Five lost sights in Fylde

A scene at Lytham Pier in the 1920s
A scene at Lytham Pier in the 1920s
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1. Lytham Pier

Once upon a time, hundreds of day-trippers would make their way to Lytham Pier, which opened in 1865.

St Annes Open air baths. Picture courtesy of Mrs JM Watson.

St Annes Open air baths. Picture courtesy of Mrs JM Watson.

There was no better vantage point than the pier to watch the busy River Ribble – with sailing ships, pleasure craft and cargo vessels bound for Preston Docks.

In the 1890s, a pavilion was opened halfway down the pier and a floral hall was added at the seaward end, to provide traditional entertainment, including summer shows and band concerts.

The pier was cut in two during a storm in October 1903, when a pair of steel-hulled barges broke away from their moorings and crashed through the structure.

There was a further setback in 1928, when a blaze destroyed the Pier Pavilion, which at the time was in use as a cinema.

The pier finally fell into disrepair and despite a 2,593 residents petition in 1959, the town council refused to pay £5,000 to save it from scrap merchants and it was demolished the following year.

2. Pontins, Clifton Drive

Known as Pontins Blackpool, the holiday camp was technically located over the border, in St Annes.

Squires Gate Holiday Beach, as the camp was known, had a famous visitor in 1937, when Gracie Fields declared open the new ballroom, recreation hall and restaurant, but it was Sir Fred Pontin who turned the venture into a multi-million pound empire.

Squires Gate Holiday Camp 1936

Squires Gate Holiday Camp 1936

Pontins bought the 37 acre site, nestling between the sandhills and the airport, in 1961, for £375,000, catering for 2,000 revellers.

In 1979, the Pontins business empire was sold to Coral Leisure for £56m.

By the end of the 80s, in an £85m deal, Pontins had become part of the Scottish and Newcastle brewery and leisure conglomerate, returning to Hemming’s fold in 2000 for £30, until the arrival on the scene of Ocean Parcs, who bought it for £46m.

The Pontins site shut down in 2009 and has since been demolished to make way for homes.

Hotel Majestic and gardens, St Annes.  Historical Post Card postmark 1925

Hotel Majestic and gardens, St Annes. Historical Post Card postmark 1925

3. St Annes Open Air Baths

The open air swimming baths in St Annes opened during the First World War, in June 1916 – welcoming 4,000 on its opening day.

The new baths were constructed at a cost of £10,000 and were hailed as unique in the north for having hot and cold filtered sea water all year round.

The glamour era of the 1950s saw many beauty bathing competitions being held at the baths and they were all reported on by The Express.

Sadly, attendances plummeted throughout the 1980s and despite a 2,000 name petition to save the structure, the pool closed in 1988, lying derelict until it was finally demolished in 1992.

In the end, Fylde Council created a new indoor pool alongside the original baths site in April 1987 and the site of the open air baths has over the years, been developed to become the Island leisure site.

4. St Annes Lighthouse

Lightburn Avenue in St Annes gets its name from the timber lighthouse which once stood on the dunes, at what is now the corner of the road and South Promenade.

The wood structure stood on the crest of the sandhill.

The lighthouse was erected in 1865, following the collapse of its stone-predecessor two years earlier.

It became a well-known landmark and was popular with picnic parties from Blackpool.

The lighthouse was demolished by Ribble Port Authorities in 1901. It had fallen into disuse because in the late 1800s, new, gas-lit buoys were introduced and it was no longer needed.

5. Hotel Majestic, St Annes

The Hotel Majestic was a symbol of the resort in its Edwardian heyday.

It was one of the largest of the seafront hotels to spring up in the late 19th century and it was first built as the Imperial Hydro, but renamed soon after.

Guests travelled for miles to stay in the luxurious rooms and enjoy the fine cuisine. Prime minster Winston Churchill, Danny Kaye, Margaret Lockwood and the Marx Brothers were among the Majestic’s more illustrious guests and during wartime, BBC concerts were beamed to the nation from within its walls.

By 1971 though, the sun was setting on the traditional British seaside holiday and only bed and breakfast was being served, because of staffing problems at the hotel.

It finally closed and was demolished in 1975.