100 years on from the 'civic union' of Lytham and St Annes - is it one town or two?

It’s 100 years this year since Lytham and St Annes came together as a single council – and almost 50 years on from that authority being replaced by Fylde Council, the reference to ‘Lytham St Annes’ lingers.

Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 3:45 pm

Certainly nationally and as far as the FY8 postcode is concerned, the union which prospered through the domestic tourism peak years of the 1950s to 1970s lingers, despite the two towns being three miles apart with Ansdell and Fairhaven in between.

We asked three notable figures for their views on the situation as the centenary of that civic union approaches:

Fylde historian Peter Shakeshaft, who is a great believer in the perpetuity of the apostrophe remaining in the name of St Anne’s (punctuation which has largely disappeared from most general references), said: “From a personal perspective, the two towns, in spite of the hopes expressed at the time of the 1922 amalgamation, were already on different pathways; a divergence accelerated by the formation of Fylde borough.

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A boundary sign for Lytham

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A sign of confusion at St Annes supermarket

“The (at times somewhat ambivalent) contribution played by the Clifton family in the development of St Anne’s is not so fully appreciated.

“Much will depend on future developments in local government, particularly if both towns become part of a ‘Lancashire’ authority.

“Were that to happen it would, arguably, be to the advantage of Lytham residents to support the establishment of a Lytham Town Council, just as the establishment, in 2004, of St Anne’s Town Council does so for St Anne’s residents.

A boundary sign for St Annes

“That said, it would be a cultural loss if the ‘ties that bind’ were ever permanently broken.

“Perhaps it is time for organisations which function under the title of Lytham St Anne’s … Society/Club to give consideration to becoming Lytham and St Anne’s… Society/Club.”

Gavin Harrison, chairman of St Annes Town Council: “As the response to the recent Boundary Review showed, there is a strong feeling of identity within St Annes and it’s fair to say that the references to Lytham St Annes aren’t always helpful in that respect.

“There was always the possibility of confusion with visitors intending to come to St Annes ending up in Lytham (or I dare say vice versa) but in days of Satnav systems I’m sure that is less of a problem.

Detail from a vintage railway poster promoting the resort of 'Lytham St Annes'. Picture: Friends of the Lytham St Annes Art Collection.

“I think the rivalry between the towns is friendly, although occasionally exacerbated by the fact that St Annes has a Town Council and Lytham currently is ‘unparished’.

“That might change in future if it’s the wish of the people of course. There’s also a perception that Ansdell and Fairhaven may be lost between their two bigger neighbours but of course residents of those areas also have a strong sense of identity.

“St Annes Town Council works hard on behalf of the people of St Annes and our recent events such as the September Spectacular can only strengthen our identity and improve the confidence of the town.”

Sue Forshaw, chairman of Lytham Heritage Group, makes a crucial historical point about the area, which saw St Annes largely undeveloped until 1875. She said: “The Lytham Heritage Group’s constitution is concerned with the ‘Old Parish of Lytham’ which includes both Lytham and St Annes, so in essence they have been merged long before the official 100 years.”

What do you think? One town or two, and does it really matter? Let us know what you think via social media.

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