Monday, 20 August 2012

Window of Opportunity!

You've got to act quickly when you spot sun and blue sky in this great country of ours! The weather in the past few days has been dreadful, at least in this part of the country, mirroring the stuff we've had to endure all summer and so with a dramatic improvement at lunchtime, I grabbed the chance.

Off came the cover, the battery charger, hood and sidescreens, on went my summer 'ratting' cap, complete with a Morgan lanyard and into the glorious sunshine I went.

Facing east, looking towards the distant fells
With the fan assembly fixed and bearing in mind the work I had done under the bonnet with cable ties, anchoring anything that could possibly make any sort of noise, I was expecting a quiet, sublime trip in the little beast and so it was. The run to Fleetwood, my destination, was completed quietly, apart from the satisfying burble from the exhaust and the cheers from adoring crowds lining the route....where I get these fantasies from I don't know!

Fleetwood, some believe, was the ancient Roman harbour of Portus Setantiorum at the mouth of the River Wyre. The land on which it stands was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as the 'wapentake or hundred of Amounderness'.

The RNLI Station and Knott End on Sea across the Wyre
Anyway, not only was it the birthplace of my lovely lady wife, but Peter Hesketh who also breathed his first breath there, was responsible for putting the town, named after his ancestor Edmund Fleetwood, on the map.

The railway line and station was opened on the 15th July 1840 and this opened the way for Fleetwood to, not only become a resort and tourist destination, offering steamer trips to the Isle of Man, Ireland and Ardrossan, but also a major fishing port, with access for its fish via the railway to markets throughout the country.

Many of the original Regency buildings from that period, of which the 'North Euston Hotel' is one, still remain in the town. Incidentally that Hotel was host to the wedding reception of himself and his lovely wife in 1966.

The North Euston Hotel and Lighthouse
My wife and I have great affection for the old place, which now plays second fiddle as a resort to Blackpool down the coast, has lost the revenue from shipping, including the Isle of Man steamers and of course its fishing industry has been decimated.

My first job was at the District Bank, Fleetwood (now part of National Westminster) at their branch on Wyre Dock, when the fishing industry was buoyant. Lunchtimes were spent by me looking at all the Icelandic fishing trawlers and occasionally gratefully receiving little parcels of fish from the fish merchants who were our customers and worked just 50 yards away from the bank....happy days!  

The Portakabin next to the large building, formerly the 'Iago Steam Trawler Co.,
was the site of the District Bank, Wyre Dock. The mast of a trawler can
be seen above it.
The tide was in today and the views were as wonderful as ever, across the Wyre to the distant fells and the Lake District,  views that Blackpool can only dream of.

I lingered awhile, nattering to a nice lady who wanted to know all about the car and then made my way to have a look at what was the location of the bank branch where I was first employed, then making my way home, in at times a blistering pace, with the warm wind blowing through the last remaining silver strands of my hair.
Ferry across the Wyre, with a recent memorial to the lost workers and crew of a crashed helicopter employed in Gas Rig duties.


  1. Chris,
    We have had about 30C the last few days and me and my Mrs drove 110 miles yesterday along the coast. A nice run but the Mog is full of dead flies.

  2. Great Photos Chris, Reminded me of my trip down to the Shard Hotel at Poulton. Up to Fleetwood the next morning on my way south to coffee at Lifes. Living so far from the coast as we do I am envious. The Thames is no substitute