Without him, the port we know now would never have existed

ML Fleetwood

The majestic North Euston Hotel was originally commissioned and paid for by Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood at a cost of nearly �30,000. 
Designed by the London architect Decimus Burton, it got is name from the fact that at the time travellers from London to Scotland could only get a train as far as Fleetwood and had to catch a boat to Ardrossan. The hotel opened in 1841. At the end of the hotel was a public bath house and also a jetty (where the pier is today) for the use of hotel guests. All had been demolished before 1900. / historical / 1940s?

ML Fleetwood The majestic North Euston Hotel was originally commissioned and paid for by Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood at a cost of nearly �30,000. Designed by the London architect Decimus Burton, it got is name from the fact that at the time travellers from London to Scotland could only get a train as far as Fleetwood and had to catch a boat to Ardrossan. The hotel opened in 1841. At the end of the hotel was a public bath house and also a jetty (where the pier is today) for the use of hotel guests. All had been demolished before 1900. / historical / 1940s?

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There may not – yet – be a statue of him in Fleetwood.

But visionary developer and businessman Sir Peter Hesketh and his name are certainly well-known through the port.

There can’t be many Fleetwood residents who are unfamiliar with the fact Sir Peter was the founding the father of the town.

And the story of the politician, philanthropist, and land-owner, a man out of his time, is an interesting one – not least because his romantic vision almost turned to tragedy.

Peter Hesketh was born in 1801 at Wennington Hall, Wennington, near Lancaster. He was educated, along with his younger brother Charles, at Trinity College, Oxford.

He had an active social life in both Oxford and London. He holidayed in southern resorts including St Leonards-on-Sea, a new development in Sussex, where he admired the work of architect James Burton.

It was here he became close friends with Burton’s son Decimus, who was also an architect.

Sir Peter was descended – through his paternal grandmother – from the Fleetwood family, who had owned the large Rossall estate for over 200 years. In 1824, he inherited the Rossall estate.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1823 and his Master of Arts degree in 1826.

He was appointed High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1830.

In 1831, he changed his name by royal licence to Hesketh-Fleetwood, incorporating the better-known family name of his ancestors.

He was elected as MP for Preston in the 1832 general election.

Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, and in June 1938, Sir Peter was knighted in the Coronation honours list.

He had quickly realised a port could profitably be established on the Wyre estuary. And he realised the railway would be the ideal means of linking it with the outside world.

Sir Peter and his friend Decimus Burton set about creating Fleetwood, with work beginning in 1835.

Among their famous creations in the port were the North Euston Hotel, with its magnificent curve, Pharos Lighthouse and Fleetwood Town Hall – now Fleetwood Museum.

Sir Peter – who opposed slavery and capital punishment – was the town’s first JP at Fleetwood Magistrates Court and he first exercised market rights in the port in 1840.

He had a terraced residence built for himself, on Warren Street, off Lord Street, in 1938 (pictured here).

At the time, the house – which had a spacious cellar – was one of the very first domestic dwellings in the new, planned town.

It would have been an “upstairs, downstairs” abode, with accommodation for serving staff.

By 1838, it had become clear that construction costs for Fleetwood were spiralling out of control.

Sir Peter had to forfeit his house when he over-reached himself trying to develop the port, and the house was passed to his friend and solicitor, Sir John Abel Smith, MP and merchant banker. Abel’s son then gambled it away to a titled army captain in a fashionable London gaming house.

The new town of Fleetwood initially flourished, but there had been a huge financial cost to Sir Peter.

In the face of enormous debts, Sir Peter sold his estates at Blackpool, Southport, Meols Hall, and Tulketh Hall.

In 1844, Sir Peter auctioned off his personal possessions from Rossall Hall and left Lancashire.

He moved to London with his second wife Virginie and their son Louis.

He retired from politics in 1847. He died at his home in Piccadilly, in April 1866, following a lengthy illness.

* Look out for more memories in tonight’s Gazette