Exciting future ahead for Fairhaven Lake

One of the Fylde coast’s prime attraction is gearing up for an exciting new era.

Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 3:45 pm
The restoration of the heritage buildings at Fairhaven Lake is a key part of the project
The restoration of the heritage buildings at Fairhaven Lake is a key part of the project

Fairhaven Lake and its surrounding gardens are being refurbished followed the award of £1.5m National Lottery Heritage Funding in December 2018.

The Fairhaven Lake and Garden Restoration project is expected to be completed by the spring/summer of 2021.

Its aims are to conserve and restore Fairhaven’s heritage buildings and landscape, improve the lake’s infrastructure and water quality, and provide a new programme of events.

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New information boards will help visitors better understand Fairhaven’s heritage.

Other funding bodies contributing to the overall project include Fylde Council, Sport England and Lancashire Environmental Fund and the work means the RSPB’s presence at the Lake has flown away for the winter.

The Pagoda building which has long been home to the charity’s Discovery Centre is among the buildings to be renovated, along with the cafe and boathouse.

Another key part of the project is to restore the area’s Japanese Garden.

Fairhaven has a unique history, originally designed as an “up-market” planned resort - envisaged as containing extensive residential development complete with a lake, recreational facilities and community provision.

In 1891, Thomas Riley, a Fleetwood businessman, conceived the vision for a new coastal resort.

Riley, aware of the development of St Annes, seized the opportunity to propose, plan and then develop the marine resort of Fairhaven.

Architect Arthur Carter was commissioned to produce a master plan’ for the new resort, in 1893.

The new resort was envisaged as being a genteel “watering place” - offering the virtues of spaciousness, clean air and community facilities, including a hotel, recreational provision and affording extensive views of the sea over the estuary.

The creation of the lake was a fundamental part of the development of the resort and utilised the natural features of the estuary to create it.

That included the extensive shingle bank known locally as a stannah’ which naturally enclosed a tidal lagoon.

The aim was to provide a completely enclosed lake and the stannah became the outer sea wall and Promenade.

Fairhaven is considered to be the third oldest marine lake in Britain, designed as a centrepiece of a resort with its recreational facilities including a golf course.

The present café, one of the buildings currently being restored, was originally the golf course club house.

The original boat house - now Ribble Discovery Centre - dates from 1901 and the large boat house, designed by way of an unusual prefabricated system, from 1921 -– fitting that its restoration will be coincide with its centenary.

The former two urban districts of Lytham and St Annes were merged in November 1922, and the new local authority purchased the whole site from the Fairhaven Estate. Ownership transferred to Fylde Council on local government reorganisation in 1974.

Ambitions to enhance the facility led to the commissioning of Thomas Mawsons and Sons, who had an international reputation for high quality landscape and town planning design.

Their scheme was presented in 1924 and included plans to extend the Promenade Gardens, as well as the lake and its immediate environment.

The lake was doubled in size in a picturesque format, with bays and inlets and featuring extensive landscaping, plantations and a re-plan of the recreational facilities.

The Mawson Plan included implementation of the Japanese garden/lagoon, situated on the south-westerly side of the lake, thought to have been simply “covered over” in the mid-to-late 1960s, as it required repair.

These days, the Lake area also includes facilities such as the heritage golf course which opened in September and continues to be open daily while the restoration work continues.

Coun Cheryl Little, Fylde Council’s tourism and leisure chairman, said: “As residents and visitors are already seeing the benefits from the huge investment and the continuing redevelopment of the Fairhaven Lake, we are now ready for the next stage, while other facilities in the park remain open, including the recently opened Adventure Golf course and Adventure Play facilities.

“I hope everyone shares our excitement for the next phase of the transformation of one of the Council’s best loved assets.”

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