‘Melling through the Ages’ book review

I was delighted to see that Melling resident Carol Fitzgerald has written a comprehensive book on the history of Melling so purchased a copy direct from her. I was not to be disappointed, this book is an excellent read.

My connections with Melling are that I have lived in neighbouring Maghull and now Lydiate for 52 years, I represented Melling Civil Parish as a Sefton Borough Councillor from 1999 to 2011, my Dad was once given a cabbage (I kid you not) for playing the organ at the church of St. Thomas’ on Melling Rock by local farmer Mrs Roby and I regularly cycle the country lanes through the rural parts of it.

My first thoughts on starting to read the book were – it does not have an ISBN number or a date of publication. I’d not seen that before with such a significant publication but then it dawned on me that it’s a self-publication*. I think it was published in 2020 but stand to be corrected.

What I like about reading through a local history book is that you get to know the meaning of words you know well but have never actually known the meaning of. A case in point is ‘Cunscough’ as in Cunscough Lane, Melling. I now know it comes from Old Norse and means ‘Kings Wood’. And what about the ‘Woodend’ area of Maghull? Well it seems that it was quite literally the end of a forest that stretched from Waddicar to Wood End Maghull as detailed in the Doomsday Book.

Considering the modern-day flooding issues which the East Parishes area of Sefton Borough suffers from the historic references to the draining of the waters of Hengarther Lake and the ditches dug to drain the area into what was then the tidal River Alt (at the direction of the monks of Cockersands) some 800 years ago are interesting. Clearly, the rich arable farmland for which our parts of both Sefton and West Lancashire are famous hark back to such works but it also shows how such interventions (and the more modern works) have not really solved the flooding which was once a natural occurrence.

Melling Rock is the highest natural point in Sefton Borough and that fits uncomfortably well with the previous references to flooding.

There’s an interesting reference to the Tatlock Charity dating back many years to a John Tatlock born in 1653 and which still pays out today. Then there’s the Formby charitable work associated with the Industrial Revolution and the destitution it caused in Melling leading to Poor Relief administered by the Church. The Rev. Miles Formby being the Vicar 1829-1849.

Melling Tithebarn known these days for being a social, artistic and meeting venue was originally built to house the ‘tithe’ which was due to the Rector of Halsall who also collected such tithes from Lydiate, Halsall, Downholland etc.

There’s quite a bit about the development of farming across Melling and a connected modern day project to find evidence for occupation of a possible medieval moated site on the land around Wood Hall Farm which dates from around 1642. I recall having the opportunity to visit that farm, run by Christine and Henry Glover, during my time as a Sefton Cllr for Melling. Great buildings and lovely folk I might add.

I could go on but I hope you get my drift; this is a very significant piece of historical work which covers all aspects of Melling over hundreds of years. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in this historic community.

If you want to obtain a copy (£10) you can e-mail Carol Fitxgerald – cf83230@gmail.com

*Note: This is a self-published book which is printed in batches of 20’s or more, so Carol asks people to pre pay.

Melling – Those unique sandstone bus shelters again

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about the seeming demise of one of Melling’s unique sandstone built bus shelters – The one close to the Pear Tree Pub on Prescott Road. Here’s a link to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/03/17/melling-prescot-road-bus-shelter-what-on-earths-going-on/

Moving on and on one of my solo fitness cycle rides during our lock-down a couple of days ago I saw this:-

This is the bench right next to the other Prescot Road sandstone bus shelter that’s near the junction with Cunscough Lane. You can’t see the shelter in this shot but this is it:-

A view from inside the shelter of the bench on Prescot Road taken quite a while back.

What I don’t know is why the bench has been so colourfully decorated with stuffed toys but maybe you do. Anyway, in another life a few years ago I christened this seat ‘Andrew’s Bench’ because I would pick a mate of mine up there now and again. Sadly, the shelter no longer has any buses call at it since the 345 bus to Skem was cut back, although I have been known to take shelter in it a couple of times during heavy rain when cycling in that part of the world.

Melling – It’s rather grand sandstone bus shelters

I’ve come across at least 3 rather grand bus shelters in Melling Civil Parish, one on Prescot Road near the junction with Cunscough Lane (now out of use because service buses no longer travel that road anymore), one in Tithebarn Lane (which is very much in use) and another one in Waddicar Lane.

All are built of sandstone and I’m guessing that they were erected by Melling Parish Council at some point in the recent past? I’m also guessing that were built after the early 1980’s construction of the M58 Motorway as the one on Prescot Road is on the new alignment of that road where it crosses over the M58. I’m open to correction here if these assumptions are wrong so please get in touch if I am or if you have more information about them.

The shot above is of the shelter in Tithebarn Lane and here’s another shot from inside the one on Prescot Road:-

Note the arrow slit type windows reminiscent of a fortified castle

Bus shelters usually have a limited lifespan due to vandalism, rot, rust or simply not being required anymore, as our public bus services continue to decline, However, in Melling these rather special shelters seem, like any sandstone building, to be here for generations.

I wonder if the stone used to construct them came from the former Melling sandstone quarry up on Melling Rock?

Please get in touch if you know their history.

Melling – Remember ‘The Chesterfield’?

The Chesterfield was a banqueting Suite/restaurant for want of a better description on Prescot Road in Melling, near to the junction with Cunscough Lane. The building was originally a school (St. Mary’s RC Primary School which closed in the 1970’s?) and the banqueting suite/restaurant itself closed around 2000?

The site has now been redeveloped as a large house and here’s a couple of photos of it with an appropriate plaque/datestone reflecting back to what used to be on the site.

The building as it was until the recent redevelopment – Photo Credit Rightmove

From talking to a Melling resident who lives nearby I think I have pieced together the rough history of this site. There seems to have been a link between the former school with St. Mary’s RC Church (of which more in a subsequent posting) just over the civil parish border and further along Prescot Road into Aughton. Also, the old school and indeed the restaurant/banqueting building was used as a polling station in elections until a few years ago.

But that about exhausts all the information that is readily available, unless of course anyone out there can fill in the gaps. Comments, additions and corrections gratefully received.

With thanks to Alan Thompson for his help with this posting