29 Lytham St Annes
Lytham St Annes can be described as two coastal villages separated by the charming Fairhaven salt water lake or an upmarket Lancashire conurbation for the affluent. Lytham St Annes is clean and has awards to prove it. The wealth in the area makes it easy for the local authority to add urban lustre.
Lytham was established around 600 BC. Life in the community was sustained by fishing and shrimping until the town became popular as a tourist attraction and seaside health cure in the 19th Century. St Annes lacks the antecedence of Lytham. The town was planned as a tourist resort that would also attract residents. Like Southport it has the grid system of a purpose built coastal town, all planned by Fylde businessman, Elijah Hargreaves.
St Annes is where £54bn worth of Premium Bonds are held. ERNIE the computer has selected Premium Bond winners since the fifties. The Premium Bond scheme is like the National Lottery except that there is no hype and hysteria and no grand scheme to take money from the poor to give to the rich.
The Civil Servants who administer the scheme are not wealthy and they do have to live somewhere. A recent blog by a resident of Lytham St Annes said that the area is disfigured by the presence of ‘chavs’ who wander from their council estates. The blog produced a fierce response from some locals. The writer was not condemned for repulsive small minded snobbery. Instead the defenders of Lytham St Annes insisted that the poor could not be seen in the town.
Famous comedians Les Dawson and George Formby lived in Lytham St Annes, so did I for two years. The two towns provide a comfortable retreat but this week the local newspaper reported that Vietnamese immigrants have been recruited to the Fylde coast to cultivate cannabis in the local drug farms. This is disappointing because Lytham St Annes has had a microbrewery since 2007 and the Taps pub is a must visit. God knows why the locals want to smoke dope.
Every ten years homeowners can increase their income by letting their properties for extortionate rents to visitors at the British Open Golf Championship. It pays for a decent holiday. Visitors will notice the Green that lies between the shore road and the coast. It is flat but those with good eyesight can see the Welsh mountains. The Green has a windmill. Most of the windmills of Lancashire have been demolished. Liverpool once had 18 but on the Fylde some are maintained as ornaments to attract the tourists.
Lytham Festival claims to be the biggest music event in Lancashire. It mixes modern pop, jazz, nostalgia and classical music. The Festival raises money for charity and since 2009 has contributed £100,000 to the local community. Billy Ocean is appearing at the Festival this year. Lytham Hall used to be the home of the Clifton family. Their name appears on major roads in the area. Situated in 78 acres of park and woodland, Lytham Hall is a fine example of Georgian architecture. And the cafe does a decent cup of tea.
Next week, slightly mad Manchester
Howard Jackson has had four books published by Red Rattle Books. His 11,000 mile journey around Brazil is described in Innocent Mosquitoes. His latest book and compilation of horror stories is called Nightmares Ahead. Published by Red Rattle Books and praised by critics, it is available here.
If you want to read more about his travels click here.