, and the chief agricultural produce is wheat, for which the soil is very favourable: a rich black loamy kind of marl, which lies at a considerable depth beneath the surface, is dug for manure. A church dedicated to St. Peter has been erected by subscription: it is a handsome structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower surmounted by a well-proportioned spire, erected after a design by Mr. Burton, and completed in 1841; it contains 450 sittings, of which 150 are free. The living is endowed with great tithes in Thornton to the amount of £66. 2. 6., and the pew-rents, which, when the pews are all let, produce about £200 per annum. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans; also a Roman Catholic chapel in Walmsley-street. A national school in the Elizabethan style was erected in 1846, as a testimonial to Sir P. H. Fleetwood, for his great enterprise in establishing the town, harbour, and railway; it is calculated to hold 140 boys and the same number of girls, and has an excellent house adjoining for the master and mistress. About a mile from the town, a spacious area has been inclosed for a public cemetery.

Half-way between Fleetwood and Thornton, on the beach, is the hamlet of Rossall, with Rossall Hall, formerly the seat of Sir P. Hesketh Fleetwood, but now appropriated as a public school for the sons of clergymen and other gentlemen, under the name of "The Northern Church of England School." This school was opened on the 22nd August, 1844; it is on nearly the same principle as Marlborough College, and these two institutions are, perhaps, the only public boarding schools in England, all the pupils being boarded and lodged on the premises, and not in the masters' houses, and no dayscholars being admitted. The visiter is, the bishop of the diocese; the president, the Earl of Derby; and among the vice-presidents are, Lord Stanley, the Earls of Ellesmere, Burlington, and Balcarres, Lord Skelmersdale, and the Bishops of Chester, London, Llandaff, Norwich, and St. David's. There is a council of twentyfour, exclusively of the chairman, treasurer, and secretary, fourteen being clergymen and ten laymen; and the head master, who must be in holy orders, and M.A. of Oxford or Cambridge, has absolute authority in the household, and appoints the other masters, of whom there are seven, three or four being generally in orders, and all graduates of some university. The system of education resembles that in King's College, London, and Marlborough College; and is provided at the lowest rate, consistent with selectness, and ample and elegant maintenance. The charges are, for the sons of clergymen, if nominated, £30, and if not nominated, £40, per annum; and for the sons of laymen, nominated and not nominated, £40 and £50 respectively: admission may also be had by insurance from an early age, instead of nomination, the terms in such cases being £25 per annum. There are drawing and music-masters, a swimming-master, and drill-serjeants, for whom no extra charge is made. Of about 200 pupils at present in the school, 100 are the sons of clergymen. The situation of the house is admirably adapted to the purpose, it being on the seacoast, with three miles of fine sands, similar to those of Blackpool, spread in its vicinity; and sufficiently retired to allow great liberty to the scholars, yet so convenient to Fleetwood as to admit of easy communication. A large sanatorium, capable of holding 36 beds, has been added, and placed under the superintendence of a separate establishment. It may be mentioned, that to the unwearied zeal and indefatigable exertions of the honorary secretary, the Rev. St. Vincent Beechey, first incumbent of Fleetwood, by whom the plan was proposed, this institution owes its rise, and early prosperity.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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